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Militant groups in HK line up activities ahead of Duterte’s SONA

25 July 2020

By The SUN
Plug for the online rally tomorrow, Jul 26, by leaders of Migrante International in Asia-Pacific

Filipino community groups in Hong Kong have staged a series of activities which they say present the true state of freedom and justice in the country, ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address, or SONA, this coming Monday, Jul 27.

The events kicked off on Jul 22 with an online showing of “Aswang”, a film that takes a critical look at Duterte’s war on drugs that led to the killings of an estimated 30,000 suspects, while leaving drug lords known to be his cronies at large.
It culminates tomorrow morning with a “kalampagan” or a noise barrage against the Anti-Terror Bill on Chater Road in Central, followed by an online protest in the afternoon by leaders of Migrante International in the Asia-Pacific region titled “Speak Up Na!”

Heads of big religious organizations gathered for the online prayer for justice 
On Friday, Jul 24, there were also two separate events: an online prayer session in the morning, and a musical and cultural show in the evening.

The prayer rally dubbed “Panalanging Bayan (para sa Katarungan, Kabuhayan at Kagalingan) was joined by the Filipino Chaplain of the Catholic Church, Philippine Independent Church, and various Christian groups, who jointly expressed hope for a better future for the Philippines and its people.

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In the evening, several artists, both in Hong Kong and the Philippines, expressed through music, poems, speeches and messages, their opposition to one-man rule and the stifling of dissent in a fun event titled “Musika’t Sining Laban sa Tiranya.”

Special guest was theater actress and singer Monique Wilson, who expressed solidarity with Filipinos in Hong Kong in their quest for peace, justice and democracy in the country.

Stage actress Monique Wilson and singer William Elvin joined the artists' call against tyranny 
One of the event organizers, Dolores Balladares, chairperson of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, claimed overseas Filipino workers and their families are in their worst conditions ever due to Duterte’s “foolish and false promises” and laws and policies.

“Duterte is the greediest and most unscrupulous president to extort excessive mandatory fees through government agencies … before a Filipino can leave for work abroad,” Balladares said.
She cited the costly exactions on OFWs by various government agencies, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Social Security System, Pag-IBIG, PhilHealth, apart from what they pay for police clearance and travel insurance.

Balladares said contribution to PhilHealth under the new Universal Health Care Law is one of the most crippling charges under the Duterte regime as it is mandatory, and imposes a very high premium rate starting at 3% of the worker’s monthly salary.

Ironically, despite paying these onerous charges, OFWs are deprived of protection, service and care when they need these in their country of destination, she said.   

“The coronavirus pandemic has worsened this situation as thousands of OFWs who lost their jobs are left stranded without food and health care, resulting in illness or even death,” said Balladares, who asked where the Duterte government’s promised financial assistance and health care had gone.

She accused Duterte’s officials of enjoying the hard-earned money of the OFWs while the workers’ families go hungry.

She said OFWs need to unite as Duterte is uncontrollable like Covid-19 as he spreads his rule of fear and terrorism in places where OFWs reside.

“We cannot allow deranged Duterte to mock democracy and plunge our country into its worst condition in our history. The people united will never be defeated! This is our vow!” Balladares concluded.

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