Roque: SONA 2020 to be held in Congress, but Duterte may take virtual route

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 23) — Just over a month before President Rodrigo Duterte is set to deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address, much has yet to be finalized.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday said preparations are ongoing for the SONA amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but hinted that a small group may gather at the Batasan Pambansa where the address is held annually.

"It will not be the same SONA that we're used to. Siyempre po wala na iyong madamihang opisyales na mag-aattend, wala nang fashion show na pagandahan ng suot. Tingin ko po kakaunti lang ang mag-aassemble sa Kongreso," he said in his regular media briefing.

[Translation: There won't be a lot of officials attending. The usual fashion show will be scrapped. I think only a handful will assemble at the Congress.]

He said he is unsure if Duterte will deliver his address live at Batasan or opt to do it virtually.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano previously said safety will be the primary consideration in staging the President’s annual report to the people. But he said they will make sure that the SONA will be “communicated nationwide.”

Malacañang earlier said the President could deliver his speech in a “blended” way — similar to the blended learning activities for students in the upcoming school year.

Under the Constitution, the President is mandated to deliver his SONA before a joint session of Congress every fourth Monday of July, which this year falls on July 27.