Today was the day of the fifth State of the Nation Address in which the president said, among other things, that he wanted to bring back the death penalty for drug users and reiterated his problems with ABS-CBN.
Just hours before the SONA took place, though, it seemed like the police had other priorities in mind when they arrested five jeepney drivers—members of the transport group Piston—who were on their way to the #SONAgKAISA rally at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in Quezon City.
Mañanita man National Capital Region Police Office chief Debold Sinas stated that “Unang-una bawal ‘yung jeep. By all means, bawal ‘yung jeep. Kung sabihin nila, social distancing, mayroon naman pasahero na apat lang,” although Piston president Mody Floranda noted that there were no rules in place barring jeepneys from plying the roads. The drivers, dubbed the Piston 5, have since been released.
Meanwhile, in Manila, policemen went inside the Quiapo Church while mass was being held to confiscate the protest materials of one of the churchgoers. According to ABS-CBN News, the churchgoer, an Anakbayan member, was there to attend “the ‘Misa para sa Katarungan at Kapayapaan’ event organized by Senator Risa Hontiveros and Bishop Broderick Pabillo.” The member was not there to protest inside the church, but he brought the protest materials with him inside his bag to use at the UPD rally.
“Pati ang mga dasal ng mga tao sa loob ng simbahan, patatahimikin?” Hontiveros said in response according to Inquirer.net.
This is on the tails of a separate confiscation of supposedly subversive materials. Just last Sunday, thousands of copies of Pinoy Weekly, a progressive print magazine by Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) in Bulacan, were seized by the police. “Members of Kadamay asked for a search warrant from the cops. PCpt. [Police Capt.] Jun Alejandrino, the Pandi police chief who headed the raid, said the magazines were ‘illegal’ and that they should give up the copies or else “may mangyayari” [something will happen],” said Pinoy Weekly editor-in-chief Kenneth Roland A. Guda.
Inquirer.net reports that “Central Luzon regional police director Brig. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia claimed that (Kadamay) ‘voluntarily surrendered’ the copies of magazines, which it labeled as ‘subversive,’ for fear that it might be used during the President’s fifth SONA.”
Meanwhile (yep, again), League of Filipino Students (LFS) tweeted that two members of LFS and Kabataan Partylist (KPL) Cagayan were arrested for taking part in a mobilization in Tuguegarao. KPL then posted on Facebook that the two paralegals helping release the members were then also arrested. The four have since been released.
Meanwhile (ditto), Bicolana Gabriela, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny (Yanat) Bicol, Condor-Piston Bicol and other progressive groups in Bicol reported being intimated by authorities, saying that they were told their protest, which was supposed to be a march to Peñarada Park from the Philippine Coconut Authority in Legazpi City, “were against Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) omnibus guidelines.” Nica Ombao, Bicolana Gabriela told Inquirer. net that “there were eight police officers who questioned the legitimacy of our protest,” adding, “The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has refuted that guidelines.”