UNFAZED by the heavy rains, thousands of protesters trooped to Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Monday, July 22, to air their concerns on various issues in time for President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Members of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning), fishermen, students and youth, and workers stood united to voice out their concerns such as contractualization, martial law, rice tariffication, gender equality and the K-to-12 education system.
Marissa Lazaro, a housewife from Caloocan City and a member of Rise Up Philippines, said she joined the protest to call for justice for her slain son and urge the government to stop the crackdown on illegal drugs.
Lazaro’s son, Christopher, was killed at a checkpoint in Marilao, Bulacan, after allegedly fighting it out and refusing to stop for inspection.
She claimed that the policemen planted illegal drugs and firearms on her son.
Lazaro said her son, the youngest among her children, was never involved in any illegal activities and was working in a fastfood chain.
“Sana mabigyan ng hustisya ang anak ko at matigil na ang patayan dahil hanggang ngayon hindi pa sila tumutigil, marami pang nabibiktima at maraaming nadadamay na inosente,” she said.
“Hanggang ngayon masakit pa rin at araw-araw umaasa ako na babalik ang anak ko kahit alam kong hindi naman mangyayari yun pero ang hinihiling ko talaga, makamit ang hustisya, ang anak ko hindi lang siya datos hindi siya ‘yung basta pinatay lang, meron siyang ina na hanggang ngayon ay nagdudusa,” she added.
Marissa Candinato, whose husband is a fisherman from Bacoor in Cavite, said she joined the protest action to denounce the government’s “soft” treatment of the incident in Recto Bank on June 9, 2019, when a Chinese vessel rammed and destroyed a Filipino vessel.
The Chinese also abandoned the 22 Filipino fishermen, who were rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.
“Ayaw namin na ‘yung nangyari sa Recto Bank ganoon nalang yon at babalewalain ng ating gobyerno. Sinasabi nila maritime incident lang yon pero sana tinulungan niya at hindi pinabayaan,” she said.
She said they are also against the reclamation of Manila Bay as it will affect their livelihood.
Nenita Condez, a leader of an indigenous group from Zamboanga del Norte, said they are against martial law.
The entire Mindanao region was placed under martial law on May 23, 2017, shortly after militants from the Maute group laid siege on Marawi City.
Condez said she has earned the ire of the military for fighting for their ancestral land. Her brother and father were also slapped by trumped up charges, she said.
“Maigting po naming pinaglalaban na ang lupang ninuno naming hindi naming ibigay. Sinasabi sa amin ng gobyerno doon na sila maghahanap ng investors pero ayaw naming. Sa amin lang ang lupa namin,” said Condez.
Fredy Saplala, a member of the Aeta indigenous community from Porac in Pampanga, joined the rally wearing the traditional bahag.
He lamented that their ancestral lands are being sold to investors.
Bernadette Neri, chairperson of LGBTQ group Bahaghari, said they are seeking a “true” law for equality and anti-discrimination. The group is also pushing for same-sex marriage.
“(Aming pinaglalaban ang) Isang pambansang saklaw na batas laban sa diskriminasyon na totoo at hindi token, karapatang sibil na magpakasal at bumuo ng pamilya na sa halip na ibigay sa hanay ng LGBTQ ginagawa kaming katatawanan, ginagawang biro at panlait,” she said.
Neri denounced Duterte’s statement implying that being a gay is a disease.
“Hindi sakit ang pagiging miyembro ng LGBT, wala na siya sa listahan ng mga psychological diseases, kailangan ma-update na si Duterte kung nasaan na ba ang LGBTQ movement sa aming mga ipinaglalaban,” she said.
“Kung hindi niya kayang ibigay sa LGBTQ, at sa sambayanang Pilipino kung saan kabilang ang mga bakla, lesbian, bisexual at transgender na hindi heterosexual baka kailangan na niyang bumaba sa pwestodahil ang kailangan narin pwesto,” she added.
On May 31, during his speech in Japan, Duterte cracked a joke saying he was once a gay but already “treated” himself when he met his partner Honeylet Avanceña.
Jaya Coronel, a college student from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), criticized the K-to-12 system.
“Ang K-to-12 sa tingin po namin kailangan ibasura kasi sobrang pahirap po talaga sa mga students at mga magulang lalo na pinapakita na hindi ito job ready ang mga students na nakatapos ng K-to-12,” she said.
“Sinasabing pwede nang magtrabaho kapag tapos ka ng K-to-12 pero hindi pa po pwede magtrabaho. 7 out of 10 companies hindi tumatanggap ng k-12 graduates, nagiging cheap labor sila ng malalking kumpanya, bumababa ang kalidad ng edukasyon,” she added.
Among the prominent personalities who joined the anti-administration protest were former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, human rights lawyer and former Otso Diretso senatorial bet Chel Diokno, human rights advocate May Paner, former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casiño, and Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes.
Also present were members of religios groups including former chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines Sister Mary John Mananzan. (SunStar Philippines)