Actor Piolo Pascual and film director Joyce Bernal, along with a team from the Malacañang Presidential Broadcast Staff-RTVM, were denied access to shoot in the COVID-free Sagada Mountain province, where they were supposed to film background views for President Rodrigo Duterte’s next State-of-the-Nation Address.
In an emergency meeting held on Sunday, Bernal and her crew were asked by the Municipal Disaster Risk and Management Office (MDRRMO) to leave Sagada despite having travel papers and authorization from Malacañang.
In a statement posted on its official Facebook page, the Sagada Municipality said a coordinator from the Malacañang Presidential Broadcast Staff contacted the office of Sagada Mayor James Pooten and MDRRMO on July 1 requesting to shoot in the highland town for Duterte’s SONA to take place on July 20.
“Both declined the request,” the municipality wrote on Facebook.
However, on Sunday, the team was informed that Bernal and her crew escorted by military and PNP personnel were already on their way to Sagada to shoot.
“Upon the query of the body for any written communication regarding the video shoot, it was found that an email was sent by Direk Joyce
Bernal’s team after office hours on July 3, 2020, Friday. The letter was informing the Mayor of the team coming on the night of July 5,
2020. Attached to the letter was an Authorization Letter signed by Denis Wilfred P. Pabalan, executive director of the Malacañang Presidential Broadcast Staff-RTVM,” the statement said.
The statement further said that during the emergency meeting where Bernal was invited, the local authority explained their sentiments and reasons why they were not allowing her and her team to shoot any video material in Sagada.
“Direk Joyce clearly understood the decision of the body and she was apologetic. She appealed that they be given the night to rest in the Cellar Door and to ensure that their vehicles were ready for the long trip back to Manila.
The body agreed since they were already at the Cellar Door,” the statement concluded, adding that their Local COVID Task Force would be conducting monitoring activities for the Cellar Door management to ensure that those in the establishment underwent a mandatory quarantine.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Sagada also released a statement explaining the incident. Mayor Pooten said Bernal and her team were asked to leave the highland town because they were giving the health and safety of his town utmost priority. He said no permits or authorizations could change their decision to keep the town sealed from visitors and tourists.
Manila Standard reached out to Star Magic, the agency that manages Pascual, but no comment was given aside from a promise that a statement would be disseminated once they got hold of Pascual and Bernal.
Malacañang, meanwhile, said President Rodrigo Duterte could either physically deliver his fifth SONA at the usual venue or do it virtually.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said there were only two options for Duterte to deliver his SONA on July 27 amid the pandemic.
Should Duterte opt to physically show up at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Roque said, only 50 percent of the membership of both the Senate and House would be allowed to attend.
In the areas under the modified general community quarantine, the least restrictive of all quarantines, a 50 percent attendance of guests is permitted.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said he wanted Metro Manila and Calabarzon to shift to MGCQ to reopen the economy.
Last month, Roque floated the possibility of having a “blended” style of SONA, referring to a combination of having guests physically present while others may opt to watch from their television sets or online.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said there was a suggestion for Duterte to deliver his next SONA in Malacañang.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the SONA would likely be conducted via teleconferencing, which has been the method used by Congress to hold sessions and committee hearings.
Duterte delivered his past four SONAs in the Session Hall of the House at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City. With Dave Leprozo
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