MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte and attendees to his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) will undergo a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests a day before the annual event that will be held on July 27, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte and his guests need to undergo tests to make sure that they are free of Covid-19 before they head to the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City, which is the venue for the Chief Executive’s fifth and penultimate SONA.
“Lahat ng papasok po sa loob ng Batasan (All those who will go inside Batasan) will be subjected to [RT-PCR] testing on Sunday, the [day] before,” Roque said in a virtual press briefing aired on state-run PTV-4.
The latest health protocol came a day after the Presidential Security Group (PSG) confirmed that eight of its personnel assigned to the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea have tested positive for Covid-19.
The eight PSG personnel who contracted Covid-19 did not have any close contact with Duterte, PSG commander Col. Jesus Durante III ensured on Wednesday.
Roque said “strict” measures would be in place to protect Duterte and his guests against Covid-19.
The presidential family, members of Congress and their spouses, former presidents, foreign diplomats, government officials, and other dignitaries are usually invited to grace the annual SONA.
Roque said Duterte would be accompanied mostly by PSG members.
He added that 15 Cabinet members and 50 lawmakers are also invited to the SONA.
Roque said he was unsure whether Medialdea, who already tested negative for Covid-19, can attend Duterte’s penultimate SONA.
Roque, who will go to the Batasang Pambansa on July 27, could not also confirm the attendance of Duterte’s family to the annual event.
He said it is understandable if the presidential family skips Duterte’s SONA.
“I would understand if hindi makakarating (they would not be able to join [the SONA]). But I’m not sure. I’m not saying they will not be there,” Roque said.
Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Wednesday said she will skip the fifth SONA of her father to avoid the strict health procedures.
To mitigate the risk of exposure to Covid-19, Duterte will be delivering his SONA in a chamber separate from guests, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced Wednesday.
On his fifth SONA, Duterte is expected to present a roadmap that will help the nation recover from the effects of Covid-19 pandemic.
Roque said Duterte’s SONA will be aired live.
“As far as the speech of the President is concerned, sinabi ko na what will definitely be in the speech will be a roadmap for recovery. But as far as the other details are concerned, I’d rather that the nation listen to the President on Monday,” he said. (PNA)