MANILA -- The so-called honeymoon period between militants and President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III started to ebb after they challenged the three-week-old administration to fulfill its promises.
Thousands of militants led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan spilled over the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to deliver their own version of the State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Renato Reyes, secretary-general of Bayan, said President Aquino should walk the talk in his highly-touted anti-corruption campaign.
“Institutions for accountability have been damaged and undermined by the previous government. The prosecution of Arroyo and her cabal of corrupt officials remains a pressing concern for a people who have long been denied of justice. Expose’ is good only insofar as they will lead to accountability,” he said in a statement.
After listening to the Sona of President Aquino, Reyes lauded the efforts to reveal the misdeeds of the Arroyo government but lamented the lack of action plan in running after the crooks in the past administration.
“Dapat ilagay sa hold-departure list ang mga taong iyan, dapat ibalik ang mga kinulimbat na pondo. Hinihintay natin ang konkretong hakbang kung kelan papanagutin at ipapakulong si Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he said.
Reyes also blasted Aquino for being silent on agrarian reform and jobs creation for more than four million unemployed and seven million underemployed.
“Nasayang ang malaking oportunidad na magbigay ng solusyon sa problema ng mamamayan sa lupa, sa paglikha ng trabaho at pambansang industriyalisasyon,” he said.
In an interview, National Capital Region police director Roberto Rosales said the rally was peaceful so far as he pegged the number of protesters at 6,000.
“They have been cooperative so far and it's generally peaceful here,” he told Sun. Star, adding that the militants are allowed to hold a program until 5 p.m. but they can stay up to 7 p.m. near the Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth Avenue.
Meantime, militants brought with them a Harry Potter-inspired effigy of President Aquino, but this will not be burned as practiced during the much-reviled Arroyo government.
As part of beefing up security in the first Sona of President Aquino, the Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed 7,867 policemen, of which 4,500 were deployed around the Batasan Complex where the President delivered his Sona.
Several close circuit television (CCTV) cameras were also installed near the Batasan premises.
The National Capital Command (NCRCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), on the other hand, deployed two battalions in the Batasan and surrounding areas to augment police forces.
Rosales earlier junked the appeal of militants led by Bayan to hold their protest and other activities right at the Batasan gates due to traffic and security concerns.
Starting midnight Sunday, the northbound lane of Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City was closed to traffic with operations going back to normal Monday night.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has also suspended classes in 19 schools near the vicinity of the Batasan Pambansa. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)