Emojis summed up the progressive group’s ratings on the administration’s response to basic people’s issues.
By DANNAH DENISE AGUSTIN
MANILA – Assessing President Duterte’s one year in office, progressive groups found a new way of expression in the streets: the round yellow faces of emotions popularly used in social media.
Emotion icons, called “emoticons” or “emojis” for short, took the place of the usual alpha-numeric grades in the huge report card for Duterte, summing up how progressives rate the administration’s response to basic people’s issues. These range from “sad, very afraid, broken-hearted, disgusted, feeling cool,” and even “devil.”
Protesters also carried placards with Twitter’s hashtag that say #UnangTaonniDigong and #WalangPagbabago.
The “report card” of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) gave Duterte “sad face” on his failed promises on independent foreign policy, peace talks, and putting end to labor contractualization or “endo.”
Duterte got “very angry” on his martial law in Mindanao; “loudly crying” on his War on Drugs; “disgusted” on the continuing breakdowns of the MRT/LRT; and “very afraid” on human rights, with the relentless extra-judicial killings of thousands of drug suspects and dozens of activists.
Members of women’s group Gabriela carried a “vomiting” emoji in reaction to the Duterte’s rape jokes.
Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador said Duterte’s degrading jokes on women strengthens views that it is okay to abuse women, which makes them more vulnerable, especially to violations by state security forces.
On land reform, Duterte got “neutral face,” an expressionless emoji with a straight mouth, as he has appointed former peasant leader Rafael Mariano as head of the Department of Agrarian Reform. Mariano has led the distribution of lands to struggling farmers, but is yet to get the confirmation of the powerful Commission on Appointments.
“Cool”—a smiling emoji with dark shades – was the response to Duterte’s “free tuition policy,” which increased the budget for state universities and colleges, but threatens to implement a socialized tuition scheme, which practically does not make public college free.
On the other hand, a smiling, starry-eyed emoji conveyed the feeling on the successful “Occupy Pabahay” – the occupation of idle and rotting government houses – which Duterte agreed to distribute to the members of the urban poor group, Kadamay.
Clearly missing among the responses was the “poop” emoji, whose absence may indicate how progressives are not yet poised to flush the Duterte administration down the drain, the way they condemned his predecessors.
Unmindful of the heat, protesters marched from Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City to Mendiola Bridge here. The sight of the approaching group was like trigger to a bullet when a young man in black shirt and face covered with red scarf, shot over the catwalk at Mendiola intersection. With his left hand holding on to the ledge, and a can of black pylox spray paint on the right, he wrote on the metal bar at the bottom of the overpass — “Mamamayan , lumahok sa digmang bayan, Sumapi sa NPA,” – a message exhorting people to be part of the people’s war and join the revolutionary armed group New People’s Army.
The risky stunt caught the attention of some photojournalists, but the trendy yellow emojis had already captivated the Mendiola crowd.
Lumad leaders dressed in their ethnic garb called for the end of martial law in Mindanao, the militarization and abuses among the indigenous people.
Despite the heat of the asphalt as they sat or stood on Mendiola Bridge, the progressives carried on with the two and-a-half hour program, calling out the attention of the government for the change it promised.