Militant groups to stage shorter protest for Duterte's final SONA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 25) -- Militant groups will be keeping their protest brief on the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address due to the threat of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, Jr. said militant groups will converge at 9 a.m. on Monday along the University Avenue of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

A unity march with various groups will follow along Commonwealth Avenue by 11 a.m.

“We’re expecting by lunch time tapos na tayo,” Reyes told CNN Philippines Sunday.

[Translation: We are expecting to be finished by lunch time.]

The militant leader said protesters agreed in a dialogue with the police and the local government of Quezon City to limit the rally participants to those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Seniors and minors are prohibited from joining the gathering.

Unlike in rallies held before the pandemic, there will also be no burning of protest materials, including effigies of Duterte.

“We will not burn anything kasi ano ‘yan, it’s a problem sa controlling the movement of the crowd,” Reyes said.

[Translation: We will not burn anything because it will be a problem in controlling the movement of the crowd.]

The Philippine National Police will deploy around 15,000 policemen in Metro Manila for the SONA, with the majority stationed along Commonwealth Avenue going to Batasang Pambansa.

National Capital Region Police Office chief Brigadier General Vicente Danao said the police will remain alert while exercising maximum tolerance on protesters.

“We cannot be complacent on our deployment. Because the threat naman, kahit sabihin nating how big or small, is always there naman, although wala tayong nare-receive na ganoon kaseryoso,” he said.

[Translation: We cannot be complacent on our deployment. Because the threat, no matter how big or small it is, it will always be there, although we have not yet received any serious threats so far.]