MEMBERS of the police and military bands played their instruments as soon as activists passed by at the Kiosko Kagawasan in Divisoria to stage mass demonstration and call for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte, hours after the president delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address (Sona), Monday, July 22, 2019.
Various progressive groups took time to settle down after almost of the entire rally areas in Divisoria were occupied by the police, military and other government agencies which also held peace rally concert, medical mission and other services.
The group made a stop at the Rizal Monument and held their protest actions against the "anti-people" and "anti-poor" policies of the Duterte administration.
Father Roland Abejo of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) in Northern Mindanao said the activity of the state security forces is meant to intimidate and scare the people from joining the "People's Sona."
But Abejo said they were no longer surprised because the government has long been scaring and intimidating activists and militant organizations through red-tagging and linking them to the New People's Army (NPA).
"Ang gihimo sa gobyerno karon pagpig-ot ug pagpanghadlok sa mga pamilya ug mga sektor aron dili makahimo sa tapok-tapok," Abejo said.
"Ato naning gidahom kay sa daghan kasinatian ang AFP, police ug gobyerno naghimo ani aron atbangan atong kalihukan pero kami dili papildi kay malinawon kaming mohimo sa programa pagpadayag sa kamatuoran," he added.
But he said progressive groups will not be afraid to continue telling the truth.
Abejo said the group could not give the Duterte administration a passing mark because for them the president has done nothing good for the Filipino people.
"Wala tay mahatag nga grado kay walay kaayuhan nga nahimo ang atong presidente. Naa siya nahimo sa pagsugod niya pero mga 6 months ra to busa naka decide kita nga i-oust siya sa Malacanang," Abejo said.
Lawyer Beverly Musni, member of the Union of People's Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), said the presence of uniformed state security agents in Divisoria is in contrast to the freedom of speech, expression and assembly which is provided in the Philippine constitution.
"Mao kini ang dagway sa kahimtang sa martial law, very alarming, saddening," Musni said.
"There is a law where mobilization and mass actions primarily for political purposes nga ang state security forces are barred from coming into the perimeter not less than 200 meters so they are violating," she added.
However, the Northern Mindanao police denied that the peace rally concert and medical mission jointly conducted with the military was meant to intimidate and scare rallyists.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Mardy Hortillosa, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office-Northern Mindanao (PRO-10), said the activity is conducted to tell people the accomplishments of the Duterte government.
"Dili ingon nga i-intimidate sila. Pwede sila mag rally. Gipakita lang nato nga ang ilang gisulti dili mao, nga naay gobyerno nagserbisyo sa tawo dili man perpekto pero naa," Hortillosa said.
Hortillosa also said that the presence of the police and military is for the security and safety of the rallyists and not meant to harass them. (Alwen Saliring)