SONA 2021

SONA protesters brave COVID-19 to slam Duterte

Dwight de Leon

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SONA protesters brave COVID-19 to slam Duterte

DISSENTING. Activists smash a cardboard representing President Rodrigo Duterte during the SONA protest at the University Avenue in Diliman, Quezon CIty on Monday, July 26.

Photo by Dwight de Leon/Rappler

This year’s theme is 'Goodbye, Duterte'

There was no letup on dissent in Quezon City on Monday, July 26, as hundreds took to the streets to decry President Rodrigo Duterte’s crisis mismanagement during his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Several progressive groups braved the threat of the coronavirus and gathered at the University of the Philippines (UP) for demonstrations ahead of the chief executive’s speech at around 4 pm.

Protesters said Duterte’s incompetence left them with no choice but to march the streets.

This year’s SONA is the second to be held during the pandemic. Just like in 2020, protesters made sure that COVID-19 protocols such as physical distancing were strictly observed.

‘Goodbye, Duterte’

This year’s theme was “Goodbye, Duterte,” an unmistakable call by the opposition for the chief executive to immediately step down.

More than a year since COVID-19 began to terrorize the Philippines, around 27,000 people have succumbed to the disease. Contact tracing remains an issue, and many health workers still struggle with measly salaries. On top of these, only 4% of the entire population has been fully vaccinated.

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Protesters, however, were fully aware of the chief executive’s blatant efforts to remain in power beyond 2022, after he publicly floated a vice presidential bid in order to, in his own words, protect himself from lawsuits.

An effigy clearly mocked this goal of Duterte’s, depicting the president as a tuko (gecko) that wants to have a tight grip on power.

Monday’s protesters were unfazed by the president’s enduring popularity, and remained optimistic that in May 2022, when Filipinos cast their vote, Duterte’s leadership would finally end. –

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.