Philippine church groups set to join anti-Duterte protests

Marches against president's policies are set to coincide with his State of the Nation Address
Philippine church groups set to join anti-Duterte protests

Philippine church leaders hold a media briefing in Manila on July 18 to announce their participation in demonstrations during the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 22. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

Philippine church groups are set to join protest rallies next week when President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his annual State of the Nation Address or SONA.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said faith-based groups "will be there to represent the voice of poor victims of the administration’s policies that burden the Filipino people."

The prelate serves as one of the conveners of the One Faith, One Nation, One Voice movement that has been critical of the Duterte administration’s policies.

The president is expected to report his administration's accomplishments and plans in his fourth address before a joint session of Congress.

During a media briefing in Manila on July 18, Bishop Pabillo called on the president "to tell the truth" and "be more logical, or just follow a script to avoid embarrassing himself."

Workers, farmers and activist groups earlier announced that they will be holding a "People's SONA" in the streets of Manila while the president delivers his address.

Marita Wasan, president of the Council of the Laity of the Philippines, said Catholics will also join the march to encourage social awareness among the people.

She said they would present to the public various issues that require the president's urgent action, such as unemployment, poverty and peace and order.

"Many Filipino workers are choosing to go to other countries to work because jobs that are supposedly for our countrymen have been taken by Chinese workers," said Wasan.

In the same media briefing, Religious of the Good Shepherd nun Nanette Dano said the president should to listen to the "cry of the poor," especially the families of victims of drug-related killings.

"It is not too late for him to have a conversion. As long as a man is breathing, there is a chance of a change of heart," said the nun.

Father Christopher Ablon of the Philippine Independent Church said the churchmen "cannot just quit in our mission to accompany the poor despite the attacks from the Duterte government."

The priest called on the president to stop his attacks on government critics.

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