2023 Sona protest actions will be bigger than previous year, activists vow
MANILA, Philippines — The protest movements lined up to counter President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona) will be bigger than the one held in 2022, activists said on Tuesday.
According to former lawmaker and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Mong Palatino, the Sona protests along Commonwealth Avenue — dubbed as the People’s Sona — will continue even if it rains on Monday.
“Definitely the Sona protest this year will be bigger compared to last year, mas marami ang galit, mas marami ang naliwanagan, kasama ‘yong mga kababayan natin na gustong i-register ‘yong protest do’n sa polisiya ni Marcos,” Palatino said during the briefing earlier.
(Definitely the Sona protest this year will be bigger compared to last year, because more people are angry, more have been enlightened, including our fellow Filipinos who want to register their protest over Marcos’ policies.)
“Pangalawa po rain or shine, tuloy ang Sona: at nakahanda po ang ating mga organizations na kung sakaling umulan, mag-adjust ang program, pero tuloy ang protesta sa Commonwealth,” he added.
(Second, rain or shine, the People’s Sona would continue, and our organizations are preparing to adjust their programs in case of rains, but protest movements along Commonwealth Avenue would push through.)
Former Bayan Muna representative and Bayan chairperson Teddy Casiño said they still do not have any estimate on the number of people who would join the protests, but they have been coordinating with at least 50 organizations for the nationwide movements.
“Sa crowd wala pang estimate kasi hanggang ngayon pumapasok pa ‘yong mga commitments, ang description lang namin libo-libo ang lalahok. But di pa namin ma-peg ang numbers sa ngayon, siguro a few days from now. ‘Yong bilang ng organisasyon, siguro at least 50 organizations so far ang kausap natin, pero included in those organizations are networks of organizations so madami-dami,” Casiño said.
(We still don’t have crowd estimates because up to now, commitments are still coming in, but we can say that thousands would join. But we can’t still peg the numbers, maybe a few days from now. With the organizations, we are talking to 50 groups so far, but their networks of these organizations will also be part of the protests.)
Meanwhile, Palatino said that labor groups would hold a forum inside the covered court at the Quezon Memorial Circle, while Sanlakas would hold a protest outside the National Housing Authority (NHA) area, which also sits along the Elliptical Road.
These groups would then converge at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) grounds along Commonwealth Avenue.
According to Palatino, they have already coordinated with the Quezon City local government unit (LGU) and the Quezon City Police District for the activities on Monday.
“With the arrangement sa police at saka LGU, ilang linggo na po ang aming coordination. Alam ng LGU, meron silang ide-deploy na traffic officers din para tulungan tayo sa traffic. Alam ng QC police ang ating programa, so wala tayong ine-expect na harangan, sana walang hulihan, at sana igalang ‘yong kalayaan sa pamamahayag ng mga mamamayan,” he added.
(Regarding the arrangement with the police and the LGU, we have been coordinating with them for weeks. The LGU knows, they would even deploy traffic officers to help us with traffic management. The QC police know our program, so we don’t expect any barricade, any arrests, and we hope they would respect the people’s right to free expression.)
Palatino said their programs are open to everyone who would like to protest the current administration’s policies.
“Ito po ay open sa lahat, sa lahat ng naghahangad ng pagbabago, sa lahat ng galit sa patakaran ni Marcos, gusto rin po naming idiin: ito po ay nationwide protest, hindi lang po sa Metro Manila, sa iba’t ibang ciudad, iba’t iba naming mga chapters may isinasagawang paghahanda sa Sona protest,” he said.
(This is open to everyone who wants change, who are mad at the Marcos administration’s policies. We want to emphasize that this is a nationwide protest, it should not be centered on Metro Manila only, as other cities, other chapters are preparing for this Sona protest.)
“Pangalawa po gusto naming idiin ‘yong aming suporta sa panawagan ng labor sector for a wage increase. Marami po kaming mensahe ngayong umaga na ito pero gusto naming ipakita ‘yong malakas at nagkakaisang suporta for a legislated wage increase na sana ito ang maging prayoridad ng Kongreso,” he added.
(We also want to stress our support for the labor sector’s call for wage hikes. We have many messages this morning but we want to show the strong and united call for a legislated wage increase that we hope would be a priority of Congress.)
Marcos will deliver his second Sona on Monday, July 24, after the Senate and the House of Representatives open their session separately. On Monday, House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said that Sona preparations are already at 95 percent.
While allies of the President have lauded him for his several achievements in just his first year, the progressive groups claimed that Sona for them means “state of no accomplishment.”
In the same briefing, labor leader Luke Espiritu said it appears Marcos has not prioritized the needs of the working classes, citing the P40 minimum wage increase for private sector workers in Metro Manila, which he described as meager.