MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – "Atin ang 'Pinas!" (The Philippines is ours!)
This is the rallying cry that echoed in different parts of the country as President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 22.
The President's annual address came on the heels of the controversial sinking of a Philippine boat by a Chinese vessel, which the administration has downplayed as a mere “maritime incident.” At least 22 Filipino crewmen survived the incident, and narrated what exactly happened at Recto Bank. (READ: The sinking of Gem-Ver: Barko! May babanggang barko!)
Along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, near where Duterte delivered his address, several personalities and groups got together to highlight the country’s struggle for sovereignty, freedom, and livelihood through the United People’s SONA.
In various pocket rallies outside Metro Manila, protesters amplified these calls to share their own version of the state of the nation.
In Bicol, protesters slammed the Duterte administration for not complying with its obligations to international human rights and humanitarian law.
"The regime didn’t recognize the 'Iceland Resolution' passed in the UN Human Rights Council to investigate extrajudicial killings in the Philippines with regard to war on drugs and political killings among activists, human rights defenders, environmental activists and other forms of human rights violations," Dan Balucio, secretary general of Bayan Bicol said.
At least 63 individuals – mostly farmers – in the region have been victims of extrajudicial killings, Balucio claimed.
In Cagayan de Oro City, however, organizers claimed that multiple checkpoints in the city blocked the entry of protesters. As a result, there were more flags than warm bodies at the Rizal Park in the city.
"They are blocking and holding people from traveling to join us here, people are being prevented to let their voices be heard, this government uses all state forces instrumentalities to stifle our voice," human rights lawyer Beverly Ann Musni said.