Here's what to expect during the first SONA of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is set to deliver his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City. This comes nearly a month after he was officially inaugurated as the highest-ranking official of the country in June.
According to the 1987 Constitution, the president is mandated to deliver the address before Congress at the opening of its regular session, which starts every fourth Monday of July. It is where the president reports the status of the country, what the government's agenda is for the coming years, and any suggestions for legislative measures that Congress may take.
Being the first of six SONAs Marcos Jr. will deliver, the event will set the tone of his presidency for the years to come. Here are the key details so far of Marcos Jr.'s first annual address.
Full capacity at Congress
The House of Representatives is expected to be at full capacity during Marcos Jr.'s delivery of his first SONA, according to House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza.
"Yes, full capacity tayo, face to face na ang gagawin natin. So we’re expecting 315 members to be present plus the 24 senators to be there. Members of the Diplomatic Corps, lahat ng invited guest natin sana makadalo," Mendoza told reporters.
Due to the strict protocols enforced to safeguard against the COVID-19 pandemic, this would be the first time that Congress will be allowed at full capacity since 2019. Former president Rodrigo Duterte held his last two SONAs in a mixed live and virtual setup.
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Deployment of 21,000 security personnel
In a significant increase from Marcos Jr.'s inauguration, there will be over 21,000 officers deployed for the security of the event, according to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
There will be a total of 21,853 policemen, soldiers, and other security officers safeguarding the event, in contrast to the 15,174 earlier announced. Of which, 16,964 will be coming from the NCRPO, 1,905 from the Philippine National Police (PNP), and 2,974 from other law enforcement agencies.
Police Maj. Gen. Valeriano De Leon, PNP director for Operations, had said that they are creating a special task force that will supervise implementation of security for the SONA of Marcos Jr. It will also be cooperating with other government agencies in rerouting traffic and keeping protesters at bay.
Gun ban to be enforced
PNP is also set to enforce a strict gun ban in Metro Manila from July 22 to 27.
PNP officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Vicente Danao Jr. said that he approved the six-day suspension of the permit to carry firearms outside residence (PCTFOR) for Marcos Jr.'s nation address.
"Just like what we did on inauguration day, three days before and two days after the actual date, nag-impose tayo ng gun ban. Temporarily, sinuspend muna natin lalo na iyong PCTFOR. Just the same, we will do it," Danao Jr. said to reporters in an ambush interview on July 14.
De Leon said that violators will be faced with criminal charges and can either be suspended or be perpetually disqualified from owning a firearm.
No permit, no rally
On the day of the event, rallies and mass demonstations will also be limited to only those who have secured a permit.
"With the current issues that confront the new administration, security forces anticipate that militant sectors [and] groups will use the SONA to stage mass actions. Likewise, threat groups may take advantage of the event to undertake their nefarious activities, which may disrupt the activities and endanger the lives of the people during the event," Natividad said.
However, Danao Jr. clarified, "Hindi naman natin sila pinipigilan sa pag-express ng kanilang mga sentimyento. Pero sabi ko nga, as long na hindi [sila makakadulot] ng trapiko, hindi mananakit ng tao at hindi sisirain ang any properties, siguro mas makakabuti kung doon na lang sila sa freedom parks where they can freely express their sentiments if ever."
Groups must get a permit from the local government, otherwise, they will be dispersed by the Civil Disturbance Management of the PNP.
The police force will also designate freedom parks where the groups can hold rallies such as the Quezon City Memorial Circle.