ILOILO City – Leaders from various progressive organizations, religious sectors, academic institutions, as well as youth and student formations, unite for the “United Peoples SONA 2019” on Monday, July 22.

The groups held a press conference yesterday to highlight various issues such as the administration’s lack of assertion over national territory, subservience to foreign power, prevalence of human rights violations, and the worsening socio-economic status of the Filipino people.

“We hate to see a government that is too weak to defend the rights and sovereignty of its people. The current foreign policy of the Duterte administration is ‘China above everything else,” said Rev. Dr. Jerson Narciso,  general secretary of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches. 

“We need to send China a message. They cannot just bully us into subservience. Why can’t we defend our territory just like Vietnam and Indonesia did?” Rev. Dr. Narciso added.

Rev. Dr. Narciso stressed that the current administration also lacks maturity in handling dissidence.

“Critics are often answered with intimidation, harassment, profiling, redtagging, etc. This shows that the government is too insecure to handle criticism. The role of the people of Church is to stand up to oppression and injustice.”

Leaders continued to narrate various examples of human rights violations experienced by their respective sectors and organizations.

Just recently there was an attempted assassination of an urban poor leader and organizer, the redtagging of lawyers and leader activists, and the profiling of teachers and student leaders.

Panay is far from being peaceful as long as tyranny continues to rule in our land, they claimed.

Also present were representatives from Makabayan Panay, All U.P Academic Employees Union Iloilo Chapter, Mensa Domini Sisters, PCPR Panay, and National Union of Students of the Philippines – Panay. 

As for Prof. Tomas Talledo of AUPAEU, “we are joining the protest because we are victims ourselves of Duterte’s tyranny and attacks against our constitutional freedoms.”

“We will continue to strengthen our call for the ouster of the traitor, oppressive, and abusive dictator that is Duterte. Human rights violations continue to become rampant even here in the island of Panay,” said Bayan Panay secretary general Elmer Forro.

“We urge everyone to unite and continue to resist the tyrannical rule of the Duterte regime. We call on everyone to continue to defend our sovereignty and assert our democracy and human rights,” Forro ended.

The conveners enjoined the people in the upcoming “United Peoples SONA 2019” on July 22 at the Iloilo City Sunburst Park at 1PM./


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