Advance People’s Agenda, Not Dictatorship!
MANILA, Philippines — On November 30, 2017, the 154th birth anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifacio, the Filipino working people’s hero, social movements led by Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa (KALIPUNAN) will march from Welcome Rotunda to Mendiola.
Workers, farmers, women, urban poor, youth, and environmental activists, will join forces and to expose the true nature of President Duterte’s “war on drugs” as a war on the poor, his rising authoritarianism hiding under the cloak of federalism and charter change, and his economic agenda which does not veer away from the past government’s neo-liberal policies, but in fact further entrenches oligarchic interests in Philippine society.
We will march to resist the Duterte administration’s threat to violate the day with pronouncements that he would declare a “revolutionary government”, which he may call by another name but will pave the way for a junta.
With the upcoming release in January of the Ombudsman’s investigation of the 6.4 billion peso-smuggled shabu that implicated his son, the start of the formal investigation by the International Criminal Court on the genocide case filed by lawyer Jude Sabio, and the continuous plunge of his approval ratings, Duterte has ill-motives to transform himself as a virtual dictator through a revolutionary government.
Dutere’s rising authoritarianism is not only reversing our hard-won rights, he is also killing the poor—with his economic policies, “war on drugs,” and anti-poor agenda.
More than a year into power, President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise of ‘change’ became a reality in Oplan Tokhang, which has killed more than 13,000 people, most of whom are from urban poor communities lumped under a new category of ‘homicide under investigation,’ spawning a culture of impunity and producing thousands of widows and orphans, exposing women and children to prostitution due to lack of livelihood and compensation for the victims’ families. These same families face dislocations despite government’s policy of ‘no demolition without relocation.’ Thousands more would be affected as the national budget for the housing sector in 2018 has been reduced to a measly Php 4.7 billion, the lowest in the last 10 years.
Contrary to his anti-establishment and anti-oligarch image, the Duterte government has not departed from prevailing neoliberal policies.
He has backed the plans to amend the 1987 Constitution, specifically to ease restrictions on foreign ownership in land and other key sectors of the economy. In tandem with his Kill, Kill, Kill program, the 8.2 trillion-peso Build, Build, Build infrastructure development plan will not expand to the periphery as he originally promised, but will largely benefit Imperial Manila as close to 50 percent of the projects are earmarked for Central Luzon, Metro Manila, and Southern Tagalog. Bypassed processes such as lack of environmental and social impact assessments generate socio-economic and environmental costs, which will be borne by those already marginalized and vulnerable.
Duterte sided with big mining interests when he appointed Roy Cimatu to the helm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In a span of a few months, Cimatu reversed Gina Lopez’s decisions to suspend and close about 28 mines and ban open-pit mining. This back to business-as-usual policy favors mining firms at the expense of people’s lives, rights, and the environment.
Despite campaign promises to end endo, agency hiring, and job contracting are further legitimized with DOLE’s Department Order 174 holding on to the framework of regulation rather than prohibition which is the unified demand of labor.
Social justice policies such as agrarian reform and the recovery of the multi-million coconut levy to farmers are in limbo. The trajectory of this government is about continuing past policies and programs such as rampant land use conversions, lifting of quantitative restrictions to import rice, and the establishment of special economic zones, proven detrimental to farmers’ welfare, well-being, and livelihoods.
Despite Duterte signing the measure that will grant free tuition in all state universities and colleges (SUCs) and more than a question of funds as it remains to be seen where the administration will get the Php 20 billion needed to bankroll the program, there is doubt whether the youth’s welfare is a priority under the administration.
Duterte has normalized violence against women by publicly shaming them and blaming victims. He has repeatedly encouraged rape, especially in the context of Martial Law in Mindanao, and has targeted and persecuted women who dare challenge him.
These are turbulent and dark times, but we are rising to the occasion. We shall resist authoritarianism and expose his anti-poor policies. The Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa, a unity of social movements of working people, was formed amidst these trying times, to speak truth to power, and advance the people’s agenda.
The need for solidarity and unity has become more acute amidst the Duterte regime’s unrelenting march towards authoritarianism. The need to resist the “war on drugs and other “kill policies,” such as the death penalty bill and others, the imminent push for charter change using federalism as a Trojan horse, the growing threat of martial law, and the continuity of past economic policies proven disadvantageous to the poor and working people compel us to work together.
Our social movements, organized along class and sectoral lines, are at the forefront of the people’s struggles. We shall continue to persevere, persist, resist, educate, and organize. We will forge solidarity with other progressive groups and forces. Our unity is an imperative response to the growing authoritarianism of our time. CPM
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Kilos Maralita (KM)
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)
Partido Manggagawa (PM)
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD-Ateneo de Manila)
Urban Poor Alliance (UP All)
World March of Women – Pilipinas
Laban ng Maralitang Sektor (LMS)
Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA)