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Anti-Duterte protests held before and after SONA

01 August 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap

A series of anti-government protests were held by various migrant organizations in Hong Kong before and after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address in Manila on Jul 23.

The latest was a protest march held from Chater Garden in Central to the Philippine Consulate in Admiralty on Jul 29. Protesters held aloft banners denouncing a range of government moves, from the attempt to push for federalism and charter change, to issues such as corruption, the failure to stop workers contractualization and the killings of thousands of Filipinos in line with the so-called war on drugs.

Speakers take turns attacking Duterte in front of the building that that houses the Consulate.
Bayan HK and Macau chair Eman Villanueva hit out at what he called the “recycling” of officials under the Duterte administration, especially those found to have misused tens of millions in government funds. After being removed from their posts, Villanueva said the disgraced officials are moved elsewhere in government.

Another glaring example he cited was former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a known Duterte ally who was recently elected as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“Nagkamal ng bilyong piso mula sa pondo ng bayan, nandaya sa eleksyon, tapos ngayon e Speaker sa Kongreso,” Villanueva said in reference to the former leader who was detained in a hospital for four years for corruption before being freed by the Supreme Court shortly after Duterte came to power.

On the exact day of the SONA, a smaller group comprising about 50 members of various migrant and community organizations staged a protest outside the Philippine Consulate to denounce Duterte.

Most vocal in their criticism of the Philippine leader were two foreign nationals who expressed solidarity for Filipinos, including Indonesian Eni Lestari, chair of the International Migrant Alliance, who said the Philippine president is “turning to be an “evil leader.”

“We in the international community believe Duterte should not be supported anymore,” Lestari said, citing among his alleged misdeeds the killing of innocent Filipinos in the name of the drug war, and his blatant disrespect for women.

Ma Wan Ki, a local Chinese who is secretary general of the International Confederation for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, called Duterte a “bully”, saying that for all his tough talk, he has not been able to go after big drug lords in the country.

Ma blasted at the extra-judicial killings

“He has done nothing except for the (shedding of) blood of the innocents,” said Ma.

Pastor Joram Calimutan, who represented the Promotion of Church People’s Response, blasted Duterte’s failure to address the problems of Filipinos, particularly the looming economic crisis brought about by heavy borrowing and rampant corruption.

“Walang ginagawa ang kasalukuyang administrasyon para matigil ang krisis, at sasabihin pa na istupido ang Diyos,” said Calimutan, who also decried other church people who  continue to openly support Duterte despite his anti-religion and anti-god rhetoric.

He also sounded alarm bells over Duterte’s alleged plan to bring in 10,000 construction workers in China as part of his “build, build, build” campaign, even if there are millions of Filipinos who don’t have jobs.

Pastor Calimutan spoke for church people

Speaking for Filipino migrant workers was Dolores Balladares, chair of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, who called out the Philippine leader for failing to deliver on his campaign promise to provide them with a better life.

“Sona (a play on Sona) ngayon ang mga ipinangakong trabaho?”, said Balladares. “Tayong mga migrante ang patunay na ang mga ipinangakong pagbabago ay hindi nangyari.”

She cited as an example the so-called iDOLE or OFW ID, which was recently scrapped by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III amid allegations of misuse of the congressional funding for the project.

She also harped at Duterte’s failure to have a real consultation with Filipino migrants during his Hong Kong visit in April, preferring instead to party with local Chinese business people who own employment agencies, often seen as a bane to OFWs.

A pre-SONA gathering was also held the previous Sunday, Jul 15, in Edinburgh Place, Central, for a more thorough discussion of the issues being raised against the Duterte administration.

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