Ex-VPs Binay, Leni decline SONA invite

Ex-VPs Binay, Leni decline SONA invite

MANILA, Philippines — Former vice presidents Jejomar Binay and Leni Robredo have sent their regrets to the July 22 State of the Nation Address of President Marcos, while former president Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, have yet to confirm their attendance.

“So far, only former VPs Robredo and Binay have sent their regrets,” House of Representatives secretary-general Reginald Velasco told reporters in a briefing. “We are still waiting for the confirmation of VP Duterte.”

“We are giving much leeway to our VIPs, that’s their privilege. They can confirm their attendance at the last minute and they can also cancel at the last minute. We have always reserved a seat for them in the plenary hall,” he added. “As you know, we are inviting all these former VIPs.”

A total of 47 countries who have embassies in Manila, including the US and China, have confirmed that they will be sending their ambassadors to the annual presidential address at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

“Almost 99 percent have already confirmed their attendance,” Velasco said.

“So far, we have not received any confirmation yet from former president Duterte. As for Davao congressman Paolo Duterte, we assume that he will attend, just like the other House members,” he added.

Velasco also told House reporters SONA preparations are almost done, except for a few minor kinks, among them the delayed construction of some of Batasan areas, which should have been finished in the last week of June.

“We’re almost there. We will also have our final walk-through at the plenary hall. Everything is OK, and we’re just finalizing our seating arrangements. We will also be opening some viewing rooms. It is because our attendance has been overwhelming,” he related.

At the same time, the House official also warned that wearing of shirts that express any form of protest will be banned inside the complex, which may include caricatures or cartoons that depict some political color.

No destabilization

There is no report of any destabilization attempt against President Marcos ahead of his third SONA on July 22, the Philippine National Police said yesterday.

“We are not seeing any serious security threat, especially on the SONA of our President,” PNP public information officer Col. Jean Fajardo said at a news briefing in Camp Crame.

Fajardo said they are regularly coordinating with their counterparts from other law enforcement agencies for any possible threats.

At least 22,000 police officers will secure the SONA, with 6,000 deployed near the Batasang Pambansa complex. — Emmanuel Tupas


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