People’s SONA: Nothing new in the Philippines
Approximately 12,000 people gathered on July 24 in protest actions in various cities in the Philippines to state the real conditions of the people as Ferdinand Marcos Jr delivered his second state of the nation address (SONA).
According to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), 10,000 people participated in the protest along the Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City from morning to noon. Their common demand: “Wage increase, livelihood, and food on the table! Stop the violence! People’s welfare, not Maharlika!”
During the protest, they burned the “Doble Kara” effigy of a golden coin with two faces of Marcos. On one side of the coin, the smiling face of Marcos with a peace sign symbolizing his promises, while the other side showed Marcos as a thief.
Progressive groups from Southern Tagalog, which began their caravan from the region on July 21, took part in the mass action. Before the SONA, the group mounted protests at the Chinese Embassy in Makati and the US embassy in Manila.
Groups from Central Luzon, Cordillera and other nearby regions also participated in the protest in the national capital.
At the same time, democratic groups gathered in the cities of Baguio, Naga, Iloilo, Roxas, Cebu, Tacloban, and Davao, and in Aklan and Capiz in Panay. In Cebu City, more than 600 marched along Metro Colon.
Political prisoners in Metro Manila and Negros island also joined the protest. More than 100 political detainees in Negros island and 29 in Bicutan in Metro Manila held a 24-hour fast to call for the release of political prisoners, especially the elderly and the sick.
Drivers and jeepney operators stopped plying routes to reject the government’s public utility vehicle (PUV) phaseout program. In Bacolod City, an estimated 700 jeepney drivers participated in the transport strike.
Delivery company Lalamove’s approximately 7,000 drivers and riders (motorcycle- and bicycle-delivery riders) carried out a “strike booking” or non-acceptance of delivery work. Riders in Metro Manila, Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, Cebu, and Davao participated in the mass action.
Meanwhile, progressive organizations and Filipino migrants held activities and protests overseas. The situation of migrants was highlighted in gatherings held in Boston, Oregon, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Washington DC in the US; in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Alberta, Winnipeg and Montreal in Canada; Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand and Australia.
Nothing new with the SONA
There is nothing new with the slogan “Bagong Pilipinas” (New Philippines) that Ferdinand Marcos Jr declared in his SONA, said Bayan in reaction to Marcos’ speech. This is just an attempt to hide the widespread hunger, unemployment, low wages and poverty of the broad masses.
“Bagong Pilipinas, like the Bagong Lipunan of the Marcos dictatorship, harps on grand promises but falls short of actual benefits for the people,” the group stated.
Democratic groups noted Marcos’ silence on urgent issues of the Filipino people such as human rights, significant wage increases, job creation, reclamation, national industrialization and defense of sovereignty.
“There are promises of local agriculture development, but these are undermined by the policy of importation of agricultural products,” Bayan said.
The groups criticized the lies, as well as the programs which Marcos pushed for in his SONA. These include among others the review of fishing rules that disadvantage small fishermen, and plans to impose extra fees on migrants and various other tax measures on the people.