ILOILO CITY – Together with President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 26, 2021, thousands marched and protested all around the world under a unified call to #DuterteWakasanNa (End Duterte Now!).
In the international, progressive groups led by Migrante and ILPS protested in Washington, Texas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York in the USA, Toronto in Canada, and Hongkong.
Thousands have also protested in different regions in the country. Despite threats of COVID-19 pandemic and the intimidation of the state forces, protesters still pushed through with their activity and marched in Metro Manila, Bicol Region, Cebu City, Bacolod City, and Davao City.
In Panay, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Panay together with other progressive organizations staged a decentralized protests in Iloilo City, Northern Iloilo, Kalibo in Aklan, and Roxas City in Capiz, despite intermittent rain showers, being under ECQ status, and threats of the state forces.
Iloilo City protesters called for 10,000 pesos subsidy to those affected by the pandemic lockdown, additional budget and improvement of healthcare system in the country, safe resumption of face-to-face classes, and the lifting of the ECQ status in the region. The group also called to junk the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, which only worsens the economic impact of the pandemic.
In Northern Iloilo, farmers and fisherfolks under Paghugpong sang Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS) also called for cash subsidy to those not only affected by the pandemic lockdown but also to those greatly affected by the Southwest Monsoon or Habagat. Fisherfolks said that they have been dislocated from their livelihood for almost a month now as they cannot go to the sea to fish due to large waves. Peasant group further called for genuine agrarian reform, to defend West Philippine Sea, and to junk the Rice Liberalization Law as well as the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Moreover, Aklan protesters led by BAYAN-Aklan brought to their protest the call to junk the proposed bill of creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC). According to Kim-Sin Tugna, BAYAN-Aklan’s Chairperson, BIDA as a GOCC would only result in the displacement of the locals and of the workers. The group also called to abolish the NTF-ELCAC and to end all forms of state sponsored harassment and red-tagging, which has just experienced by one of its members, George Calaor.
“We will exert all our efforts to frustrate the administration’s maneuvers to hold on to power and hold them accountable for their crimes against the people,” said BAYAN-Panay.
REACTION TO DUTERTE’S LAST SONA
To BAYAN-Panay, Duterte’s last SONA is just a reiteration of what he usually says, and only focused on two problems in his mind: drugs, and insurgency.
“More than 30,000 have already been killed in his drug war, and more than 400 political activists, human rights workers, farmers, workers, indigenous people, and many other mass leaders were extrajudicially killed. About 30 of these are from Panay,” said Bryan Bosque, BAYAN-Panay’s deputy spokesperson.
The group also called Duterte a liar when he said that 17,000 rebel communists have surrendered during his time when the state forces only claimed before that there were only 3,000-4,000 or less rebels left in the country. “They [state forces] are the ones that benefitted from the ‘surrenderers’,” said Bosque.
“What he boasted as ‘economic growth’ is nothing but lies,” Bosque added. The group cited IBON Foundation’s report wherein the GDP growth of the country has consistently decreased from 2016-2019, when pandemic still did not happen. From 7.1% in 2016, GDP became 6.9% in 2017, 6.3% in 2018, and 6.0% in 2019.
Bosque further added that a lot of Filipinos still suffer from severe hunger, poverty, and unemployment. Meanwhile, the group said, Duterte and his ilk prioritizes their preparation for the upcoming 2022 presidential elections, in a desperate attempt to extend its power and evade accountability for his gross neglect of the Filipino’s sovereign and democratic rights.
BAYAN-Panay was also dismayed during Duterte’s final SONA as he failed to even mention his plans of distributing assistance to those affected by the pandemic, and on how to improve the overall state of the country’s healthcare system.
The group challenged all Panayanons to unite and take inspiration in the online Tumindig movement inspired by artist Tarantadong Kalbo, and called to realize this movement offline. /PT