A broad coalition of groups and personalities urged Filipinos to stand united by taking part in activities leading to and on the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.
In an online protest dubbed #SONAgkaisa, groups known to have political differences gathered on Friday, July 17, to express the people’s unity and strongest resistance against the Duterte administration’s policies.
The online rally was participated by representatives from multi sectoral groups such as Kilusang Mayo Uno, ABS-CBN Union, Federation of Free Workers, Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Karapatan, Save Our Schools Network, Bahaghari Metro Manila, #BabaeAko, Movement against Anti Terrorism Act, Migrante, Green Thumb Coalition, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, 360.org, Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa, and Laban ng Masa among others.
Other opposition personalities also registered their support for #SONAgkaisa including former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, former Commission on Human Rights Chair Loretta Rosales, former DSWD Sec. Corazon Soliman, former senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc, activist-nun Sr. Mary John Mananzan, and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago.
“Ngayong darating na SONA, mas matinding pagkakaisa ang kinakailangan natin gawin…Magkakaroon tayo ng iba’t-ibang mga kilos protesta para kalampagin ang gobyerno sa makupad nitong pagkilos, sa katiwalian, sa panggigipit, sa anti-terror bill, at iba pang mga mabibigat na usapin,” said opposition leader Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.
(In the upcoming SONA, we should create greater unity. We will hold protests to call the attention of the government in its slow response to the pandemic, to corruption, to harassment, the anti-terror law, and other pressing issues)
Groups said other #SONAgkaisa protests will be organized in the coming days to express their opposition to Duterte’s upcoming SONA emphasizing the government’s “ineffective and militaristic response” to the coronavirus disease.
These protests will also be held to also denounce the denial of franchise renewal for media giant ABS-CBN,the enactment of the controversial anti-terrorism law, the harassment of critics, and other anti-poor and anti-democratic policies.
In a statement read by her representative, Senator Leila De Lima, a fierce critic of the Duterte administration, lamented the “pathocracy” of Duterte whom she described as a “psychopathic leader” and whose regime is “vindictive, murderous, power-hungry, morally-bankrupt and abusive.”
“We cannot allow our country, a cradle of democracy, to fully become a pathocracy ruled by a psychopathic leader…Let the reckoning begin now,” she added.
In defense of the defenders
Groups also slammed the ripe arrests and filing of charges against activists and government critics during the lockdown. With the anti-terrorism law, they warned its implementation could lead to more government abuses.
Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno said he and other lawyers are willing to help in case human rights violations and harassment will happen against SONA protests.
“Huwag tayo magpapsindak, kaming mga human rights defenders ay handang tumulong kung sakaling may mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa darating na SONA, (Let us not cower, we human rights defenders are ready to help in case there will be human rights abuses in the upcoming SONA)” he said.
Concered Lawyers for Civil Liberties (CLCL) Spokesperson Antonio La Vina said that they will continue to act against the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 citing the petitions challenging the law filed before the Supreme Court.
‘Militant as ever’
While actions on SONA will be staged nationwide, the main rally will still be held in Quezon City, according to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes.
This year’s “SONA ng mamamayan” is inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Reyes, reiterating that health protocols will be observed during the rally.
“Sa mga dadalo, please come in your COVID-19-inspired attire at ipakita natin ang sama-sama nating paninindigan (To those who will attend, please come in your COVID-19-inspired attire and let us show our unified stand),” he reminded.
“Ang pagkilos natin ay palaban, habang ino-observe ang physical distancing, ang kalusugan, wearing of face masks, at (mayroong) maingay na protesta,” Reyes added.
(Our action is militant, while observing health and safety protocols such as observing physical distancing and wearing of face masks, among others. We will have a loud protest.)
“Sa halip na matakot at umatras, lalong dapat lumaban, lalong dapat magpahayag ng galit (Instead of backing down, we should fight more and show our indignation),” Reyes expressed. – Rappler.com