Palace eyes ‘blended’ 5th SONA for Duterte

June 08, 2020
Rodrigo Duterte
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 Monday said a “blended” 5th SONA may be considered for Duterte amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. Presidential photo

MALACANANG on Monday said there may be possible changes in the fifth state of the nation address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry 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.

“That’s being discussed. I think kung meron tayong (if we have) blended learning, we will also have a blended SONA,” he said in a virtual presser.

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

However, it remains to be seen whether he will show up at the usual venue or opt to deliver his SONA somewhere else.

Last Thursday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said there is a suggestion that Duterte delivers his next SONA at Malacañan Palace on July 27.

From 1935 to 2015, the other SONA venues were the Legislative Building in Manila (destroyed during the Second World War); the temporary Congress Building along Lepanto Street in Manila; and Maharlika Hall (now Kalayaan Hall), Malacañang Palace.

Other SONA venues were the Quirino Grandstand; Philippine International Convention Center; and the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, US.

It remains to be seen whether pre-SONA forums will be held to discuss the administration’s achievements.

Duterte’s first SONA lasted for 90 minutes while his second SONA lasted for 120 minutes.

His third SONA in 2019 was delayed for over an hour due to a change in the leadership of the House of Representatives, where former President and then Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo replaced Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez. Duterte then kept his promise to deliver a short address, which lasted for about 48 minutes.

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.

The SONA is a constitutional obligation, required by Article VII, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution: “The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session.”

Article VI, Section 15 also prescribes that the Congress “shall convene once every year on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session.” PNA