ILOILO City – Progressive groups here are countering President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) with their “United People’s SONA” this afternoon.
At least 5,000 people from all walks of life are expected to join today’s mass action, according to Elmer Forro, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-Panay).
At 1 p.m. after a short program at Sunburst Park in the City Proper, participants will march to the Iloilo provincial capitol grounds for another program.
The protesters’ rallying cry is “Ipaglaban ang Soberanya, Kabuhayan at Demokrasya!” said Forro.
“The United People’s SONA will highlight the plight and demands of the people against the Duterte administration’s subservience to imperialists United States and China in violation of the Constitution, tyranny and killings under the anti-drug, anti-Moro and anti-people wars,” said Forro.
The protesters would also be tackling low wages, labor contractualization, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, and rice tariffication, among others, he added.
Duterte will deliver his fourth SONA this afternoon at the Batasang Pambansa with senators, congressmen, the diplomatic corps, and government officials in attendance.
He will discuss the promises he made regarding curbing corruption, illegal drugs, rebellion, and the West Philippine Sea issue, among others, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said yesterday.
“For sure the President would boast his so-called achievements despite the rampant extrajudicial killings, corruption in government, militarization of the bureaucracy, and anti-people economic policies,” said Forro.
Joining Bayan-Panay in today’s United People’s SONA are the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, Promotion of Church People’s Response-Panay, National Union of Students of the Philippines, All UP Academic Employees Union-Iloilo, and Mensa Domini Sisters, among others.
According to Reverend Dr. Jerson Narciso, general secretary of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, as church people they need to exercise their prophetic role in allowing people to see what the real state of nation is such as, for example, its sovereignty.
“The foreign policy of the Duterte administration, which is ‘China above anything else’, is putting our country in a very bad situation. I think we need to send a very strong message to China nga indi kita pwede i-bully lang nila. Can we not follow what Vietnam and Indonesia did? They have successfully defended their territories against Chinese invasion because their governments have strong political will,” said Narciso.
He further questioned the level of maturity of the current government in dealing with critics.
“By resorting to intimidation, harassment and red-tagging, ini nagapakita sang tama ka-insecure nga gobyerno nga indi mo ma-criticize. Pero amo ina ang role sang simbahan, kon may indi maayo nga gina obra ang aton gobyerno dapat tadlungon naton,” said Narciso.
For his part, Fr. Marco Sulayao of Promotion of Church People’s Response-Panay said the President has no more moral ascendancy for failing to uphold the dignity of life and defend life./PN