Security preparations underway for Duterte’s third SONA

(Eagle News) — Preparations for the security measures during President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA) have already started.

The SONA security measures were discussed during the Inter-Agency meeting at the Andaya Hall of the House of Representatives.

Included in the said meeting were representatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Presidential Security Group (PSG), other Malacanang personnel, and officials of both the House and the Senate.

“We, the House Secretariat as well as the Senate, have been preparing and in fact are now ready for the most anticipated annual event in Congress — the SONA and opening of the third regular session,” House Secretary-General Cesar Pareja said in a press briefing on Thursday, July 12.

As for preparation on security measures, Sergeant-At-Arms Roland Detabali said that they are ready to secure the President, his first family, as well as other VIPs and guests.

He also assured that they will be ready for any eventuality.

“We have more assets now, available units, equipment, and techniques we’ve learned also from the experience in Marawi,” Detabali assured.

“Other agencies also developed their capabilities with the problems, especially terrorism. We do not see any of these happening. We’re ready for this.”

“We have a lot of partner agencies that will not only help with traffic control and other problems connected to SONA. We are confident that we will be coordinated and sure to be very accessible to any of our stakeholders,” he continued.

But Detabali also had a talk with the President’s security escort units and they will advise the President not to repeat his move during his second SONA of going outside the session hall to face the protesters.

“We’ve been talking with the Presidential Escort Units. For the sake of the president and the country, they will advise him not to do what he did last year,” he said.

There are 3,000 guests who are expected to attend the event. This is already double the 1,500 seating capacity of the session hall.

“The occupancy of the session covers 1, 500, that’s the seating capacity. We added some seats, around another 1,500. We just doubled the space. That’s the only limit allowed by the Bureau of Fire Protection. We don’t want to cloud the area,” said House Secretary General Cesar Pareja.