By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA — “Sobra na! Tama na!” (Enough!)
Church people, human rights groups, workers unions, and organizations from all political spectrum banded together to announce the launch of the United People’s SONA, the people’s counterpoint to the presidential State of the Nation Address (SONA) happening this June 22.
Organizations such as Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa, In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (i-DEFEND), Laban ng Masa, and several other coalitions have come together in defense of the country’s sovereignty, democracy, and people’s well-being.
The unity of these groups, a first in many years, shows the extent of dissatisfaction with the Duterte administration’s performance for the past three years.
This Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte will be conducting his fourth state of the nation address with the promise of a hopeful and happy SONA.
United People’s SONA, on the other hand, believes that such SONA is impossible after a year full of disinformation, cover-ups, and attacks against the Filipino people’s rights and welfare.
“The president is expected to boast about his so-called accomplishments,” said Benedictine nun Mary John Mananzan. “But there are stark realities we face as a nation (that he fails to address).”
The United People’s SONA would be addressing people’s issues, including the issue of sovereignty which is the central theme of the broad alliance.
Malacañang’s scandalous surrender of the West Philippine Sea by refusing to assert the Philippines’ rights over the Exclusive Economic Zone has angered many groups.
“We are not only defending the sovereignty of our seas. We are also fighting for our democracy and our rights as a citizen of the country,” BAYAN Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said in a press conference, July 16.
Former Chief of Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno urged the general public to join Monday’s protest.
“We must remind the President that he is not above God, the people, and the Constitution,” Sereno said.
“When the President’s term expires, and it will have to, how do we pick up the pieces of our nation?” Sereno asked, adding that the movement is the physical representation of everything the Filipino people are fighting for.
“So for those who are afraid to step up, this is your time,” she added.
The groups are expecting thousands of people to join the main program along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. Similar programs would be happening in other parts of the country as well as in other countries.