Andanar, Alvarez: SONA preparations underway

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Mondaygave an update on the ongoing preparations for the First State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Introduced to the Malacanan Press Corps (MPC) a member of the SONA committee, incoming Department of Finance (DOF) spokesperson Atty. Paola Alvarez, who also served as spokesperson of the PDP-Laban party.

During the briefing, Alvarez discussed plans for the SONA on July 25. Of particular interest to members of the MPC was the change in the manner by which the SONA will be conducted starting with the dress code.

Alvarez said attendees and invited guests are discouraged from making the SONA a red carpet event. “We will downplay the event. It will not be a fashion show. So we want to center on what the President’s message is to our people, especially it’s his first State of the Nation Address,” she said.

Guests will be requested to wear business attire and the ladies should refrain from wearing long gowns, she stressed.

President Duterte’s first SONA will be handled by internationally-acclaimed film director, Brilliante Mendoza, who is rendering his services pro bono. Alvarez said it is the director’s task to oversee the flow of the program and choose the right camera angles during the President’s speech.

Militant groups will be allowed to air their grievances but are encouraged to do this in a calm and peaceful manner that would not disrupt the proceedings. Even during his inauguration on June 30, PRRD showed empathy for militant groups by inviting them into the Palace. For the SONA, however, it will be up to the Presidential Security Group to decide if rallies would be allowed.

According to Alvarez, the tone of the President’s speech will be consistent with his personality. “I think based on his personality, he is one who takes charge and he is accountable for his actions all throughout. So I think it will be the same tone and there won’t be any blaming game.” Alvarez said.

The President will be delivering his 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda and detailed plans on what he promised during his campaign. He will also push for federalism and amendments to the Constitution.

Alvarez said that although there is a proposal to lower the age of juvenile liability, children will not be included in the death penalty. Tax reforms will also be part of the SONA agenda. PND