President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his penultimate State of Address on Monday, and he is expected to detail his plans to deal with COVID-19 pandemic that upended the lives of millions of Filipinos.
Confirmed cases breached the 80,000-mark on the eve of the SONA. The economy all but officially entered a recession and joblessness is at an all-time high. Filipinos are under high stress, according to an opinion poll and are awaiting the President’s address.
Here is reportr’s live coverage of SONA day. Keep refreshing this page for updates:
Duterte is espousing the return of death penalty by lethal injection, specifically for crimes in the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002. He then said, "I did not hear clapping so I presume you’re not interested," which elicited applause from Congress.
Duterte emphasized the need to support local businesses and tourist destinations to boost the economy. “Ito ang panahon para suportahan natin ang ating mga kababayan na nag-nenegosyo, na gumawa na prdoktung sariling atin (Now is the time to support our countrymen doing business, creating products that are ours.),” he said.
He also assured the tourism and recreation industry—which are among the hardest hit by the pandemic—that the government would support its recovery. “While we slowly try to put the fun back in your local travel, the national government agencies and LGUs (local government units) must harmonize their policies to boost tourism by ensuring our people to help boost the economy by travelling locally,” he said.
Duterte orders the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to organize special training programs to retool Overseas Filipino Workers for local employment: "Sa mga kababayan kong naghihirap sa ibang bansa, nandito lang ang inyong gobyerno para matulungan kayo at ang inyong mga pamilya lalo na sa panahong ito."
Duterte thanks those who contributed food and essentials, policemen, soldiers, security guards, workers in essential establishments, the Inter-Agency Task Force.
"You gave us strength. You risked you own lives in keeping the Filipino spirit of Bayanihan."
Duterte cites Philippines' credit ratings: "Our fiscal posititon is strong, our economic and fiscal management prudent and our banking system robust."
Duterte criticizes Lopez family of ABS-CBN, Sen. Franklin Drilon from the opposition.
Duterte thanks frontliners:
We live in a troubled time our dream of prosperity for our country was suddenly snapped by a pandemic virulent virus, no nation was spared neither rich nor poor were spared from the onslaught of this deadly disease
Let us not despair. The vaccine is around the corner. Sooner and not later, the virus that gobbled up thousands of lives will itself be laid to rest.
Senate President Tito Sotto and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano welcome Duterte at the session hall. SONA proper starts at 4:05 p.m.
President Duterte, wearing a face mask, arrives at the Batasan Complex.
As of 1:25 p.m., Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque says the president will deliver his state address at the Batasang Pambansa as planned. At least one lawmaker who was supposed to attend tested positive for the virus.
Left-wing lawmakers don their statement barongs and sashes to protest the government's response to the pandemic.
Rallies are also expected to disperse early due to the weather and in keeping with quarantine restrictions.
House Speaker Cayetano presented the following points in his presiding speech:
- focus on Filipino lives and livelihoods amid the COVID-19 pandemic
- strengthening agriculture, manufacturing
- boosting the local creative industry
- establishing provinces as centers of development
- decongesting cities
The session is adjourned until 3 p.m. tomorrow. Representatives will return to the plenary hall later at 4 p.m. for the president's address.
Senate reopens the 2nd regular session with plastic barriers installed in senators' desks.
The House of Representatives reopens the session. Desks are one meter apart. Only a number of lawmakers are physically present, with others to join the sessions virtually via video conference. Surigao Del Sur representative and Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday and will not be attending the address later.
The Senate and the House of Representatives prepare to resume sessions and lay out their law-making agenda for the coming year. Senate President Tito Sotto and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano are expected to retain their posts.
- Duterte is "ready" for his SONA following a second rehearsal late Sunday, Presidential Communications Sec. Martin Andanar told ANC. Some 50 people will be allowed inside the Batasan, he said. The speech is scheduled at 4 p.m., he said. It will run for roughly an hour and 20 minutes.
- Crowds that peaked at nearly 5,000 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium have receded, said Asec. Joseph Encabo from the Presidential Management Staff, who heads the Hatid Tulong Initiative.
- Protests around the SONA venue, the Batasang Pambansa, will be off limits to protests -- regardless of whether they are for or against the President -- Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, the spokesman of the Philippine National Police, told DZMM.