MANILA - An activist group leader and Metro Manila's top cop shared breakfast on the streets Monday before the protest actions heated up in time for President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address.
While eating lomi, Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. and National Capital Region Police Office director, Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar both vowed to keep Monday's protests peaceful.
Thousands of activists are expected to rally and join the United People's SONA along Commonwealth Avenue. Reyes said they chose this location to accommodate more protesters.
"Kami na po ang pumili ng lugar na ito. Binibigay nila 'yung mas malapit pero kami na ang tumanggi. Kami na 'yung nagsabi na dito kami para mas maluwag," he told reporters.
(We chose this area. They were giving us the one nearer to Batasan but we refused and chose this place because of the bigger space.)
Duterte supporters, meanwhile, are expected to gather near the Batasang Pambansa Complex, where critics traditionally held their protests.
Around 6,000 policemen will be deployed around Batasang Pambansa to secure Duterte's third SONA. The Commission on Human Rights has been invited to monitor the protests.
Activists have given the President a failing mark for the worsening human rights situation under his administration, and for implementing "anti-poor policies" like the tax reform law.
They are also wary of the proposed charter change, which they believe will be only be used by some corrupt officials to stay in power.