Online protests which translated into street rallies when the general community quarantine was placed in most parts of the country united groups and personalities in an event called SONAgKAISA, which is live-streamed on Facebook ahead of the fifth State of the Nation Address.
While street rallies took place across the country, the main demonstration started at the University of the Philippines-Diliman in Quezon City on Monday, July 27, which was similar to the event last Independence Day, on June 12.
This massive protest which started at 10 in the morning was live-streamed on various Facebook accounts of groups and personalities, and alternative news networks, who participated.
Based on the schedule posted by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN, the program was held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, which was wrapped up with a Holy Mass in the afternoon.
An online concert called “Tinig ng Bayan” would also be held from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., followed by a noise barrage at 6 pm.
Some of the progressive groups present include BAYAN, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kabataan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Karapatan, Pamalakaya Pilipinas, and other youth groups such as League of Filipino Students and UP Transport Group.
SA KASALUKUYAN: Handang handa na ang mga kabataan para sa SONA ng Bayan–#SONAgkaisa na mga kabataan sa paglaban!
Sigaw ng kabataan: MASS TESTING, TRABAHO, AYUDA, AT HINDI TERROR LAW!!!
— Kabataan Partylist (@KabataanPL) July 27, 2020
Contingent of farmers, fisherfolk, rural women, agri workers, and urban poor to the #SONAgKAISA mobilization.
Farmers marched from DAR to UP. pic.twitter.com/lk9DCco0YP
— #JunkTerrorLaw (@kmp_phl) July 27, 2020
— Pamalakaya Pilipinas (@pama_pil) July 27, 2020
The subjects of dissent were also the same concerns that the public had been raising to the national government since the start of the pandemic and throughout President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency. These are:
- Continued ramping up the detection program for COVID-19 to include health workers, other front liners, and suspected cases, and other health-oriented solutions
- Scrapping the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020
- Proper distribution of financial assistance to workers and the poor who lost their jobs during the lockdown
- Bringing ABS-CBN back on the air
- Stop the killings and red-tagging of Filipino farmers
- Protect the rights of Filipino fisherfolk who reside in the islands in the West Philippine Sea
- Oust Duterte
In 2019, organizers said there were at least 25,000 attendees. In 2018, there were at least 40,000 people, which were still the largest crowd against the Duterte administration.
Such massive SONAgKAISA alliance or coalition started last July 17 and gathered representatives of multisectoral, progressive groups, some government officials and other public figures who are known to have political differences.
Other opposition personalities include Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan Party-list), former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, former Commission on Human Rights Chair Loretta Rosales, former DSWD Sec. Corazon Soliman, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno.
Ang mga kabataan at estudyante mula sa iba’t ibang pamantasan, organisasyon, probinsya, at mga komunidad ay nagkakaisa sa pagkilos sa darating na SONA.SONAgKAISAng Kabataan sa PaglabanPress ConferenceIpaglaban ang Kalusugan, Kabuhayan, Edukasyon, at Karapatan! Ibasura ang Terror Law!Tama na, Sobra na, #wakaSONA!
Posted by Kiko Pangilinan on Sunday, July 19, 2020
This online rally which was also live-streamed on Facebook became the starting point of their unity in resisting Duterte’s policies and laws and holding officials accountable for their glaring violations of the law.
“Ngayong darating na SONA, mas matinding pagkakaisa ang kinakailangan natin gawin…Magkakaroon tayo ng iba’t-ibang mga kilos protesta para kalampagin ang gobyerno sa makupad nitong pagkilos, sa katiwalian, sa panggigipit, sa anti-terror bill, at iba pang mga mabibigat na usapin,” Pangilinan said.
The SONA protest also dominated the online space through the hashtags #SONA2020 and #SONAgKAISA after concerned Filipinos and other personalities also joined by airing their grievances against the government.
#SONA2020 Duque, resign. For the sake of our people. For the sake of our tired health workers.
Five months of incompetence is enough. Again, numbers do not lie.
— Paolo Benjamin (@PaoloBenjamin_) July 27, 2020
So far, the first hashtag has more than 77,700 tweets and the other one has 55,900 tweets.
Last week, the Department of Interior and Local Government issued an advisory that prohibited local governments from granting permits to demonstrators for SONA.
Following questions and criticisms on the legality of this new directive, Interior Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya clarified that the resolution only cascaded the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“Yung pinalabas po na advisory ng DILG kahapon ay to simply cascade the decision or resolution of the IATF,” Malaya said during a virtual briefing.
“Since we are in the middle of a pandemic, any form of mass gathering is prohibited, kasama na rin po dyan ang mga rallies and demonstrations,” he added.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte initially said that she’ll allow some groups to conduct activities provided by the Public Assembly Act of 1985.
However, on July 24, the Quezon City government suddenly issued a statement that banned all mass actions, citing the risks of the new pathogen.
Rallyists have previously circulated reminders on the minimum health protocols they should comply with during their demonstrations.