SONA. President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 22, 2019. Malacañang on Thursday (July 16, 2020) said no final details yet whether Duterte will physically show up at the Batasang Pambansa for his 5th SONA on July 27. (Presidential photo by Simeon Celi Jr.)

MANILA – There are no final details yet whether President Rodrigo Duterte will physically show up at the Batasang Pambansa to deliver his fifth state of the nation address (SONA), Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III bared that Duterte has decided to deliver his fifth SONA at the Batasang Pambansa before a limited number of lawmakers.

Roque admitted that the venue will indeed be the Batasang Pambansa but pointed out that Duterte may simply deliver his SONA via livestream from Malago Clubhouse in Malacañan Palace.

Duterte to certify urgent disease control bill

Meanwhile, President Duterte is likely to certify as urgent the proposed measure seeking the establishment of the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Malacañang said Thursday.

“Most likely po (it will happen),” Roque said in a virtual presser when asked if Duterte would certify as urgent a bill creating the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the country.

Roque’s statement came amid the country’s continuing battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

He also made the remark after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III proposed the creation of the Philippine Centers for Disease Control, which will create systems for disease control and prevention.

Duque earlier backed the passage of House of Representatives Bill (HB) 6096 filed by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.

HB 6096 seeks the creation of the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which will serve as a separate agency under the control and supervision of the Department of Health but with broader policymaking, implementation, surveillance, disease control, and prevention powers.

Under the bill, the proposed center will serve as the principal agency tasked with developing and applying communicable disease control and prevention initiatives.

The proposed Center for Disease Control and Prevention will also be responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases.

It will also provide consultation and assistance to other nations and international agencies to assist in improving their disease prevention control.

Venue confirmed

“The venue is confirmed, it is Batasan pero ang alam ko po hindi pa po 100-percent sure kung physically mag-a-attend ang Presidente o magbo-broadcast po from Malago to Congress (but what I know that it’s not a hundred percent sure if the President will physically attend or broadcast from Malago to Congress),” he said in a virtual Palace briefing.

While final details on the SONA setup have yet to be released, Roque vowed to give updates in the following days leading up to July 27.

“Sa ngayon, wala pa pong detalyeng na naibibigay sa’kin…pero hayaan niyo po, pag plantsado na, mag-a-anunsyo na tayo diyan (At present, there are no details given to me, but don’t worry, when it’s all ironed out, we will make an announcement),” he said.

Earlier, Roque floated the possibility of having a “blended” style SONA, referring to a combination of having guests physically present while others opting to watch from their television sets or online.

In an interview with reporters, Sotto said the number of attendees will be limited to a maximum of 50 people who will all be subjected to rapid antibody testing.

He said 25 seats will be reserved for the executive department, 13 for the House of Representatives and 12 for the Senate.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the SONA would likely be via teleconferencing, which has been the method used by Congress to hold sessions and committee hearings.

Duterte delivered his past four SONAs in the Session Hall of the House at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

Scheduled pre-SONAs have been held to discuss accomplishments under the Duterte administration.

The SONA is delivered by the President of the Philippines every year to report the state of the country, unveil the government’s agenda for the coming year, and may also propose to Congress certain legislative measures.

Congress is currently on break and will resume for its second regular session on the President SONA on July 27. (PNA)