SONA 2020

Who’s attending Duterte’s coronavirus-time SONA?

Sofia Tomacruz

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(UPDATED) The select few invited are Duterte’s key allies in Congress and Cabinet members who have delivered priority programs under the administration

Unlike in the past years, President Rodrigo Duterte will have a limited physical audience when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA), his 5th and second to the last, on Monday, July 27. (READ: Duterte to deliver SONA amid fear, dissent in pandemic-hit Philippines)

With physical distancing guidelines in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, only 50 officials and lawmakers have been invited to be at the Batasang Pambansa, while the usual guests – the Vice President, lawmakers Cabinet members, diplomats, and local officials – will witness the speech online via Zoom.

The select few who will be physically present in Batasan are Duterte’s allies in Congress and key Cabinet members who have delivered for the administration priority legislations, including two highly controversial ones: the rejection of a new franchise for broadcast giant ABS-CBN and the Anti-Terrorism Law his generals pined for.

A few hours before the 4 pm address, however, Senator Bong Go, who remains a close aide of President Duterte, told reporters that the SONA might be delivered from Malacañang after a number of those invited tested positive for the coronavirus. A decision was supposed to be made by 2 pm.

As of 1:30 pm, however, these were the officials set to witness Duterte’s SONA at the House of Representatives on Monday:

Cabinet members

  1. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año
  2. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
  3. Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado
  4. Agriculture Secretary William Dar
  5. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles
  6. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra
  7. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque
  8. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
  9. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III
  10. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea
  11. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade
  12. Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista
  13. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez
  14. Presidential Legislative Assistant Jacinto Paras
  15. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr
  16. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III
  17. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat

On Sunday, July 26, Vice President Leni Robredo announced she was not invited to attend Duterte’s SONA at the Batasan. It’s the first time the Vice President has not physically been present at the annual address, despite years of a rocky working relationship with Duterte. 


  1. Senate President Vicente Sotto III
  2. Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri
  3. Senator Bong Go
  4. Senator Bong Revilla
  5. Senator Ronald dela Rosa
  6. Senator Pia Cayetano
  7. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian
  8. Senator Francis Tolentino

District and party-list representatives, House officials

  1. Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano
  2. Luis Raymund Villafuerte
  3. Martin Romualdez
  4. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado
  5. Bambol Tolentino
  6. Bienvenido Abante
  7. Eric Yap
  8. Elpidio Barzaga
  9. Janette Garin
  10. Michael Defensor
  11. Robert Ace Barbers
  12. Secretary General Jose Luis Montales 
  13. Deputy Secretary General Brian Raymund Yamsuan
  14. Sargeant-at-Arms Ramon Apolinario
  15. Divine Yu
  16. Lani Cayetano
  17. Chicoy Alvarez
  18. Dan Fernandez
  19. Rannie Abu
  20. Dong Gonzales
  21. Juan Miguel Arroyo
  22. Rodante Marcoleta
  23. Wes Gatchalian
  24. Jesus Crispin Remulla
  25. Lord Allan Velasco
  26. Claudine Diana Bautista
  27. Paolo Duterte
  28. JayJay Suarez
  29. Sharky Palma

Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel earlier confirmed his attendance, but pulled out after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning. – with reports from Pia Ranada, Mara Cepeda, JC Gotinga/

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.