TO mark President Rodrigo Duterte’s second year in office, militants have gifted him with an effigy, his first, as they march to Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City ahead of his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
The four-meter high effigy will be unveiled at the “People’s SONA,” the militants’ version of the President’s SONA.
Armed with placards and banners, laborers, indigenous people, members of the urban poor and other individuals from nearby provinces joined the rally that sought to raise issues on land reform, free education, an end to contractualization, war on drugs, continuation of peace talks, and martial law in Mindanao.
Authorities said they were expecting about 15,000 protesters to gather near the Batasang Pambansa complex where the President would deliver his speech at 4:00 p.m.
Among the participating groups are Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Bayan Muna, Migrante, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
However, unlike the “peaceful” SONA in 2016, the groups warned that the 2017 SONA would be an expression of disappointment over the Duterte administration’s unfulfilled promises.
Police will allow the militants to stage their protest 900 meters away from the Batasang Pambansa.
Human rights observers from the Philippine National Police (PNP) were deployed to areas surrounding the venue while volunteers from different organizations were briefed before the protest march.
Meanwhile, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has prepared its rescue teams during the SONA.