(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to deliver his last State of the Nation Address before he steps down as the country’s chief executive in 2022.
The President’s sixth SONA will take place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, with countries worldwide still on their toes as COVID-19 virus variants continue wreaking havoc on people and economies.
In the Philippines, the Department of Health has confirmed the local transmission of the highly transmissible Delta variant, with the total Delta variant cases now at 119.
The confirmation has prompted the national government to re-impose restrictions, chief of which was the withdrawal of a recently-announced national policy allowing children outdoors, in designated areas, and the reclassification of Metro Manila and several provinces as general community quarantine areas with heightened restrictions.
The Metro Manila Council has also announced longer curfew hours.
The President is expected to update the nation on the country’s roadmap to recovery, as he attempts to accomplish as much as possible in his less than a year left in office.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has said the President wouldn’t touch on his political plans after stepping down in his speech, which will be televised nationwide.
But President Duterte has already teased about running for Vice President in the next polls, although it is still unclear whether he will push through with this.
The Philippine National Police has said around 15,000 policemen will be deployed to secure the President’s SONA, but has given the assurance no security threat had been monitored so far.
The National Capital Region Police Office has said, nevertheless, police personnel would use body-worn cameras to help monitor the movements of suspicious persons who may be planning to disrupt the event.
On Sunday, Speaker Lord Velasco said health protocols were already in place in the Batasang Pambansa where the speech is expected to take place.
Only some, however, are expected to physically attend amid the Delta variant threat.
Vice President Leni Robredo’s camp, in particular, has said she would attend the event via Zoom.
PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar has urged those planning to hold rallies to conduct those virtually instead, noting the risk of transmission of the Delta variant, which the DOH has said could be up to 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant first detected in the United Kingdom.
“Sa ilan nating mga kababayan na patuloy pa ring nagpa-plano para sa isang rally, nagpapa-alala ang inyong PNP na lubha pang delikado ang ganitong klaseng pagtitipon lalo na at may kumpirmasyon na ng local transmission ng Delta variant ng COVID-19. Mas ligtas na makinig at manood na lang tayo ng SONA sa ating mga tahanan,” Eleazar had said.