- The first State of the Nation Address of the new administration will be a historic day for Leftists as they were allowed to demonstrate 300 meters from the House of Representatives
- Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, Jr’s request to approach the Batasang Pambansa was granted by the President himself
- The left group vowed that the rally would be peaceful and that this new development in the country will definitely encourage the crowd
President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the Left to perform demonstrations 300 meters from the House of Representatives where the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) will happen on July 25, Monday.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes, Jr. said that the request of left-leaning groups to approach the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City was granted by Duterte himself.
“That’s historic. We thank the President for being very open, not like his predecessors. The rally will be peaceful for sure. But these new developments will definitely energize the crowd,” Reyes said with gratitude.
It is a historic day for the Left according to Reyes who has been joining SONA rallies since 1992. He said that this is the first time in recent history that protesters were allowed to proceed to Batasan, unlike during the previous SONA’s of other presidents.
“I’ve attended the Sona rally since 1992 as a freshman (at the University of the Philippines). The closest I’ve been at the corner of Sandiganbayan (along) Commonwealth (Avenue),” he added.
During the Aquino administration, protesters were blocked by hundreds of security forces so that they wouldn’t be able to march to Batasan Road. Along with these security forces, container vans, fire trucks, concrete barriers, and barbed wires have always been set up ahead of Sona rallies.
The President and Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa were both invited by Bayan to march with other thousands of protesters coming from different parts of the Philippines- from Mindanao, Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Central and Northern Luzon.
If the President decides to accept the invitation of Bayan, he would be the first President to grace a Sona rally.
In a separate statement of Reyes, he said, “We extend a warm invitation to President Duterte to be with the people who will march during the historic Sona rally. He is very much welcome to appear at and join the activities of Bayan, to listen to the plight of the people gathered outside Batasan, before he delivers his historic address.”
While the rally is in full support of the Duterte administration, Reyes said that it is also a way to call for the release of political prisoners and also the end of military operations in the countryside in which civilians are being targeted.
The leftist groups also emphasized on the need for the President to uphold due process and to respect human rights due to the extra-judicial killings of alleged drug users and pushers. They further noted that these people belong to the marginalized and poor sector of the society.
“While we support the anti-crime and anti-corruption campaign of the regime, we remain critical of the apparent vigilante killings and extrajudicial killings at the hands of the police forces connected to the anti-drug campaign,” stated Reyes.
Reyes also called on the administration to first track down and arrest the big-time drug lords, drug dealers, and drug syndicates in the country, including those in the government who are connected to them.