For the second year in a row, Vice President Leni Robredo has been denied an invitation to physically attend President Rodrigo Duterte's final State of the Nation Address (SONA) scheduled on Monday (July 26).
Her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said on Saturday that Robredo received her invitation from Malacañang on Friday (July 16) but she was only asked to attend Duterte's address via videoconferencing app Zoom and not at the Batasang Pambansa.
Gutierrez said in a statement that, “Similar to the previous year, she was not asked to be physically present, but to join via Zoom. She will therefore be attending remotely.”
This is the second time that the Palace failed to invite the vice president to physically attend the president (SONA). She was also not invited to the Batasan last year, when the pandemic first forced the administration to conduct a hybrid format of the president’s address.
With the country still in the depths of the pandemic, this year's SONA will follow a similar structure. This time, though, at least 350 people – a mix of legislators, Cabinet members, dignitaries, and other visitors – would be allowed to attend.
Prior to the pandemic, Robredo had attended all of Duterte's previous SONAs despite their tumultuous working relationship. The vice president has always been a vocal critic of the president's policies, particularly the violent drug war and Duterte's attacks on the opposition.
Duterte, for his part, has questioned Robredo's leadership abilities, notwithstanding her office's anti-poverty and pandemic response measures receiving plaudits.
In his final State of the Nation Address, Duterte, like past presidents, is likely to focus on his administration's legacy. However, he will deliver his speech with the backdrop of his government's mishandling of the pandemic.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.
You may also be interested with: