Same Duterte lines at Sona draw same messages at critics’ rally
MANILA, Philippines—Critics of President Rodrigo Duterte from the Left and mainstream opposition attended a different state-of-the-nation address (Sona) outside where the President delivered his fourth Sona speech on Monday (July 22).
Among those seen at the so-called United People’s Sona were former opposition senatorial candidates Neri Colmenares, of the Bayan Muna party-list group; Chel Diokno, lawyer and law professor; Leody de Guzman, labor leader; Erin Tanada, former legislator; Maria Lourdes Sereno, ousted Chief Justice and Rafael Mariano, former agrarian reform secretary who had been rejected by the Commission on Appointments.
The opposition figures delivered fiery speeches assailing Duterte’s weak response to Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, failure to improve labor conditions, promoting extrajudicial killings, waging a failed war on drugs and harassing critics.
Colmenares retold a promise made by Duterte during the presidential campaign involving riding a jet ski to the Spratlys Islands to assert Philippine claims in the disputed marine territory.
Progressive artists, like Mae “Juana Change” Paner, also performed at the protest rally near the St. Peter’s Parish Church several kilometers away from the Batasang Pambansa, where Duterte delivered his Sona.
Organizers claimed the number of people at the rally was 40,000 but Quezon City police estimated the crowd at 5,500.
Protesters also burned an effigy of Duterte, that was created to look like a sea creature with the President’s distorted face and holding a Chinese flag and a gun./TSB
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