House Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling told reporters at a briefing yesterday that all details of SONA preparations have been discussed after they conducted a walk-through of the House premises leading to the Plenary Hall.
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Batasan complex ready for Duterte’s 4th SONA
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — After a series of security and inter-agency meetings, the 16-hectare Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City is now ready for President Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA)on July 22 at the House of Representatives. 

House Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling told reporters at a briefing yesterday that all details of SONA preparations have been discussed after they conducted a walk-through of the House premises leading to the Plenary Hall. 

“We don’t usually deviate from past SONAs. If ever there are, these are very minor details,” he said, reassuring the public that the venue is safe and that they will not allow standing individuals in the 1,500-seat hall.

This year’s budget for the event is P4.7 million – P200,000 lower than 2018’s.

Romeo Prestoza, House sergeant-at-arms, said there is no credible threat to the President despite confirmation made by military and police authorities of the first Filipino suicide bomber in the June 28 bombings in Sulu. 

“There’s no substantial or credible threat,” he said. “If ever, we are always prepared. And we have extensive preparations and coordination with intelligence agencies like the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines).”

The installation and implementation of signal jammers for both Smart and Globe cellular phone subscribers will be entirely up to the Presidential Security Group, according to Prestoza. “They will be the ones to control it. We cannot dictate on them.”

As for food preparations, Maling disclosed that the menu will not be limited to Filipino cuisine. “The food will be varied, not necessarily Filipino. There will also be European dishes on the side and salads as well. But no final choice yet.” 

Arman Ferrer will be singing the national anthem in the morning when the 18th Congress convenes. But it is not yet confirmed if he will also be the one to sing when Duterte delivers his SONA by 4 p.m. 

The 18th Congress will have a total of 306 members, according to Maling, which is nine more than the 297 lawmakers in the previous 17th Congress that ended last June 30.

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