Makabayan lawmakers' protest materials confiscated before SONA
MANILA, Philippines – Several protest materials used by Makabayan lawmakers and their guests as part of their Filipiniana attire were confiscated ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago told Rappler on Tuesday, July 23, that members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and other SONA security personnel tried to confiscate the sash she wore over her terno as she arrived at the Batasang Pambansa on Monday, July 22, for the SONA.
Her blue sash depicted the protection of the country's national sovereignty and territorial integrity. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Art means uprising at the SONA 2019 protests)
While Elago was able to wear the sash when she walked down the red carpet at the South Wing lobby, the advocacy sashes that were supposed to be worn by two of her guests, both youth leaders, were taken by security.
"Ang advocacy sash ko na lang ang hindi tuluyang nakuha dahil nakasuot pa rin sa akin ito. Bago po kunin 'yong iba mula sa amin, sa South Wing walk pa lang, nasa 5 police na ang nagbabantay sa amin," Elago said.
(Only my advocacy sash was not taken because I was still wearing it. Before the sashes were taken from us, 5 police officers were already looking at us at the South Wing walkway.)
"Nauna na po ako sa plenaryo at hanggang sa loob ay napansin ng aking katabi sa upuan na nakabantay rin ho ang PSG sa aming corner seat at inoobserbahan ang aking suot na sash," she added.
(I reached the plenary first, and even inside, my seatmate noticed the PSG deployed near our corner seats kept on observing my sash.)
According to Elago's political affairs officer Thalia Villela, SONA security tried to confiscate the sashes when they were trying to enter the South Lobby to hand the full attire to Elago.
This prompted Elago to just change into her Filipiniana attire inside her car, then she placed the sashes inside her bag.
Elago only took out the sashes once she and her guests reached the red carpet.
Elago's guests then removed their sashes after the red carpet, but the SONA security still insisted on getting the items from them. They have yet to receive their sashes back.
"I ensured its turnover to the security and negotiated to retrieve it and promised to already keep it outside. However, they insisted on keeping it with them and told me that we can get it after the event," Villela narrated.
"But when I immediately got back to them minutes right after SONA, it was no longer there where they kept it. And the security personnel referred me to many other security personnel and no one could answer me [where the sashes were being kept]," she added.
Lawmakers are required by law to wear Filipiniana for the SONA, while other guests should be in business attire.
Fan, barong also taken
In a separate statement, the Makabayan bloc said Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas and Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite also experienced similar incidents before Duterte delivered his speech.
Brosas walked down the red carpet while carrying a fan with the words, "Serbisyo sa Tao, Huwag Gawing Negosyo (Services for the People, Don't Turn into Business)."
But security personnel later took the fan from her.
Gaite was supposed to wear a barong depicting his call to end labor contractualization.
But security personnel deployed at the entrance of Batasan barred Gaite from wearing the barong inside, prompting the congressman to wear a different plain barong during the SONA itself.
"This does not only attack the democratic rights of our Makabayan representatives to express the genuine calls of the people inside the halls of Congress, but this is an attack to the real state of the nation of the people. Instead of allowing the representatives to openly bring light to the call of the people, security forces decide to confiscate these materials on no solid basis," Makabayan said.
Rappler already reached out to the PSG for comment, but they have yet to reply as of posting time. – Rappler.com