Reactions to first-ever SONA ban on attires with ‘political messages’

July 22, 2022 - 9:46 PM
Political outfits SONA
Members of the Makabayan bloc wearing outfits bearing political messages join protests at the University of the Philippines Diliman against President Rodrigo Duterte on the day of his State of the Nation Address on July 26, 2021. (

The first State of the Nation Address under the Marcos administration will not allow attendees to wear “clothes with political messages,” according to a memorandum issued by House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza.

Former Commission on Elections chair Andy Bautista tweeted, possibly sarcastically, that the move “is welcome news for a politician who wants to make a political statement.”

Rep. Raoul Manuel (Kabataan party-list), meanwhile, aired his grievances over this prohibition on Twitter. 

“This is the first time in recent history that an explicit prohibition is issued,” he additionally claimed. “Martial Law yaaarn?”

Martial Law refers to the nine-year period imposed during late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr’s term which saw numerous human rights abuses.

His contemporaries in the progressive Makabayan bloc are planning to wear protest attires at the event.

More reactions

Some found this prohibition a violation of freedom of expression, as protected by the 1987 Constitution.

“‘Di ba against freedom of speech ‘to?” a Twitter user asked. 

“This is so weeeeird like, bawal na pala tayo lahat mag-express?” another asked. 

Another online user pointed out how “fashion is political.”

“Fashion is political. Noong mid-century, naging debate pa iyang barong sa pormalan dahil gusto Amerikana ang dapat business attire. Hindi ba nila alam na ang barong na isusuot nila sa SONA ay bunga rin ng politikal na antiimperyalismo noon?” the Twitter user said.

Others questioned the memo, citing that the current administration ran on a “unity” platform.

“Ibang klaseng unity ‘to ha,” a Twitter user said. 

“If this is so, then it means it really was never for the people. there’s only the ‘unity’ they oh-so-boldly preach of if you are on their side,” another wrote. 

Despite the opposition, some said lawmakers could join the rallies which are permitted by the government in freedom parks.

“Pwede naman mag-rally sa designated na lugar. Ano ira-rally niyo? Kauupo lang. Hindi [pa] nga nagsisimula, binabakbakan niyo na agad,” a Twitter user said. 

Is it the first time?

Meanwhile, Manuel’s contemporaries in the progressive Makabayan bloc are planning to wear protest attires at the event.

The outfit of Rep. France Castro (Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list) features a person holding a torch to symbolize the delivery of hope and truth to the masses.

The color of the fabric is also black to symbolize “disinformation” and “historical distortion” under the administration.

Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela party-list) will don a skirt with illustrations of “women’s struggles against rising prices of oil, food and basic necessities.”

Her party-list also said that “‘flying’ pork and other goods will be handpainted with gold and silver paint” on her outfit.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that he will discuss his key policies and priorities as president in his maiden SONA, which includes details of the government’s medium-term fiscal framework, among others.

In the previous administration, members of the Makabayan bloc were able to wear protest attires for former president Rodrigo Duterte‘s SONA in 2021.

Former Bayan Muna representative Carlos Zarate also wore one in Duterte’s penultimate address.

In 2019, however, some protest attire props of the Makabayan bloc were confiscated by the Presidential Security Group before the start of the event.

These are former Kabataan representative Sarah Elago‘s sash, former Bayan Muna representative Ferdinand Gaite‘s barong and Brosas’ fan.

According to the Kabataan party-list, the PSG didn’t give a “solid basis” for the confiscation.

It didn’t happen in 2018 when Duterte delivered his third SONA.

There were also no similar reports in 2017 and 2016.

No confiscation of protest attires happened in former president Noynoy Aquino‘s term as well.