Is Marcos’s first SONA ‘simple,’ ‘traditional’? Not quite.

·2 min read
Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos (left) smiles with her son and President Ferdinand
Former first lady Imelda Marcos (left) smiles with her son and President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., during the inauguration ceremony at the National Museum in Manila, Philippines, June 30, 2022. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.’s “frugal” and “traditional” first State of the Nation Address (SONA) as president will have over 1,300 guests invited, a mainstream movie director running the entire show, and more than 20,000 troops will be deployed on the day of the speech in Congress, an official of the House of Representatives confirmed.

“Malacañang wants the event to be simple, more of a very traditional SONA. The president wants it to be simple, not much glamor, just a simple affair,” the Secretary-General of the House of Representatives, Llandro Mendoza, said.

The Batasang Pambansa complex, built during the time of the current president’s father and namesake, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was already being readied for the 1,360 invited guests, 70% of whom have already confirmed their attendance.

“We’re okay; it’s all systems go,” Mendoza said.

Among those who are expected to attend were Former Presidents Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and some members of the diplomatic corps, said Mendoza in an interview. Department of Education Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio will likewise be in attendance in the Batasang Pambansa.

However, Former Presidents Rodrigo Duterte and Fidel Ramos, and Former Vice President Leni Robredo have not yet confirmed whether they will attend.

“We already sent the invitations and the session hall will be ready by tomorrow. Everything is okay. We’re [more focused] on the security preparations here at the House,” Mendoza added.

Just like President Duterte’s SONA during the pandemic, Marcos’s SONA will also have a Zoom link for those who cannot attend physically. A choir from the president’s hometown of Ilocos will sing the national anthem.

The newly-renovated session hall, which used to have a limited capacity of 315 seats for lawmakers, has now 367 seats, and 1,357 in the gallery.

“Now that we’re preparing for face-to-face sessions, the capacity is more than enough, we still have space,” said Mendoza.

Meanwhile, the permit to rally usually given to progressive groups every SONA was denied by the Philippine National Police, saying that because SONA falls on a Monday, “the traffic there would be heavy,” and that this is entirely for the “benefit of the commuting public who are on their way to their work.”

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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