SONA protests set, groups to parade 'sea monster' effigy

Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2019 06:22 PM

MANILA - Human rights and labor groups are set to hold protests to mark President Rodrigo Duterte's 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

Dubbed as the United People's SONA 2019, groups from various sectors will march through Metro Manila's streets to show their opposition against alleged extrajudicial killings, human rights violations, labor contractualization, low wages, unemployment, and trade union repression, organizers said Saturday. 

The groups are also expected to protest Duterte's stance on sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, where China has committed largely unsanctioned incursions. 

"Tayo pa rin ay republika ng endo, republika ng kumikitil ng karapatang pantao. Ang aming pagkilos ay hindi para umasa, ang aming pag kilos para i-engage ang gobyerno sa kanyang responsibilidad at mga pangako sa manggagawa," said Church Labor Conference - Partido Manggagawa's Rene Magtubo during a press conference at the Commission on Human Rights office, Saturday. 

(We are still a republic of endo (end of contract), a republic of those who violate human rights. Our protest is not to expect, our protest is to engage government in its responsibilities and promises to laborers.)

"Tila habang tumatagal si Presidente Duterte sa kanyang puwesto, pawala na ng pawala ang ningning ng kanyang mga pangako. Lumalala at walang aasahan talaga ang mga manggagawa at mamamayang Pilipino sa gobyernong ito," Elmer Labog of the Kilusang Mayo Uno added.

(It seems that the longer President Duterte stays in power, the more the glimmer of his promises fade. It's getting worse and laborers and the Filipino people have nothing to expect from this government.) 

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) meanwhile is set to parade a 20-foot bamboo-made fish representing the plight of the poor and Duterte's failure to address maritime issues.

Duterte has been criticized for downplaying an allision between a Filipino vessel and a Chinese ship in the West Philippine Sea on June 9, where the Filipinos were left adrift at sea. They were later rescued by a Vietnamese vessel. 

Just weeks later, he said he granted fishing rights to the Chinese in the waters, the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea which China claims in near entirety. 

Drawing from these, militant group Bayan Muna created an effigy called "Duter-syokoy, Halimaw ng West Philippine Sea," depicting the President as a sea monster. The theme shows opposition to Duterte's stance on sovereignty, foreign loans, charter change and human rights abuses, the group said.

"Kontrabida, halimaw ng karagatan, 'yun ang gusto natin i-depict dito. 'Yung frustration ng marami na hindi ito pinagtatanggol, bagkus ay ipinamimigay pa ng pamahalaan sa China," Bayan Muna Secretary General Renato Reyes said.

(He is a villain, a sea monster, that's what we want to depict. The frustration of many that the government is not defending [our sovereignty] but is giving it away to China.)

According to Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Duterte will focus on his 2016 campaign promises, such as drugs and corruption, and his plans in the next half of his term on his annual address.