SONA protesters to Aquino: Time for excuses is over
MANILA, Philippines – Calling for urgent action, hundreds of activists gathered along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City as they held a protest rally against the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III on Monday, July 28.
It's Aquino's second to the last SONA, marking the 4th year of his presidency.
"Tapos na yung panahon na 'give him a chance.' Kasi malinaw na malinaw na hindi ganoon ang kanyang gagawin, hindi niya babaguhin ang status quo, hindi niya babaguhin ang kalagayan ng mga mahihirap. The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for accountability. Kailangan may managot," Renato Reyes Jr of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan told Rappler.
(The time for giving him a chance is over. Because it's very clear that he will not change status quo, he will not change the condition of the poor. The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for accountability. Someone has to be punished.)
Protesters in a rainbow of colors stood for a rainbow of issues: land reform, corruption, women's rights, the privatization of hospitals, poverty, economic reform, disaster rehabilitation.
Groups of protesters began gathering at 10 am in different parts of Commonwealth Avenue. At around 1 pm, groups began to converge near Ever Gotesco mall.
Mobile stages were set up. Organizers gave fiery speeches. Musicians sang political songs and impassioned skits were enacted.
Effigies of Aquino were paraded then burned. One effigy depicted Aquino sitting on a throne, his face resembling that of a pig's. He wears a crown and wields a gun. His blue pants are held up by a red and blue belt dotted with America's stars.
He rests his hoof on a barrel with a sign that identifies him as the "Holdaper king."
No 'sorry' for DAP
Protesters expected Aquino to defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) during his speech. This controversial program has already earned him two impeachment complaints. The Supreme Court declared parts of it unconstitutional.
Teddy Casiño, former Bayan Muna representative, told his fellow protesters not to expect Aquino to apologize for the DAP.
"Ayaw magsorry dahil siya ay nakinabang ng napaka laking panahon sa sistemang ito. Nakinabang siya bilang congressman, nakinabang siya bilang senador, nakinabang siya bilang panginoon ng lupa, nakinabang siya bilang politiko…Asa pa kayo magsosorry yan."
(He doesn't want to say sorry because he benefited from it for a long time as a congressman, senator, landlord and politician. Don't expect him to say sorry.)
Demanding for promised change
Nardi Sabino, who attended the rally as a member of his church group, said even the record-high economic growth experienced by the country the last year shouldn't be considered an achievement by Aquino.
"GDP growth nila, ng mga katulad nilang mayayaman pero kung mga mahihirap at pangkaraniwan ang tatanungin mo, walang nagbago bagkus lalo pang lumubha ang kanilang kahirapan," he told Rappler.
(It's the GDP growth of people like them who are rich but if you ask the poor and ordinary, nothing changed. In fact, they became even poorer.)
Comedienne Mae Paner went onstage dressed in the brown terno she wore during the days she still supported Aquino.
"Ano ang nangyari mula noon? Walang tunay na pagbabago. Akala natin magbabago para sa ikabubuti, yun pala ang dulo ng tuwid na daan ay bangin," she criticized.
(What happened since then? There is no real change. We though there would be change for the better but the end of a straight path is a pit.)
The protesters may have come in different colors but a majority of them have the same message for Aquino. They say they've given him 4 chances to live up to his promises. They're not ready to give him another. – Rappler.com