By MARYA SALAMAT
They went to the rally alone or with some like-minded friends with high hopes that finally the promise of a better life for the ordinary Filipino will come to fruition.
MANILA — Not everybody who joined the rally at Batasan Complex is a member of progressive groups that organized the huge gathering. They attended the rally because, as they said, everybody was invited, anyway, and they too have an issue to bring to President Duterte like those who marched to IBP road.
Bulatlat talked with a couple of senior citizens and some youngsters. Their message: they want to contribute something meaningful to society by having a job, a piece of land, a livelihood.
A senior citizen & a solid Duterte supporter expects to be called to action
“Though I’m already old I can still manage an office,” said 78-year Rufino C. Decina, a card-carrying member of a Duterte-support group, who proudly said that he has five civil service eligibilities.
He came across like an excited child when he shared, with twinkling eyes, that there are a lot of agricultural projects in the works under the Duterte administration. “It’s not yet clear what my tasks would be, they will call me at the office to determine that,” he told Bulatlat. He proudly showed his ID proclaiming his membership to that Duterte group’s ‘National Executive Coordinating Committee.’
After that, he went to the other rallyists, especially the seniors, to spread his good news.
A senior citizen expresses faith in Duterte’s promise of land to tillers
Another senior citizen, Melba Jupeda, 66, went to the SONA rally by herself. She does not belong to any organization who rallied in expectation of more details on Duterte’s progressive promises. But she, too, hopes for some land distribution for tillers.
Jupeda has lived in Tipas, Taguig for 32 years now, planting vegetables in a diminishing farmland now being seized by a big developer. She is being threatened now to leave it. Her vegetable plants were once destroyed by what she calls a dubious heir.
A land survey three years ago revealed to Jupeda and the municipal lawyer helping her that the 500-square meter land she initially hoped to claim was part of an untitled 2,800 square meter lot. She said she learned from the DENR that it only requires having worked the land for 27 years for her to lay claim on it.
Since the land survey, Jupeda’s initial 500-sq.m. fenced area had shrunk to 60 sq.m., but even this is now under threat after the bigger lot, supposedly untitled, was auctioned off to a big real estate developer recently. She said the developer has started to move in and work with bulldozers.
“I came here (to SONA rally) because Ka Rody (Duterte) said I can go to the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform). It is now under (Rafael) Mariano. I was told that I can go to him for help,” Jupeda said.
ALS students wish for jobs, asks marijuana legalization as alternative to drugs
Four friends aged 20 from Balara attended the SONA with their own prepared banners calling for the legalization of marijuana. “Grow it and tax it,” they suggested. They even had drawings of the euphoria-inducing leaves on their banner.
“It has no dangerous side effects. It has therapeutic effects,” they said of marijuana. They said some people get lured into using drugs because they want to forget poverty and joblessness.
Some, driven by extreme poverty, resort to being runners for drug pushers, said Felix Albert Mesias, 20, an ALS high school student and a part-time tattoo artist.
Where they come from, they are aware of the growing drug problem. But they disagreed with the rash of killings of supposed drug users and pushers. They feared the shoot-to-kill order targeting alleged drug pushers.
They told Bulatlat that some of those killed in their community in Balara, Quezon City, were not really resisting arrest. Some were not even drug users or pushers, they were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
It was their first time to join a rally.
“We are like them,” said Arnold Ramos, 20, referring to the rest of the rallyists gathered at Batasan. “We are also fighting for something. We also want peace,” he said. And jobs, too. He welcomed the other youth who joined them and took a selfie.
Ramos is also an ALS high school student. He works on call for a caterer.
He and his friends managed to resume their high school studies via the alternative learning system (ALS) in a project of their Purok (local sub-village) leaders. The school drop outs are being encouraged to resume studies, and with further help, after securing their high school diploma, they hope to enroll at Tesda to learn skills for a job. “In whatever jobs we are good at,” said Mesias.