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Duterte's Live SONA Audience Only for the Fully-Vaccinated

As a measure against COVID-19.
by Erwin Colcol
Just now
Photo/s: screencap from SONA

Only fully-vaccinated persons will be allowed to physically attend President Rodrigo Duterte's final State of the Nation Address on July 26, an official of the House of Representatives said Monday.

House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza said both the chamber and the Presidential Security Group required attendees to be fully vaccinated as a measure against COVID-19.

Physical attendance will also be limited to 350, which already include lawmakers, government officials, and other guests, he added. Last year, only 50 participants were allowed inside the plenary hall of Batasang Pambansa.

"Kaya din naman dinamihan natin ngayon kasi karamihan naman fully vaccinated na. At the same time, nagluwag na rin ang IATF," Mendoza told reporters in a virtual interview.

"Thirty percent ng capacity ng plenary ang pwedeng gamitin. Pero piling pili talaga. Required na fully vaccinated ka, at the same time, yung social distancing io-observe doon sa plenary hall," he added.

Aside from requiring participants to be fully vaccinated, they should also undergo RT-PCR testing prior to July 26 and antigen testing on the day itself, Mendoza said. Those who will not be able to physically attend may tune in through videoconferencing.

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To ensure that social distancing protocols will be followed, only 50 to 60 people will be allowed on the ground floor of the plenary hall, while the rest will be seated on the first and second gallery, Mendoza said.

As to the attendees, Mendoza said only former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has so far said she would attend Duterte's final SONA. Vice President Leni Robredo has yet to confirm her attendance, he added.

The 1987 Constitution requires the incumbent president to address Congress at the opening of its regular session. The 18th Congress will open its Third Regular Session on July 26.

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