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House official clarifies total budget for SONA 2024 at P20M

The government will spend P20 million for the third State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., House of Representatives Secretary General Reginald Velasco clarified on Wednesday.

Velasco initially said that the money would only be used for food expenses

In his latest statement, Velasco said the P20 million would go to the following:

  • food and beverages for all personnel involved, including internal staff and external personnel such as police, MMDA officers, and other support staff, during the day of the SONA, and also for all preparatory activities leading up to the event
  • uniforms for around 2,000 Secretariat employees (three sets of uniforms each), which will be used not only for the SONA but also for their day-to-day duties after the event
  • security expenses, including personnel and equipment, to ensure the safety and orderliness of the event
  • Inter-Agency Coordination Meetings of departments and agencies involved in the SONA preparation for seamless coordination and planning
  • invitations and giveaways for printing and distributing invitations and providing giveaways to attendees as a token of appreciation
  • equipment rental expenses for LED walls and other equipment needed to enhance the program’s audiovisual presentation and overall ambiance inside the plenary hall and within the vicinity of the Batasan Complex
  • potted plants and flowers, which will serve as decorations for the venue for a welcoming and dignified atmosphere
  • other incidental expenses such as collaterals, communication requirements, additional medical support from nearby hospitals, and other incidentals

"I would like to take this opportunity to clarify my recent statements regarding the budget allocated for the 2024 SONA. The amount of P20 million I referred to represents the total budget earmarked for the preparations and execution of the SONA," Velasco said.

"This figure is an estimate and has not yet been fully expended. The budget covers a range of essential expenses to ensure the event’s success, beginning on March 12, 2024, when the SONA Task Force was created," he added. 

Velasco then gave assurance that the SONA budget would be used properly. 

"I want to assure the public that we are committed to transparency and responsibility in spending public funds. Every peso allocated for the SONA is carefully scrutinized and managed to reflect the significance of this constitutionally mandated event while being conscious of public sentiments regarding the use of taxpayers' money," he said. —VBL, GMA Integrated News