Robredo physically invited to SONA but skipping due to full-vaccine rule

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Robredo physically invited to SONA but skipping due to full-vaccine rule
In this Feb. 26, 2019 photo, Vice President Leni Robredo talks during the Ka Pepe Diokno Human rights award at De La Salle University in Manila.
The STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo will not be physically attending President Rodrigo Duterte's sixth and final State of the Nation Address on Monday due to the House of Representatives' full-vaccination requirement for attendees. 

Speaking in Robredo's weekly program aired over dzXL Sunday morning, her spokesperson Barry Guttierez disclosed that the earlier invitation asking Robredo to attend virtually was retracted, and she was now allowed to show up in person. 

Unfortunately, the new invitation came with a list of requirements, including full vaccination. However, the vice president's second coronavirus vaccine dose is still in the second week of August, he said. 

"Since I won't be fully vaccinated yet on the day of the SONA, I won't attend physically. I will attend via Zoom," Robredo was quoted as saying. 

According to House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, the Batasan complex is currently under strict lockdown, and those attending the SONA on Monday have been shortlisted.

Inside the House plenary, the president will address only around 300 people instead of the usual 1,450 under the special security and public health protocols.

VP physically invited after all

To recall, Gutierrez confirmed last week that Robredo was invited to attend the SONA, but only virtually over Zoom instead of in person. 

Gutierrez on Sunday said that after reports came out, House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza reached out with a new invitation. 

"Of course there were those who reacted [to the initial news], then after a few days, he clarified and said the opposite. He said there is a new list approved by the IATF and [Robredo] can go in person to the Batasan," he said in Filipino. 

READ: Robredo hoping for 'honest' Duterte on pandemic response, plans in last SONA

Robredo throughout her term has had a tense relationship with Duterte, whose words have always held sway in the lower chamber of Congress where he has a supermajority. 

The House of Representatives later Sunday said it was all systems go for the President's yearly address on Monday. 

“Strict security and health restrictions are in place to ensure the safety of the President, Members and staff of Congress and other invited officials and guests throughout the activity,” Velasco said earlier Sunday.

Special identification cards are given to essential congressional staff and SONA attendees, who must present their vaccination cards as proof that they are fully vaccinated, as well as negative results of their RT-PCR and antigen tests, prior to entering the buildings inside the complex.

 with a report from Xave Gregorio 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 27, 2021 - 10:58am

Follow this thread for updates on the preparations for and the delivery of President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address.

Photo: RTVM screengrab from SONA 2020

July 27, 2021 - 10:58am

President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address was a confirmation that killing is a government policy, rights group Karapatan says.

"Duterte knows the day of reckoning is coming for him with the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor’s request to investigate him for his crimes against the Filipino people. He may brag and pretend not to care, but his quip to 'add another' dead body amid the calls for accountability is an insidious — and serious — threat," the group also says.

July 26, 2021 - 6:35pm

President Duterte says the Delta variant of the COVID-19 is "far more aggressive and dangerous."

Duterte hopes the variant will not spread any further but if something wrong happens, "it will be just like what happened in the early days."

July 26, 2021 - 6:21pm

President Duterte claims his government launched the most extensive amelioration program in history with the passage of Bayanihan 1 and Bayanihan 2.

July 26, 2021 - 6:17pm

President Duterte talks about the pandemic response, joking that he may have the deadly virus that killed 27,000 Filipinos.

Earlier he told everyone to pray to God to solve the pandemic, which has left thousands of Filipinos out of work.

July 26, 2021 - 5:59pm

President Duterte revisits the issue with Metro Manila water providers, now Razon-led Manila Water Company Inc. and Pangilinan-led Maynilad Water Services Inc., which he earlier accused of forging "onerous" contracts with the government.

"I told (Finance Secretary) Dominguez, 'tell them that I am no longer honoring the contract,'" the president recalls telling his finance chief. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral

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