On the commemoration of the International Women’s Day, the students led by League of Filipino Students (LFS) joined women’s organizations in a nationwide protest demanding to hold President Duterte accountable for “his crimes against the Filipino people”.
“Ngayong araw ng kababaihan ay araw ng paniningil sa rehimeng Duterte! Kinakalampag natin ang gobyernong ito para sa lahat ng mga bigong pangako at dumaraming krimen laban sa mamamayang Pilipino,” said LFS national spokesperson JP Rosos.
LFS gathered with sectoral groups in a program at Bonifacio Shrine in Manila at around 2 in the afternoon. By 4pm, participants marched to Mendiola where the protest was concluded. The student protesters carried a fist effigy – Duterte’s icon during the presidential campaign period – covered with blood.
Intensified human rights violations
Rosos noted that like the dark days of Marcos rule, violations of human rights and civil liberties persist. The youth leader pointed out that the current number of violence against the people are increasing day by day.
“Under war on drugs, when you are accused of being a drug user or pusher, you got shot. More than 7,000 were already killed. Under all-out war, when you are allegedly a member of CPP-NPA-NDFP, you are killed, abducted, or detained. In two months, 15 civilians were already killed and 402 political prisoners are still illegally detained. And just yesterday death penalty was approved – when you are branded as criminal, it is over!” Rosos said.
“Duterte’s militaristic and fascist approach makes us question what kind of change he wants to pursue. Definitely, it is not for the people. Far from his claims of being a beacon of hope for the people, Duterte is treading the path of a tyrannical ruler,” Rosos added.
Rosos added that in 8 months, there have been 14, 659 cases of threats, intimidation, and harassment, 4,170 cases of indiscriminate firing, and 397 illegal arrests without detention under Duterte.
Rosos also called AFP and Duterte ‘proud killers’ for justifying their heinous crimes against the people. The youth leader noted that Duterte’s series of fascist pronouncements has proved that it will mobilize every state machinery to maintain this exploitative and oppressive social order even at the expense of killing thousands of Filipinos.
“The people are expressing dissent over their worsening situation. Knowing that rhetoric and promises won’t work anymore, Duterte chose to resolve things through bloody fascist attacks,” said Rosos.
“Duterte is a great blabber – all talk and no action. Not a single hint of addressing the root cause of poverty and fundamental issues of the country can be seen from this regime. Instead of forwarding change, he clings to neoliberal dictates of imperialists that further the exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people,” said Rosos.
The student leader pointed out that the Duterte regime’s 10-point economic agenda focuses on how foreign corporations and the local ruling elite will extract more profit from the people.
“Instead of heeding his promise to remove contractuatization, Duterte chose to be an accomplice of big capitalists in further institutionalizing contractual labor. Under the so-called win-win solution, the regime legitimized manpower agencies replacing regular workers. He also refused wage increase for our workers,” said Rosos.
“Duterte also prevented the implementation of free tuition and even pushed for further commercializing and privatizing education. He abandoned his government’s responsibility to provide other social services like health, public housing, etc. He does nothing in the face of relentless increase in oil price and basic commodities. Worse, Duterte plans to further squeeze money from the people through his plans of imposing more taxes,” Rosos continued.
“Land to the tillers are far from happening. Displacement of farmers and national minorities continue as foreign corporations and few landlords plunder most of our land. Poverty and hunger worsens. Duterte’s loyalty to the economic doctrines propagated by the imperialists has exacerbated the dire situation of the people,” Rosos added.
Rosos also added that Duterte backtracked in his pronouncements against US imperialism. The youth leader pointed out that instead of truly asserting sovereignty and territorial integrity, the regime treacherously approved 257 US military exercises in the country as well as the re-occupation of US troops through the approval of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) bases.
Making Duterte Accountable
According to Rosos, poverty and suffering perpetuated by the present administration should not be allowed to continue.
“For all the women and the Filipino people who were exploited and oppressed by the social inequalities perpetuated by the Duterte government, we strongly denounce this regime. We won’t let the injustices continue,” Rosos continued.
“We pledge to make Duterte accountable for his crimes. More protests are underway to further denounce this regime. It is clear as day that this is far from the change that we want. This fascist move only validate the need to struggle to replace the current system that perpetuates such injustices. The youth, as pag-asa ng bayan, vow to intensify the plight for genuine change and struggle for national democracy,” Rosos added. ###