Progressive solons to gear up for SONA with 'protest barongs, alampays'

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Makabayan lawmakers will don their barong, Filipiniana attire and face masks with protest images on Monday, the day of President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — Lawmakers of Makabayan bloc will continue their tradition of donning protest wear on the day of President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address this year.

While none of them will be physically present inside the Batasang Pambansa Complex on Monday, the six progressive congressmen shared that they will grace rallies in "protest fashion," with their outfits representing the plight of Filipinos from various sectors.

Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate said he will don a barong with an art calling for the junking of the Anti-Terrorism Law. Artists from the Sama-Samang Artists Para sa Kilusang Agraryo drafted the design showcasing a sketch of citizens holding a movement with their fists up.

Zarate will also sport an abaca mask designed by Karapatan lawyer and artist Sol Taule, which contains drawings of people calling for mass testing, pro-active contact tracing and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite will also wear a hand-painted barong featuring workers "uniting to protect democracy," with symbols and flags of the United States and China, designed by volunteer artist Miguel Alpas.

Eufemia Cullamat, also from the Bayan Muna Partylist, disclosed that she will wear an alampay representing indigenous people, which she advocates for.

Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas said that she will put on a face mask with an image representing the call for "human rights, livelihood, and health" of the Filipinos.

ACT-Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro will use an alampay which champions for education at the time of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said she will wear a "sash panawagan" calling against contractualization, respect for human rights, and other educational struggles of today's youth.

Last year, the Makabayan lawmakers wore protest outfits on the day of the President's SONA, but these were confiscated by security personnel before they headed to the plenary. They were forced to wear a plain barong and Filipiniana attire before entering the session hall.

On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte acknowledges constitutional provisions involving human rights and freedom of expression of the people who wish to hold public protests, despite the passage of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law.

"The President is a lawyer...he has been in office for four years," Roque said. "I don't think he's one to clamp down on public gatherings."

Only around 50 lawmakers and 15 Cabinet members were invited to Monday's SONA, in observance of the government's social distancing protocols.

Congress will open its second regular session before the President addresses the nation in the afternoon.