Militant House members raise anti-Aquino placards
Party-list lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc unfurled placards and held a protest inside the plenary hall of the House of Representatives as President Aquino concluded his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.
“Serbisyo palpak (Failed service),” read a placard raised by Gabriela Rep. Emmie de Jesus.
“Mapang-aping asendero (oppressive landlord),” said the poster held by Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap.
The lawmakers were also heard shouting “Walang pagbabago! (Nothing has changed!)” as security personnel, who were taken by surprise, rushed to stop them.
Protests were also held outside the Batasang Pambansa complex where the President delivered his Sona.
Cesar and Celia Veloso, the parents of Mary Jane Veloso, who was sentenced to death for illegal drugs charges in Indonesia, were among the thousands who staged protests on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
“If [the President] can send my daughter home, I will give him a grade of 10,” Celia Veloso said. If not? “Zero.”
Mary Jane was given a temporary reprieve minutes before her execution. Her lawyers are working to get a permanent reprieve by showing that Mary Jane was a victim of human trafficking.
“The case of Mary Jane dragged on for five years. She did nothing [illegal]. Now, they acted on her case and I hope [it would lead to her release]. I am thankful that her case has been acted upon,” Celia Veloso said.
She said she didn’t care if the rain drenched her as the important thing was to be seen by [the President]. “I hope they can directly send my daughter home.”
Heavy rainfall failed to dampen the spirits of the protesters.
Early in the day, confrontations erupted on Commonwealth Avenue in front of the Ever Gotesco mall where a police barricade was set up to prevent protesters from marching to the House of Representatives on Batasan Road.
Two cops mauled
Midway during the morning program held by the Southern Tagalog arm of the coalition Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), some protesters beat two plainclothes policemen and hauled them into jeepneys after they were seen infiltrating their ranks.
PO1 Antonio Ananayo Jr. and PO1 Reden Malagonio, assigned with the Metro Manila public safety battalion, lost their cell phones after they were mobbed by the protesters.
A bigger contingent of protesters led by Bayan assembled on Commonwealth near the corner of Luzon Avenue.
The sudden strong winds and rain around noontime drenched the protesters who used placards and banners as makeshift shelters.
Video by Cathy Miranda/INQUIRER.net
“The police already fired water cannons at us,” said a protester.
But the natural water cannon did not deter the protesters, who were able to reassemble by 1 p.m. and push forward toward the Batasan area.
Upon reaching the corner of Feria street, the protesters attempted to take over the opposite lane on Commonwealth Avenue, against the traffic flow, but were immediately blocked by a line of trucks and police personnel.
The contingent of protesters who were waiting near Ever Gotesco started to engage the barricade between the two lanes on Commonwealth, pushing the container vans and even throwing a portalet at the police.
A group of young men cheered when finally subjected to a hosing down by firefighters.
The confrontation left four policemen—PO1 Rommel Orquita, PO1 Frank Claro, PO1 Engenber Paran and PO2 Jesrald Pacinio—with multiple abrasions.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said 27 protesters were injured, with one, identified as Orlando Cabuang of the Anakpawis labor group, rushed to the hospital due to an eye injury.
The visual centerpiece of the Sona rally was Aquino on top of a dilapidated coach of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). The train stations represented the issues that the President should address, such as the Mamasapano debacle, the Mary Jane Veloso case, K to 12 education program and the maritime dispute.
The groups settled to hold their program near the corner of Amsterdam Avenue, a few meters from the Ever Gotesco Mall where the blockade was set.
“Do you think we’re the only ones being drenched by the rain outside? It is also raining inside the Batasan. It’s raining lies there,” Reyes said as the President’s speech started.
He slammed the Sona fashion show and the reported P2.5-million merienda of the rich and the powerful.
The effigy was burned as Aquino delivered his Sona.
“The real Sona will be delivered by the survivors of the Kentex fire, the farmers of Hacienda Luisita, the Yolanda victims, the commuters of the MRT, the indigenous people’s resisting foreign mining, the unemployed youth, the overworked teachers and the overtaxed professionals,” Reyes said.
Video by Cathy Miranda/INQUIRER.net
Protests were also staged in other parts of the country.
About 100 people, composed of church workers, farmers, students, government workers and women from Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra and La Union joined the protest at the Aurora Park in front of the provincial capitol in Laoag City.
The protesters displayed an effigy of Aquino and carried streamers and placards denouncing the policies of the administration.
Sherwin de Vera, regional coordinator of Defend Ilocos, said the region was still faced with the threat of magnetite extraction.
After burning the President’s effigy, the group crossed the Laoag Gilbert Bridge and marched to San Nicolas town, this time to address the issue of the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
But before they could reach the Chinese Consulate there, the protesters were stopped by a barricade set up by the San Nicolas police.
Baguio, Bataan, Pangasinan
In Baguio City, 60 members of Tongtongan ti Umili marched on City Hall carrying placards and streamers that said the administration failed to bring about change.
In Bataan, at least 100 farmers staged a rally at the Dinalupihan town plaza to press the administration to implement a genuine land reform program.
In Pangasinan, at least 80 farmers from the towns of Bautista and Bayambang went to Metro Manila as early as Sunday to join the protests at the Batasang Pambansa complex.
The Cabanatuan City chapter of the group Migrante and Alyansang Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon in Nueva Ecija also went to Metro Manila to join anti-Sona activities there.
In Zambales, 30 members of Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya joined the anti-Sona rallies in Metro Manila to protest the presence of American troops in the country.
At least 11,850 protesters staged separate protests in the provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Bohol and Cebu for their own Sona.
About 3,000 converged at Freedom Grandstand in Iloilo City where a program was held and they burned an effigy of Aquino wearing clothes patterned to the US flag and sitting on the back of a yellow pig.
In Estancia town, about 1,000 people, mostly survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), joined a rally decrying the government failure to give housing assistance to families whose houses were either destroyed or damaged.
In Roxas City in Capiz, some 3,500 people, many of them also Yolanda survivors marched before converging and holding a rally at the Bandstand.
In Aklan, around 2,000 protesters held a rally on the capitol grounds in Kalibo town before marching to the Pastrana Park.
Antique, Cebu, Bacolod
Church and environmental groups in Antique led a protest in the capital town of San Jose that was joined by about 300 people and antimining advocates demanding accountability for the death of 19 workers in two major accidents in the past 29 months at the Panian open mine pit of Semirara Mining and Power Corp. on Semirara Island in Antique.
In Cebu, about 700 protesters gave the President a failing grade of 3 out of 10 for his administration’s performance.
In Bacolod City, at least 1,000 people led by Bayan gathered at the public plaza to slam Aquino for being a “failure.”
In Tagbilaran City in Bohol, at least 350 farmers, fishermen, urban poor and students converged at the corner of CPG Avenue and B. Inting Street to belie the claim of Aquino that the lives of the Filipinos improved during his term.
Despite a few scuffles between lawmen and militants, the protests during the Sona were generally peaceful.
Chief Supt. Joel Pagdilao, Quezon City Police District director, said the protesters went home shortly after the two-hour-long Sona ended.
“There were no other incidents other than their attempt to cross to the other lane. They went home peacefully after the Sona,” said Pagdilao, ground commander of Task Force Quezon.
However, two protesters were arrested after the attempt to cross Commonwealth Avenue and were brought to Camp Karingal for investigation.
This year’s protests was a far cry from those in the past three years, which involved militants destroying public property and protesters getting hosed down with red tinted water after breaching the barricades.
“We had a dialogue with them last week and we are glad that this year’s rallies were peaceful,” Pagdilao said.
He noted that even though there were some injured victims, the injuries were not that serious.
The Philippine National Police said it would pursue charges against the protesters who mauled two intelligence policemen.–Reports from Leilanie Adriano, Jessica Tabilin and Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Tonette Orejas, Allan Macatuno and Greg Refraccion, Inquirer Central Luzon; Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Carmel Loise Matus, Jhunnex Napallacan, Carla P. Gomez and Leo Udtohan, Inquirer Visayas; and Rose Barroga in Manila
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