Protesters on 7-day march for Sona rallies in Metro
TAGAYTAY CITY — Activists from Southern Tagalog on Tuesday started a seven-day march to Metro Manila for protests during the third State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Rodrigo Duterte next week.
The activists walked amid heavy rain, pulling along a nearly 5-meter-tall effigy of the President that was shaped like a distorted face of a monster and which the protesters christened “Dutertemonyo,” a play on the President’s surname and the Filipino word for devil, “demonyo.”
Elsa Montejo, Southern Tagalog media liaison officer of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said the effigy would be the centerpiece of protests during the Sona.
It was unveiled for the activists’ march in Laguna province and was likely to be burned during or shortly before the Sona protests, Montejo said.
Montejo said the march, dubbed “Lakbayan ng Mamamayan,” started in Calamba City in Laguna on Tuesday noon with at least 100 activists.
But she said organizers were expecting the number to swell to at least 400 as the march progresses.
According to the organizers’ schedule, the march would pass through the cities of Muntinlupa and Las Piñas in Metro Manila and they hoped to hold a rally in front of leftist protester’s favorite venue, the United States Embassy in Manila.
Organizers said protests would also be held at the Mendiola Peace Arch near Malacañang and in front of the Chinese Embassy.
Marchers would gather at the University of the Philippines’ campus in Diliman, Quezon City, at the end of the protests.
“We want to expose the injustices and evildoing” of the government, said Montejo.
Protesters blamed what they said was tyrannical rule for worsening criminality and economic conditions of the people.
Along the way, marchers would rest in covered courts and public plazas, holding protest programs in these areas, according to Montejo.
Marchers also abstained from eating meat, offering the gesture to the Catholic Church, which is holding a three-day prayer campaign against “blasphemers and murderers.”
Lakbayan spokesperson Casey Cruz said protesters wanted to show solidarity with the Church’s call for peace and justice.
Montejo said protesters were expected to eat only vegetables during the duration of the march.
The group entered Metro Manila on Wednesday and spent the march’s second night in a covered court in Muntinlupa City.
They aim to reach Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, near Batasang Pambansa, on the eve of Mr. Duterte’s Sona on July 23.
Cruz said protesters made a long list of supposed offenses committed by the President against the people, “which are enough reasons to conclude that he has long turned his back” on his propeople stance during the presidential campaign.
Marchers stopped over at the cities of Sta. Rosa and Biñan to present what they said was the “state of the region.”
“So far, we are right on schedule,” Montejo said in a phone interview.
She claimed the number of marchers doubled by Wednesday and noted police presence during their programs.
Montejo said some marchers complained of exhaustion and nausea initially but were treated by a medical team.
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