Clean Air Act highlighted amid effigy burning on SONA day

July 24, 2023 - 11:41 AM
Effigy_SONA 2023
Various groups hold a protest along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to voice out their concerns regarding different social issues ahead of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, 2023 (The STAR/Walter Bollozos)

An environmental law was highlighted following reports that groups that burn their effigies in light of the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) may possibly face complaints.

Police Chief Brigadier General Jose Melencio Nartatez Jr, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), on Monday, July 24 said that protesters may face complaints of violation against the Clean Air Act.

Just like the previous SONA, protesters burn effigies — usually of the president — to signify the start of the People’s SONA march to Quezon City.

People’s SONA is a mobilization of various progressive groups protesting against the president’s annual SONA where he reports on the country’s state and the government’s agenda for the coming year.

It is also when the chief executive may propose legislative measures to Congress.

Meanwhile, some progressive groups create effigies that depict the president in relation to the current issues he is facing.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN had a “doble kara” effigy that featured the face of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on two sides of a gold coin in reference to the mythical “Tallano gold.”

The coin, according to them, symbolized the “meager wage increase given to Metro Manila workers.”

Last month, the regional wage board of the National Capital Region approved the P40 increase in the minimum wage workers’ hike, but a labor group said it was less than half of what the workers had asked for.

“On one side, Marcos projects a smiling image who preaches unity, peace, and love of country,” BAYAN said about their “doble kara” coin effigy.

“But after flipping the coin effigy, the real Marcos is revealed: a corrupt scion of a family which plundered the nation’s wealth; and a leader obsessed with rebranding and reviving the notorious legacy of his dictator father,” the group added.

The effigy also depicted Marcos holding a gun which they said referred to the “rampant human rights violations” under his presidency.

The effigy was burned on Monday morning while protesters chanted against Marcos, calling him a “fascist.”

The activists also stressed their constitutionally-granted freedom of expression in their act.

Nartatez previously warned protesters who would burn effigies.

“Kung may makitaan kami and then… ma-document, they will, of course, pay the penalties for that,” he said to reporters minutes before the burning of the “doble kara” coin effigy.

Nartatez added that they are “implementing” the Clean Air Act.

The Clean Air Act, also known as Republic Act 8749, promotes pollution prevention and air pollution management.

It promotes the “polluters must pay” principle.

Some activities prohibited under the law include incineration (burning biomedical, hazardous, and municipal waste) except for the “traditional small-scale method of community or neighborhood sanitation ‘siga,’ traditional, agricultural, cultural, health, and food preparation and crematoria.”