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Chika time! Duterte calls militant leaders for a chat after SONA

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Militant leaders who led mass actions close to Batasang Pambansa on the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) got a surprise when they were called to have an audience with him after his speech.

In a Facebook post, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said he and his colleagues were winding down their activities Monday (July 25) along Batasan Road when they were approached by policemen and asked to go with them.

“The PNP did not say where and why. We just followed thinking they just wanted to discuss something,” he said.

Turns out, Reyes and his companion were brought to a lounge where the President was waiting.

“He (Duterte) wanted to meet the activists gathered outside. Many had left though. Kami ni Beng yung na-pick up ng PNP,” he said.

Reyes said that during their meeting, Duterte and the militant leaders “talked about peace,” his desire to pour more resources for social services after the armed conflict has been resolved, and how the Lumad can return home without fearing for their safety.

In a separate post, the militant leader said the meeting with Duterte marked the first time a President asked them after a rally: “‘”Kamusta kayo? Nakalapit ba kayo?’”

“We may have differences with this regime, even on fundamental issues, but there is no denying its openness in dealing with the people,” he said.

Reyes said the meeting with Duterte lasted from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Looking back at their chat, he said: “It was a gesture we truly appreciated. A lot of firsts indeed in the President’s first SONA.”