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Strict security, health protocols in place ahead of SONA –Velasco

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Sunday said that the health protocols and tightened security at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City were in place a day before President Rodrigo Duterte's final State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“It’s all systems go for Monday’s SONA. We are ready to receive the President for his much-awaited annual message for the Filipino people,” Velasco said in a statement.

The Batasan complex is under a strict lockdown and the expected 350 SONA attendees were shortlisted, Velasco said. From 1,450, over 300 people were allowed inside the House session hall, he added.

"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," read the statement.

Police barricades and checkpoints were established around the Batasan complex, the House leader also said.

"The flow of traffic within and around the Batasan complex is controlled with police barricades and checkpoints, keeping but the most essential vehicles—including members and staff cars—off the key streets around the complex," he said.

What to expect from SONA

Velasco said he expects President Rodrigo Duterte to his list of priority legislative measures.

“And during the SONA, we expect that PRRD may also ask Congress to pass certain legislative measures within the remaining time that we have," said Velasco.

For his part, House Majority Leader and Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez lauded the Duterte administration's legacies such as the passage of the Universal Health Care Act and free college education law, and reforms in taxation.

“Unthinkable for many generations in the past, but made possible under his administration. These are accomplishments difficult to surpass by any administration to come,” said Romualdez, in another statement.

House Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda also hopes that the SONA will include the achievements of the Duterte regime in addressing the climate crisis.

She noted Duterte signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2017.

"Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanya na ang Pilipinas ay miyembro sa Paris agreement," said Legarda in an interview over Super Radyo dzBB.

Before signing the agreement, Duterte was skeptical as he mulled pulling the Philippines out of  from the agreement if the countries' "controlling interests there" do not fix it. — DVM, GMA News