LESS than a week before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address (Sona), two major partylist groups identified with the leftist movement have criticized the chief executive over his failure to deliver his promises intended for the poor.
Anakpawis Partylist Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao claimed that the reforms Duterte had promised since the electoral campaigns remain "intangible and inedible.”
“The President promised better lives for the poor and this earned him a broad support from the poor, but it totally relies on the actual fulfillment, that the poor could concretely benefit from,” Casilao said.
His statement was backed by the Gabriela Women’s Party, which said that Filipina women under the current administration were "being whacked by the double whammy of the continuation of neoliberal or pro-business policies and the rising tide of fascism especially with the looming extension of martial law in Mindanao.”
The martial law in Mindanao that took effect last May was among the issues heavily criticized by the leftist groups as they fear military abuses similar to the regime of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.
Aside from that, the groups noted that labor contractualization or “endo” (end-of-contract scheme), agrarian reform and rural development, a stop to rice importation, end the housing problem of urban poor, and ending destructive mining have been left unresolved one year since Duterte took office.
The President during his campaign vowed to end “endo” but the Department of Labor and Employment has so far issued only a department order regulating legal contractualization schemes.
"Lastly, the recent setbacks in the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), especially on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), are detrimental to the poor, as it intends to address the economic tribulations of workers, farmers and urban poor, as genuine step for a long-and-lasting peace in the country,” Casilao added.
Women under Duterte
Meanwhile, Gabriela also criticized the Duterte administration over its “anti-women” policies.
“One year has lapsed under President Duterte and yet neoliberal policies, such as contractualization, remain in full swing and women remain victims of rights violations by the AFP and the PNP,” said Gabriela Representative Emmi De Jesus.
The lawmaker said contractualization remains rampant in the wholesale and retail, electronics manufacturing, and food service activities sectors "where concentration of women workers is high."
“The lack of sufficient productive employment for women is made worse by surging prices of basic commodities, lack of decent housing, and the privatization of social services,” De Jesus said.
For her part, another Gabriela Representative, Arlene Brosas, said that rape jokes, heightened militarism, and violence against women and children (VAWC) have become rampant under Duterte.
“It is appalling that women have become the face of Duterte’s sick jokes in military camps and of the victims of massive displacement due to increased militarization of communities. Certainly this does compute with Duterte’s supposed pro-women record, a claim he made during the election season,” Brosas said.
“We will amplify the women’s agenda for regular jobs, social services and national sovereignty in the run-up to the State of the Nation Address. We will join the mobilization next week in the thousands,” Brosas said.
Last year, the traditional protest of the leftist groups during Sona was relatively peaceful, as they were even allowed to demonstrate just 300 meters from the House of Representatives. (SunStar Philippines)