- Bayan said they will not be burning effigies in the coming SONA of President Rodrigo Duterte
- Instead, Secretary General Renato Reyes said the rally will be peaceful and not the usual anti-administration protest
- He is hoping, however, for the government to do away with the strict security measures associated with the past SONAs
MANILA, Philippines – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), a left-leaning activist group, has vowed to do away with the burning of effigies this coming state of the nation address (SONA) by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 25; the first time in decades.
Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes said their group will not be holding an anti-administration protest at the SONA as an expression of support to the Duterte administration that has appointed some of their members to the Cabinet.
“Hindi siya katulad ng mga nagdaang SONA na anti-administration, bumabatikos nang mariin sa Pangulo. Siyempre dito gusto natin i-highlight ano yung people’s demands,” said Reyes in an interview with reporters on Thursday, July 21.
[This will not be like the past SONAs which are anti-administration; criticizing the President. Here, we would like to highlight what the people’s demands are.]
In particular, Reyes said, they are supporting the President’s stand against labor contractualization, destructive mining companies and the latter’s assertion of sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea and support for the peace process.
They also plan to use the SONA to highlight the real sentiment of the general public, as well as their grievances and challenges.
However, Reyes clarified this does not mean they are finally taming down their usual roles as an adversary to the government’s shortcomings and excesses, but rather just a manifestation of their amiable relationship with the current administration.
“Meron lang sigurong magaganap na kaunting adjustment dahil nga ang turing sa nakaupong pangulo ay hindi naman kaaway at meron ding mga kasamahan tayo na bahagi rin ng administrasyong Duterte,” the activist said.
[There will just perhaps be some adjustments because the sitting president is not an enemy and besides we have colleagues who have become part of the Duterte administration.]
However, Bayan said they are also hoping for the law enforcement to loosen up a bit on their stringent security protocols normally associated with all the past SONAs.
“If the President can do away with the yearly SONA fashion show and red carpet, he can likewise do away with the overkill security measures that SONA has been notorious for,” a press release on Bayan’s website said.
“He can do away with the barbed wires, container vans, concrete barriers and the thousands of police and military deployed for SONA day,” it added.