Palace says BBM drafting wide-ranging roadmap for recovery, growth
Plans for the nation’s overall health—its economic recovery, the resumption of face-to-face classes, and his administration’s COVID-19 response—are high on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA), which he himself is crafting, Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez said Friday.
“It’s all about our economy, the economic plans. With the face-to-face opening of this coming school year, it’s all about COVID response, and when we speak of COVID response, it’s not only about health, it goes all the way to the entire cycle of the economy, not just health, the economy, you go into education, and so on and so forth,” he said.
Rodriguez added that Marcos would also talk about the digitalization of the government, the projects of the Department of National Defense focusing on the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program “Horizon 3,” and plans of the Department of Agriculture, of which the President is the Acting Secretary.
The Chief Executive’s plans on energy, trade, and finance will also be “one of the most awaited parts of the speech,” he said.
Marcos is taking a hands-on approach to his first SONA and is busy drafting his speech that will be delivered at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on July 25.
“He’s the one writing his SONA message. And he will be very busy. Yesterday, we tried to relax his schedule so he can write,” Rodriguez said.
The Executive Secretary said he could not say how long the SONA speech will last, noting that it remains “a work in progress.”
He said, however, that a major part of this will be about the President’s thrust to ensure food security.
“It is his vision for us not only to have food security but food sovereignty. Meaning, if we can feed ourselves as a nation, if we can feed ourselves as Filipinos, I think we are on our way to where we want to be, much like where our neighbors are,” he added.
Marcos is expected to deliver his SONA in the plenary hall of the Batasang Pambansa before a joint session of Congress at around 4 p.m. Monday.
Around 1,200 people will be allowed inside the Congress, including over 300 congressmen, 24 senators, and members of the diplomatic corps. But only a limited number of guests and members of the press will be allowed in the gallery.
Article 7, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution requires the President to “address the Congress at the opening of its regular session.”
The President delivers the SONA every year, usually held on the last Monday of July, to report the state of the country, unveil the administration’s agenda for the coming year, and ask Congress to pass priority legislative measures.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday urged President Marcos to prioritize resolving human rights issues and to acknowledge them in his first SONA.
“President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should demonstrate a serious commitment to human rights in his first State of the Nation Address on July 25, 2022,” HRW said in a statement.
“After six years of [President Rodrigo] Duterte’s disastrous ‘drug war’ that killed thousands of people, Marcos needs to make a clean break by showing he is serious about accountability for past human rights violations as well as preventing abuses in the future,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at HRW.
This developed as thousands of Marcos supporters will join the watch party and street concert for the chief executive’s SONA.
Dubbed “SONA All: Kilos Suporta para sa Pagbangon at Pagkakaisa,” the festive event will be held near the Batasan Pambansa Complex in Quezon City starting 1 p.m. on SONA day.
The celebratory party is open to all Filipinos who are supporting President Marcos’ “leadership of unity,” according to former Anakalusugan Rep. and Malayang Quezon City chairperson Mike Defensor, who organized the event.
“We will be there to celebrate the start of reconciliation and unity among Filipinos under the leadership of President Bongbong Marcos,” said Defensor.
“With the problems confronting the nation, the Herculean task of putting back the economy on track and returning to the new normal will require the cooperation of all. We wanted to show PBBM that Filipinos will rally behind him so he could achieve that task for the progress of our nation,” he added.
Rep. Toby Tiangco of Navotas City, together with Mayors Along Malapitan (Caloocan City), Emi Calixto (Pasay City), Jeanie Sandoval (Malabon), and Wes Gatchalian (Valenzuela City) invited their constituents to join the SONA watch party.
San Jose del Monte City Rep. Rida Robes, convenor of the Kilusang Nagkakaisang Pilipino, said her constituents are also heeding the call for unity and will make their presence felt on SONA day.
More mayors from Metro Manila and nearby localities will also invite their constituents to join the concert, Defensor said.
Malayang QC president Edwin Rodriguez and former Councilor Winnie Castelo were tasked as the overall organizers of the event.
Rodriguez said their group mounted the event in response to President Marcos’ invitation for all Filipinos to watch his maiden SONA where he will discuss the key policies and priorities under his presidency.
Giant LED monitors will be placed in strategic areas near the President Corazon Aquino Elementary School (PCAES) on Batasan Road for the watch party.
The concert will feature bands and entertainers Repakol, Inner Voices, Arriba, Plethora, and other surprise celebrity guests.
The organizers sought the permission of the Quezon City government to use a portion of the Batasan Road for the festivities.