Anti-Sona rally jams traffic in Davao

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Monday, July 28, 2014


TRAFFIC flow in some of Davao City’s main thoroughfares slowed down for almost an hour as marchers belonging to progressive groups convened at the Rizal Park to air their protest against the Aquino Administration in time for the 5th State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Monday.

More than 2,000 protesters from Barug Katawhan–Pablo Survivors, Karapatan, Kasaka Agusan, Gabriela, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Southern Mindanao, Kadamay, Humawac, Transmission Piston, Anakbayan, and Kilusang Mayo Uno, among others, aired their grievances at government agencies here.

Some residents from Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, North Cotabato and Paquibato District also joined the rally yesterday.

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Heavy traffic was experienced along Quimpo Boulevard and Ponciano Reyes, Bolton, and Magallanes Streets, where the protesters marched toward Rizal Park.

Davao City Police Office's (DCPO) Operations head Chief Inspector Alfredo Baluran said their office deployed maximum police personnel to closely monitor their area of responsibility and implement their security measures steadfastly.

"We've been monitoring the situation since early this morning… traffic lang jud kaayo karon buntaga kay naa may mga nag picket, kana ra man nuon (There’s traffic congestion in the morning because of the rallyist, but that’s all). In fact, we thank the protesters for doing their protests peacefully and orderly. Overall, generally peaceful ang Davao City," Baluran said.

Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) public information officer Captain Alberto Caber, in a separate interview, echoed the same, he said there were no major incidents or any violence transpired in their areas of responsibility during Aquino’s Sona.

Other government agencies affected by the rage of the protesters are --Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), and Commission on Higher Education (Ched).

Meanwhile, the farmers and lumad victims of military abuse and Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan from various provinces of Davao Region held its Kampuhan outside the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) in Panacan in the afternoon.

Protesters from the respective government agencies then met at the Freedom Park on Roxas Avenue around 10 a.m. and simultaneously marched toward Rizal Park on San Pedro Street, raising their slogans and calling for the dismissal of the president.

The protesters conducted their Sona sa Katawhan where they chided the government for worsening corruption, plunder, and human rights violations. There were re-enactments on how the rural folks have been made to suffer in the guise of Oplan Bayanihan, while an effigy of the President was burned.

Hope Joy Morales, a 4th year student of Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Assumption College of Davao, in an interview, said she joined the picket to show that she is not satisfied with the leadership of Aquino. She added that the president failed to look into the welfare of the students.

"Asa naman to iyang kayo ang boss ko? Nagbayad tarong sa tax among mama ug papa dapat unta ihatag pud nila sa amo ang karapat-dapat na libreng edukasyon. Daghan kaayo mga estudyante ang wala ka eskwela tungod sa ka mahal sa tuition fee (Where is his claim that we are his boss? My parents are paying proper taxes and so we deserve proper education. But many students now are dropping out because of very high cost of tuition)," Morales said.

Sheena Duazo, secretary–general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said if they are going to rate the president in a scale of 1 to 10, they will give Aquino zero. She added that for the fifth Sona of Aquino, he never mentioned the real situation of the Filipinos.

Duazo said in a recent survey, 46 million Filipinos are suffering from hunger everyday because of the low wages and unemployment. She also said prices of rice and other basic goods grow unstoppable far from the laborers income.

"Social services, especially health, are now under privatization. Women and the people were deprived of sustainable living, of a decent life. Ang taas jud na panawagan sa katawhan karon na Sona sa presidente, ang pagpalagpot kay Noynoy Aquino, tama na ang upat ka-tuig na panahon gihatag sa iya (The demand is to oust the President. Four years is enough time given him)," Duazo said.

Romualdo Basilio, spokesperson for the Kilusang Mayo Uno, on the other hand, said the government has shamelessly pushed contractualization as solution to the bloating number of jobless in the country. This worsening condition of workers in terms of wages and security of tenure all over the country, he added.

Benjie Badal, spokesperson for Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), also expressed his raged over the P10 billion funds intended for the demolition of urban poor families. He said that the president is clearly no concern on the welfare of the people.

Pedro Arnado, spokesperson of the KMU, said with Aquino's Oplan Bayanihan, thousands of farmers are harassed, threatened, or killed all over the Philippines. There has been no response on all human rights violations filed with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), he said.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of the Karapatan, said the continuing impunity against human rights violations has proven that the counter-insurgency Oplan Bayanihan is all about silencing people, adding that Aquino has no interest on whatsoever in mending the reasons for the armed struggle of his people.

"Seven out of ten farmers still landless under CARP and its extension, just because the government gives no attention to this problem and instead promote mendicancy Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps and Conditional Cash Transfer," Arnado added.

"So much for all the lies! Aquino could not deny his anti-people and anti-democratic character anymore. The people are already sick of his cover-ups and schemes," Suazo said, as the protesters urged Aquino to step down from his post.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 29, 2014.

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