SONA 2020 to focus on recovery plans, healthcare system

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) will be full of optimism and hope, the same with his previous addresses, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said on July 27, 2020.

In an interview, Sec. Andanar said that the President will continue to pursue proposed measures to strengthen the country’s healthcare system and to improve the delivery of the government’s assistance to the vulnerable sectors.

“The SONA will be one that is full of optimism and hope as in the past shown as the President may discuss the achievements of the administration to date until the emergence of the covid-19 pandemic,” he said, noting resolutions and bills pushed by the administration such as the Malasakit Act and the Salary Standardization Law as some of its landmark legislations.

The President is also expected to talk about the government’s good fiscal management despite the pandemic.

“He may outline concrete plans to strengthen the government’s response to the pandemic, which will steer the economy towards social economic recovery,” he said.

The second version of the Bayanihan Act is also expected to be mentioned, which Secretary Andanar said will continue to give the government enough resources to provide assistance to the poor, and procure more health-related equipment.

He said that the passage of this will help the government achieve its testing goals as well.

“The Bayanihan Act will continue to give the government enough leeway to number one, feed the people. Number two, to be able to buy more health-related equipment so that we can test more of our population, so that we can easily bounce back to where we were before the pandemic,” he said.

Under the said bill, legislators have earmarked P140 billion for the purchase of more COVID-19 test kits, continuation of cash assistance for target beneficiaries, along with other subsidy programs for displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFW), extension of loans in credit facilities, and support for transportation, tourism, education, and agriculture industry.

With all its initiatives to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19, Secretary Andanar said that the government has done enough within its means, while partnering with the private sector through its Whole-of-Nation approach policy.

“We are all expecting a downturn in the economy. But we are also very optimistic that, by the end of the year, we will be able to rise,” he added.

With the current crisis, the Palace has earlier announced a limited physical attendance of senators, representatives, and local chief executives in the Congress for the SONA. As of writing, the venue may also change based on the turnout of swab testing of attendees.

The PCOO said they will be organizing virtual viewing for others who may not be able to attend physically.

“It will not be the same in terms of attendance compared to the past years. It is the first time that in observing the prescribed health protocols, the number of people who will be allowed inside Batasan will be very limited,” he said.

He also noted that the speech will only be about an hour and 20 minutes, excluding the ad libs that the President might add in between.

“The President will just breeze through his speech and, afterwards, the President goes back to Malacañang,” he said.