FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2010
Youth group Anakbayan harshly criticized President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino today for saying that this year’s ‘alternative SONA (State of the Nation Address)’, which has become an annual tradition of progressive groups, should be held in the Quezon Memorial Circle and not in front of the Batasang Pambansa as originally requested.
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan first proposed the original venue in a dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights and the Quezon City local government. This position was endorsed by the CHR. However, Aquino yesterday said he would prefer that the rally be held in the Memorial Circle.
“No president since Marcos has sought to keep rallyists as far away from him/her as Aquino is doing with his proposal to allow the ‘SONA ng Bayan’ in the Quezon Memorial Circle. In this aspect, he is worse than the disgraced Erap Estrada, or the much-hated Gloria Arroyo” said Anakbayan national vice-chairperson Anton Dulce.
During Estrada’s time, the record was when police blocked the rallyists at Ylanan Road in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus near the Iglesia ni Cristo central temple. In Arroyo’s time, the farthest was in front of the Ever Gotesco mall along Commonwealth Avenue. In her first year however, Arroyo allowed the rally to be held in front of the Batasang Pambansa.
In previous years, Anakbayan and other progressive groups held counterpart ‘SONAs’ to showcase what they called ‘the real state of the nation’.
“The real state of the nation today is a selective democracy. Apparently, Monday’s SONA is only open for those who blindly follow Noynoy’s analyses and prescriptions. The rest can just sit at home and watch TV or listen to the radio” said Dulce.
The youth leader noted that there is a disturbing trend of intolerance against dissenters from the new administration.
“First, a dispersal of peacefully-assembled farmers. Then a snub of students who walked out of classes to seek his attention regarding their grievances. And then the deployment of 10,000 cops for Monday, and the declaration of Times Street as a ‘no-rally’ zone. Now this?” he said.
Last July 3, police violently dispersed a makeshift camp on the foot of Mendiola Bridge by farmers from disputed haciendas seeking help. Around 40 were arrested while dozens were injured, including sympathizing students. Last July 16, more than a thousand students from Metro Manila schools walked out of their classes and marched to Mendiola Bridge to press Aquino to immediately implement a ‘tuition freeze’. Last July 21, the Phil. National Police declared Times Street in Q.C, where Aquino’s private residence is located, as a ‘no-rally’ zone.
“The current administration is turning out to be as onion-skinned as its despicable predecessor. Monday’s SONA can also stand for State Of ‘Napapraning Na’ Aquino” remarked Dulce.
Finally, the youth leader said there is no reason to bar the alternative SONA and its participants from holding their program in front of the House of Representatives.
“Our intention is peaceful and within the bounds of the Constitution. Our demands are just and should be listened to. We reject Noynoy’s Memorical Circle proposal. See you in the gates of Batasan” he said.
Anton Dulce, Anakbayan national vice-chairperson