House ready for Duterte’s 3rd SONA

MANILA — The House of Representatives is ready to host the third State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 23, officials said Thursday.

House Secretary-General Cesar Pareja, Sergeant-At-Arms Roland Detabali and Senate Secretary Myra Villarica gave a media briefing on Thursday, following an inter-agency coordination meeting and a walkthrough at the plenary hall and other surrounding areas.

“We, the House Secretariat as well as the Senate, have been preparing and in fact are now ready for the most anticipated annual event in the Congress — the SONA and opening of the third regular session,” Pareja said.

As for security preparations, Detabali expressed confidence that they are more prepared this year in securing the President, his first family, other VIPs and guests.

Detabali said the situation in Marawi City last year has prepared the security forces with more experience as well as equipment to deal with possible threats.

“We have more assets now available, units, equipment, and techniques that we have learned also from their experience from Marawi,” Detabali said.

Pareja said among the notable changes in this year’s SONA is that a choir from Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ hometown, Tagum City, will be tasked to sing the national anthem.

Pareja said the dress code for guests is the same as last year’s, which is business attire.

He, however, did not divulge the menu for President Duterte’s 3rd SONA. For the previous two SONAs, the House tapped Via Mare as caterer.

Pareja said the House doubled the capacity of the plenary hall from 1,500 seat slots to 3,000. Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA –