“The Filipino people’s dignity and sovereignty could not be bought with cigarettes and noodles.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The rain did not stop progressive groups from expressing their rage over what they described as President Duterte’s “subservience” to China and the US, as they held series of protests on June 12, Tuesday as the nation commemorated the 120th National Independence Day.
“We assail the Duterte regime for reneging on its promise of an independent foreign policy, upholding instead a subservient foreign policy to both the US and China,” said Renato Reyes Jr. of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said in a statement.
While President Duterte was delivering his speech, at Emilio Aguinaldo’s shrine in Kawit, Cavite, members of Bayan– Southern Tagalog held lighting rally shouting “Hunyo a-dose, huwad na kalayaan!” and “Pasismo biguin, Duterte patalsikin!” (June 12, false independence! Stop fascism, oust Duterte!). One member, Francis Rafael was arrested, according to Reyes and will be charged with disturbing the peace.
Other groups also held protested at the Chinese Consulate, condemning the recent harassment of Filipino fishermen by Chinese coast guard. They also held protest actions at the US Embassy.
Women of #BabaeAko campaign also marched from Luneta to Liwasang Bonifacio slamming Duterte’s ‘misogyny’.
‘Cigarette and noodles in exchange for sovereignty and Filipino’s dignity?’
Reyes said the “Philippines cannot be truly free, not when foreign powers collude to take advantage of our people and resources.”
He slammed the recent statement of the Palace, which downplayed the harassment of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during a press briefing with the Malacañang Press Corps that Chinese coast guards gave noodles, cigarettes and clean water to Filipino fishermen after seizing their fish-catch from them.
“Hindi katumbas ng yosi at noodles ang soberanya at dignidad ng mga Pilipino (The Filipino people’s dignity and sovereignty could not be bought with cigarettes and noodles.),” Reyes said at the program.
Reyes stressed that the Philippines should be independent from the dictates of foreign countries. “The Philippines is ours. We don’t want foreigners to invade our country,” Reyes said in Filipino.
Fernando Hicap, chairperson of Pambansang Lakas ng mga Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) meanwhile warned of the possible effect of China’s occupation of the West Philippine Sea to the country’s food security.
Hicap said 20 percent of the total annual fish production comes from the resource-rich waters. He added that the long time sea-row violates not only the socio-economic rights of Filipino fishers but also “threatens the local food security and potential oil and gas reserves that can be utilized for economic and industrial development of the country.”
“We demand that the Duterte administration takes a strong, bold move against this prevalent foreign invasion and violation of our sovereign rights,” Hicap said.
No love for the Filipinos
The groups also decried the lack of compassion and love for fellow Filipinos with policies such as Tax Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law, anti-drug war and counterinsurgency program.
Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary general said that due to the Train law, poor parents have to make do with their low wages to provide for their family. She said most families could not eat three decent meals a day.
Salvador also criticized Duterte’s treatment of Filipinas. “He has often used his being an authority figure to take advantage of women, kissing them in public, catcalling and verbally spewing out anti-women jokes, as he calls it,” Salvador said.
Nanette Castillo of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, and the mother of Aldrin who was slain in the government’s anti-drug war, also slammed Duterte’s disregard for human life and the poor’s right to due process.
She asked, in Filipino, “Is there freedom when the police could just enter your house without a warrant? If they could just arrest anybody without a warrant?”
She said mothers like her who lost loved ones in the government’s war against illegal drugs are grieving every day, not only for the loss of their child but also the elusive justice. “I know that the police is involved in his death. Why? Because no one, not a single investigation was conducted to look into my son’s case,” she said, which was applauded by the audience.
She also slammed martial law in Mindanao, which ruined the lives of the Maranao with the bombings and that of Lumad students whose education was interrupted by intensified militarization.
“Duterte, you don’t really love the nation if you keep on killing your people. You only love and serve yourself, the US, China and Russia.”
Palabay said Filipinos are not truly free if the state continues to oppress the people and violates their rights. “But we know that we fight for our rights and we will continue to fight for it,” she added.
Meanwhile, former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño led the recitation of HINDIpendence declaration, a declaration of continuous fight for genuine independence. “Kami, mga Pilipinong nagmamahal sa bayan, ay nagdedeklara ng aming paninindigan para sa kalayaan, hustisya at demokrasya (We, Filipinos who love our country, are declaring our commitment to freedom, justice and democracy.)” an excerpt of the declaration read.