Real SONA not from House, Palace – group

Published July 27, 2020, 2:11 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The real 2020 State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) won’t be told from Malacañang, nor will it be told from the House of Representatives (HOR), a group of protesters led by the non-government organization DAKILA said on Monday during their “SONAGKaisa” gathering at the University Ave. in UP Diliman, Quezon City.

Protesters carry placards and murals with slogans as they march toward the state university grounds for a rally in Manila on July 27, 2020, ahead of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address in congress.

Hours before the SONA, protesters gathered physically and online to denounce the alleged atrocities being committed by the government, from the passage of the Anti-Terror Law, extrajudicial killings, and the recent shutdown of ABS-CBN, among others.

Throughout the protest, people  present called for physical distancing and proper observance of safety protocols in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

At one point, the online group – all clad in red – gathered and sang “Bella Ciao,” an Italian protest folk song popularized by the Netflix TV series “Money Heist.”

Sen.  Risa Hontiveros appeared on video and took a jab against the government for imprisoning ordinary citizens, toppling down ABS-CBN, and legitimizing the Anti-Terror Law.

“Parang ganito kasi ang lohika ng gobyerno sa pagtugon sa kinakaharap na global pandemic. Pinasara ang media, habang pinayagang magbukas ang mga Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (This seems to be the government’s logic in responding to the global pandemic. The media was shut down, while the POGOs were allowed to open),” she said.

“Imbes na malawakang health intervention, militarismo at dahas. Imbes na mass testing, mass arrests. Imbes na paglilinaw, pananakot. Imbes na malasakit, pasakit. Tama na (Instead of widespread health intervention, militarism and violence. Instead of mass testing, mass arrests. Instead of clarifications, fear. Instead of caring, hurting. Enough).”

In a statement, Dakila said that President Duterte promised that “change is coming” when he assumed the presidency. However, the group lamented that “change has come in a bloody iron fist.”

“We were assured that our rights and freedoms would be upheld but we were left with bloodied pavements and orphaned families,” they said in a statement. “We were assured of sovereignty but was served with China’s continued aggression over the West Philippines Sea. The attacks against our rights and freedoms become all the more clear with the attacks against free speech, free press, and dissent through the successful shutdowns of media networks and the passage of repressive laws such as the recent Anti-Terrorism Law.”

Despite President Duterte’s assurances of economic progress and better livelihood for all, Dakila noted that he still vetoed the Anti-Contractualization Bill. In doing so, the group said the president only prioritized the interests of big corporations.

Now that the country is struggling with a pandemic, the group said the government managed to acquire billions of pesos worth of loans. Unfortunately, they said the government has “not formed concrete plans to address the pandemic.”

“It has ignored expert opinions on mass testing and has not provided adequate support for both workers and businesses. All of these have led to thousands of workplaces closing, joblessness, hunger, and a country being forced to prematurely restart its education and economic sectors at the expense of ordinary citizens,” the statement stressed.