Dolphins, germs, and monsters: The 2020 SONA protests

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Activist Mae Paner dresses up as Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, similar to his picture taken during his controversial visit to a marine adventure park in Subic, Zambales. Photo by JL JAVIER

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Amid the heat and the threat of COVID-19, various civil rights groups staged the #SONAgKAISA protests at UP Diliman in time for President Duterte’s SONA. It is reported that the crowd estimate is around 10,000.

The program ran from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., with a lineup of civic leaders, actors, musicians, and lawmakers lending their voice to the protest. Speakers brought up issues such as the ABS-CBN shutdown, government’s response to the pandemic, passage of the Anti Terror Bill, and the welfare of laborers, frontliners, and disenfranchised jeepney drivers.

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan sent their messages through video, Senator Leila De Lima had a poem called “Ang Trayador,” read by actress Angeli Bayani, journalist Ces Drilon spoke about the importance of press freedom (“Hindi ito isang pribilehyo na tulad ng sinasabi ng ating presidente,” she said). Former Chief Justince Maria Lourdes Sereno discussed the implications of charter change.

Rey Salinas of Bahaghari and one of the arrested Pride20, closed the program and said, “Di kami natinag sa pang-aaresto, pagbabanta ng pasasabugin ang ulo namin, at sekswal na harassment na naranasan namin sa kulungan para sumama ngayon sa protesta ng mamamayang galit na sa kanilang mga pang-aabuso.”

During the protests, several people were also roving around to remind people of physical distancing.

Here are a few scenes from the protests.

Groups from the agriculture sector join the SONAgKAISA rally. Photo by JL JAVIER

The "Roletalsik," which depicts four reasons why the Duterte administration should end, according to the protesters. Photo by JL JAVIER

Rey Valmores-Salinas of Bahaghari and Pride20 closes the program. Photo by JL JAVIER

Transport sector groups protest the continued disenfranchisement of jeepney drivers. Photo by JL JAVIER

Lawyer Chel Diokno at the SONAgKAISA rally. Photo by JL JAVIER

A member of AMIHAN, an organization of peasant women protesting the Terror Law and peasant killings. Photo by JL JAVIER

Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc in their colorful and elaborate SONA garb. Photo by JL JAVIER

ABS-CBN workers at the protests. Photo by JL JAVIER

Groups also call for mass testing. Photo by JL JAVIER

Mae Paner dresses up as Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a rash guard, a swim cap, and some inflatable dolphins. Photo by JL JAVIER

Retrenched employees of ABS-CBN make their presence felt with their flags bearing the three colors of the shuttered broadcast network. Photo by JL JAVIER