SONA: Pro-Marcos crowd can gather on Batasan, but activists can’t?

·2 min read
Thousands of activists march during a protest against Duterte’s annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the Philippines,.
Thousands of activists march on the road leading to the Congress during a protest against President Rodrigo Duterte’s annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the Philippines, July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Blaza

A publication material published by former Quezon City councilor Winnie Castillo shows that there will be a gathering in support of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) this Monday (July 25).

Bilang pakikiisa sa ika-unang State of the Nation Address (SONA) ni Pangulong Bongbong Marcos, pangungunahan ng Malayang Quezon City ang isang Kilos Suporta para sa pagbangon at pagkakaisa,” Castelo said.

(To express unity in the first SONA of President Bongbong Marcos, Malayang Quezon City will spearhead a Movement of Support for uplifting and unity.)

The rally of support will be held in front of President Corazon Aquino Elementary School along Batasan Road. Bands such as Repakol, Inner Voices, Arriba, and Plethora will perform throughout the event.

Meanwhile, protesters led by multi-sectoral alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) were denied permission by the Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) to hold their annual SONA mobilization. It is traditionally conducted along Commonwealth Avenue, but is sometimes held on Batasan Road.

The reasons behind DPOS’s denial are the following:

  • Batasan Road is not a Freedom Park to hold protest, rallies and mass gatherings.

  • The gathering will disrupt the “normal flow of traffic for motorists” along Batasan Road/Commonwealth Avenue.

BAYAN described DPOS’s denial as one that “suffers from a gross ignorance of the law and sheer laziness.”

The multisectoral alliance earlier said it is ready to file legal complaints against the Philippine National Police (PNP) should the latter arrest protesters in President Marcos's first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

“We will file charges against police who will arrest and harm peaceful protesters,” BAYAN secretary-general Renato Reyes said on Wednesday. “Under the law, no person may be penalized for participating in an otherwise peaceful assembly.”

UPDATE: Just after this article was released, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte overturned the Department of Public Order and Safety's (DPOS) initial decision, now allowing protesters led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) to occupy Commonwealth Avenue in light of the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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