July 24, 2017
What the President did today, speaking at the Bayan rally after his SONA (on his own initiative), was unprecedented. That much is true. However, it would have been more meaningful if he made clear commitments on the basic issues of the people. The audience’s strong negative reaction and feeling of dismay come from the President’s lack of positive responses to the issues they posed, including the peace talks, political prisoners, contractualization, land reform and so on.
He made no commitment to resume peace talks and instead repeatedly harped on a fictional “ambush” against him. When asked about land reform and contractualization, he pointed to his cabinet secretaries. When asked about releasing political prisoners, he said the military will object. Those responses did not get him adherents at the rally for sure.
“The people, not the military, are your bosses,” the crowd reacted. “Peace talks, ituloy!” the crowd chanted.
He says he wants respect amid the intensifying criticism of the regime. (“Respetuhan tayo“). That’s not really the problem. While we are strongly criticizing his regime, the lines of communication have remained open especially if this is for the benefit of the people. Pero wala siyang tigil sa pagbira, sa salita at gawa. At marami na ang nasalanta at masasalanta pa.
Naaapektuhan ba sya ng matinding batikos? Ang mga batikos ay dahil sa kanyang mga pahayag at patakarang kontra-mamamayan.
What should he have done? An immediate positive gesture on his part would be to demilitarize rural communities and move to revive the peace talks. That is something concrete. Sa halip na banta ng pambobomba at karahasan. Sa halip na insultuhin ang mga Lumad sa kanyang SONA.
Hindi kami nagsara ng pinto. Pero malinaw ang tindig namin sa mga isyu. Malinaw na may matinding banggaan sa mga pusisyon. We remain willing to engage him anytime in the coming months (if that’s what he wants), but he has to show seriousness in addressing the growing clamor for change. The discussions must lead to something substantive for the people. It cannot be just for the sake of talking. The ball is in his court so to speak. Let us see what he does next. What is clear is that the fight for fundamental change continues. The fight for a just peace continues. The crisis moves the people to resist. Long live the struggling Filipino people!
We thank everyone who became a part of the People’s SONA nationwide. ###
*Photo credits to ABS-CBN