Every peso allocated for SONA 'carefully scrutinized': House exec

House Secretary General Reginald Velasco (House Press and Public Affairs Bureau)
MANILA – House Secretary General Reginald Velasco on Wednesday assured that every peso allocated for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s third State of the Nation Address (SONA) is carefully scrutinized and managed.
In a statement, Velasco said the budgetary allocation for this year's SONA balances the significance of the constitutionally mandated event with the public sentiments regarding the use of taxpayers' money.
"As Secretary General of the House of Representatives, I want to assure the public that we are committed to transparency and responsibility in spending public funds," Velasco said.
"Our goal is to ensure that the 2024 SONA is conducted with the highest standards, reflecting our dedication to serving the people with integrity and accountability," he added.
He clarified that the amount of P20 million he previously disclosed in media interviews represents the total budget earmarked for the preparations and execution of the SONA
"This figure is an estimate and has not yet been fully expended. The budget covers a range of essential expenses to ensure the event's success, beginning from March 12, 2024, when the SONA Task Force was created," he said.
He said the P20 million budget includes food and beverages expenses, which cover meals for all personnel involved, including internal staff and external personnel such as police, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) officers, and other support staff.
This provision, he noted, is not only for the actual day of the SONA but also for all preparatory activities leading up to the July 22 event.
He said also included in the P20 million budget is the provision of three sets of uniforms for approximately 2,000 Secretariat employees that will be used not only for the SONA but also for their day-to-day duties after the event.
He said the budget also covers expenses for security measures, invitations and giveaways, rental for LED walls and other equipment, decorations, collaterals, communication requirements, additional medical support from nearby hospitals, and other incidentals.
Velasco earlier said this year's SONA is expected to have the biggest attendance in history with over 2,000 guests confirmed to attend.
The third and last session of the 19th Congress will open in the morning of July 22.
In the afternoon, the President will deliver his third SONA before a joint session of Congress.
Security preps
On Wednesday, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director Brig. Gen. Redrico Maranan led an inspection of the local police's assets to be used for the occasion, including mobility and communication equipment.
He said the deployment of police personnel for the maintenance of peace and order within the vicinity of the Batasang Pambansa will start as early as July 20.
"Ang result ng ating inspection ngayon ay nagsasabi ang QCPD ay handang handa na sa ikatlong SONA ng ating Pangulo (The result of our inspection shows the QCPD is ready for the third SONA of our President)," Maranan said in an interview.
Maranan urged protesters to follow rules and to police their ranks to avoid untoward incidents.
He said they will be recommending to allow protesters to hold SONA-related programs along Tandang Sora in Commonwealth Avenue.
Maranan, however, warned rallyists against setting effigies on fire, which is a violation of Batas Pambansa 880 or the Public Assembly Act.
"Kapag may nagsunog ng effigy siyempre huhulihin natin kung sino yung nagsusunog at magfile tayo ng demanda (If somebody burns an effigy, we will catch those who did it and we will file charges)," he added. (PNA)

Last Modified: 2024-Jul-11 07.00 +0800