ILOILO City – The multi-sectoral alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) – Western Visayas is set to welcome president-elect Rodrigo Duterte on June 30 with a big mobilization.
In a press conference early morning today, the group said they will be holding a rally on the same day of Duterte’s oath-taking as the 16th President of the Republic, not to protest but to welcome and support the administration’s pro-people policies and programs, and to highlight the people’s agenda meant to give immediate relief and change.
Among the positive pronouncements of the incoming Duterte administration are the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and the release of more than 500 political prisoners, with immediate consideration on NDF consultants including Panay’s very own Concha Araneta-Bocala, illegally arrested on August 2015.
“These acts of Duterte are historical. It sets him apart from his predecessors in terms of recognizing the legitimacy of the people’s armed struggle being rooted to social ills and can only be ended if these issues are addressed,” Bayan Western Visayas deputy secretary general Reylan Vergara said.
Informal preliminary talks have already took place and a joint agreement was signed by both parties last June 15-16 in Oslo, Norway.
The mobilization of around 10,000 militants and their alliances in the region will also highlight the Western Visayas People’s Agenda, a document containing the demands of the people of Panay and Guimaras for the first 100 days of Duterte presidency.
The People’s Agenda was crafted last June 18 during the Western Visayas People’s Summit and attended by more than a hundred individuals from various organizations and sectoral groups.
Among those present during the summit is Msgr. Meliton Oso of Jaro Social Action Center (JASAC). He reminded the Duterte administration to uphold the sanctity of life and respect the rule of law, as exhibited by recent summary executions which are allegedly related to illegal drugs.
Media group National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) echoed their demand for the passage of the freedom of information (FOI) bill and upholding press freedom through the protection of media practitioners and journalists.
“In order to make the peace talk moving, the release of political prisoners especially those holders of the Joint Agreement for Safety and Immunity GuaraIn ntees (JASIG) and NDF consultants must materialized ASAP for them to join and help in the peace process. Other political prisoners must be released by general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty,” said Vergara.
For the workers, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) spokesperson Elmer Forro welcomed Duterte’s appointment of former Anakpawis representative and currently KMU-Mindanao vice chairperson Joel Maglunsod as undersecretary of the labor and employment department.
“Ka Jomag’s appointment is an indication of Duterte’s willingness to end contractualization, as he always said and is being echoed by his secretary and undersecretary in the labor department,” Forro quipped.
KMU also echoed workers’ demand of Php750 daily minimum wage across the board nationwide.
Farmers’ group Pamanggas said they will lobby for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) especially now that Aquino’s CARPER is dead.
“We want GARB to be passed now to end the decade-long struggle of farmers for land, where lives have already been lost. The incoming agrarian reform secretary, former representative Rafael Mariano has already declared his eagerness to implement GARB and we want to support that and we are pushing for President Duterte to support it as well,” said the group’s chairperson, Lucia Capaducio.
GARB’s heart is the free distribution of lands to landless tillers by dismantling primarily the haciendas of big landlords.
Meanwhile, comprehensive youth group Anakbayan will encourage Duterte to stop the implementation of the K-to-12 program and women’s group Gabriela will push for the assistance to victims of abuses especially to women and children.
Urban poor group Kaisog on the other hand will support Duterte’s “walang relokasyon, walang demolisyon” policy but added that relocation program should cater livelihood opportunities for the relocatees.
Government workers will lobby for the Php16,000 national minimum wage and a stop to public hospital’s privatization as it denies more and more poor Filipinos their proper health needs.
Other issues the group will raise to Duterte are the immediate release of assistance to victims of Yolanda and El Niño, SSS and GSIS pension increase to senior citizens and retirees, the stopping of the Jalaur mega dam in Calinog and the pull-out of military from indigenous communities.
Vergara clarified that “while we welcome many of Duterte’s policies, we will remain vigilant and watchful over his anti-people pronouncement. We will employ the strategy of unity and struggle with the Duterte government.”
The mobilization on June 30 particularly in the city will start with a march from the Iloilo Provincial Capitol area going to the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand. Expected participants will number between 2,000-3,000, mostly composed of farmers, women and urban poor.
Similar mobilizations will happen in central city of Roxas in Capiz province and in Kalibo in Aklan./PT