Another House of Representatives employee died today from COVID-19, days after President Rodrigo Duterte said that will physically deliver his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) before Congress.
Secretary-General Luis Montales told reporters that a 52-year-old male worker at the House’s Bills and Index Service division passed away this morning. He received his positive coronavirus test result on Monday.
The employee, who had a history of hypertension, was hospitalized on July 17 after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. He had been working from home since June 18 but went back to the Quezon City headquarters on June 29 to submit some documents.
He is the third House employee to die from the respiratory illness, and the 18th so far to contract the disease.
Montales assured the public earlier this week that the Batasang Pambansa, the building which serves as the House’s office, will be sanitized thoroughly after Duterte announced that he will deliver his SONA there on Monday.
“Again, we emphasize that we need to strictly follow the health protocols…Nothing short of collective action can keep everyone safe,” Montales said in a statement sent to reporters.
According to the protocol, however, only members of the presidential broadcast staff, Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM), will be granted coverage to the SONA.
“Media are advised to hook up to the live feed of PTV or the live stream of the Presidential Communications and RTVM Facebook pages and RTVM YouTube Channel,” Montales added in the same statement.
Amid the rising cases, many lawmakers have urged the president to deliver the address from his home instead. However, Duterte’s ally House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that the chief executive will not change his mind.
“I know for a fact that the president wants to do it there, that’s part of his leadership…So I expect the SONA to really be historic because it’s the first time that the whole world will have this kind of crisis,” Cayetano said in English and Filipino.
This article, House of Representatives staff dies of COVID-19 ahead of Duterte’s state address, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!