Press Release
July 25, 2020

Zubiri: SONA is Crucial in Directing Fight Against COVID

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is looking to President Rodrigo Duterte to use the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to address the next steps for the country in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is a crucial period--we're easing community quarantines across the country but we're still battling the rapid spread of the virus. So the SONA is very timely, and I'm hoping the President will spell out the next crucial steps for us," Zubiri said ahead of the SONA.

Zubiri will be present at the Batasang Pambasa Complex for the SONA, along with a number of other senators. Others are expected to attend virtually, as safety measures dictate a drastically limited audience for the usually-packed address.

"Of course, we want to know about the plans for the vaccine, which is the one thing we need in order to finally end this COVID-19 crisis," he said. "It would be great to hear about the government's procurement plans for it, and perhaps a timeline of when we should expect the vaccine to be made available to our hospitals and our people."

"Other countries are already working with and negotiating with vaccine developers and manufacturers for a quick and easy procurement process once they're available. I hope we have plans to do the same. We can't afford to get left behind."

"We in the Senate are ready to include the budget for the vaccination program in the Bayanihan II bill, or maybe the 2021 national budget," he committed. "We just want to hear about the plan from the executive first, so we can align our measures accordingly."

"In line with that, I hope the President will touch on our COVID-related priority measures in his address as well, particularly the Bayanihan II bill, which we hope to pass on third reading right after the SONA," he said.

"We're still at something of an impasse for the economic stimulus package provided in that bill, and it's been difficult getting the House, the Senate, and the Department of Finance on the same page regarding the amount. I'm hoping to get some guidance from the President, so we can move forward."

"I am also going to be looking out for a mention of CREATE--the revised CITIRA bill, which now puts an emphasis on economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic. I hope the President shares our view that this measure needs to be passed urgently."

CREATE--or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act--proposes an unprecedented 5 percent corporate tax cut. This is to help businesses rebuild, recover, and retain jobs for their employees. Beyond jumpstarting the economy, Zubiri also brought up the impact of COVID-19 on education, saying, "I also hope to hear the President talk about the incoming school year, which is going to be challenging. I'm talking from the province right now, and I know first-hand how difficult it is to get internet connection in remote areas--if families even have devices to use in the first place."

"He signed the GMRC and Values Education Act last month, so I hope he also touches on that and the importance of GMRC today, especially since we are expecting our students to spend more and more time online, as they attend their classes remotely."

"Schooling is a big concern for students and parents across the country right now, so I hope the President addresses this."

"The number one concern right now is, how do we recover? How do we get things going again? That is what everyone will want to hear from the President in his SONA."

News Latest News Feed