Police intelligence experts are looking at a number of possible threats to President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address on July 23, even as his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, has confirmed he again will not attend the annual rite with Congress.
Police Director Gregorio Pimentel of the Philippine National Police Directorate for Intelligence on Monday told newsmen at Camp Crame security forces are doing routine evaluations of possible threats for the occasion.
Apart from the usual street protesters, Pimentel said the PNP is also watching out for lawless elements and “threats of mass support movements as well as terrorist groups.”
They, however, will not have to look out for former President Aquino, who has declined an invitation to appear at the Sona for the third straight year, the House of Representatives’ Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Special Affairs Bureau said.
Former presidents and national officials are invited to the Sona as a matter of protocol and tradition.
The House bureau, meanwhile, said Vice President Leni Robredo—a Liberal Party mate of Aquino who has been more critical of Duterte of late—confirmed her attendance during the event.
“VP Leni is attending Sona; [former] President Aquino already sent regrets,” the IPRSAB said in a message to reporters.
As of press time, the bureau said former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada, former Senate Presidents Juan Ponce Enrile, Aquilino Pimentel III, and Manny Villar, and former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. would attend the Sona.
Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who preceded Aquino as President, is also expected to attend the event.
As this developed, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri warned that the Sona would be a “mess” and senators might walk out if the event is used to convene Congress into a constituent assembly to propose changes to the 1987 Constitution.
“They might walk out. A lot of the senators might just stand up and walk out. It will be a mess,” Zubiri said in an interview with ANC.
“I’d suggest not to do that. That would be very controversial…I hope they don’t do it,” he added. With PNA