On Duterte’s last SONA: #DuterteWakasanNa, Filipinos clamor to end Duterte’s reign
According to reports, around 6,000 protesters marched along the Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on July 26 in conjunction with Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA). Organizations from Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon participated in the protest. With the theme “Duterte, wakasan!” (End Duterte) and “Goodbye Duterte,” they demanded an end to Duterte’s reign and to hold him accountable for all his crimes including mass killings, selling out the country’s sovereignty, failed pandemic response, and widespread corruption. Similar protests were mounted in Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Iloilo, Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya, Roxas in Capiz, Kalibo in Aklan, and Naga City. Protests were also held in various cities in the US, Canada and Hongkong.
Prior to the SONA, various sectors mounted a series of protests and activities to discuss the people’s concrete situation and assessment of the regime’s five year reign and its failures.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno held the State of Labor Address on July 23 with the theme “ENDOterte” to criticize his failure to deliver his promise to end contractualization. It noted that approximately 9.2 million to 13.5 million individuals are unemployed amid the pandemic.
On July 25, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas held the State of the Peasant Address to condemn the Rice Liberalization Law and the regime for neglecting the agricultural sector. It pointed out that rice farmers lost ₱90 billion in income due to liberalization. They demanded a ₱15,000-production subsidy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“No justice, no peace.” This was how human rights alliance Karapatan described the five-year reign of the dictator Duterte. On top of the 30,000 victims of the regime’s “war on drugs,” it also perpetrated 414 cases of extrajudicial killings, 2,725 cases of illegal arrests which further increased during the militarist lockdown, and numerous cases of harassment against progressive individuals and activists. The group also documented 25 massacres under the regime.
Teachers also gave Duterte a failing grade. “We have not seen a clear program for education,” pointed out the Alliance of Concerned Teachers on July 23. “He cannot claim any achievement in the education sector.” The alliance also gave a failing grade to Sec. Leonor Briones of the Department of Education (DepEd). It said that the DepEd’s blended learning program only caused huge hardships on teachers, students and their parents.
In their State of the Youth Address on July 19, participants issued their #DutertePalpak (Duterte A Failure) judgement. The youth criticized the regime’s inaction and lack of plans to ensure the safe reopening of schools amid the pandemic. Around 2.73 million students or 10% of the total 27.77 million enrollees dropped out from school during the academic year 2019-2020. The youth also criticized the continuing attacks of the fascist regime on academic freedom and campus press.
The hardships suffered by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the Covid-19 pandemic were doubled due to the regime’s inaction. Only 2% or 250,000 of the total 12 million OFWs were aided by the regime. Hundreds of thousands OFWs who were forced to return to the country after losing their jobs abroad were squeezed into crammed quarantine facilities. Before the pandemic, OFWs were also levied an increase in mandatory contributions for PhilHealth membership and premiums amounting to ₱24,000 during the first year, as well as increase in mandatory contributions for SSS membership and premiums.
Environmental groups held an online forum to condemn the dirty and pro-foreign environmental policy of the regime. The church sector also demanded an end to attacks and illegal arrests against their ranks. Media groups also labeled the Duterte regime as an enemy of press freedom. In Mindanao, Moros criticized the failed rehabilitation of Marawi City which Duterte ravaged in 2017, and the lack of compensation for evacuees.