On Sunday July 26, BAYAN-Canada, Malaya Movement Canada and the Canadian chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines organized a cross-country day of action in time with President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address.
Safety-distanced gatherings were conducted in various cities with groups from Montreal, Ottawa, Kitchener/Waterloo, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver simultaneously with online discussions.
“Today, as our kababayan back home march in the streets and protest to show the true state of the nation, we enjoin you then, our kababayan in Canada, to lend your voices in fighting for a better homeland and in bringing social justice and true peace in the Philippines. There is no safety in silence. We are one with the collective strength of the Filipino people in bringing the US-Duterte regime close to an abrupt end,” said Malaya Movement.
Duterte has been under fire amid controversial issues such as the Anti-Terrorism Law, mandatory PhilHealth premium increase, and lack of comprehensive plan and implementation to address the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted the lives of millions of Filipinos. He has promised to fight the coronavirus with the same tactics the regime puts in the so-called war on drugs, which groups have criticized for extrajudicial killings and violations of human rights since coming into power.
As in most of his usual public address, he has waged a word war against other perceived enemies but his penultimate speech was delivered to a limited audience of allies in Congress and Cabinet officials who have been key in the administration’s pet projects. At one point, Duterte admitted that he doesn’t understand what he has been reading.
Meanwhile, in Canada, scores of speeches highlighted the “real state of the nation.” Alliance of progressive groups BAYAN-Canada frowned at the Philippine government’s “kill, steal, and bill” policies. Two more years of absolute government ineptitude and neglect is enough, the group said.
“BAYAN-Canada encourages everyone here, our kababayan and friends, to join us in the struggle for genuine democracy and freedom in our country. We must remember that Filipinos abroad, as the third largest remittance senders in the world, help keep the Philippine economy afloat,” the group said in a statement.
“We therefore have all the right to take part in ensuring accountability from the said administration. Now is the time to speak out against tyranny and rid ourselves of the scourge that is the US-Duterte regime”
“”We call on the Canadian government to end all Canadian support to the Duterte government, including financial, socio-economic programming, tactical, logistical and training support, military sales and defense cooperation. The Canadian government can provide leadership in the international community to call the Philippine government to account for widespread and systematic human rights violations, and give substance to its own commitment to global human rights,” it added.
Below is a selection of photos from the Canada actions.