MANILA— The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday reminded protesters who will join rallies near the Batasang Pambansa ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's final State of the Nation Address (SONA) to observe health protocols amid the threat of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.
Several protesters started their march in parts of Quezon City on the morning of July 26 and are expected to converge near the House of Representatives, where the President will deliver his annual accomplishment report to Congress.
"Hindi din natin sila puwede i-deny the freedom of expressing themselves pero dapat compliant sila sa health safety protocols," Health spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.
"Mayroon po tayong variants of concern na atin pong binabantayan. Mataas po ang risk of transmission lalo na po kung maraming magkakasama at maraming tao," she said.
Aside from protesters, streets leading to the Batasang Pambansa are also expected to be filled with police officers as the Philippine National Police said it would deploy some 15,000 personnel for the event.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has committed to monitor the protests and ensure that the proper wearing of masks and face shields as well as physical distancing are properly enforced, she said.
"We will call their attention. We will try to make them heavily comply... Please minimize your interaction with other people," Vergeire said.
Duterte is set to deliver his final SONA at 4 p.m. where he is expected to outline his administration's efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic, among other national issues.