QUEZON CITY, June 12 – As the Philippines celebrated the 122nd Independence Day against the Spanish rule, different groups from various sectors held grand Mananita protests throughout the country, amid the battle against COVID-19 pandemic.
The stormy weather did not stop the concerned citizens from expressing their sentiments on some pressing issues in the country today, including the controversial anti-terror bill.
Hundreds observed the meaning of freedom, and liberation in a different lens at the University of the Philippines Diliman, as individuals dubbed themselves as both party-goers and protesters as they voiced out their gushes, and viewpoints while commemorating Philippine independence.
The Grand Mananita was named after the controversial birthday celebration during a lockdown of Major Debold Sinas, National Capital Region police chief, while everyone was following the strict three-month quarantine guideline. But Sinas kept his word amid allegations.
To avoid facing charges, Senator Francis Pangilinan told the protesters to call their rallies today “Mananita.”
The protests focused on the government’s alleged failure to solve different issues and its priorities in a time of the pandemic, despite the rising number of virus infections in the country.
Issues include the arrest of six Piston drivers by Northern Police District on June 2, the arrest of seven activists in UP Cebu, the recently passed Anti-Terror bill, and press freedom.
Various progressive groups attended the Grand Mananita protest. They also maximized the use of social media for protesting. The public was advised to wear black or any best Mananita outfit.
Dona Miranda, Convenor of Sama-samang artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo said the protest was simply dressed up as a mañanita to remind the broader public of the manner this regime implements the law.
“Progressives really hold protest gatherings every Independence Day to remind us that we remain unfree in spite of our nominal freedom from Spanish and US colonialism, and the closest we can approach freedom is when we struggle to achieve it,” Miranda said.
Miranda also said the protest shows that more and more Filipinos are fed up with the way Duterte and his running dogs have been running the country.
“Even non-activists are on the brink of becoming activists because they see what the activists have been fighting for all along with genuine freedom for the sectors who have been exploited for so long that they’ve forgotten what freedom even really means,” she added.
Activists followed health protocols, including the use of facemasks, and implementing social distancing while rallying. The feast-like rally also offered food, and flowers to protesters. There was also a videoke as part of the feast-like theme. (From STANLEY BUENAFE GAJETE, via Manila desk)