IN PHOTOS: SONA 2017 protest march
MANILA, Philippines – While President Rodrigo Duterte and lawmakers prepared for the annual State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 24, dissidents braved the scorching sun and the long path to Batasan.
Demonstrators from various leftist groups endured a 7.5-kilometer walk from the elliptical road embracing Quezon City Circle to the protest site at Batasan Hills.
Some gathered as early as 6:30 am at the University of the Philippines Diliman, while other demonstrators like Kadamay militant group flocked in front of the National Housing Authority by 8:00 am to demand for the government's housing projects.
After holding separate programs early morning to air out concerns specific to their sectors, the march towards Batasan began at around 10:00 am.
Demonstrators most prominently demanded from President Rodrigo Duterte a revocation of the martial law in Mindanao, and respect for human rights.
Martial law in Mindanao was recently extended by Congress up to December 31 after the President said it would take more time to quell the conflict in the besieged City of Marawi.
Human rights, on the other hand, has been a sensitive issue under Duterte's administration as the body count of drug-related killings continues to increase.
Demonstrators made sure that their presentation was not limited to square signs, and elevated their protest to other means of symbolic action.
Below, a protester dramatizes the submission of the Philippines to superpowers United States of America, and China.
Anti-Marcos group #BlockMarcos also put 2,500 footwears on Commonwealth Avenue to symbolize the thousands killed in Duterte's war against drugs.
As with other immense rallies, an effigy of the President was assembled, set to be burned after his address at Congress.
Smaller caricatures were also made for the mockery of the administration's mishaps and unfulfilled promises.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) gave the protesters three lanes for their march, guarding the roads from spillover of rally participants, while choking the traffic of Commonwealth Avenue towards Batasan Hills.
They reached the People's SONA demonstration site along IBP road near the Quezon City Polytechnic University and the Corazon Aquino Elementary School at 1:00 pm and began their program at 1:30 pm.
The police counted the crowd reaching 7,000 protesters.
By 1:20 pm, they reached their destination outside the Batasang Pambansa.
Chants continued to echo across the crowds, hoping that the President hear what they had to say, which he later did.