Duterte condemned during People’s SONA globally

Community News & Features Jul 27, 2018 at 5:13 pm
Malaya holds United People’s SONA in New York.

Malaya holds United People’s SONA in New York.

By Ysh Cabana
The Philippine Reporter

Thousands of cause-oriented groups, the clergy and religious organizations, women, urban poor, peasants, youth and students alike demonstrated as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivered third annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday July 23.

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other community members also held simultaneous actions across Canada and internationally hitting Duterte’s resolve to continue his bloody campaign on drugs and his drive to charter change.

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People’s SONA in Toronto, July 21, 2018 (Photo: Lui Queaño)

In Toronto, the several dozen flag-waving activists condemned the Philippine government`s failure to ease poverty and inflation. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said in a statement that such moves including opening the country’s 1987 constitution to amendment ”towards federalism is designed to give dictatorial powers to the president, extend the terms of elected officials, weaken the rights of the people, remove prohibitions to foreign military bases, and sell out the Philippines’s national economy and patrimony to foreigners.”

In the Vancouver rally, protesters drew attention from commuters in front of Joyce-Collingwood Station and handed out flyers to passersby. Women’s group Gabriela BC said that “the misogyny propagated by Duterte through his violent rhetoric is only one of the many injustices Filipina women experience.”

Youth group Anakbayan who held an action at Park MacKenzie-King in Montreal noted that Duterte’s 50-minute speech didn’t even mention peace negotiations with the communist belligerents nor the plight of (indigenous) Lumad communities in his home region of Mindanao.

Beyond Canada, various activities were held in Europe, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. to a growing “movement against tyranny.”

People’s SONA, Los Angeles, CA

People’s SONA, Los Angeles, CA

In Riyadh, members of Migrante-KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) held an indoor gathering to raise their concerns on the mass retrenchment of workers due to the ongoing oil crisis and Saudization policy.

Migrante New Zealand also blasted the current administration in its noncommittal to stop charging excessive fees such as the Overseas Employment Certificate on OFWs.

In Hong Kong, Filipino workers are conducting a petition drive to oppose the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law.

Rod Pasion of Migrante-Bologna said that due to the price increases in the Philippines, OFWs in Italy are compelled to make additional cutbacks in their spending and work even more so they can set aside more money for remittances to their families.

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People’s SONA in Toronto, July 21, 2018 (Photo: Lui Queaño)

Meanwhile, Nagkakaisang Pilipino sa Pransya also showed their strong opposition to the TRAIN Law. In a statement, they clarified: “Hindi nangangahulugan na ayaw namin sa pagkakaroon ng maunlad na imprastruktura. Ang malinaw nating tinututulan ay ang pagdaragdag ng buwis sa malaking bilang ng mga naghihirap na mamamayan. Naninindigan tayo na ang dapat buwisan ay ang may kakayanan magbayad — ang malalaking negosyo at dayuhang korporasyon.” (We are not anti-development infrastructure. Clearly, what we are up against are additional taxes put as burden to the majority poor people. Our stand is for taxes to be imposed on the privileged, the big businesses and transnational corporations.)

Filipinos in New South Wales held a forum where they raised calls to stop the deportation of Patricia Fox, an elderly Australian nun. Sister Fox’s case has sparked public outcry after she was expelled by the Bureau of Immigration following Duterte’s order for an investigation concerning the nun’s missionary activities with poor farmers and Lumad.

According to Migrante Philippines spokesperson Arman Hernando, bigger protest actions have been conducted by OFWs while their families in the Philippines march in the broader “People’s SONA” calling Duterte to account for his unfulfilled vows of pro-poor policies, to rid of the country of illegal drugs, crime and corruption, and to promote sovereignty and just peace.

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People’s SONA in Toronto, July 21, 2018 (Photo: Ysh Cabana)

Organizers of July 23rd activities said this year’s People’s SONA was a resounding success with its “historic show of unity.” Bayan-Philippines thanked others who expressed support and showed forces: Movement Against Tyranny, Coalition for Justice, Tindig Pilipinas, Sangguniang Laiko, Intercessors for the Philippines, #BabaeAko, Laban ng Masa and Sentro.

Duterte began his speech by maintaining that he will continue with his campaign against illegal drugs, saying it will be “relentless and chilling” and taking a swipe at critics of his crackdown.

“Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives,” Duterte said.

He also promised to continue fighting state corruption and red tape and warned rice cartel profiteers to “stop messing with me”, as well as hinting at “radical” reforms in the mining sector.

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People’s SONA in Toronto, July 21, 2018 (Photo: Ysh Cabana)

The President was supposed signing of a crucial Muslim autonomy law. However, the passage and delivery were delayed after the House of Representatives adjourned early due to a “power struggle” on the leadership row hours before the SONA.

A visibly tired Duterte ended his speech by quoting from former US president Abraham Lincoln: “I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”