President Rodrigo Duterte will be physically present at the Batasang Pambansa when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, Malacañang said on Monday.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the President shall address Congress every fourth Monday of July.
The Senate and the House of Representatives annually convene on that day for their regular session.
“I can confirm for the first time that the President will be physically present at the Batasan [on July 27],” Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said in a virtual briefing.
“He (the President) has confirmed that he will attend unless there are supervening events,” he added.
“I think it will be obvious that he would be talking about Covid-19’s impact on the country and steps taken to deal with [it and how we can rise from it],” he continued, referring to the coronavirus disease 2019.
Only 50 lawmakers would attend the event, according to the Palace official.
Roque advised protesters to air their grievances against the government “online” so as not to spread Covid-19, a possibility in a mass gathering.
Community quarantines continue to be imposed in the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Metro Manila’s Quezon City, where the Batasang Pambansa is located, is under general community quarantine.
Roque cited a Quezon City ordinance limiting to 10 the number of people who could gather and rally against the government at a time.
When asked if Malacañang was telling the police to prohibit rallies, he replied that authorities would enforce the city ordinance.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa also on Monday called on the protesters to hold their gathering against the SONA online.
Freedom of expression and public health should be tightly balanced in this time of the pandemic, he said.
According to PNP director of operations MGen. Emmanuel Luis Licup, the National Capital Region Police Office would conduct dialogues with various groups, urging them to also conduct their protests online.
With reports from DARWIN PESCO