What is a State of the Nation Address (SONA)?
From the past SONA’s this seems to be both the President’s report to the nation, much like the Chairman of the Board’s report to the stockholders of a corporation. In it, the President reports achievements and gains, as well as (supposedly) what needs to be done, the direction the President wants to take the nation for the next year and possibly, her legislative agenda.
Why is the SONA held during the start of the regular session of Congress?
The simple reason is Section 23, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution that says:
Section 23. The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session. He may also appear before it at any other time.
While there is nothing the above-quoted provision that tells the President the topic he will discuss, the topics I have stated above has been traditionally the ones tackled by the President in such address.
When is the start of the regular session of Congress?
Section 15 of Article VI has the answer:
Section 15. The Congress shall convene once every year on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session, unless a different date is fixed by law, and shall continue to be in session for such number of days as it may determine until thirty days before the opening of its next regular session, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. The President may call a special session at any time.
The fourth Monday of July this year falls on 25 July 2005.
See how short this is?