DAVAO CITY, Philippines – In President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, groups staged a protest rally as he delivered his third State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 23.
Led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Sothern Mindanao, protesters denounced what they call as “anti-people policies” of the Duterte administration: Martial Law in Mindanao, Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or the TRAIN law, Charter Change, “bloody” war against illegal drugs, and the stalled peace talks with the communists among others.
Around 500 activists from different parts of Davao region converged at the Freedom Park along Roxas Avenue here for a program they dubbed as the “People’s SONA”, where leaders from different sectorsdiscussed the “real state” of the Filipino people under the two years of the Duterte administration.
The program is part of the nationwide protest in time for Duterte’s SONA. Protest rallies were also held in different key cities in Mindanao.
Carlo Olalo, secretary-general of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao, said Duterte failed to deliver his campaign promises of genuine change as it continues to favor the interests of the oligarchs and foreign countries like US and China.
He also condemned the military and local government’s attempt to muddle the protest rally.
“Participants from outside the city were being held and harassed at the army’s checkpoints to delay our program,” Olalo said.
A brief commotion between activists and police forces marred the protest after authorities prohibited the activists from burning the effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte. Firefighters immediately stopped the fire with extinguishers.
Sta. Ana Police Station Chief Michael Uyanguren said the activists violated the Republic Act No. 8749 or the Clean Air Act of 1999 for burning the effigy.
Uyanguren said they are planning to file charges against the leaders of the group.
But, Olalo said, they were just practicing their right to express dissent against the government.
Here are some photos during Monday’s protest in time for Duterte’s third Sona: