By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
Hours before President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address, more than 24,000 rallyists of pro-administration and militant groups flocked on their respective areas to hold programs.
Based on the data from the advance command post of Task Group “Quezon” led by Quezon City Police District Director Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel Jr., there are more than 9,000 pro-Duterte rallyists on their post on IBP Road.
Meanwhile, members of militant groups on Commonwealth Avenue reached around 15,000 from St. Peter’s Church where they held the program during the SONA up to Ever Gotesco Mall as of 4:30 p.m.
Various cause-oriented groups attended the protest rally dubbed as the “United People’s SONA,” which was the first time protest groups have joined together.
Among the personalities who attended the unity program were Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Teddy Casiño, Human Rights lawyer Neri Colmenares, former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, and ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
In an interview before her speech, Sereno said we should oppose the charter change being pushed by the administration.
“May bisa sa atin na sasagana ang buhay ng mga rehiyon, pero hindi nila sinasabi na bibigat ang buwis na kakargahin ng mga mamamayan at ng mga negosyante. Manghihina ang ekonomiya, mahihirapan tayo sa isang bangkarote na national government,” Sereno said.
The former chief justice said another reason she attended the protest rally is to oppose the dictatorship being imposed by the President through the killings.
“Walang humpay na patayan sa lansangan. Inosente, o hindi inosente, nangunguna sa krimen, o walang pakialam sa krimen, bata, o matanda, winasak ang buhay. Nahihirapan ang taumbayan. Ang bigat sa kalooban. Hindi talaga puwede. Kailangang tutulan na ang dikatadurya,” she exclaimed.
Sereno also slammed pressure being put by President Duterte to higher institutions that will oppose him.
“Bigyan niya ng tunay na solusyon ang kahirapan. Hindi solusyon ang patayan. Ang solusyon ay tunay na pagtulong sa kapawa tao,” she added.
While Sereno considered herself as a leader in the opposition, she said she have yet to decide if she will lead a national position.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said the program, which he said the largest they ever had, is expected to end at 6:30 p.m.