Democratic sectors conducted consecutive protests to assert their rights and livelihood and condemn the continued repression and abuses perpetrated by the US-Duterte regime. Among these are demonstrations by peasants, students, workers, women and the urban poor.
Protest to reclaim coco levy
More than 450 coconut farmers from Batangas, led by Balaybay and Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin, together with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, protested in front of the Philippine Coconut Authority in Quezon City last January 15. The groups called for the return of the more than P100-billion coco levy funds to its beneficiaries and opposed its privatization. In the coco levy bill, “landlords, big planters and businesses will benefit from the fund that is supposedly for small coconut farmers and farmworkers,” said Agaton Bautista of Balaybay.
The coco levy bill basically turned everything over to private investors while leaving scraps to the peasants, the group added.
“Black Friday protest” against Red-tagging and violence
Various youth groups led by Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students (LFS) protested last January 18 against the hounding of students and its members by PNP and AFP elements. The PNP said that students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and University of the Philippines (UP) are being recruited to the New People’s Army.
Last January 14, the National Union of Students of the Philippines released an alert stating the AFP is looking for its member and student leader, Rejhon Soriano Modesto.
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan also condemned the PNP declaration. He said that the university recognizes that education is not bounded by the walls of the university.
Tan added that the AFP and PNP’s continued attacks cause apprehension among parents and students as this allows the military and police to threaten UP teachers and students.
According to the LFS, this is a futile attempt of the regime to suppress the growing student movement and weaken their fight against Duterte’s tyrannical leadership.
Simultaneously, the youth called for additional budget for free education.
Workers protest against Sumifru
More than 200 workers of Sumifru Phils. Corp. marched and converged in front of the headquarters of the company in Makati last January 18. They threw paint at its gates and asserted that the company implement the Supreme Court order to regularize its workers and stop military abuses.
Workers under Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms (NAMASUFA) from Compostela, Compostela Valley have encamped in Manila since last year.
According to Paul John Dizon, NAMASUFA president, a union member has been murdered, two nearly killed, almost 20 injured, their makeshift camps razed and its members’ houses ransacked including the union’s office, since they mounted their protest. These attacks were perpetrated by Sumifru in connivance with state forces, he added.
Sumifru Phils. Corp. is an agricultural company which produces and exports fruits. Its main products are banana, pineapple and papaya. Its operation covers more than 12,000 hectares of land in Mindanao. In Compostela alone, it has 2,200 hectares with nine packing plants that export about seven million boxes of fruits every year. The company rakes in P19 million in profits from Compostela alone.
Prior to this, the workers protested in front of DOLE to demand a P750-national minimum wage.
PayDay protest caravan
On the first pay day of 2019 and implementation of oil price hikes, Defend Job Philippines and Kilusang Mayo Uno-Metro Manila launched a protest caravan last January 15 to protest against incessant increases in the prices of basic goods, low wages and contractualization. The protests coincide with the first pay day of the year and as oil prices steadily increase.
The caravan held programs at the Seaoil Gas Station near Mendiola Bridge in Quiapo, in front of the headquarters of the Department of Justice, Court of Appeals and Department of Labor and Employment in Manila. The group also stopped in front of the Japanese Embassy and Toyota along Roxas Boulevard. A protest was also held in front of the main warehouse of Jollibee in Paranaque. The participants condemned the continuing practice of contractualization, union busting, illegal dismissal and violation of the labor code.
Meanwhile, last January 14, members of BAYAN converged along the Elliptical Road, Quezon City to condemn the imposition of additional taxes and simultaneous oil price increases.
Women march against poverty and repression
To kick off the celebration of the International Women’s Day, Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party launched the Women’s March against Poverty and Repression in Mendiola, Manila last January 19.
They criticized the worsening economic conditions caused by the first and second wave implementation of additional taxes under Duterte’s TRAIN law and “Build, Build, Build” program.
Women called for justice against intensifying state fascism and repression. These include the increasing cases of killngs, arrests, and Red-tagging of different mass organizations. They also condemned the extension of martial law in Mindanao and the implementation of Memorandum Order 32 in Negros, Bicol and Samar.
The protest was held in conjuction with the conduct of the global women’s march in the US and other parts of the world.
Kadamay condemns commercialized housing
Last January 7, more than 500 members of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) trooped to the National Housing Authority (NHA) office to condemn the profit-driven housing program of the agency, as well as the implementation of neoliberal and anti-poor policies of the Duterte regime.
Members of Kadamay Pandi, Bulacan who up to now are not assured of ownership of their homes and are denied electric and water services, joined the protest. They were accompanied by participants of the Occupy Pabahay in Montalban, Rizal and community residents of Metro Manila whose homes are in danger of being demolished.
“The government’s inaction is disappointing. They prioritize business. It pushes the “Build Build Build” program to amass profit,” said Gloria Arellano, national chairperson of Kadamay.
The group attempted to go inside the NHA to register their demands. Kadamay declared that they will hold more protests until Duterte is ousted from office, ending his anti-poor policies and human rights violations.