MASS protests against the extension of martial law in Mindanao and President Rodrigo Duterte’s failed promises are expected tomorrow during Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA), a militant leader said on Sunday.
Secretary General of militant alliance group, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Renato Reyes Jr. told Inquirer.net that this year’s SONA rally would aim to “deliver a strong message” to Duterte regarding his “failed promises.”
“The mood of the rally will of course be different. It is not as optimistic as last year. It is more of a protest against and denunciation of the anti-people and anti-national policies of the Duterte regime. It will also serve as the national indignation over the extension of martial law,” Reyes said.
This is a marked change from the previous year that saw at least 30,000 people from different parts of the country march to express support for the “progressive and nationalist” programmes of Duterte’s newly elected administration.
There was a sense of optimism at last year’s event as Duterte made an effort to reach out to the Left by jumpstarting the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front and appointing progressive leaders to the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Agrarian Reform.
A year on, however, and the secretaries are yet to be confirmed and, just this week, Duterte announced that he was scrapping peace talks with the communist rebels after they continued to criticise his policies.
The protest will also take place just two days after Congress approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year. The move proved controversial with several lawmakers speaking out against the action, and a brief protest from a group of students during the session yesterday.
It remains a sensitive issue in the Philippines, where martial law was imposed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos for much of his rule.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) have been gearing up for the likelihood that this year’s protests could prove volatile.
According to CNN, 6,000 police personnel will secure different areas near the Batasan complex, significantly more than the 4,000 deployed during Duterte’s first SONA in 2016.
Bayan members are expected to come from all over the country to attend tomorrow’s demonstrations and the reintroduction of effigy-burning has been indicated by Reye’s, he was, however, unwilling to say whose effigy would be burned.