THE Philippines is far from being a genuinely independent country especially under the Duterte administration.
The priority policies of the Duterte administration are far from achieving freedom from foreign incursions and intervention, far from freedom from poverty and corruption and freedom from tyranny and misogyny. This administration has failed to protect our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, it has failed to protect and uphold human rights, has failed to eliminate poverty as corruption continues to pervade.
Hunger and poverty still prevail among the poor as prices of basic goods are at a record high because of the Train 1 while the government and big businesses continue to enslave workers with the low wages and inhuman working conditions.
Under the Duterte administration, the inflation rate is at a 6 1/2 year high of 4.6% in May, 2.3 million Filipinos remain unemployed and 7.49 million are underemployed. In education, the perennial problem of shortages of classrooms and teachers are leading to the alarming increase in the number of out of school children and youth (OSCY). 3.8 million or one in 10 children (aged six to 24) are not in school, the Department of Education still lacks 5,858 teaching items, thousands of education support personnel and 81,750 classrooms. These continuing problems only retain poverty and proves the lack of genuine freedom for the ordinary Filipino.
The Duterte administration has failed to protect its people and its sovereignty from the Chinese and the US. This administration has been a mouthpiece of China even to the extent of defending its actions against Filipinos and its claims over the West Philippine Sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone. Instead of asserting our sovereign rights over the WPS and the EEZ and protecting our fishermen, the Duterte administration lets the Chinese coast guard to harass the Filipino fishermen, take their hard-earned catch of fish in exchange for noodles and cigarettes. US military bases also continue to operate in the Philippines and joint military exercises between the US and the Philippines persist.
The Filipino people are not independent from the Duterte administration’s tyrannical rule and from the emerging dictatorship as President Duterte continues to seek ultimate power and control over all three branches of government and eliminate his critics. This administration continues to repress all those who dare to oppose and show dissent towards his policies. He continues to promote abuse especially towards women and continues to violate human rights and trample those who dedicate their lives in protecting the human rights of others.
Under the Duterte administration, the Philippines is far from being genuinely independent and Filipinos continue to falter from widespread poverty, subservient foreign policy, and brutal killings which are condoned by the state. This is not a day for celebration but a day to continue to struggle for a genuine independent nation. –Antonio Tinio and France Castro, ACT Teachers
Stand for Sovereignty!
THE Filipino people continue to face challenges and threats to their rights and freedom as well as to the nation’s sovereignty. The relevance of Independence Day was overshadowed by tyranny, oppression and foreign intervention.
Marking such a supposed “independence” only highlights a contrast to the hardships that Filipinos endure under the authoritarian rule of President Rodrigo Duterte. Our people remain enslaved to debt, poverty, crime and corruption. Our nation is shackled by foreign control and remains a neo-colony.
Duterte not only maintains a foreign policy of aligning with and upholding US military and economic interests in the country, he additionally opened the country to Chinese imperialist interests to dominate and plunder the country’s natural resources and exploit our domestic market. Duterte offers up our country to foreign control. Our national economy has been opened to capitalist plunder. US and Chinese intrusive agendas will further push the dissolution of patriotic protectionist policies that guard our nation’s sovereignty.
Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao and his government’s repressive campaigns against people’s organizations and social activists underscore his intended repression of those who struggle for freedom and sovereignty. The poor from urban and rural marginalized communities continue to fall victim to extrajudicial killings and other forms of state-perpetrated threats, harassment and intimidations. Indigenous peoples, peasants and farmers, labor unionists and workers, and urban poor families who boldly oppose the militarization of their communities and workplaces have also become victims of violations of human rights. Duterte’s repressive campaigns against the people have resulted in greater displacement, more extra-judicial killings and violations of the people’s fundamental rights.
The people’s clamor for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization has been answered with militarization. Political persecution of church people exposes how Duterte intends to wield despotic power to silence people of faith who advocate for the people’s rights. The inclusion of faith-based human rights defenders and just-peace advocates in his tirades and attacks demonstrates his intent to criminalize and demonize all forms of legitimate dissent against his tyranny and creeping dictatorship.
Duterte’s anti-people, anti-poor and anti-democratic policies must be opposed. The people must gather their collective strength and build their political power as they continue to struggle for genuine independence and democratic freedoms. Sadly, Duterte’s mockery of our nation’s sovereignty as well as his caustic remarks, glaring misogyny and divisive demeanour have made clear that he no longer embodies the moral authority needed to lead us.
Let this week’s celebration of Independence Day serve to embolden our commitment to break free from foreign domination to create a genuinely prosperous, peaceful, and sovereign Philippines. –Bp. Joel Porlares, Iglesia Filipino Independiente; Bp. Modesto Villasanta, United Church of Christ in the Philippines; Fr. Gilbert Billena, O.Carm, Rise Up for Life and for Rights; Rev. Dr. Ferdinand Anno, Samahan ng Teolohikal na Edukasyon ng Pilipinas; Deaconess Darlene Caramanzana, Association of Women in Theology; Deaconess Norma Dollaga, Kasimbayan; Rev. Mary Grace Masegman, co-chairperson, Promotion of Church People’s Response; Rev. Joram Calimutan, co-chairperson, PCPR-Hong Kong; Rev. Dwight Dela Torre, Iglesia Filipina Independiente-Hong Kong Fellowship