(UPDATED) 12AM June 27, 2021
The Presidential Security Group (PSG) is considering allowing individuals who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to physically attend President Duterte's last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
In an interview with state-run PTV-4, PSG chief Jesus Durante 3rd said they would eventually decide whether or not to require SONA attendees to be fully vaccinated.
"Time will come, we will adjust to that na magre-require po tayo na lahat ng lalapit o dadalo sa mga events ni Pangulo ay fully vaccinated na (and we would require all those who would get close to or attend events of the President to be fully vaccinated)," Durante said.
"But for now, we still adhere and still implement itong mga health and security protocols natin," he added.
Durante said the PSG was now on its "second" phase of security preparation for Duterte's last SONA.
He said ocular and site inspections within the Batasang Pambansa Complex have already been conducted.
"PSG started [planning] early on, as early as May, a security preparations for the President's SONA. We already conducted series of meetings with our counterparts as well as we already conducted ocular and site inspections," he said.
There will also be a security simulation exercise involving the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, according to Durante.
"This will be the last SONA of the President, so we will ensure and assure the Filipino people that it will go smoothly and safely as with the past State of the Nation Addresses of the President," he said.
Durante said there would also be a limited number of guests in Batasan, considering that there is still the Covid-19 pandemic.
He, however, did not mention the exact number of guests.
The President's family, members of Congress and their spouses, former presidents, foreign diplomats, government officials, and other dignitaries are usually invited to the annual SONA.
Durante said those who would not be invited could still watch the President's last SONA through video streaming.
"Until now, we are still in the state of pandemic. So, we implemented some measures. Hindi lahat makakadalo (Not everyone will be invited). Some will attend through [videoconference], and there will be a minimal number of attendees doon po sa (at the) plenary," he said.
Under the Constitution, the President must deliver an annual report to Congress every fourth Monday of July in a joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Traditionally, government officials, lawmakers and business leaders convene at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, where the President delivers his SONA.
But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, mass gatherings are prohibited.
Last year, attendees to Duterte's SONA were required to undergo a RT-PCR or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test a day before the annual event to ensure they were free from Covid-19 before being allowed entry to the Batasang Pambansa Complex.