On the eve of the second anniversary of President Benigno Aquino III's administration, some 200 militants staged a protest march to Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang to air their grievances in the two years under his watch.
The protesters, led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, included members of militant groups of government workers, laborers and drivers who claimed there was no meaningful change under Aquino's watch, radio dzBB's Carlo Mateo reported.
Security was tight at the venue, with police closing the bridge off to traffic. No violent confrontation took place, however.
An advisory of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority indicated there were some 200 people who joined the rally.
The militants left Mendiola peacefully and marched toward the United States Embassy along Roxas Boulevard, but were blocked by the Manila police.
A report by dzBB's Cecilia Villarosa said the militants, who initially planned to pass through T.M. Kalaw Street, were diverted to Orosa Street where their path to Roxas Boulevard was blocked.
Protest rallies leading to SONA
Militants had planned more protest rallies in Manila leading to Aquino's State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
Bayan said the protests will lament the absence of “genuine change” under the current regime.
It said the protests will include a "nationwide day of action" in time for Aquino’s third State of the Nation Address on July 23.
“It’s been two years of the so-called ‘daang matuwid’ was announced. Gloria Arroyo is under hospital arrest. (Retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Jr.) Palparan has eluded arrest... and the government has failed to arrest rising unemployment, poverty and hunger. With the situation not getting any better, people are starting to see what this government is really up to,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.
Reyes added that under Aquino, "the mega-rich have gotten richer and the plunderers and human rights violators of the past have largely gone unpunished."
"This government thinks it can get by on the basis of PR (public relations) gimmicks. It’s a government that uses ‘weapons of mass deception’ such as the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme, Public-Private Partnership programs and empty anti-corruption rhetoric,” he added.
Bayan said it expects Aquino to highlight two things in his upcoming SONA: the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona and the supposed 6.4-percent economic growth in the first quarter this year.
Yet, he said no genuine change has taken place as the poor have yet to experience the supposed benefits of the Aquino administration's "achievements."
Bayan also said sovereignty, human rights, and accountability have taken setbacks under the Aquino regime.
“Aquino’s so-called daang-matuwid has taken us off the cliff and plunged us deeper in crisis. People are justified in protesting this regime’s policies,” Reyes said. — LBG, GMA News