House to implement stricter security for Duterte's third SONA

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 12) — The House of Representatives will implement stricter security measures for President Rodrigo Duterte's third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, an official said.

House Sergeant-at-Arms Lt. General Roland Detabali said the Batasang Pambansa will be in a lockdown three days before Duterte's SONA and only those who have work will be allowed to enter its premises.

Detabali and other officials from Malacañang and the Senate met on Thursday to discuss details about what is considered to be one of the biggest political gatherings in the country.

The officials conducted a walkthrough in the venue and inspected the areas where the President will pass through on the day of the event.

While the security will be tight, Detabali said there is no imminent threat in the upcoming SONA.

More security equipment and military personnel, including those who helped liberate Marawi from terrorists, will be deployed to secure the premises.

"We have other agencies. Of course, these agencies have developed their capability to deal with emerging problems especially on terrorism, sabotage but we don't see any of these happening. We give it a little importance. But we are, just the same, preparing for this," he said.

About 3,000 guests are expected to attend the event, including former presidents of the country and even Vice President Leni Robredo, who earlier announced she will be heading the opposition.

Film director Joyce Bernal, who was tapped by the President to direct his SONA, also inspected the session hall Thursday afternoon.

President Duterte chose Bernal, who is known for her comedy films, to direct his third SONA.

Bernal said she aims to show the viewers the President's love for his country.

"Let's get into the psyche. Kung paano nya irereport yung nagawa niya at yung mga gaagawin niya pa sa Pilipinas. Gusto ko lang yung patriotic lang. Gusto ko sana ng magandang sequencing ng shots niya na in three shots makukuha ko pano yung pagmamahal nya sa Pilipinas," she said.

[Translation: Let's get into the psyche, how he will report what he has done and plans for the Philippines. I want it to be patriotic. I want good sequencing of shots that will show his love for the country.]

Meanwhile, lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc said they are expecting the SONA to be filled with invectives, threats, and false accomplishments.

Makabayan bloc is a group of opposition lawmakers from a coalition of leftist political groups including Bayan Muna, GABRIELA, ACT Teachers, Anakpawis, and Kabataan. The coalition is backed by activist groups representing different sectors. 

"Kung sinasabing direct from the heart nakakatakot yun. Kung maitim ang kanyang puso at maitim ang kanyang budhi. Baka kung anu-ano na naman sabihin niya laban sa mamamayan," GABRIELA Party-List Representative Emmi de Jesus said.

[Translation: If it's direct from the heart, it's frightening. If his heart and conscience are not clean, he might say things against Filipinos.]

Malacanang on Tuesday said Duterte will stick with the prepared speech and will "speak from the heart."

The lawmakers also said they will stage the biggest People's SONA since Duterte assumed his post, which will coincide with the President's speech.

They added that their members and supporters will unite to rally against alleged human rights violations and economic issues, among other issues hounding the Duterte administration.