Not Just in Manila
reports focused on protests held along Commonwealth Avenue, the road that
leads to Congress where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivered her
State of the National Address (SONA), there were other protest actions in
various parts of the country, involving tens of thousands of people and
all demanding the removal of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from Malacañang.
Tyrone Velez, Jetty Ayop, Grace
Uddin, Maureen Japson, Lino Interino III and
Davao: Sleepless at the park
Other Mindanao cities: ‘Mindanao Republic’
not the solution
Tacloban City: Lighting torches for human
Cebu City: ‘Martsa sa katawhan’
Legazpi City: Cold rain, fiery speeches
Tabuk: Kalingas against Gloria and mining
at the park
It was a sleepless
night for activists of Davao in southern Philippines as they held what
they called “Lamayan ng Bayan” (people’s wake) at Davao
Park on the eve of the SONA.
This, they said, was
not only to symbolize their mourning and grief over the failed Macapagal-Arroyo
presidency. They needed the ceremony to show that President Arroyo's reign
is finally over for the people.
Delegates streamed into the streets by the hundreds late at night and
early morning the next day, peaking at 9,000 during the street march held
in time for the SONA delivery. The protesters came from as far as North
Cotabato, Davao Del Norte and Del Sur, Compostela Valley and Davao
Oriental. The two-day event and cultural program was organized by the
Coalition of Davaoeños for Truth (CD Truth).
Contrary, however, to
a real wake where mourners would normally talk about fond memories of the
deceased, the words uttered on stage that night were an outpouring of
anger and discontentment. Each of the leaders of various sectors, party
list groups, and alliances took turns counting the ways why President
Arroyo should step down from power.
One of the speakers, Datu Monico Cayog, a leader of the Bagobo tribe at
Apo Ranges, said his people nowadays
hardly eat three meals a day.
"Sa una makapalit
pa kami og bugas ug uban pa, apan karon ikaduha sa usa ka adlaw na lang
mokaon; ang uban sa amoa, ika-usa na lang." (In the past, we can
still buy rice and other needs, but today, we only eat two times a day.
Some of us even eat only once a day.)
Aside from this, Datu Monico said, they have become as confused as ever
now on where else to settle as huge areas of their lands are set to be
converted into industrial sites.
Datu Monico also cited struggles of their fellow indigenous peoples,
particularly the Ata-Manobos who continue to battle against the dam and
mining projects in their areas and who are now faced with gross human
rights violations in the course of fighting for their ancestral lands.
He blamed this on the Arroyo administration's economic policies which are
being implemented against the indigenous peoples by force in the guise of
Meanwhile, many professionals also joined the protest wake to
register their grievances.
The alliance of health workers, professionals and students in Davao
City called PURGA or Health People
United for the Removal of Gloria Arroyo distributed statements during the
wake, scoring the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency for, among others, its
fiscal policies, budget prioritization and privatization.
Calling the nation "sick and dying," the group pointed that Arroyo's
presidency hardly provided for the basic services for its people, such as
health. The group prescribed only one cure for the ailing Philippines, and
that is for President Arroyo to step down from power.
Exactly while the president was delivering her SONA, the protesters
marched through Davao's main streets. Dramatizing a burial, three coffins
were carried through the march, each marked by the following: "Mindanao
Republic," "Constitutional Succession," and "GMA." The coffins were later
burned during the program.
Juland Suazo, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan acting secretary general for
Southern Mindanao, explained that the act symbolized the people's
sentiments against these three factors which they see as impediments to
the people's demands for a "Transition Council." He said the transition
council is the "remaining viable" option for the Filipino people today.
cities: ‘Mindanao Republic’
not the solution
It wasn’t just Davao
City where people expressed anger against the Macapagal-Arroyo government
during the SONA. Whether braving the rains in Cagayan de Oro, or causing
traffic in the streets of Butuan, protest actions all over key cities in
Mindanao drew large crowds to call for Macapagal-Arroyo’s immediate
In Cagayan de Oro
City, not even the heavy rain could dampen the spirits of 3,000 protesters
led by the Gloria Resign Network as they took to the streets. Human rights
lawyer Beverly Selim-Musni of the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao
(In Peace Mindanao) told reporters, “I could not spare a minute of my
precious time to listen to a bogus SONA rendered by a bogus president. I
am with the masses, drenched and wet by the afternoon downpour, because
these are the faces of the genuine state of the nation.”
In Caraga, around
6,000 people trooped to the streets in Butuan
City, causing traffic to halt for
half-an hour. Simultaneously, rallies were staged in Surigao City, Tandag
and Mangagoy gathering another 4,000.
composed of middle forces spearheaded the rallies. There were the
Agusanons’ Movement for Gloria’s Ouster (AMGO, Cebuano term for Hope);
Committed Surigaonons for Ouster of Gloria (COSOG) with members coming
from the IBP, health workers, and barangay officials among others; Youth
Demanding for Arroyo’s Removal (Youth DARE) which comprised 15
organizations from 13 schools in Butuan City; Church People’s Alliance
(CPA) comprising Iglesia Filipina Independiente, United Church of Christ
in the Philippines, Missionary Sisters of Mary, Jesus is Lord, and Church
of Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.
Protest actions were
also reported in General Santos City where one rally drew 1,000 people.
Meanwhile, rallies in
Marbel, South Cotabato; and the cities of Iligan, Dipolog, Pagadian and
Ozamis in Western Mindanao gathered a total of 1,500 people.
The Gloria Step-Down
Movement (GSM) in Mindanao said the protesters in Mindanao
totaled around 25,000.
here centered on blasting Arroyo’s call for charter change. GSM’s
statement said, “Not cha-cha, not a Mindanao Republic can solve the
problem that is Gloria.”
They also lambasted
Arroyo’s claim of achieving “permanent peace” and development in Mindanao,
saying that the president is responsible for launching war against the
Moro and indigenous peoples and allowing mining firms to ravage more
Lighting torches for human rights
protesters from different Eastern Visayas provinces marched along the main
streets of Tacloban City during the SONA. The regional chapter of the
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-Eastern Visayas or New Patriotic
Alliance) led the activity.
Pong Acbo, Bayan-EV spokesperson,
describes the region confronting two major issues: the poverty inflicted
by the economic policies of the Macapagal-Arroyo government and the spate
of human rights violations caused by the alleged “reign of terror” of Gen.
Jovito Palparan, the commanding officer of the Army’s 8th
Infantry Division. .
In a congressional
hearing conducted sometime in June this year for Palparan’s promotion, the
general admitted that military operations conducted in Eastern Visayas
were sanctioned by the president.
Records of the
police, Commission on Human Rights and human rights group Katungod-EV
reveal that Palparan’s deployment to the region, cases of human rights
violations have been reported.
“From February 10,
2005 to July 27, 2005, 457 cases of violations of constitutional rights
and civil liberties have been reported excluding violations of
international humanitarian covenants like the Geneva Conventions.
Statistics reveal appalling accounts: for the period, there were an
average 91 cases of human rights violations each month, more than 23 cases
a week and more than three cases a day,” says Alex Lagunzad, the
Secretary-General of Katungod-EV.
A torch parade
followed the march-rally, demanding justice for all victims of human
‘Martsa sa katawhan’
City, the country’s main city in
central Philippines, a broad alliance of various anti-Arroyo organizations
launched the Martsa sa Katawhan (people’s march) on July 24. Some
800 participants coming from both the south of Cebu (Sibonga, Sn.
Fernando, Naga, Talisay, and Minglanilla) met with the 700 rallyers from
towns north of Cebu, such as Mandaue, Liloan, Danao, Bogo and Tuburan) to
cap the march.
The marches converged at Downtown Colon, culminating with a program and a
On SONA day itself, the marchers dispersed to different points
in the city to support striking drivers and operators under the NADSU or
Nagkahiusang Driver sa Sugbo – Piston (united drivers in Cebu).
At least 3,000
participants attended the protest organized by Gloria Step Down Movement
(GSM-Cebu). Other organizations that joined were Bangon Pilipinas,
Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu, Cebu Alliance for Renewable
Energy, Guardians Brotherhood Inc., Arroyo Resign Movement of the Youth
and other sectoral groups and various sectoral organizations.
Cold rain, fiery speeches
Despite the heavy rainfall, thousands of
members of militant groups carrying flags, streamers and placards marched
seven kilometers from the Ninoy
Aquino Park in Daraga town, Albay
to the Pinaglabanan monument in Legazpi City. They held a program,
branding Macapagal-Arroyo a “fake President” and demanded her to step down
Led by Bayan-Bicol, the protesters were
composed of peasants, students and other sectors.
“Ang mga tao, ang bayan ngayon ay
lumalaban! Natutong lumaban dahil sa kahirapan! (The people are now
fighting. They learned to do so because of poverty.).” This was one of the
marchers’ favorite chants.
Beverly Quintillan of
Bayan-Bicol told Bulatlat that if ever Macapagal-Arroyo steps down
or is ousted, the militant group will never support Vice President Noli De
Castro. Quintillan said De Castro will simply continue the wrongdoings of
the present president since they are allies.
Against mining and Gloria
They may live in a
remote province in northern Philippines and are hardly reported by the
national press but Kalingas are joining the clamor for the incumbent
Various sectors in
Kalinga province last week declared their support for the snowballing call
for the president’s resignation.
In a Manifesto of
Unity, representatives of people’s organizations, non-government
organizations, political and religious groups and private citizens
denounced Macapagal-Arroyo for her involvement in the “Gloria-gate”
scandal on the alleged electoral fraud and graft and corruption of her
family and some officials.
The authors of the
Manifesto said that Kalinga’s natural resources must be used and developed
for the province, and not for the profit of foreign capitalists. Foreign
mining firms have targeted Kalinga for exploration, and government has
divulged plans to reopen the Batong Buhay Mines.
DANCING GMA AWAY:
Baguio protesters perform a dance while displaying improvised gloves
pushing for GMA removal.
Photo by Noel Godinez
Government has also
approved one Application for Financial and Technical Assistance (AFTA)
which covers 81,000 hectares of the province’s total land area. Six
expansion applications were also approved covering 40,379 hectares of the
With this, the
organizations moved to vigorously campaign for the scrapping of the Mining
Act of 1995, which was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court
earlier this year. Government has recently approved the Magnao Mining
also accused the President of government neglect, and condemned her for
the sham land reform for landless peasants at Hacienda Madrigal in Rizal
town, also in Kalinga. They also denounced the suspension of the
irrigation project at Alliog
River in Tabuk, which local residents
depend on a living.
that signed the Manifesto included the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)-Kalinga,
Timpuyog dagiti Mannalon ti Kalinga (TMK), Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral ng
Kalinga, Binodngan People’s Organization (BPO), Bayan Muna-Kalinga,
Kalinga Community Council of Elders, United Church of Christ in the
Philippines (UCCP), Anakbayan-Kalinga, Kalinga Bodong Council, Cordillera
Bodong Administration and the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP)-Tabuk.
CPA’s Markus Bangit
said that these organizations still plan to firm up their ranks soon
through a broad movement. He said that other organizations and sectors
have expressed their interest to join. With reports from AT Bengwayan
of Northern Dispatch / Bulatlat
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© 2004 Bulatlat
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