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50 seats reserved: Duterte to deliver SONA at Batasan, Sotto says

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to physically grace his upcoming 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa Complex this coming July 27 amid the health hazards brought by the coronavirus pandemic, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.

“I just received word today that the President has decided to deliver his SONA in the Batasang Pambansa sa House of Representatives,” said Sotto during Thursday’s virtual presser.

Unlike the President’s past four SONAs, the upcoming annual event is only limited to selected members of the Lower House and the Senate considering the strict social distancing protocols currently in place in the House plenary.

Based on the so-called “New Normal Guidelines” at Batasang Pambansa Complex, the House Plenary where the President’s SONA traditionally takse place is currently limited to 100 persons.

The President’s entourage alone during the previous SONAs prior to the COVID-19 outbreak is not lower than 50 persons—not included in the count are members of his cabinet and invited guests from the military and the diplomatic corps.

According to Sotto, only 50 seats are reserved for the officials in the Executive and Legislative departments during the President’s address in front of the joint session of Congress—25 selected officials for the Executive, 13 for the House of Representatives and 12 for the Senate.

“Meron lang silang pinili na puwede, wala na ring audience,” Sotto added.

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