Clash pour SONA !

SONA, qui veut dire ‘’State Of the Nation Address’’, est un discours prononcé chaque année par le Président en exercice, un discours qui fait le point sur la situation du pays.

C’est bien entendu l’occasion pour les groupes d’opposition et certains mécontents du régime de venir rappeler leurs revendications. D’après la police ils étaient 8.000 manifestants, dont un certain nombre auraient tenté de franchir les barrières interdisant l’accès à l’endroit où se tenait le Président Aquino.

La plupart du temps il y a des affrontements entre forces de l’ordre et manifestants. Il y a aux Philippines une opposition organisée qui a pignon sur rue. Mais, même s’ils étaient 100.000 à manifester, cela ne représente après tout, que moins de 0,1 % de la population !

Comme je l’ai déjà expliqué dans plusieurs posts, dans ce pays de plus de 100 millions d’habitants, nombreux sont ceux qui ne profitent pas de la croissance exceptionnelle que connait l’archipel.

Si une toute petite frange de la population, celle que l’on peut appeler la classe moyenne, s’est considérablement développée ces dernières années, les laissés pour compte sont encore très nombreux. Je dirais même que ces laissés pour compte sont encore plus nombreux et qu’ils ont vu leur condition de vie économique considérablement se dégrader.

La création de millions, non pas de jobs, mais d’emplois stables est une nécessité absolue.

Le tourisme et le secteur minier pourraient être les locomotives de ces créations d’emplois … le reste devrait suivre.

Comme en occident, l’on peut constater que les chiffres divergent sensiblement selon que l’on cite des sources gouvernementales ou celles des manifestants.

Exemple : pour la police, vingt et un policiers et neuf ‘’activistes’’ (j’aime bien le terme activiste), blessés.

Les médias font état de plus de 60 blessés, sans autres précisions sur le partage police / manifestants.

Mais croyez-moi, SONA n’a pas enflammé les foules, je ne suis même pas sûr qu’un pour cent de la population de Ternate ait suivie le discours du Président Aquino.

Le Philippin préfère les ‘’Télénovelas’’ et dans un sens, il n’a peut-être pas tout à fait tort !

Twenty-one policemen and three civilians were injured while nine activists were arrested during a clash between law enforcers and protesters near the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City before President Aquino delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday.

Several protesters managed to break through a police line along Commonwealth Avenue after the local government refused to give the demonstrators a permit to hold their rally near the Batasan complex.

The protesters and policemen clashed briefly when the activists crossed the fence separating the northbound and southbound lanes of Commonwealth Ave. near Ever Gotesco Mall, about four kilometers from Batasan Pambansa, and marched along the southbound lane, disrupting traffic and catching policemen off guard.

The protesters were earlier met by policewomen offering white balloons and flowers for the activists.

However, they ignored the police attempt to stop them from marching towards the Batasan complex.

Quezon City Police District deputy director for administration Senior Superintendent Joel Pagdilao said among the injured was Police Officer 1 Warren Panton from the Taguig City police, who suffered a broken nose when a protester hit him in the face with a bamboo stick. Fellow policemen carried him to a nearby medical outpost for treatment.

The other injured policemen were Superintendent Marcelino Pedrozo, Police Officers 2 Edgar Soriano, Robert Ocuena, Robert Mojena and Don Crisostomo; Police Officers 1 Jhembong Sanchez, Mark Tuccadi, Norlito Daguman, Kevin Khlein Bueno, Maybelline Bayug, Rayjan de Venecia, Renel Tamayo, Jerome Realin, Darwin Catabay, Eric Calario, James Locsin, Rudy Querubin and a certain De Jesus; Police Officer 3 Roger Abaco and Senior Police Officer 1 Mark Castellano.

Pagdilao said civilians Ronel Madrigal and Rowena Biloan were also injured.

Former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño was among those who were hurt during the scuffle.

He said his arm, which was swollen, was hit by one of the policemen who tried to stop them from dismantling the barriers.

Carlos Montemayor of the National Union of People’s Lawyers said at least nine militants were injured in the scuffle.

He said five injured protesters were brought to nearby hospitals.

Pagdilao said most of the injured policemen suffered contusions, abrasions, and lacerations, among others.

Castellano suffered from hypertension.

QCPD director Chief Superintendent Richard Albano said nine protesters were arrested after the violent confrontation.

Police said the arrested activists, who were not immediately identified, were brought to QCPD headquarters at Camp Caringal.

Albano said they allowed the group of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and allied organizations to conduct their rally despite the absence of permit.

Albano said at least 8,000 protesters joined the march along Commonwealth Ave. near the Ever Gotesco Mall, about four kilometers from Batasan, while around 3,000 police officers were deployed in the area.

At around 11:30 a.m., the protesters, who were stopped by police at the northbound lane of Commonwealth, crossed the island to the southbound lane and marched toward the Batasan, to the surprise of the policemen.

When the protesters crossed to the other side, policemen were forced to stop them and the clash erupted, Albano said.

The activists hit policemen with bamboo sticks while the policemen used their truncheons to fight back.

He said the protesters even threw eggs at the police.

Eventually, the protesters were forced back to northbound lane of the highway where the police allowed them to continue their rally with various speakers lambasting the Aquino administration on board a truck that was converted into a stage.

Albano said the police might file charges of physical injuries, direct assault, illegal assembly, and even destruction of government property against the protesters.

P-Noy’s effigy burned

The protesters from Bayan prepared an effigy of President Aquino depicting an American flag, which according to them symbolized the government’s subservience to American interest.

The effigy also had symbols of commercial interests, depicting what the militants said was the government’s penchant for privatization.

The effigy was burned in the afternoon, as part of the militants’ tradition every SONA.

The burning of the effigy, which depicts Aquino as a giant feasting on a banquet, was one of the highlights of the activity near the Ever Gotesco Mall.

“The effigy captures and symbolizes many of the issues raised against the current administration,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said, adding the banquet “is depicted as a lavishly sumptuous feast for a small circle of guests as the people wait for crumbs falling from the table.”

“The effigy is the group’s take on the kind of economic ‘growth’ that the Aquino government would be claiming during the SONA,” he said.

Earlier, the Quezon City government denied the applications of militant groups for permits to stage the rally to prevent traffic congestion. Local officials instead recommended the freedom park along East Ave. near city hall as an alternative venue.

In denying the requests for rally permits, Elmo San Diego of the city’s Department of Public Order and Safety said that blocking Commonwealth Ave. and Batasan Road would cause a “serious traffic problem.”

He said the QCPD recommended to local officials not to issue a rally permit to Bayan to stage their program at Batasan Road.

Another group, Freedom from Debt Coalition, asked for a permit to hold a rally along Commonwealth.

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) also rejected Bayan’s petition filed last Thursday seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the enforcement of the city hall directive.

Malacañang earlier called on protesters to exercise discipline in expressing their views against the government of President Aquino, reminding them that throwing stones and sticks at law enforcers is not a good act.

“We remind our countrymen that sticks and stones and violent confrontation are not the hallmarks of peaceful assembly,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

“We call on the protesters converged on Commonwealth Avenue to exercise discipline and sobriety as they exercise their right to peacefully assemble,” he added.

Labor groups expressed doubt over Aquino’s promise to bring change and improve the lives of the poor, including workers, in his three remaining years in office.

Workers belonging to various trade unions led by the labor coalition Nagka-isa joined the protest action along Commonwealth and said they were disappointed by government’s failure to reduce poverty.

“The next three years will just be more of the same if Aquino does not face reality. To address inequality, government must stop blaming the National Statistical Coordination Board’s data and instead fault the policies that exacerbate the gap between the rich and poor,” Partido ng Manggagawa chair Renato Magtubo said.

Magtubo said the Aquino administration should do more for the poor and address the issue of inequality.

He said despite the government’s claim of economic growth, the level of poverty has remained unchanged and income disparity has widened because only 40 wealthy families are monopolizing the gains of economic development.

“The economic growth is meaningless for the people as all its supposed benefits are cornered by the economic and political elites,” said Edwin Bustillos, deputy secretary general of Alliance of the Progressive Labor.

Bustillos said poverty is even worsening with three out of 10 families continuing to live below the poverty line nationwide.

More than 300 farmers from Hacienda Luisita from Tarlac and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan led by the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) joined the protest march along Commonwealth Avenue. KMP has called on Aquino and his uncle, Peping Cojuangco to “stop the maneuvers to evade the distribution of land in Hacienda Luisita.”

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