Lawmakers’ props confiscated before start of Duterte’s SONA

July 23, 2019 - 5:29 PM
Sarah Elago at the SONA
Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list) was wearing a blue terno accessorized by a statement sash on Filipinos' rights.

Attire props of some lawmakers bearing protest messages were confiscated by presidential security aides prior to the start of the fourth State of the Nation Address yesterday, July 22.

Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list) and her contemporaries Ferdinand Gaite (Bayan Muna party-list) and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s party-list) wore a hand-painted sash, a hand-painted barong and a custom-designed fan respectively to demonstrate their political statements.

Elago had a blue hand-painted sash symbolizing the 2016 arbitral ruling that favored the Philippines’ claims and invalidated those of China over a part of the South China Sea.

Gaite had a hand-painted barong with a hammer design that calls for stopping the “endo” or short-term labor contractualization scheme and increasing the national minimum wage to P750.

Brosas, meanwhile, had a custom-designed fan that has a statement against private water concessionaires amid the water crisis. It reads, “Serbisyo sa tao, huwag gawing negosyo.”


According to the Kabataan party-list, these were all confiscated by the Presidential Security Group without giving “solid basis” for the action.


They decried the move and called it an “attack” on democratic rights of the representatives who are part of the left-leaning Makabayan bloc, as well as an “attack to the real state of the nation of the people.”

“Instead of allowing the representatives to openly bring light to the call of the people, security forces decide to confiscate these materials on no solid basis,” part of Kabataan’s statement reads

During last year’s SONA, certain opposition lawmakers also demonstrated their political statements through their outfits, although there was no reported confiscation of props.

On this year’s protest attires 

Sarah Elago’s sash

Elago called for the government to uphold the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea amid continuous Chinese encroachment.

Despite the 2016 arbitral ruling on South China Sea that validates the Manila’s entitlements, Beijing continues to ply areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Last June, a Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino fishing boat in Reed Bank which endangered the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen.

The government initially dismissed it as a “little maritime incident” and even doubted the fishermen’s own accounts.

In yesterday’s SONA, Duterte defended his stance on the issue and falsely claimed that China can fish in “traditional fishing grounds” which were actually within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Ferdinand Gaite’s barong

Gaite’s barong called for the end of “endo” or short-term labor contractualization practices and an increase in the national minimum wage.

Certain employees still report alleged contractualization within their respective companies despite Duterte’s campaign promise that he will end the practice.

Last June, the Commission on Human Rights reminded Zagu Food Corp., a pearl shake maker, to uphold workers’ rights following allegations of “illegal labor-only contracting and unfair labor practices.”

Workers of a detergent manufacturing plant also conducted protests about labor regularization in the same month.

While Duterte urged Congress to “approve a new version of the Salary Standardization Law,” no specific measures were discussed about labor contractualization.

Arlene Brosas’ fan 

Brosas’ fan served as a statement against private water concessionaires and its alleged failure to serve Filipino households with quality water.

Last month, it was reported that residents of Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces would have to endure extended hours of water supply interruption until August.

Maynilad previously warned that a delay in rains would result in a “new water crisis” and has appealed for the government to rehabilitate Laguna Lake, eyeing it as an alternative water source.

Earlier this year, Manila Water consumers suffered a week-long shortage in water supply which prompted the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to fine the concessionaire for an estimated amount of P1.15 billion. — Artwork by Interaksyon/Uela Altar-Badayos