Duterte Sona: Leftists on ‘historic’ march to Batasan
July 25 will be historic for the Left as it would be allowed to demonstrate 300 meters from the House of Representatives where President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.
Renato Reyes Jr., Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general, said the President himself granted the request of left-leaning groups to approach the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
“That’s historic. We thank the President for being very open, not like his predecessors. The rally will be peaceful for sure. But these new developments will definitely energize the crowd,” Reyes told INQUIRER.net.
Reyes, who has been joining Sona rallies since 1992, said this would be the first time in recent history that protesters would be allowed to proceed along Batasan road.
“I’ve attended the Sona rally since 1992 as a freshman in (the University of the Philippines). The closest I’ve been was at the corner of Sandiganbayan (along) Commonwealth (Avenue),” he said.
Under the Aquino administration, hundreds of security forces blocked Commonwealth Avenue to prevent protesters from marching to Batasan Road.
For several years, container vans, fire trucks, concrete barriers and barbed wires were set up ahead of Sona rallies.
Bayan invited the President and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to march with thousands of rallyists from Mindanao, Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Northern Luzon.
“We extend a warm invitation to President Duterte to be with the people who will march during the historic Sona rally. He is very much welcome to appear at and join the activities of Bayan, to listen to the plight of the people gathered outside Batasan, before he delivers his historic address,” Reyes said in a separate statement.
Duterte would be the first sitting President to grace a Sona rally should he decide to accept Bayan’s invitation.
While the Left gave the assurance that the rally would be in support of the Duterte administration, Reyes said it would call for the release of political prisoners and the end of military operations against civilians in the countryside.
The leftist groups also called on Duterte to uphold due process and respect human rights amid the apparent vigilante killings of suspected drug users and pushers, many of whom come from poor families.
“While we support the anti-crime and anti-corruption campaign of the regime, we remain critical of the apparent vigilante killings and extrajudicial killings at the hands of the police forces connected to the anti-drug campaign,” Reyes said.
“We call on the administration to primarily pursue, track down and prosecute the big-time drug dealers and drug syndicates and their cohorts in government,” he added./rga
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