Duterte critics slam fake independence
Critics of President Rodrigo Duterte marked the 120th anniversary of Philippine independence on Tuesday with calls to assert the country’s sovereignty in the territorial dispute with China and to protect democracy against authoritarian rule.
Hundreds of activists, including women’s rights advocates, rallied in the rain at Liwasang Bonifacio for an “HINDIpendence Day” celebration.
They said despite the end of Spanish colonial rule 120 years ago, the country continued to struggle for economic freedom, civil and political rights and sovereignty in face of Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea and continued dependence on the United States.
Plans for Charter change, extrajudicial killings linked to the war on drugs, rising taxes, fake news and attacks on the media, martial law in Mindanao, lack of respect for women and labor contractualization are among the daily problems faced by millions of Filipinos despite the country’s “independence,” they said.
“The fight against (Charter change) is a fight for our future, a fight against a dictator and a fight for freedom,” former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said.
In a gathering at the University of the Philippines, members of Tindig Pilipinas, a coalition opposed to the Duterte administration, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano slammed the government’s weak stance toward China in the maritime dispute.
“Even if you only have your nails and teeth, if your rights are trampled on, you have to fight! This government is very harsh on Filipinos but fearful of the Chinese,” he said.
In Cebu City, dozens of protesters burned Chinese and US flags in the heart of the city.
Speakers during the brief rally took turns criticizing the Duterte administration for failing to protect Filipino fishermen being harassed by the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea.
Members of Kilusang Mayo Uno also collected signatures to support a campaign to abolish the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act and to implement a nationwide daily minimum wage of P750. —Reports from Aie Balagtas See, Jodee A. Agoncillo, Leo Udtohan, Rosalie Abatayo and Joey A. Gabieta
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