Critics, supporters take to streets on Duterte’s SONA 2019

Published July 22, 2019, 12:53 PM

by Rica Arevalo

By Alexandria San Juan, Joseph Pedrajas, and Dhel Nazario

Anti- and pro-Duterte rallyists gathered in Quezon City on Monday morning to express their support and dissent to the President as he delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) (BAYAN-Timog Katagalugan / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
Members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) (BAYAN-Timog Katagalugan / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Southern Luzon brought unheard issues in their region to Metro Manila as they delivered their own “State of the Region Address” or SORA.

“This is the heart of our lakbayan. Aside from forging unities with other sectors from different regions and demonstrating collectively our force, we would like our issues and conditions made known,” Shaira Cledera of BAYAN-Timog Katagalugan said during a program near the Philippine Coconut Authority office on Commonwealth Avenue.

According to Cledera, their members travelled to various cities in Laguna and Metro Manila for four days prior to President Duterte’s SONA through a protest caravan dubbed as “Daluyong 2019.” She said they wanted to shed light on social issues usually that are unheard of by other Filipinos.

During their SORA, various sector representatives tackled concerns of their groups including contractualization, the Rice Tariffication Law, and the rising numbers of human rights violations in the region.

Workers relayed the current condition of seventeen workers of Nutriasia in Cabuyao, Laguna who are still detained following a violent clash with authorities during a strike.

After the short program, rallyists burned a 10-foot tall mural called “Tres Muertes,” which depicted images of President Duterte, United States President Donald Trump, and Chinese President Xi Jinping for “causing deaths of Filipinos and their livelihoods through neoliberal policies imposed by the administration.

BAYAN-Timog Katagalugan spokesperson Casey Cruz explained that the mural also represents how Duterte is “subservient” to the two leaders.

“For us, the real state of the nation should come from the people. The reason why we conduct People’s SONA is to make a more informative, relatable and realistic state of the nation, not like the one to be delivered by someone who is high up his chair,” Cruz added.

Peasants’ protest

Anakpawis Vice President Ariel Casilao also called for the impeachment of President Duterte for allegedly ruling against the interest of basic sectors of the society such as the workers.

Casilao said 214 peasant-activists have been killed under the President’s watch, including local leaders of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

Among the slain peasants were 20 women, 28 elderly, eight peasant-couples and nine minors, Anakpawis former nominee and Amihan Secretary General Cathy Estavillo claimed.

Casilo said that the majority of the victims were from Mindanao, which is currently under martial rule, as well as from Negros and Bicol regions.

“He is at the opposite side of democratic governance,” Casilao said.

Casilao also cited the President’s supposed failure to end contractualization, the “measly” wage increases, regressive tax laws, and neoliberal policies.

“The workers are demanding the P750 national minimum wage and the end of ‘endo’ but his response were useless reiteration of Labor Code provisions against labor-only contracting and measly wage increases, the TRAIN Law, oil prices hikes and price shocks,” he added.


Meanwhile, members of “Friends of Rody Duterte (FORD),” D4 Movement for Federalism and Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee Council (MRRD-NECC) converged in front of President Corazon Aquino Elementary School along IBP Road at 10 a.m.

Farrah Ajoc, national chairperson of D4 Movement, told the Manila Bulletin that they attended the pro-Duterte gathering to show their support for the President’s plan on federalism.

“We want to change the system. We are quite ready, though there are lots of critics [who] bother,” she said.

On the other hand, Rene Concordia, a member of FORD, said that their group attended the gathering to push for charter change (Cha-Cha).

“There are lots of laws that have loopholes, that’s why we support charter change,” Concordia, wearing a Barong Tagalog, said.

Some FORD members said they traveled all the way from Benguet, and left as early as 2 a.m. to arrive early for the gathering.

Flora Baguling, 54, said she came from Baguio City and was among the members of the FORD group. She said she supported the President’s programs, most especially his campaign against crime and illegal drugs.

“If you see, there were fathers raping their children, and people killing their relatives because of drugs,” she said, explaining why she fully backs the President’s war on illegal drugs.

“As a mother, I am also really concerned about the safety of my children. Many children now are getting hooked on different drugs. Some are even sniffing rugby,” she said.
She claimed that since Duterte took office, she noticed a decrease in the incidence of crimes in Benguet.

READ MORE: Duterte supporters arrive as early as Sunday for SONA

READ MORE: Duterte supporters start arriving on IBP Road