Mr. Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, during which he reports the situation of the Philippines, lays down the regime’s current agenda and proposes to the joint House of Representatives certain laws. It is expected to be a day of reckoning. People from various walks of life will hold United People’s SONA in the streets of Manila and in other major cities in the country to coincide with the president’s speech highlighting the struggle for sovereignty, democracy, and livelihood.
Overseas Filipinos will also join People’s SONA across the world with protest marches, public fora, pickets and speeches on July 21, the Global Day of Action Against Tyranny of the US-Duterte regime.
What is the People’s State of the Nation? Kamusta ang bayan? Kamusta ang taumbayan?
The State of the Filipino People is one of poverty, joblessness, lack and absence of basic social services like education, healthcare, housing, even water. Employment (for those lucky to secure jobs) is precarious under the capitalist scheme of contractualization which maximizes profits by cutting down labour costs and benefits.
While agriculture plays a significant role in the Philippine economy, but production of its staple food, rice, is imperiled. With the Rice Tariffication Law taking effect on March 5, 2019, the livelihood of millions of Filipino rice farmers is at risk. Instead of determining how to sustainably produce rice, farmers are pushed to compete with cheaper, subsidized, imported rice. Farm gate prices of rice, copra, garlic and other products are down. Because of these neoliberal policies, the country’s food security is eroded. And with a country that is surrounded by waters, the worst water supply crisis in nearly a decade reveals management issues with private service concessionaires.
The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) also hits the country’s working poor people, benefits the richest few and burdens the middle- and lower-class families. Prices of basic services and goods are incessantly becoming unaffordable.
When there are no jobs to be had and no decent prospects for households, Filipinos continue to be pushed out of the country to work abroad. At least 6,300 people leave the Philippines every day to work abroad, made efficiently possible by the labour export policy of the government. State exactions from migrant workers like the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration membership fees, SSS contributions, POEA processing and all kinds of mandatory clearances that fill the coffers of the government but leave migrant workers with little or zero gains.
The last election in May 2019, which was earmarked with rampant cheating and dirty tactics, solidified Duterte’s hold on the government. With his control of the majority of lawmakers in the Senate, the passage of anti-people policies like Charter (or Constitutional) change, a shift to Federalism, and more foreign control of the economy and Philippine resources is ensured. Under a republican democracy, the three branches of government are supposed to be co-equal, independent, and autonomous. But Duterte’s enormous yield of political capital over the executive, legislative, judiciary – and even the military – he has a wide array of tools to shape public perception in his favour.
Philippine sovereignty has been peddled by the Duterte government as witnessed by his inaction and unwillingness to do anything over the Chinese aggressive incursions and control on the islands and the water of the West Philippine Sea under the Philippine exclusive economic zone. Chinese aid and Chinese loans make Duterte beholden to China at the expense of Philippine sovereignty and patrimony. In the same servile manner, Duterte upholds the unequal military and economic agreements with the United States. Duterte has put himself between Washington and Beijing, two imperialist masters, and he has made the interests of these two powers above and before those of the Filipino people. Duterte has sold the country to the highest bidder and exposed himself as a traitor.
Rule of law has no place in the Duterte regime. Tens of thousands have been killed in the guise of “war on drugs”. Thousands more have died, been displaced and their communities destroyed in the guise of fighting “terrorists” to justify declaring martial law in the island of Mindanao. Hundreds of activists, critics, human rights defenders, indigenous and environmental activists, and women activists have been vilified, harassed, arrested and killed under Duterte’s counterinsurgency plan previously called Operation Plan Kapayapaan (Oplan Peace) nd now Oplan Kapanatagan (Tranquility). Duterte’s highly touted proclamations of peace and order are nothing but gross violations of the people’s collective rights.
The People’s State of the Nation is also one of resistance and self-defence. The people, against all odds, continue to resist to protect themselves, their communities and their country – from workers’ strikes, long marches, boycotts, land occupation (bungkalan), vigils, demonstrations, legal and electoral struggles, peace negotiations, international lobbying and delegations, to intense organizing, mobilizing and education work, in the Philippines and outside.
Change will come from people organizing and resisting against tyranny, against a government that has neglected, if not abandoned, the interests and welfare of the people and the sovereignty of the nation. To call for People Power and demand the ouster of Duterte is to stand on very just grounds and our responsibility as Filipinos, wherever we are.
Tama na! Sobra na! People Power na!
(Enough! We’ve had enough! People Power now!)
Sobra na! Tama na! Wakasan na! Patalsikin ang Diktador Duterte!
(Enough! We’ve had enough! End it now! Oust the Dictator Duterte!