Officials from the House of Representatives on Wednesday said strict physical distancing and health protocols will be implemented inside the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City during President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.
In a media briefing, House Deputy Secretary-General Ramon Ricardo Roque said health screening, sanitation and disinfection, and limiting of personnel and guests within the Batasan premises will be strictly implemented.
Roque said face masks shall be worn at all times, with an added requirement of face shields for those entering the session hall.
The physical distancing of two meters shall be strictly followed. Floor markings of at least six feet apart will be placed at all entrances, elevators, and places with foot traffic.
Roque said mandatory swab and rapid testing will be done, particularly prioritizing those who will enter the session hall during the opening of the second regular session in the morning and SONA in the afternoon of July 27.
“Senators, House members, guests, technical staff who shall be physically present at the opening in the morning and the SONA in the afternoon shall undergo mandatory RT-PCR or swab tests… on July 26, Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” Roque said.
“Mandatory rapid tests [shall be conducted] on July 27, 6 a.m. to 12 noon for House members and staff. For the senate they will have their own collection venue, as well as for Malacanang,” he added.
Roque said anyone who tests positive for Covid-19, whether through swab or rapid test, will not be allowed to enter the plenary hall.
House Secretary-General Luis Montales said the number of House members that would attend the opening of the session would not exceed 25.
Montales noted that the same set of House members will be attending the SONA in the afternoon.
Roque also highlighted that the checking of body temperature, disinfection, and submission of health declaration forms will be conducted at all building entrances.
Persons with a temperature reading of 37.5°C or higher shall be denied entry and redirected to quarantine tents attended by the House’s medical personnel.
“The medical service shall oversee the implementation of health and sanitation protocols. These include the reporting of suspected, probable, and confirmed cases and monitoring of health conditions of reported cases,” Roque said.
House sergeant-at-arms Ramon Apolinario said the entire House of Representatives will be placed on lockdown on Friday (July 24) as part of security protocols to enable all security forces and other utility personnel to disinfect, clean, and clear all areas, especially the session hall.
Apolinario said city police district and fire marshal shall be in charge of security outside the complex.
House officials earlier announced that no members of the media will be allowed inside the Batasan Complex during the fifth SONA.
Only members of the Presidential Broadcast Staff-Radio Television Malacañang (PBS-RTVM) will be authorized inside the chamber’s premises to cover the SONA.
The House advised media companies to hook up to the live feed of the People’s Television Network (PTV) or the live stream of the Presidential Communications Operations Office and RTVM Facebook pages and RTVM YouTube channel.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Duterte will be “physically present” at the Batasang Pambansa Complex to deliver his fifth SONA, while allowing only a limited number of 50 guests in the venue.
“The President will be physically present in Batasan pagdating po ng (for his) SONA,” he said in a virtual Palace briefing. “He has confirmed that he will attend unless there are supervening events.” (PNA)