Protests were held in succession by various sectors in preparation for the 46th year commemoration of martial law declaration on September 21, 1972. In view of this, the Communist Party of the Philippines called on the people to use the lessons in struggle against the dictatorship to overthrow the loathed US-Duterte regime.
On September 7, the group Rise Up for Life and for Rights held a “Black Friday Protest” at the Boy Scouts Circle in Quezon City, together with parents of the victims of the Duterte regime’s Oplan Tokhang, and human rights defenders.
They reenacted the renowned “Pieta” sculpture which symbolizes not only the parents’ grief but also their desire for justice. The protesters said that Duterte’s idol worship of Marcos is evident in his desire to surpass the latter’s record in the number of killed under his regime.
Among those who protested was the mother of Joshua Laxamana, 17, a well-known player of the computer game DotA, who was killed in the “war against drugs.” Laxamana was accused by the police of robbery and possession of shabu and a firearm in order to justify his execution last August 17. Up until now, his companion Julius Sebastian, 17 years old, is still missing.
Meanwhile, on the 101st birth anniversary of the former dictator, the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA) protested at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, where Duterte allowed the burial of his idol’s remains. CARMMA said that Duterte’s overt alliance with the family of the former dictator in order to tighten his cling to power is utterly contemptuous.
In the afternoon of September 11, progressive groups protested in various parts of the country in response to the more than an hour “tete-a-tete” by Duterte and his legal adviser Salvador Panelo wherein he once again washed his hands of his crimes and pointed at his critics as responsible for the current economic and political crisis in the country.
No less than the University of the Philippines administration, under its president Danilo Concepcion, issued a proclamation declaring September 21 as “UP Day of Remembrance” for the people’s scholars who struggled and offered their lives during Marcos’ martial law.
Lakbayan from Southern and Central Luzon
Hundreds of farmers, indigenous people, and fisherfolk from Central Luzon held a three-day “Lakbayan ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon,” from September 18 to call for genuine land reform and condemn the regime’s tyranny and fascism.
According to the farmers, the current rice crisis is caused by the state’s neglect and disregard of the peasantry and their production, particularly in Central Luzon which is regarded as the “rice granary of the Philippines.” Instead of supporting the farmers in improving their rice production, the regime is bent on converting agricultural lands and even supports the arrogation of lands by local and foreign landlords and big bourgeois compradors.
The farmers also condemned Oplan Kapayapaan which led to militarization of their communities.
Farmers, Aetas and fisherfolk from Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan and Pangasinan participated in the said march. A program was initially held in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform’s regional office in San Fernando, Pampanga before proceeding to Bulacan, and to Manila to join the United People’s Action against Martial Law.
Hundreds of farmers and members of Bicol Movement Against Tyranny (BMAT) and Bayan-Bicol also held a lakbayan to Manila to join the commemmoration of 46th year commemoration of the martial law declaration.
Progressive groups in the Bicol region led by BMAT and Bayan held a “Lakbay Dalangin” last September 15, which conincided with the feast of Peñafrancia. They held a procession from Peñaranda Park, Albay to Naga City, where they offered prayers for victims of state violence, and prayed for an end to the killings in Bicol.
Workers of the so-called sunshine industry, business process outsourcing (BPO), are set to stage a historic strike.
The 1,500-strong union of the Unified Employees of Alorica, submitted a notice of strike on September 7. The union said that workers have been suffering from illegal dismissals, systematic attrition through company policies that contradict even the Labor Code, and the unrelenting refusal of the management to recognize their union.
BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) said that the impending strike in Alorica proves that call center agents will fight back and not remain mum amid oppression.
Meanwhile, terminated workers of Jolly Plastics Molding Corporation mounted their protest camp outside their factory in Valezuela City on September 17. They were dismissed upon refusing the order of their management to misdeclare during an inspection by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) last September 11 that they are working only eight hours daily and were receiving minimum wage.
Instead of following the management’s order, the workers walked-out on the day of the inspection and reported to the DOLE that they were made to work for 12 hours daily and compensated a meager P430 daily salary. They were terminated the following day.
On September 12, hundreds of contractual workers of Magnolia (a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation) trooped to the DOLE office in Intramuros to pound on DOLE Sec. Silvestre Bello III to fulfill his promise of regularization for the company’s 404 contractual workers in General Trias, Cavite. Most of the workers have been working for more than two years in the company’s butter and cheese factories, including that of Star Margarine and Dari Creme. The workers complained of extremely low wages and benefits, no days off and uncompensated mandatory overtime work.
The University of San Jose-Recoletos in Cebu launched, during the first week of September, its “Bakwit School” for Lumad students who were driven away from their communities as a result of intense militarization of the countryside in Mindanao. The school has 30 students. Another “Bakwit School”, with more than 70 students, was simultaneously launched at the Baclaran Church in Metro Manila.
Last September 10, the University of Santo Tomas in Manila likewise opened its doors to Lumad students. More temporary schools are set to be launched in other parts of Metro Manila and urban centers in various regions in the following weeks.
Protests in other countries
In the US, more than 300 members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-USA) staged a flash mob last September 16 in New York City.
The group unfurled banners with the slogans “Resist US-led war and militarism” and “United States out of the Philippines” at the Grand Central Station in Manhattan before marching towards the Philippine Center New York to hold a program. Bayan-USA said that Duterte is one of the Philippines’ most dangerous presidents, not only on the basis of his butchery, but also on the basis of plunging the economy in deep crisis, inflation, and obeisance to foreign powers.
In Japan, workers from Toyota Motors Philippines Workers Association (TMPWA) protested at Toyota Motors’ international headquarters to call for the reinstatement of 237 workers dismissed from the company’s factory in the Philippines 17 years ago. In the protest at the Toyota Nagoya Building on September 16, TMPWA demanded the company to compensate for the workers’ lost wages due to the illegal dismissal and abide by the International Labor Organization’s recommendation to reinstate them.
Another protest was held by TMPWA members at the Japanese Embassy in Pasay City last September 17.
Filipino workers of Toyota gained the support of their fellow workers in Indonesia, who protested against the company in the districts of Temate, Ambon, and Makassar.