By JUSTIN UMALI
CALAMBA, Laguna — Hundreds of activists from different sectors of Southern Tagalog kicked off their protest caravan on July 18 in Calamba, Laguna.
Entitled Daluyong 2019: Paglaban at Pakikibaka ng Mamamayan ng Timog Katagalugan para Wakasan ang Tiranikong Rehimeng US-Duterte (Struggle of the Southern Tagalog People to End the Tyrannical US-Duterte Regime), the protest caravan aims to counter President Duterte’s upcoming State of the Nation Address by registering the “real conditions of the Filipino people.” They are calling for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte
The theme of the day’s protest was “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” (Three years without God), calling out President Duterte’s brazen attacks on religion.
United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) Pastor Rev. Nehemias Millares, who led an ecumenical mass in Calamba, decried Duterte’s “slanderous and mocking” remarks against God, and the spate of killings perpetuated by the administration’s cavalier attitude towards violence.
The groups emphasized the three major sins of Duterte against the people – ruthless killings, theft and corruption, and dishonesty.
Casey Cruz, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog criticized Duterte’s war against the people.
“Duterte’s lapdog Bato dela Rosa told the media that ‘shit happens’ in buy-bust operations. This exemplifies how they perceive a human being’s life – an inadvertent casualty,” Cruz said.
Dela Rosa made the remark after three-year-old Myca Ulpina was killed in anti-drug police operations in Rizal.
According to international reports, the death toll on drug-related cases rose to 20,000. Cases of extrajudicial killings in rural communities are also on a steady rise as the government implements its counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan. Heavy military operations in Mindoro have resulted in the killing of Frentes Gutierrez, an 80 year-old community leader who was accused of being a member the New People’s Army.
Spearheaded by BAYAN-ST, along with the Southern Tagalog Ouster Movement (STORM), DEFEND-ST, and Karapatan-ST, the delegates came from various sectors and mass organizations, and converged following the Laguna province’s State of the Province Address.
The program began with a cultural performance by Southern Tagalog Cultural Alliance, depicting the human rights violations perpetrated by state security forces in the provinces.
Speakers from the workers, women, the youth sector, farmers, revealed their conditions, which were exacerbated by the Duterte administration’s anti-poor policies.
The delegation has begun their caravan today, moving from Calamba, Laguna towards San Pedro. They will be making short stops in Cabuyao, Biñan, and Santa Rosa to expose the realities under the Duterte administration.
Each day of the protest caravan will focus on an aspect of the Duterte administration’s policies and programs, such as TRAIN Law, Oplan Tokhang, the continuing deals with US and China, attacks on Philippine national sovereignty, and Oplan Kapanatagan, among others.