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Absence of anti-Sona rallies in parts of Mindanao linked to fear

/ 06:36 PM July 22, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga del Sur—Fear has stricken at the heart of protests in Mindanao, which is still under martial law, and kept activists from taking to the streets.

Abelardo Brutas Jr., Culanan National High School principal in Zamboanga City, said critics of President Rodrigo Duterte had started to be silent for fear of his and the government’s wrath.

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“The President always delivers threatening remarks,” said Brutas, former member of the militant Alliance of Concerned Teachers but has continued his activism.

Activists in Zamboanga, Brutas added, had become silent because more and more progressive groups have aligned themselves with Duterte.

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Maj. Edwin Duco, spokesperson of the Zamboanga City police, said protest rallies “are no longer in style.”

Duco said those financing protest rallies may have run out of funds “and people realized how precious their time is for work and earn than go to the streets and create noise.”

Col. Rufino Inot, Basilan police director, said in a phone interview that no protest rallies were held in the province because the people of Basilan are ‘peace loving citizens and majority are pro-administration.”

The absence of protests was reported not only in Zamboanga and Basilan but also in areas under the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), except in Marawi City, said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom commander.

The Marawi protest, dubbed as the State of Marawi Bakwit or Sombak, was peaceful, he added.

Sobejana said the absence of rallies protesting Duterte’s state of the nation address meant militancy had diminished in parts of Mindanao.

Westmincom has jurisdiction over Central Mindanao, Maguindanao, the Lanao provinces, Bangsamoro Autonomous of Region Mindanao (BARMM), Zamboanga Peninsula and the cities of Zamboanga, Pagadian, Dipolog, Dapitan, Lamitan, Isabela, Marawi, and Cotabato./TSB

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TAGS: Activists, fear, militants, Mindanao, ‎protest, rallies, Sona, Western Mindanao
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