Despite the rain or 100 degree weather, over a thousand Filipinos and allies took to the streets across the United States to denounce President Duterte’s 4th State of the Nation Address delivered in Quezon City, Philippines on July 22, 2019. The Malaya Movement called for a National Day of Action in which eight protests and events took place: Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. The U.S. actions also join the more than 25 international actions worldwide.
President Duterte’s address was more of the same rambling claims of progress, open threats, and fake promises. We do know that he will continue his drug war against the poor, is pushing to displace hundreds of Filipinos to build airports and railways as part of his economic program “Build, Build, Build” and continue his subservience to China and the United States.
Duterte claimed in his speech that he will go the “peaceful way” and “in the privacy of a conference room than in a squabble in public,” regarding the escalated dispute with China over the territory of the West Philippine Sea after a Chinese ship crashed into a Filipino fishing boat leaving the 22 fishermen to drown. He claims he wants to avoid war and conflict stating “War leaves widows and orphans in its wake.” However, Duterte is waging open warfare within his own country by continuing martial law in Mindanao which has been in place since 2017, forcing over 400,000 people to be displaced, bombing Marawi to pieces, and killing whole communities including women and children. He has recently closed 55 Lumad schools in the Davao region for “teaching left-leaning ideologies,” counter to his praise for the DepEd Secretary Briones claiming more students are enrolled in schools. This is part of his new counterinsurgency program, Oplan Kapanatagan which was not mentioned in his SONA, but has been felt by many in the Philippines and even here in the U.S with the government sponsored Lumad tour vilifying our organizations and the Salugpongan schools they closed. There has been a spate of killings across the country, including 15 shot dead in Negros Oriental in one week.
Valerie Francisco, a Malaya Movement convener, denounced the worsening situation under Duterte with the TRAIN Law “strangling families” due to rising costs of basic commodities and with attacks on democracy in the Philippines that threaten to see martial law instituted throughout the nation.
“Duterte’s puppet presidency is killing the Filipino people. His drug wars has claimed 30,000 lives, economic policies that strangle people’s livelihoods to their last breath, his paranoia has criminalized human rights defenders, erasing democracy in the Philippines! It’s far too much, sobra na! He’s gone far enough, tama na!”
In response to Duterte’s brutal and inhumane policies, the Malaya Movement used a combination of street theatre, song, speeches, and chants to present the movement’s six points of unity: 1) Stop the killings, 2) Lift Martial Law in Mindanao, 3) Say No to another fascist dictatorship, 4) End the system of political dynasties and corruption, 5) Defend Philippine sovereignty and 6) Stand for democracy.
In front of the San Francisco Philippine Consulate, more than 350 protesters closed down the entire block and 4 protesters scaled two stories to unfurl a giant banner in front of the Philippine National Police (PNP) office, calling for the ouster of Duterte and a stop to the killings in recognition of the over 30,000 lives lost during Duterte’s term, many of which at the hands of the PNP.
Speaking on defending Philippine sovereignty, Chair and Co-founder of U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance Loida Nicolas-Lewis spoke out against Duterte’s treachery and treason as he sells the Philippines to China, “Defend democracy, rise, resist unite against Duterte’s tyranny. We accuse Duterte of treachery, last month he signed a contract with China to engage in a joint exploration of our Philippine oil and gas, violating the constitution of the Philippines. It was recognized by a UN decision that 100% west philippine sea belongs to the Philippines, therefore, this is not only treachery, this is treason.”
The human rights violations under the Duterte administration has grown more and more international attention. In the last week that two victories signalled progress : The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution to probe the human rights situation in Philippines, and U.S. Congress also set a hearing on human rights in the Philippines on July 25. This is due to the efforts put forth by the Malaya Movement and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) who have been applying pressure on government officials through lobbying efforts both in Washington D.C. and in their respective districts, as well as delegations from the Philippines to the United Nations.
As President Duterte continues his fascist oppressive presidency, the Malaya Movement will continue to respond by growing our people power to end his tyranny rule. We cannot let him continue for another 3 years, because we know that it will only get worse. Now that Duterte has control over all branches of the government, it will be a matter of time that Cha-Cha or constitutional change will be passed through allowing for increased foreign ownership of Philippines land and resources, removing term limitations, paving the way towards a full fledged dictatorship.
“The increasing unity among Filipinos of differing politics is undeniable. More and more of us are heartbroken and angry with what is happening to our people, and we are ready to oust President Duterte,” said Ariana Rodriguez, a rally organizer and member of the Malaya Movement. “We’re fed up with this murderous, traitorous, lying administration. We demand a stop to the extrajudicial killings of the poor and human rights defenders. We demand the protection of Philippine sovereignty against China and the US who are both currently on sovereign Philippine territory. We demand the ouster of this dictatorship that’s put Mindanao under bloody martial law and caused the nosedive of poverty with TRAIN law and the rest of his anti-people policies. We’re calling on all freedom-loving Filipinos to rise up to oust Duterte.”