PROGRESSIVE groups under the Bayan coalition are set to hold protest actions during the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Monday, after they struggled to secure permits from authorities.
Bayan announced at the weekend that it has been allowed by the Quezon City government to march from Elliptical Road along Commonwealth Avenue up to Tandang Sara corner from 9:00 am to 12:00 nn.
Bayan, which was founded during the martial law regime of Mr. Marcos’ late father, and its allied organizations thanked Quezon City Mayor Maria Josefina “Joy” Belmonte-Alimurung for intervening and finding a middle ground after they challenged the police’s ban on SONA rallies along the entire stretch of Commonwealth Avenue.
It is the local government that has the power to issue permits, not the police, they said.
“We look forward to a peaceful SONA protest and enjoin the public to take part in the annual event to raise the most urgent people’s demands,” Bayan said in a statement.
Aside from Bayan-led groups, Sanlakas, another progressive umbrella, was also allowed by authorities to march along Commonwealth Avenue.
The local police lead by Elmo DG. San Diego has reminded protesters that burning of effigies, a militant tradition in yearly SONA, would not be allowed.
On the other hand, pro-Marcos groups will gather near the venue of Mr. Marcos’ first state address.
“We cannot help but point out the double-standards of the PNP (Philippine National Police) in allowing pro-Marcos groups to assemble at Batasan Road, after earlier recommending the denial of a rally permit for Bayan in the same area,” Bayan said.
“There is still a long way to go before the people can truly realize the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression free from fascist impositions,” it said. “It is up to the people to continue asserting their rights amid all attempts to suppress them.”
Anakpawis Party-list, which is joining the protest activities, said they do not expect Mr. Marcos to recognize the “real state” of the poor during his address, especially farmers and fisherfolk, but stressed that problems in the agricultural sector could not be ignored if the country were to improve production and achieve food security.
“We are sure that it will not be mentioned again in this SONA that many farmers do not have their own land, and worse, are even being evicted from farms,” Anakpawis National President Ariel B. Casilao said in Filipino in a statement at the weekend.
The political group, which advocates for labor and other marginalized sectors, said the persistent poverty among farmers is rooted in poor governance and corruption.
“The call of the local farmers and fishermen is simple, respect their rights to land, fisheries and livelihood, and help them develop production so that the country can achieve self-sufficiency and self-reliance, so that we no longer have to rely on food importations from other countries,” Mr. Casilao said.
He also reiterated proposals put forward earlier by farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, such as the issuance of an executive order against the conversion of agricultural lands devoted to or suitable for the production of staple food crops, a review of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, to certify as urgent food self-sufficiency bills, the allocation of at least 10% of the national budget to agriculture and food production, among others. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan