MANILA (UPDATE) — A multi-sectoral protest calling for an end to President Rodrigo Duterte's administration awaits the chief executive on Monday when he delivers his last State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Groups Akbayan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Nagkaisa, iDefend and Laban ng Masa said Thursday they would hold protest actions in various areas along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on the day of the SONA.
Last year, the groups held an anti-SONA protest only at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in the same city due to tight restrictions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Napipinto na talaga ang pagwawakas ni Duterte. Kung hindi man maganap bago ang eleksyon, tiyak ako na sa darating na eleksyon ay mawawala na siya," Laban ng Masa Spokesperson Leody de Guzman said in a virtual press conference.
(The end of Duterte is imminent. If it won't happen before the election, I'm sure he'll be gone after the elections.)
Akbayan partylist said they will mark July 26 as "Goodbye Duterte Day."
"There will be two prominent words from the public that will mark Mr. Duterte's last SONA. They will not be 'thank you', but 'goodbye, Duterte'," said RJ Naguit, Akbayan spokesperson.
The groups said the issues they would highlight during the protests include the extrajudicial killings, drug war, West Philippine Sea, and the administration's pro-China policy.
They assured that health protocols would be implemented during the protests as well as proper coordination with the police and Quezon City government.
A unity march will take place before noon, which will end in front of St. Peter's Church near the Batasang Pambansa.
Duterte will lay down his administration’s priorities in his remaining year in office while looking back on the gains of the government during the last 5 years when he delivers his final SONA, Malacanang said on Wednesday.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the Office of the President has already finalized Duterte's SONA.
“Ang alam ko, ang magiging porma ng SONA niya ay titignan niya ang nakalipas na limang taong siya'y naging Presidente. Po-focus siya, siyempre, sa pag-unlad ng bayan, sa ating mga social programs, infrastructure, peace and security, foreign policy,” Roque said.
(As far as I know, the format of his SONA includes looking back on his last five years as President. This will focus on the country's progress, the government's social programs, infrastructure, peace and security, foreign policy.)
“Sasagutin niya ang tanong na what and where are we now, and looking forward doon sa huling taon ng panunungkulan ng ating Presidente,” he added.
(He will answer questions about what and where are we now, and looking forward to his last year in office.)
Roque said major revisions in Duterte's speech are unlikely.
“May rehearsal po si Presidente ngayon para sa SONA. Ito po yung kauna-unahang rehearsal niya. So, naisapinal na po ang kaniyang talumpati. Based on past SONAs, ayaw ni Presidente na binabago yung kanyang speech. Pero in the end, siya po ang nag-e-edit as he rehearses,” Roque said.
(The President has a rehearsal for his SONA now. This will be his first rehearsal. His speech has been finalized. Based on past SONAs, the President doesn't like to alter his speech. But in the end, he edits as he rehearses.)
Akbayan said it expects Duterte's last SONA to be "entirely fictional", it said in a statement.
"On July 26, the public will suffer to witness Mr. Duterte's valedictory SONA, the country's biggest fiction show of the year. It will be full of absurd claim-making, fake news and empty boasting. However, the truth cannot be denied," Akbayan's Naguit said.
Some members of the opposition stressed that to end the Duterte administration and its policies, they must field a common candidate in 2022.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who recently declared that he will be running for president, is still considered by some quarters in the opposition umbrella organization 1Sambayan.
"Hindi pa sarado. Ang filing ng candidacy ay sa October pa naman," said Nagkaisa Chairperson Sonny Matula.
(We're not closing our doors to other candidates. The filing of candidacy is still in October.)
The groups said the poor showing of opposition personalities in the recent Pulse Asia survey would not deter them.
"Hindi kami natatakot sa sinasabing numbers. If you’re on top, you have nowhere to go but down. Nakita na natin sa eleksiyon, usually ang frontliners sa simula, lalo na ganito kaaga, they end up losing," said Bayan Spokesperson Teddy Casino.
(We aren't afraid of the so-called numbers. If you're on top, you have nowhere to go but down. We've seen in past elections, usually those who are on top at the start, especially during this early, they end up losing.)
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and President Duterte emerged as most preferred presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively, for next year's elections in the latest Pulse Asia survey.
- with report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News