MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has been advised by House Security through the Presidential Security Group not to make a surprise trip outside the Batasan Pambansa to meet with protesters after his third State of the Nation Address.
House Sergeant-At-Arms Roland Detabali on Thursday said he took up security concerns with the Presidential Security Group should the President do that again this year.
Detabali said the leaders of protesters may instead be invited inside the Batasan.
“He might invite them, the leaders might be invited after the SONA dito sa loob. That’s what we are preparing but of course according to the police they are also preparing for anything,” he said.
Detabali said protesters might be more prepared for a presidential visit and "pull off an incident".
“Baka natuto na sila kasi last year biglaan yun eh. They were not prepared but this year baka isipin nila ba pwede gawin ni presidente kahit madisgrasya yung ibang kasama nila they can do it," he said.
Security around the Batasan Pambansa complex will remain tight.
Troops that were deployed in the war in Marawi will be put on standby for the SONA.
“We’re confident that we will be more coordinated and sure to be very accessible to any of our stakeholders and our VIPs," he said.
As in previous years, Detabali said the complex will be on lockdown 3 days before the big day.
"Only those who have access to work here to deliver supplies and work on the facilities preparing for the SONA will be allowed access," he said.
Even the menu is a security consideration. House Secretary General Cesar Strait Pareja declined to give details on what’s being served to the guests.
“There could be some instances in some other countries when they know who the caterer is, they might do something bad about the food," he said.
The program, meanwhile, remains a work in progress. Pareja said they have invited the Tagum City Choir from House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s hometown to sing the national anthem.
About 3,000 guests have been invited and they are advised to avoid formal outfits like gowns and instead stick to Filipiniana, barong Tagalog or business attire.