CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: Two minors preparing the stage for a rally dubbed as “People’s State of the Nation Address” were reportedly arrested in Iligan City while about 2,000 protesters from Northern Mindanao trooped to the place in a convoy to stage a mass protest on Monday.
Wildon Barros, Bayan Muna secretary general, said the minors whose names were not immediately known were nabbed while preparing a stage for the rallyists and installing flags around the Iligan City Plaza.
He added that the Iligan police also dispersed a crowd of protesters there.
Barros told The Manila Times in a telephone interview that the protest rally is part of the Mindanao-wide “People’s SONA” where speakers from Northern Mindanao representing various sectors would rate President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
The convoy from Cagayan De Oro City left early on Monday morning but had to hurdle several military and police checkpoints for routine security checks before reaching Iligan City.
In Opol, Misamis Oriental, the protesters had to show identification cards and sign a log book before they were allowed to pass.
A police officer manning the checkpoint said that the inspection was only routine security check for the safety of the protesters.
The rally, Barros said, was joined by various sectors in Northern Mindanao – farmers, laborers, students, out-of-school youths, urban poor, indigenous people, religious groups and the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao.
He said the protesters discussed the status of the more than 500,000 displaced Moros and Christians in the strife-torn Marawi City.
“More evacuees from Cagayan De Oro City were also part of the protesters who joined our convoy to Iligan City,” Barros said.
According to Barros, among the issues they raised were the imposition of martial law in Mindanao where hundreds of indigenous people were driven out of their tribal communities and the Moro group called for a stop to bombings in Marawi and to attend to the needs of the disease-stricken evacuees in Lanao Del Norte and Lanao Del Sur centers.
The protesters also appealed for the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front after President Duterte announced its cancellation.