Protesters claim ‘biggest SONA rally’ since start of Duterte administration

July 23, 2018 - 8:05 PM
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People make their way to Batasan from Tandang Sora to rally against president Rody Duterte's 3rd State of the Nation Address. (Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Duque Toledo IV)
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Protest leaders claim they have organized the biggest rally since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration boasting of a 40,000-strong turnout.

Organizers said it is the president himself who should be thanked for bringing together such a big gathering.

40,000 strong?

Members of various activist organizations congregated on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to stage a massive demonstration as Duterte gave his third State of the Nation Address.

The demonstrations on Monday were billed as the “United People’s Sona” and was said to be the first time that this many groups had congregated under the Duterte administration.

Some of the organizers admit that bringing together the groups, divided by certain political beliefs, was a feat in itself.

According to Pastor Carlo Diño of the Coaltion for Justice, a group backing ousted Supreme Court chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the estimated turnout of 40,000 was already beyond what they expected.

“We were expecting only around 25,000,” said Diño in an interview during the protests.

“These groups do not usually protest together. They often partake in different activities in the previous SONAs, or even for other rallies in general. This is the first time they have rallied together,” he added in Filipino.

Some of the leftist and labor groups that congregated for the SONA rallies are known for having opposing views on reform and revolution.

At least 100 different groups across various sectors were present all to protest the administration’s lack of concern for pressing issues such as the TRAIN law and the spat of killings across the country, according to Diño.

“We are grateful to President Duterte for bringing together these groups that previously would not be found in the same place,” he added.