By Reynard Magtoto
LEGAZPI CITY, ALBAY – The consolidated mass movement of progressive groups in Bicol that led over 10,850 protesters across its provinces in their Kadena Bikolandia con Transport Strike on Monday expressed disappointment over President Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address.
Kadena Bikolandia with the theme ‘Kadena-Magsasaka’ to highlight the plight of peasants in the region was held in time for Duterte’s second SONA and to demand answers to Duterte’s failed promises in its first year in office.
This protest action led by BAYAN-Bicol not only caused 96.5% paralysis because of the transport strike region-wide but also activated its Mass Action Centers (MACs) across six provinces.
Chained Protests results
In Albay, 14 MACs gathered 1,458 Albayanos to demand pro-people statements and solutions from Duterte. In Camarines Sur, 1,300 protesters in 14 MACs joined the protest and those within the Naga City area witnessed the state of the youth address in Bicol. Camarines Norte with nine MACs gathered 337 protesters in the province while 80 Catanduanons gathered in the MAC in Catanduanes main plaza.
In Masbate, 3,056 Masbateños successfully conducted chained protest in its 10 MACs while having protest action in front of Filminera Mining Corporation in Aroroy town. While in Sorsogon, 4,619 protesters joined Kadena in its 16 MACs.
Few reforms, more threats
Instead of hearing ‘real’ state of the nation and pro-people policies, Duterte’s SONA confronted the progressive groups few fragments of reforms and threat in empowering police and military forces of the present administration.
According to Dan Balucio, BAYAN-Bicol spokesperson, Duterte said to positive reforms.
First, The most prominent was prioritizing the environment over mining and other destructive activities by means of exhortation to set up mineral processing and manufacturing industries.
“I waited for Duterte to tell that repealing the Mining Act of 1995 as one of his priority to be replaced by democratic and pro-people mining law. Instead he just warns the mining corporations in destructing the environment,” Balucio said.
Second, it is positive for Duterte to have an independent foreign policy with good relations among other countries. However in order to have an independent foreign policy, Mutual Defense Treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement, and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement must be repealed according to Balucio.
Balucio added that Duterte never stated how these reforms be materialized. He even condemns Duterte on how he treat human rights situations.
According to Balucio, human rights in principle must be respected, defend and promote in any situations, during or not in times of war. “It seems that the use of iron fist of the Duterte government to solve the problems in the country is way to far in this principle,” he said.
BAYAN-Bicol condemns Duterte in telling the public, in essence, to terminate peace talks between GRP and NDFP and his eagerness to pass death penalty.
“These are big factors that will greatly violate the rights of the people,” Balucio said.
“It’s a pity on the concluded four rounds of peace talks that have been the longest and will continue on CASER discussions that could have been part of the resolution to solve the armed conflict. The collateral damage that most civilian population will be affected cannot be prevented in his total war policy,” Balucio said.
Challenge to Bicolanos
BAYAN-Bicol is calling the Bicolanos to assert that Duterte needs to address the worsening crisis of society, fulfill its promise of change and renounce corrupt policies that break the economy, violate sovereignty, and cause social injustice.
“It can only be achieved through the collective action and struggle of the people in Bicol for real change,” Balucio said.
“Duterte must make concrete steps to address the basic problems of the country. As citizens of the country, we must expose the real situation and problem faced by every Bicolano. We also have to insist that Duterte must continue the peace talks with the NDFP to solve the social problems,” Balucio added. (BaretangBikolnon.com)
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