SONA attendees to get QR-coded face shields

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
SONA attendees to get QR-coded face shields
An advisory signed by Senate Secretary Myra Marie Villarica to senators and their staff listed the requirements for their physical and virtual attendance at the SONA and joint session.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Those physically attending President Duterte’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) and joint session of Congress at the Batasang Pambansa complex on Monday will each be issued QR-coded face shields after passing at least two COVID-19 tests.

An advisory signed by Senate Secretary Myra Marie Villarica to senators and their staff listed the requirements for their physical and virtual attendance at the SONA and joint session.

All those entering the plenary hall of the House of Representatives must be fully vaccinated or already have two doses two weeks prior and must have the original vaccination cards with them.

Lawmakers and their staff also have to present a negative RT-PCR swab test conducted not more than 48 hours before July 26.

All those entering the plenary hall undergo a “confirmatory” Sofia antigen swab test to be conducted by the Presidential Security Group on Monday. Only those who test negative will be allowed in.

The PSG will provide the prescribed face masks and face shield with QR codes for entering the plenary building. Face masks and face shields worn before coming to the Batasang Pambansa are to be discarded.

Members of Congress are required to wear Filipiniana or barong attire. All those authorized to be in the plenary hall should be inside by 3 p.m. or an hour before the SONA starts.

President Duterte’s last SONA will focus on his accomplishments in the past five years amid the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. yesterday.

Duterte’s report card to the nation will also likely include the progress of the Build, Build, Build program spearheaded by Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, whom the Chief Executive has been publicly commending in the past months for delivering infrastructure projects under his watch.

Roque said Duterte was set to rehearse his SONA speech yesterday.

“The President is set to have his first SONA rehearsal today so his speech has been finalized,” Roque said, adding that Duterte does not really like to have changes in his speech although he is known to ad-lib.

According to Roque, Vice President Leni Robredo has been invited to the SONA.

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has announced that she will not be able to attend her father’s last SONA while Cabinet members are expected to come in full force.

Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar commended yesterday the efforts of the security, peace and justice Cabinet cluster in leading government programs against armed groups and insurgents.

At the pre-SONA forum held yesterday in Quezon City, Andanar lauded the cluster for being steadfast in ensuring the needs of Filipinos despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana discussed during the pre-SONA event held at Camp Aguinaldo the accomplishments in establishing peace and order in conflict-affected areas.

Lorenzana reported that the defense department, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and partner agencies, has offered social services to encourage rebels to return to the fold of government.

Over 18,000 former rebels have been reintegrated into the society since Duterte came into office through the initiative known as the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of Task Force Balik-Loob.

“Even though we are busy responding to the pandemic, the department continues to carry out its mandate of ensuring the security of the country from any form of threat, whether external or internal,” Lorenzana said.

Of the 18,433 former rebels that were reintegrated, 623 have joined the AFP, 748 were given resettlement and housing assistance and 21,549 and their dependents have graduated from skills training.

Anti-Endo bill

For the last time, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is seeking certification of the Senate’s version of the Anti-Endo bill as a priority measure for passage before the end of the Duterte administration.

“I just signed the letter addressed to the President recommending to the President the issuance of certification (for) the anti-ENDO bill pending before the Senate,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said during the Laging Handa public briefing yesterday.

“This is the last time we will ask that this be certified as urgent by the President. Hopefully, no one will oppose it anymore,” Bello added.

Bello noted that President Duterte was prompted to veto the proposed Security of Tenure bill approved by the Senate because labor groups opposed it.

Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez yesterday reported that the letter requesting the certification of the bill penned by Sen. Joel Villanueva has been sent to the Office of the President.

According to Benavidez, the Senate bill was substantially the same as the first one, except for the provision giving authority to employers and workers to determine which jobs cannot be contracted out. – Christina Mendez, Edith Regalado, Mayen Jaymalin


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