SONA 2015: Protests turn violent

MANILA, Philippines – Protesters hit police with thin wooden poles at around 2 pm Monday, July 27, as they attempted to enter the South-bound side of Commonwealth Avenue, an area that was off-limits to them.

The brief scuffle happened a few hours before President Benigno Aquino III was set to deliver his 6th and final State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Policemen using protective equipment were seen on the floor, as some of the protesters pushed their way to the other side of the public road.

Authorities hosed down the protesters who resisted instructions to stay within the protest area.

Past 2 pm, police successfully barricaded the other side of Commonwealth Avenue, with the rest of the protesters instead proceeding to march towards their allocated area.

A man, identified by police as Eric Lopez, was arrested for alleged violence during the short commotion that lasted less than an hour. While in police custody, Lopez denied even joining the SONA protest.

Police said Lopez threw stones at the police barricade and hit them with a makeshift mast.

Another man was seen with a wound still bleeding near his eye. He was carried by around 6 men and kids to a nearby ambulance.   

While the violence brought the ongoing march to a standstill, majority of the protesters simply marched on, mostly shouting anti-Aquino chants.

The multi-sectoral protest is an annual tradition along Commonwealth Avenue during a president's SONA. The road is near Batasan Pambansa where the main SONA activity will be held. –