Militants buck COVID health protocols; call for 'end to Duterte' in street protests

The threat of COVID-19 and the volatile weather did not stop militants from returning to the streets on Monday "to put to an end" to President Duterte's administration as he delivers his 6th and last State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Groups critical of the administration gathered along the stretch of University Ave. inside the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus starting at 9 a.m. before marching towards Commonwealth Ave. at around 12 noon, which led to a slight skirmish with law enforcers who were blocking their way and who placed barriers along the highway.

The theme of this year's activities was called #wakaSONA, a play on the Filipino word "wakasan" which means putting an end to something, and SONA.


This is the second year that progressive groups were not able to conduct their annual SONA protests along Commonwealth Ave. due to restrictions imposed against COVID-19.

About 2,500 individuals took part in the street protests, police said.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago joined the activities, participated in mostly by the youth, to stress that "many are at stake" in terms of choosing a new leader.

Elago wore a blue sash bearing various messages, such as the fight for the West Philippine Sea and the push for free aid and education.

"Dahil maraming nakataya, handa ring tumaya 'yung mga kabataan, handa din na magsama-sama, magkaisa para wakasan na yung pagsasabahala sa pangangailangan ng mga tao (Because many are at stake, the youth are ready to unite to end the neglect being suffered by the people)," she said.

Placards inspired by comic book covers and murals made by the Concerned Artist of the Philippines drew admiration from the crowd.

"Sa pamamagitan ng sining ay nakakalikha ng iba't-ibang porma para i-distill, i reflect ang sitwasyon at i-amplify ang form ng mamayan para baguhin ang mga ito (Through art, we have different ways to distill, to reflect, and to amplify the situation to the people)," Lisa Ito, the group's secretary general, said.

Health care workers, families of victims of the Duterte administration's war against drugs and red-tagging, and other ethnic groups, also joined the rally.