Anti-admin protesters brave sunny weather, rain showers on Sona Day
MANILA, Philippines – Some things are meant to last, rain or shine.
On Monday, just before President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), anti-administration factions showed that changing weathers — from a hot sunny morning to a rainy afternoon — could not deter them from staging a protest to denounce the administration’s policies.
Figures from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) claimed that more than 5,000 protesters marched towards St. Peter’s Parish along Commonwealth Avenue for the United People’s Sona program, amid rains, thunder, and gush of waters.
The rallyists, coming from several groups such as Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Anakpawis, ACT Teachers, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kadamay, Kabataan Karapatan, and Sanlakas were calling on the Duterte administration to uphold the country’s sovereignty that is being threatened by China’s military activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Organizers dubbed the rally as the largest anti-China demonstration since bilateral relations between Manila and Beijing were restored, under the Duterte regime.
The program, which started an hour before Duterte makes his speech before the 18th Congress, featured speeches of opposition leaders Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares, artist Mae “Juana Change” Paner, Sanlakas Secretary-General lawyer Aaron Pedrosa, and Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes.
After the election in 2016, Duterte promised to pursue and independent foreign policy, repairing ties between the two countries which were strained due to the dispute in the region.
In 2016, the United Nations’ Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled in favor of the Philippines, saying that China’s nine-dash-line territorial claim which encompasses much of the WPS has no historical and legal basis.
Aside from the China issue, protesters are also asking the government to improve working conditions, increasing the minimum wage nationwide, ending contractualization, and stopping the killings brought by the war on drugs.
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