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Militants say Duterte's Christmas 'gifts' to Filipinos have led to more suffering

11 December 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao
Protesters showed Duterte's wrapped 'gifts' to Filipinos

 Christmas gifts the Filipino people have received from President Rodrigo Duterte since he came to power in July 2016 are nothing but unfulfilled promises, excessive exactions on workers, and more human rights violations.

This was according to Hong Kong-based activists who say that as a result, life in the Philippines has become more difficult than ever, resulting in more workers being forced to leave the country just to earn money to support their families.
Speaking at a rally on Sunday, Dec. 8 on Chater Road to mark International Human Rights Day, United Filipinos in Hong Kong chair Dolores Balladares-Pelaez blasted Duterte for failing to fulfill a promise to bring back OFWs by creating jobs at home.

“Nito ngang nagkakagulo sa Hong Kong, ayaw nating umuwi hindi dahil gusto natin ang gulo, kundi dahil wala naman tayong trabaho,” Pelaez said. “Yung mga problema sa Pilipinas ay hindi nareresolba, iyon pa rin at lumalala,” she said.

The Unifil leader said Duterte does not care even if a big chunk of migrant workers’ pay will go to excessive government fees due to be imposed from next year, such as mandatory insurance and increased Pag-IBIG, Philhealth and SSS contributions.
She said that as the exactions are all mandatory, migrant workers have no choice but to pay up so they can work overseas.

“Ito ba ang ating hiniling noong mga nagdaang Pasko?” she asked.

She recalled that during his 2016 election campaign Duterte promised a safer and corrupt-free Philippines but the exact opposite of these have happened since he took power.

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Tebia enumerates Duterte's 'gifts' of suffering
 Gabriela Hong Kong & Macau chairperson Sheila Tebia enumerated the so-called “gifts” of the President to the Filipino people: his disrespect of women, high prices and low salaries; increased rice imports that have pulled down local grain prices; demolition of informal settlers’ homes; expanded mining operations and dam constructions by foreign companies; his giving up the country’s claim over the West Philippine Sea; and closure of schools for lumad children.
Further, Duterte has reneged on his promise to end the labor scourge called job contractualization, or “endo,” which according to Tebia, has undermined Filipino workers’ right to job security.

Tebia also noted the 27,000 extrajudicial killings since “Operation Tokhang,” Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, began in July 2016.

She said the anti-drug campaign has targeted small-time drug pushers and even innocent people, such as 17-year-old student Kian delos Santos, who was taken from his home and shot dead by Caloocan City policemen on Aug 17, 2017.

Those who condemn human rights abuses under the Duterte government are branded as terrorists, face trumped up charges and suffer persecution, Tebia said.

“Iyan ang mga regalo sa atin ni President Duterte… Kung hindi natin ito pinag-usapan, kung hindi natin ilalaban at ite-table sa gobyerno, sino ang magpaparating sa kanila na hindi tama ang mga polisiya?” Tebia said.

She said it is not wrong to be an activist and to protest. As a fitting celebration of International Human Rights Day, she said Filipinos should assert their rights as promoters not just of migrant rights but also those of the Filipino masses.

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