CEBU CITY (Updated) -- Members of militant groups from various areas in Cebu province and Northern Mindanao gathered Monday to express support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Duterte's Sona is scheduled at 4 p.m. Monday, July 25. SunStar website, at www.sunstar.com.ph, will stream live the event courtesy of PTV and RTVM.
The militant groups, led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and civil society groups from all over Northern Mindanao, started to converge at the Misamis Oriental Capitol compound Sunday night. They will hold a march-rally Monday afternoon toward Cagayan de Oro City's Divisoria Plaza.
In Cebu City, the groups composed of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas-Cebu, Gabriela, AMA-Sugbo-KMU, Piston, League of Filipino Students, Pamana Sugbo, and Panaghugpong Kadamay, among others, gathered as early as 9 a.m. and marched from Fuente Osmena circle to downtown Cebu City, where they held the rally.
Group leaders said the protesters are calling for the People’s Agenda through “Change,” which stands for: Cancellation of all anti-people laws, Health and Social Services, Address root-case of civil war, National Industrialization, Genuine Agrarian Reform and free Education for all.
Wildon Barros, Bayan chair for Northern Mindanao, said the rally participants would discuss the details of Change at the Divisoria Plaza in Cagayan de Oro Monday afternoon as they will also watch Duterte’s Sona.
“What we will be doing is not protest action, but support action, as we are just following up the promises made by Duterte during his campaign,” Barros said in a telephone interview.
He said they will wait and see if the President will really make good on the promises he made. “If he rejects our agenda, then we will stage protection actions until he will consider our appeal,” he added.
Bayan-Central Visayas chairperson Jaime Paglinawan said the rally is being done nationwide.
"Usa ni ka nationwide nga activities. Although didto sa ubang kaulohan, whole day ilang activities. Nagpaabot pa man sila sa State of Nation Address. Giimbitar nila si Presidente Duterte nga maminaw sa people's Sona," he said.
He said the people's agenda was addressed last June 30 during the inauguration of President Duterte.
Paglinawan said they appeal to Duterte to address the concerns of the marginalized sectors, urban poor, farmers, women and the youth.
The group proposed a national minimum wage of P750 for laborers, P16,000 for the government employees, and P25,000 for government nurses and government teachers.
"Tinuod nga reporma sa yuta. Tong giingon ni Presidente Digong nga adunay six million pa nga public lands nga pwede ipang hatag sa mag uuma. Labing maayo na," Paglinawan said.
He added that peace talks between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the National Government must be pushed through, so that political prisoners, including the sick and old politician prisoners, as well as NDF consultants, will be freed.
The groups also asked the President to set a big budget for education, slash the K to 12 program, end privatization in public hospitals, and stop demolitions.
"Ihunong ang mga demolisyon ug kining mga government relocation site nga tua didto sa bukid. Kundi magtukod og on-site o off-site kanang housing program, di lang hisgotan ang relocation," Paglinawan said.
The Anakbayan in Northern Mindanao has also reiterated its stand on scrapping the K to 12 education program, saying it did not raise the standard of education in the country, but has burdened the parents and students, as it is actually denying them the right to free education.
“We are asking President Duterte to abolish the K to 12 program and the budget cuts of state universities and colleges, and education in the public schools free in the whole country,” said Jade Etucas, Anakbayan chair for Northern Mindanao. (Sunnex/With Tovya Kaiko Galeon, USJR intern/PNA)