Duterte to deliver 5th SONA at Batasang Pambansa — Sotto

Maris Federez   •   July 16, 2020   •   946

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

“I just received word today that the President has decided to deliver his SONA in the Batasang Pambansa, the House of Representatives, on July 27,” Sotto announced during an online conference with Senate reporters.

But due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), they will limit the number of people who will be allowed entry to the Congress plenary hall.

Sotto said only 50 people will be allowed to attend – 25 from the executive and 25 from the legislative departments, which include office staff and security personnel.

And unlike the previous SONA, there will be no invited audience.

Sotto added that only nine members of the House of Representatives (HOR) and eight senators are expected to attend physically.

Sotto said he will be joined by Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis Tolentino, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher “Bong” Go, Sherwin Gatchalian and Pia Cayetano.

The Senate President said he agrees with the decision of the Palace.

“I agree with that decision of the executive department. We must give the country and the public and the people the semblance that your government is up and about and ready to continue with its job,” he said.

Sotto said attendees in the SONA are all expected to undergo rapid testing and comply with the health protocols to be implemented during the event.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, on the other hand, said it is not yet confirmed whether the President will personally appear in Congress or will just do a video telecast emanating from Malacañang.

“The venue is confirmed, it is Batasan pero ang alam ko po, hindi pa po 100% sure kung physically maga-attend ang president or mag-broadcast po from Malago to Congress,” Roque said.

Under the Constitution, the President is mandated to deliver his SONA before a joint session of Congress every fourth Monday of July. — (with inputs from Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

Lacson, Sotto test negative for illegal drugs

Maris Federez   •   November 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Senator Panfilo Lacson and running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday (November 22) underwent voluntary drug testing at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) office in Diliman, Quezon City, and tested negative for drug use, a statement from the Partido Reporma said.

Earlier in the day, Sotto said: “Magkaalaman na kung sino matatapang”.

The Lacson-Sotto tandem said their move was to show that they are drug-free and fit to run in the 2022 national and local elections.

Sotto earlier said that ordinary drug tests only determine “shabu” or  “marijuana” use.

However, the PDEA test that they took, he said, is a ‘’multi-drug one-step immunometric assay for the detection of drugs of abuse in urine.’’

In the statement, Lacson said he and Sotto took a multi-drug screening procedure, which is capable of detecting all types of illegal substances in a human body. They both tested negative for illegal drugs.

The tandem went through all the protocols from the signing up of forms to the submission of their urine samples where an attending physician monitored them closely to ensure the authenticity of the tests.

Last Friday, Lacson suggested Friday conducting a random drug test to candidates following President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on an unnamed presidential candidate who was into cocaine.

“I have never been addicted to drugs all my life, so I have no problem with that. In fact, we should all undergo random testing to make it more credible,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an ambush interview in General Santos City, Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go who is also running for president, reiterated that, although it is not mandatory, he is willing to undergo drug testing any time of the day.

“Ako naman po willing magpa-drug test anytime of the day. Anytime po kung kakailanganin,” Go said.

“Though hindi mandatory, pero just to prove lang po sa Pilipino kung sino yung fit na mamuno sa ating bansa ay willing po akong magpa-drug test, any time of the day po,” he added. —/mbmf

Lacson, Sotto officially launch tandem for presidential, VP posts

Maris Federez   •   September 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III, on Wednesday, officially launched their tandem on their bid for the presidential and vice-presidential posts in the 2022 National Elections.

The pre-taped campaign launch was attended by few family members, friends, former co-workers, and supporters who were tested for the coronavirus before the event. Other supporters joined the tandem via teleconference and taped testimonies.

Sotto took the stage first to signify his intention to be the country’s second in command.

“Ang inyo pong lingkod ay naririto para harapin ang hamon sa tamang panahon na maging kandidato ninyo sa pagka-pangalawang pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas,” Sotto said.

After raising national issues, such as poor economy, rising COVID-19 cases, corruption, and poverty, Sotto said the Filipinos have had enough.

“Tama na! Kailangan na nating tumugon! Kailangan na nating umaksyon! Kailangan na natin magsanib pwersa upang mapigilan at maitama ang mali. Ito na ang simula,” he said.

In his own speech, Lacson mentioned how President Rodrigo Duterte admitted in his final State of the Nation Address “that he was wrong to think that leading the country is simple and easy as leading Davao City.”

“Walang debate sa katotohanan. Hindi natin dapat payagan ang maling akala para sa kinabukasan ng ating bansa,” Lacson said.

Lacson stressed that the challenges that await the next administration are no joking matter and that they should be addressed with honest, dedicated, and competent public service.

“Mayroon kaming sapat na kakayahan, katapatan, at katapangan upang pamunuan ang ating bansa at upang muling bumangon sa ating pagkakalugmok,” he said.

Lacson and Sotto said they are gunning for “leadership by example.”

“Hindi sa salita kundi sa gawa. No leader can succeed if he cannot practice what he preaches,” Lacson said.

Lacson said they are in the process of crafting their platform of government that they want to present to the people.

“As we speak, we are in the process of drawing up a roadmap or a master plan that will serve as our platform of government that we intend to present to our people. After all, sa takdang panahon, kayo ang magdedesisyon kung karapat-dapat ba kaming pagkatiwalaan na mamuno sa ating bayan,” he said. —/mbmf

Deployment of SONA cops pending COVID-19 test result a breach of protocol – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The deployment of cops still awaiting results of their COVID-19 test during President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) was a breach of protocol, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

“We will say that there was this breach because we have guidelines for that at alam po natin that they should not have been deployed kung hindi pa po natin alam ang resulta,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.

The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) on Wednesday reported that 82 of its personnel have contracted COVID-19, 51 of whom were part of the security contingent deployed during the SONA on July 26.

Vergeire stressed that if testing was done for screening purposes, they should have been quarantined first before their deployment.

The DOH is also not dismissing the possibility that the cops who caught COVID-19 could be super spreaders.

Vergeire called on those who may have had contact with the cops, particularly the protesters last Monday, to get in tough with local authorities.

The DOH is also closely monitoring with the Quezon City government for the conduct of active contact tracing.

“Hindi po natin dapat pinagpapabukas ang contact tracing dahil isang araw lang po na hindi natin mahanap iyong taong nakasalamuha o nakapag-interact sa isang positibong kaso, maaari na po nating maikalat ang impeksyon,” Vergeire said.

PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar on Thursday morning announced he has ordered the relief of QCPD Station 3 commander, Police Lt. Col. Christine Tabdi over the incident. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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