As President Benigno Aquino III delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday (July 23), a mass protest was staged by various militant groups which clashed with the Philippine National Police (PNP) along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
The militant groups numbered at an estimate of 5,380 participants were composed of members of cause-oriented groups and militant organizations..
The protesters constantly attempted to break past the permitted area along Commonwealth Avenue.
The PNP deployed 6,000 of its personnel in nearby areas surrounding the Batasang Pambansa Complex to ensure peace and order as the president delivers his SONA. .
There were 30 people reported injured, of which 29 were cops and one civilian. The injuries were the result of rocks thrown by protesters in order to get closer to the Batasang Pambansa Complex, said National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Alan Purisima.
The protesters destroyed a dump truck, police car, and various government properties like police truncheons and road dividers laid by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), said the NCPRO chief.
Tension erupted at 3 p.m. when an estimate of 1,000 protesters crossed over to the other side of Commonwealth Avenue which resulted in the destruction of steel fences. Around 95 protesters were also injured in this incident with most having head trauma and defensive wounds.
Despite the confrontations between the police and the protesters, PNP spokesman Generoso Cerbo Jr. said, “All public assemblies and mass activities held today in different parts of Metro Manila and some key cities of the country were generally peaceful.”
There were no other significant incidents reported from the different regions of the country, aside from small activities in different provinces in Visayas and Mindanao. Smaller mass actions were monitored in the cities of Cebu, Davao, Butuan, Masbate, and Santiago in Isabela.
The protesters who stayed near Batasang Pambansa complex dispersed before 6 p.m.
In its aftermath, the MMDA immediately cleared the streets as trash left behind by the protesters was everywhere. The closed portion of Commonwealth Avenue from Ever Gotesco Mall to Batasang Pambansa was opened to motorists.
Every year, protests along the area of the Batasang Pambansa are anticipated by local authorities. The anti-SONA rally was attended by various militant groups. Children were also reported to be seen in the crowds. Some attended when they were promised to be given rice or money by various individuals.