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SONA to be delivered in refurbished Batasan

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will deliver his first State of the Nation Address in the newly-renovated session hall of the House of Representatives that cost about P100 million to refurbish.
FOR MONDAY’S SONA. Photo shows the refurbished session hall of the House of Representatives where President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will deliver his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 25, 2022. 

House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza said the renovations began during the term of former Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, citing the age of the structure that was inaugurated in 1978 and the need to increase the hall’s seating capacity.

At least 1,300 guests have been invited to the SONA, most of whom have confirmed their attendance, Mendoza said.

Guests will be required to present a copy of a negative RT-PCR test for COVID-19 taken 48 hours before the event.

Mendoza said there will also be enough space at the Plenary Hall of the Batasang Pambansa Complex to observe social distancing.

Film and TV director Paul Soriano, a staunch supporter of Marcos, will direct the SONA.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Security Group said it is now in the “final stages of preparation” for the SONA.

PSG Commander, Col. Ramon Zagala said the PSG continues to make “necessary coordination” with the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Fire Protection, and other security agencies to ensure that there would be no untoward incidents before, during, and after the event.

Presidential helicopters during a rehearsal of landing and take off maneuvers at the helipad at the rear entrance of the House of Representatives. Ver Noveno 

“So these preparations have been planned since last week and we at PSG…we are prepared in coordination with the PNP so that everything will run smoothly from the time he arrives, he delivers the SONA, until he returns to Malacañang,” Zagala said.

There will be over 21,000 police officers deployed for the security of the event, according to the PNP’s National Capital Region Police Office.

The PNP is also set to enforce a strict gun ban in Metro Manila from July 22 to 27.

The PNP on Wednesday designated three freedom parks in Quezon City where protesters can hold their activities during the SONA.

PNP director for operations Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon said protesters can hold their rallies at the Quezon Memorial Circle, inside the compound of the Commission on Human Rights, and inside the University of the Philippines Diliman campus.

“We appeal to the organizers of the protest actions to limit their activities in these freedom parks to prevent disturbance of the smooth traffic flow in the area and to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the police,” De Leon said in a statement.

De Leon said the PNP will exercise maximum tolerance but warned of a corresponding response by civil disturbance management units on the ground if protesters will go out of the designated freedom parks.

“If they go out of the freedom parks and it will disturb traffic and peace and order, then we will disperse them at all cost,” he added.

 

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