The members of CONTEND UP today join our patriotic people and all progressive sectors of our society as we swarm the streets of Commonwealth Avenue to stage the historic United People’s SONA that will expose the deceit and lies in Pres. Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA). After two years in power, the US-China Duterte regime has already revealed its beastly nature. Against the trumpeting of a 6.8-percent growth rate of our economy for the first quarter of 2018 by Duterte’s economic doctors, we face the harsh reality: our inflation rate was 5.2 percent in May 2018. The “amazing” growth rate of our economy hides the fact that the stagnant wage of our workers remains too meager to cope with rising costs of living triggered by peso depreciation, the anti-poor TRAIN law, and the fluctuation of crude oil in world market. More horrendous is the fact that, when a family of six should earn at least PHP 1,169 a day, the wage gap remains at 56 percent. And most horrifying of all: amidst economic growth, we have the highest unemployment rate in Asia, at 9.1 percent, according to the IBON Foundation.
The US-China-Duterte trinity of dictatorship will spend 7.4 percent of our GDP for infrastructure under the build, build, build program (BBB) in 2022. To garner funding for these ambitious pro-oligarchs projects, the government has implemented the TRAIN law and borrowed heavily from China. In 2016, the government increased its grants to 412 percent, amounting to USD 15.6 billion. Our debt now stands at PHP 6.8 trillion, from PHP 5.9 trillion since Duterte took over. We face a looming debt bomb!
The funding for these infrastructure projects will redound to big business—those of the Ayalas, Angs, Cojuangcos, and other billionaires who will implement these projects concentrated in the National Capital Region. As if these hearty concessions to the oligarchs are not enough, Duterte and his dogs in the legislative branch of the government are desperately pushing for constitutional change to further open up the economy to foreign control and domination.
While the big business and foreign enterprises, through imports, will reap the benefits of the BBB programs, our workers continue to suffer from dehumanizing wages. Forced by the immiserating conditions of work, workers staged strikes to call for the end of contractualization in PLDT, Jollibee, NurtiaAsia, Middleby, and other labor enclaves.
Meanwhile, despite Duterte’s promise to end contractual labor, the government remains the largest employer of contractual labor. Last year, more than 27 percent of the 2.4 million government workers, or 660,390, were “job order” (JO) or “contract-of-service” (COS) employees. Unable to find jobs, our poor fellow Filipinos are forced to leave their families to work abroad. We sent 5,460 Filipinos abroad daily in 2017! And this means many Filipino families are separated for the sake of economic survival.
Those who choose to stay and look for jobs become “tambays.” But our government has tagged them as criminal elements. Unable to solve housing problems, unable to provide decent employment, the government has unleashed its sinister anti-tambay drive that already nabbed 5,500 tambays in June. This has augmented the human rights violation under Oplan Tokhang.
Amidst this crisis, our people has intensified the struggle and resistance against the mounting fascism of the US-Duterte regime. In this struggle, religious and church workers have raised their voices to oppose and denounce an anti-poor President. As a result, the Church and its workers have become the targets of state terrorism—as seen in the murders of priests. Foreign missionaries, such as Sister Patricia Fox, who express solidarity with our poor and suffering people, have also been harassed by state’s forces.
Our women have also mobilized to denounce the unrelenting misogyny of Duterte against women who courageously stood against his reign of terror. Time and again, Duterte has shown his chauvinistic nature by belittling and denigrating the capacity of women such as Chief Justice Sereno, Sis. Pat, Ombudsman Carpio-Morales, and Senator de Lima, and openly promoting discrimination and abuse of women!
Finally, unable to address the root causes of the communist armed struggle, the US-Duterte regime chose the path of counter-insurgency, vilification of legal activist groups, and all-out war against communities suspected as being part of the communist base. Duterte has miserably failed in his promise to address the structural causes of the communist armed revolution. His military lapdogs have, without respite, sabotaged any hope for peaceful resolution of the conflicts. The Lumad and indigenous communities are, at this moment, fleeing their lands because of militarization. The military continues to harass and intimidate them wherever they go, even to cramped and dismal evacuation centers. Duterte’s military forces, in the service of rapacious corporations, seem happy to snuff out the lives of our indigenous peoples.
Assaulted from all sides with economic woes, with human rights violations that murder our poor neighbors, we rise up today to say: ENOUGH! STOP! As teachers and workers in the educational sector, we cannot remain indifferent to the reign of terror of Duterte. We cannot remain indifferent when our economy is being run according to anti-poor, pro-oligarch policies. We cannot turn a blind eye when our children become indebted to China and worshipers of US imperialism.
Thus, we urge all patriotic and progressive teachers and educational workers to unite and stand together to stop the rampaging misogynist fascism of Duterte. We join mass protests today because, as educators, we are convinced that joining our people on the streets is a form of teaching. Our presence in the protest is a performative act of teaching our people that we stand for human rights and for a humane and just future for our children.
DOWN WITH THE MISOGYNIST FASCISM OF THE US-CHINA-DUTERTE REGIME!
DOWN WITH FEUDALISM!
DOWN WITH IMPERIALISM!
END STATE IMPUNITY!
JUSTICE TO ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
END CONTRACTUAL LABOR NOW!
FIGHT FOR 750 MINIMUM WAGE!
STOP LUMAD KILLINGS!
NO TO CHARTER CHANGE!