A people power akin to what happened in 1986 may not be seen in the immediate, but plans by the Duterte administration to install another dictatorship will enhance a similar movement-building process.
This, according to the leaders of Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa, has always been the case whenever a suppressed nation that was able to rise in revolt against the earlier tyrant is pushed back into the old condition by another dictator.
The group issued this warning in an anti-dictatorship rally held at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City Monday, where it called on the people to continue fighting for freedom and in resisting another dictatorship. The action is in commemoration of the Edsa people power revolution that dismantled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.
Meanwhile, union members from the beleaguered ABS-CBN also joined the protest action to defend press freedom, demand renewal of their franchise, as well as security of tenure for the network’s 11,000 employees.
“The Duterte administration’s mounting human rights violations – including extrajudicial killings, attack on trade union, peasant and environmental activists, red-tagging, misogyny, and now the shakedown against the non-conforming press – all point to a dictator’s playbook. But along this shrinking democratic space is a growing resistance by the basic sectors,” said Kalipunan in a statement.
Kalipunan, an alliance of movements in labor, urban poor, women, youth and environmental justice communities, has been active in promoting and defending human rights as well as the campaign for the deepening of democracy in the country.
Its agenda, however, clash directly with Duterte’s authoritarian style of governance. The President’s penchant at promoting the culture of killings, his hatred for human rights, relentless attack on opposition figures and the high-handed shakedown on non-aligned press and oligarchs, are seen by Kalipunan as “prelude to establishing another dictatorship” to satiate Duterte’s thirst for more power and to buttress his own sense of security and public order.
But the group asserted that, “On the contrary, the toiling people who have been neglected by previous regimes, as well as the present administration, need more freedom than continuing repression because job security, better living conditions, and sustainable planet are best ensured under a democracy rather than under a dictatorship.” Thus, the fight for freedom and democracy continues, added the group.
The commemoration of the 1986 people power revolution comes under the shadow of repressive policies rolled out by the Duterte administration in recent months. These include Executive Order No. 70 with the objective of ending the local communist insurgency has resulted to raids of legal organization’s offices, mass arrests, red-tagging, surveillance and profiling, intimidations and harassments, among others. In factories, it led to the establishment of JIPCO or Joint Industrial Peace Concern Office, which is a police detachment guarding the export zone against trade union organizers.
On the economic side, Kalipunan viewed the recent move in Congress to hand over public utilities to aliens as a triumph of foreign capital over our national patrimony, made possible under the pivot to China policy of the Duterte administration.
“We are all aware that the present Congress dances only to the command, not of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano but of his President. HB 78’s passage in the plenary did come as planned, simply because the Congress itself has lost its freedom. Under Cayetano, the House of Representatives has surrendered as one,” concluded Kalipunan.
Kalipunan is composed of Alyansa Tigil Mina, Coalition Against Trafficking of Women in the Asia Pacific, World March of Women, Kilos Maralita, Partido Manggagawa, Urban Poor Alliance, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, and Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy
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