Bayan congratulates the broad masses of the people who joined the People’s SONA last July 24, 2017. From Ilocos in the North all the way to Iligan in the South, the people’s protests reverberated. We congratulate the workers, peasants, urban poor, indigenous peoples, women, youth, transport workers, Moro people, church workers, teachers, students and professionals who joined the nationwide mass actions. We congratulate the different Bayan regional formations that organized mass actions throughout the country and abroad on this important date.
The center of the protests was at Batasan Road — near the venue of President Rodrigo Duterte’s address — where 35-40,000 protesters from Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Mindanao converged after marching along Commonwealth Avenue. In place of last year’s murals, we paraded effigies depicting the US-Duterte regime and its anti-people and anti-national policies.
The People’s SONA was also an expression of national indignation against the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, which was railroaded two days earlier by the US-Duterte regime. We congratulate the Moro people in Iligan, especially the Marawi evacuees, who also held protest actions against the extension of Martial Law.
The People’s SONA denounced the anti-people, anti-national and fascist policies of US-Duterte regime which included the US-backed Martial Law in Mindanao, the threat of its nationwide imposition, gross human rights violations, US military intervention, landlessness, neoliberal economic policies, foreign plunder of the economy, imposition of new taxes and the scuttling of the peace talks. The people assailed Duterte for his failed promises amid the worsening crisis of the rotten semicolonial and semifeudal social system. The people demanded nationalist and democratic change and the overthrow of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
Duterte’s official SONA brought us more of the same rhetoric on peace and order, the drug war, justifying human rights violations, refusal to continue peace talks with the NDF, a pitch for new taxes and Martial Law. His remarks on the return of the Balangiga bells and sanctioning erring mining firms, while positive, will still require concrete government action and militant people’s struggle. The SONA as a whole did not provide a coherent program to solve the worsening crisis of the ruling system. On the contrary, the programs of the Duterte regime will surely further aggravate poverty, joblessness, landlessness, violations of national sovereignty, human rights abuses and impunity.
The day-long people’s protest was highlighted by the confrontation between the President and the protesters outside Batasan. In an unprecedented move, Duterte went to the rally site after delivering his SONA. Taking the stage along with the Presidential Security Group, and apparently reeling from the intense criticism from the mass movement, he addressed the crowd as activists chanted slogans and people’s demands such as “Never again to Martial Law!” . Duterte’s response to burning issues such as the peace talks, Martial Law, labor contractualization and political prisoners drew negative reactions from the audience. He was eventually “chanted off” the stage, with the loud chorus of “Peace talks ituloy!”.
Upon his return to the Batasan, Duterte again went on a mad tirade against the Left and threatened to bomb Lumad communities and schools in the course of his counter-insurgency campaign.
It is clear that the people have no other recourse but to militantly wage the struggle for national democracy and fight the US-Duterte regime and its fascist, anti-people and anti-national policies.
In the coming months, we expect intensifying fascist attacks with Duterte’s continued threats against the Lumad communities, Martial Law in Mindanao, and the US-backed counter-insurgency program nationwide. The peace negotiations, though not officially terminated, is in danger of being permanently scuttled as Duterte wages all-out war against the NPA and the communities suspected of sympathizing with the revolutionary movement. We continue to call for the continuation of the peace talks, without preconditions, and for the purpose of addressing the roots of the armed conflict.
The Filipino people will mark the 45th anniversary of Martial Law on September 21, ironically at a time when there is Martial Law in Mindanao. Martial Law, then and now, is being implemented by the same fascist forces backed by US imperialism.
The economic crisis will worsen due to the impact of a new round of oppressive taxes, the downsizing of government jobs, imperialist plunder of our resources, semifeudal exploitation, chronic unemployment, corporatization of public transport, and the government’s failure to address demands for social services such as education, health and housing.
In November, the Philippines will host the East Asia Summit which will include the visit of US imperialism’s CEO, Donald Trump. The US wants an expanded role in Mindanao, as it prepares for a named-operation similar to “Operation Enduring Freedom: Philippines” in its so-called battle against ISIS. The ISIS threat is being used by the US as a pretext for permanent military presence, US bases and greater influence over the Philippine armed forces’ counter-insurgency campaign. US intervention will not be aimed only at the ISIS threat but against revolutionary forces who seek the overthrow of US imperialism in the Philippines. Duterte has backtracked on his earlier pronouncements of pursuing an independent foreign policy and has struck a modus vivendi with the US.
There is a need to reach out to the broadest possible section of the people, take advantage of the contradictions among reactionaries and the openings that emerge from an unstable situation, and steadily build the people’s united resistance to the US-Duterte regime. There is a need to further expand the economic struggles of the oppressed and exploited and to strengthen the political struggles aimed at overhauling the ruling system. Our task is to advance the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and anti-fascists struggles as the people’s just response to the attacks by the US-Duterte regime. Our duty is to raise high the national democratic program and alternative to the current ruling system dominated by the imperialists, big landlords and compradors.
Let us move forward to greater victories in the struggles ahead. Mabuhay ang nakikibakang sambayanang Pilipino!