The Real Deal: People’s SONA 2017

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2016, Rodrigo Duterte promised peace and prosperity for the Filipino people. He vowed to end labor contractualization, distribute land to landless farmers, protect indigenous peoples, pursue an independent foreign policy, and conclude a major peace deal with the Communist Party of the Philippines.

One year later, however, his promises have yet to be fulfilled. Instead, martial law was declared in Mindanao, almost half a million Moro people have been displaced from their homes in Marawi, 68 political activists have become victims of extrajudicial killings, and thousands of people have been killed in the government’s so-called anti-drug war which is fast turning out to be a war against the poor. Neoliberal economic policies continue to be implemented by his economic managers, this time catering not only to the United States of America but also to China and Russia as well. The promise of free education and health service continues to be a dream and corruption is still rampant in government offices.

On 23 July 2017, tens of thousands of protesters marched in the streets of Quezon City and other major cities in the Philippines to hold the People’s State of the Nation Address simultaneously with Duterte’s SONA. Quite differently from Duterte’s SONA, which painted rosy pictures of the current situation of the country, these images of the People’s SONA, in a collaborative effort by LENTE’s photographers, depict the true conditions of the nation straight from the people themselves.


A performance artist portrays Inang Bayan (Motherland) in chains due to neoliberal economic policies that have continued under the Duterte administration despite promises of an independent foreign policy (Photo by Anjo Bacarisas/Lente)


Lumad children joined the People’s SONA to protest the continued militarization of their communities and the entire island of Mindanao that leads to disruption of classes and forced displacement of the Lumad peoples from their ancestral lands. (Photo by Anjo Bacarisas/Lente)


For years, Lumad peoples and non-government organizations have worked hand in hand in setting up of Lumad schools; the government, State security forces and paramilitary groups, on the other hand, have time and again forced the closure of Lumad schools, denying children the opportunity to get a decent education. (Photo by Anjo Bacarisas/Lente)


Activists and Lumad children marched together to protest against the forced closure of Lumad schools and denial of the right to education of Lumad children. (Photo by Emmanuel Halabaso/Lente)


Activists parade an effigy of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte in a military uniform, symbolizing his emerging militarist tendencies that trample on people’s rights. (Photo by Efren Ricalde/Lente)


Activists use an octopus effigy to show American control of the Philippine military and other branches of government. (Photo by Efren Ricalde/Lente)


Artist comedian Mae Paner plays the role of General Juana Change to depict the military abuses committed under the Duterte administration. (Photo by Amihan Euza Mabalay/Lente)


Workers decry the continuing “anti-drug war” of the Duterte government, which is fast becoming a war against the poor. (Photo by Efren Ricalde/Lente)


Tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets leading to the Batasang Pambansa, where Duterte was giving his own SONA. (Photo by Efren Ricalde/Lente)


Priests and lay religious show opposition to martial rule and continued killings by government-sponsored forces. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Lente)


Artists portray the connivance of the US government and the Philippine military to keep Inang Bayan in chains. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Lente)


A farmer activist brandishes a makeshift sickle, a farming implement long been associated with peasant power and revolts. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Lente)


Trade unionists call for an end to contractualization (or ENDO), which Duterte had promised but has so far failed to put a stop to. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Lente)


Workers show opposition to martial law, which, during the time of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, resulted in the death and disappearance of thousands of people. (Photo by Amihan Euza Mabalay/Lente)


An indigenous Dumagat woman leader decries the continuing attacks on indigenous schools and communities. (Photo by Mark Ambay III/Lente)


A Lumad leader joined the People’s SONA to protest the continuing militarization of their communities. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Lente)


The wife of political prisoner Ferdinand Castillo joined the People’s SONA to air out her grievances against the illegal arrest and detention of her husband and other political activists. (Photo by Amihan Euza Mabalay/Lente)


Migrant rights activists show through pictures the lack of protection of migrant workers by the Philippine government. (Photo by Amihan Euza Mabalay/Lente)


Members of the LGBT community join the fight against the Duterte administration’s rising militarist tendencies. (Photo by Mark Ambay III/Lente)


Scientists and environmental rights advocates show solidarity with Marawi residents who were forcibly displaced in the governemnt’s “war” against the Maute extremist group. (Photo by Mark Ambay III/Lente)


Senior high school students discuss the current situation of the education system in the country. (Photo by Emmanuel Halabaso/Lente)


A Moro (Muslim) woman holds a placard that echoes her sentiments during the People’s SONA march to Batasang Pambansa. (Photo by Anjo Bacarisas/Lente)


A woman trade union leader and activist gets creative and uses earrings to call for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict between the Philippine government and forces under the Communist Party of the Philippines. (Photo by Amihan Euza Mabalay/Lente)


In Lumad schools in Mindanao, children are taught the value of protecting and defending Lumad ancestral lands; these Lumad children joined the People’s SONA for just that purpose. (Photo by Anjo Bacarisas/Lente)


An Aeta activist wears a headband with the call to oppose martial law, his gaze symbolizing resoluteness to struggle for people’s rights. (Photo by Amihan Euza Mabalay/Lente)


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