Change is also coming to the annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will deliver his first on July 25 before a joint session of the Congress.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, incoming Finance spokesman Paola Alvarez said that Duterte’s first SONA will not be a fashion show as what it has turned into. The annual event, rather, will center on the new President’s message to the people.
“For the SONA, it would be different in a way that we’ll be minimizing the entourage, 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,” Alvarez said in a press conference in Malacanang.
“It would be a different take because our guests will be requested not to wear their gowns, as what we have previously seen in the past SONAs,” she added.
Alvarez urged all guest to wear modest dress. She further noted that female guests have the option to wear a Filipiniana but that it should not go any longer than the knees.
“During the previous SONAs, most people see that this is an occasion where people tend to flaunt their gowns, their dresses; we want to step away from this norm and we want to bring back the real essence of this state of the nation,” Alvarez said.
“If you will compare it with other countries, these countries do not actually look on the gowns of the guest but more on the message of the President – so this is what we want to do. We would also be seeing this throughout the six years, provided that our members would be more than willing to follow our dress code,” she added.
Duterte is fond of casual attire. During the Air Force anniversary celebration earlier this month, the President paired a traditional barong Tagalog with denim jeans.
Meanwhile, Alvarez said that they also planned to minimize the number of people who will greet the President when he arrives at the Batasan Pambasam in Quezon City.
She said only the incoming House Speaker and the Senate President will be there to greet Duterte and the majority leaders of both Houses will escort him inside the plenary hall.
The SONA marks the opening of the regular session of Congress on the 4th Monday of July in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.
The 1987 Constitution’s Article 7, Section 23 states, “The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session. He may also appear before it at any other time.”
The SONA is the main policy speech of the president yearly where he is expected to report on his achievements as well as plans for the future in the hopes of securing congressional support for his legislative agenda.