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HK militant groups call for people power vs Duterte

22 July 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing
Anti-SONA rally called for an end to Duterte's rule

Human rights campaigners and militant migrant workers groups joined hands in a protest rally at the Consulate today to call for “people power” to oust Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The rally, held in the afternoon outside and inside the Consulate premises in United Centre building in Admiralty, coincided with the opening of President Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address.

According to Eman Villanueva, one of the organizers, the call for ending Duterte’s rule was triggered by his latest consolidation of power in the House of Representatives.
“Wala na tayong aasahan pang pagbabago, kumpleto na ang mga rekado ng isang dictatorship,” Villanueva said.

Duterte’s bid to control the country, according to him, started with the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno last year, followed by the administration bets’ complete sweep of the spurious senatorial elections in May.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Eman Villanueva and Dolores Balladares Pelaez, people standing and text
Villanueva says there is no more hope for reconciliation with the government 
Lately, the administration flexed more muscles when it filed sedition allegations against popular opposition figures led by Vice President Leni Robredo, and even leaders of the Catholic Church.

In a statement, the protesters made up of overseas Filipino workers, church people and concerned individuals, said they were declaring unity and solidarity “to denounce and stop President Rodrigo Duterte's reign of dictatorship, tyranny and fascism.”
In the three years since Duterte took power, they said poverty has intensified while wages remained low, farmers have been hurt by a flood of imported agricultural produce, and the skyrocketing of prices has hurt everyone, including the middle class.

Further, “the stench of corruption is everywhere, with favored companies and individuals siphoning the public treasury,” said the statement. But instead of being punished, the plunderers are allegedly pardoned and given lucrative government posts.

Worst of all, they said the administration’s “tokhang” campaign being waged in the name of drugs has resulted in the loss of 30,000 lives.
Even OFWs have not gained anything under the Duterte administration, they said. Promises to abolish the OEC (overseas employment certificate), bring back direct hiring, step up support for OFWs in distress, including the provision of free medical care, have all come to naught.
Instead of helping OFWs improve their lives, the government has allegedly imposed additional burden on them like mandatory SSS and Philhealth contributions, resulting to additional fees of about Php11,400 per worker.

“We want an independent, economically prosperous and freedom-loving Philippines, where we can come home and be with our families and build the future together. Duterte has shown this past 3 years - both in words and action - that he is a hindrance to achieving such a dream,” said the statement.

The groups called on all Filipinos to rally behind their call to fight back against “Duterte’s anti-people, anti-worker, anti-poor policies, his treachery and puppetry and his authoritarianism and dictatorship.”

In a separate statement, the protesters welcomed the United Nations Human Rights Council’s resolution seeking investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines.

They commended Iceland for being the resolution’s main sponsor, the 17 other countries who voted in favor of it, and the 23 other states who gave support.

The resolution, issued on Jul 11, "urges the government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards including those on due process and the rule of law."

It also urges the Philippine government to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, including by facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.
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