In time of the President’s 4th Sona

TACLOBAN CITY- Various progressive groups based in the city staged their protest rally against President Rodrigo Duterte who delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address (Sona) Monday.
Serving as the highlight of the protest, attended by about 500,000 rallyists as estimated by the organizers, was the burning of the effigy of Mr. Duterte placed in a cartoon-made boat, representing the issue surrounding the dispute between the Philippines and China on the South China Sea.
The protest rally started at 1 pm at Noblejas Junction, named after a popular local radio commentator Ramon ‘Monching’ Noblejas who was gunned down on October 4, 1987, and ended along P. Rizal Avenue.
Speakers after speakers denounced the Duterte administration claiming its failure to deliver ‘genuine and pro-poor’ programs.
“The rice tarrification, for example, only rendered the poor farmers poorer as rice traders now choose to buy imported rice, leaving behind the local farmers,” Jun Berino, secretary-general of Sagupa(Samahan han Gugti na Parauma)-Sinirangan Bisayas said, citing one of the laws passed under the Duterte administration which they called as among the anti-poor measures.
Berino also cited the modernization of public transportation as anti-poor measure and the administration’s failure to fully enforce its anti-contractualization.
“Poverty incidence in Eastern Visayas remain to be widespread,” he said.
Meantime, a full alert status was declared by the Philippine National Police (PNP) across the region on Monday as part of the security preparations as the Pres. Duterte delivered his 4th Sona.
Police Brigadier General Dionardo Carlos, police regional director, said that 900 policemen were deployed as part of the security measures.
Carlos told reporters that in line with the declaration of full alert status, all personnel were required in attendance and be ready for any maximum deployment as Reactionary Standby Support Force (RSSF).
Police Provincial Offices (PPOs), City Police Offices (CPOs) and Regional Mobile Force Battalion were directed to intensify simultaneous checkpoint operations in all strategic areas especially to vehicles transporting significant number of persons without clear purpose.
Police Colonel Warren de Leon, force commander of Regional Force Battalion 8 said that their unit was ready for the deployment of personnel.
“We provided standby civil disturbance management platoon led by a Police Commissioned Officer and our companies are already conducting checkpoints in their respective area of responsibilities,” he added.