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Groups stage rally vs Duterte’s SONA

Members of different progressive groups in Camarines Sur and Naga City hold protest activities at the Plaza Rizal on Monday, July 27, the day President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his fifth and penultimate State of the Nation Address in Batasan Pambansa, Quezon City. Photo by Paulo DS. Papa

NAGA CITY --- Members of various progressive groups and organizations staged a rally at Plaza Rizal here on Monday, July 27, in time for the fifth State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte whom they condemned for "prioritizing regulations and governmental actions against it's people and non-functional to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis."

In an interview, Nelsy Rodriguez, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) spokesperson in Camarines Sur, told Bicol Mail that the rally is intended to express criticism towards the national government for prioritizing "anti-mamamayan" laws and regulations amidst the Covid-19 crisis such as the Anti-Terrorism Law.

She said that President Duterte has failed to address the increasing cases of Covid-19 in the country and even took advantage of the pandemic to implementle unnecessary programs like the jeepney modernization and approve a law allowing foreign ownership of businesses in the country.

Rodriguez said the denial of the ABS-CBN franchise did not only render jobless thousands of the TV network’s employees but it also threatened the media industry in the country.

"If the largest broadcast company was assaulted by the President, how much more if the administration threatens mediamen working for small media companies?" she said.

She said that as result of the closure of ABS-CBN, news coverage and reportage of other news organizations critical of the Duterte government will be limited for fear of retaliation.

"The role of the media in the country is not to make profit but to bring credible information (to the people) about the programs and activities of the government,” she said.

The rally was allowed by the city government. Police authorities and personnel of the Public Safety Office were seen on standby while the rally was going on.

The rally ended at around 11:00 A, after which the protesters marched to the ABS-CBN Naga station to express their sympathy over the non-renewal of the latter’s franchise.

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