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SONA Rally Cut Short as Palace Eyes Venue Change

Blame it on COVID-19.
by John Paulo Aguilera
Jul 27, 2020
Photo/s: Aaron Favila/Associated Press

Their annual protest truncated to two hours due to pandemic restrictions, activists will montor President Rodrigo Duterte's fifth State of the Nation Address from their homes and offices, instead of on the streets for the first time in many years.

The #SONAgkaKAISA rally dispered around noon with the crowd at around 10,000 at its height, said one of the organizers, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes.

At least one of the guests in Monday's SONA tested positive for the virus, which could force Duterte to deliver his speech from the Palace. As of 1:25 p.m. however, the plan remains: the SONA will be delievered in person at the Batasang Pambansa, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

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At the forefront of #SONAgKAISA, which drew demonstrators from various sectors, are the government's COVID-19 response, the rejection of ABS-CBN's franchise renewal, and the Anti-Terrorism Law.

Protesters included medical frontliners in PPEs, retrenched network employees, and artist Mae Paner a.k.a. Juana Change, who dressed up as Roque with matching inflatable dolphins.

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Unlike in previous SONAs, rallies along Commonwealth Avenue were prohibited to observe quarantine protocols on mass gatherings. Those allowed in other locations were told to wear face masks and observe physical distancing.

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