Faced with conditions of repression and impunity, the Filipino people remain in high spirits about one of the most colorful, creative and broad and coordinated mass protests. Filipinos in the different regions in the country and abroad gathered together to signify a global unity for sovereignty, livelihood and democracy for the Filipino people during the 2019 United People’s State of the Nation Address (UPS).
UPS 2019 was not the first massive protest organized by various groups in the Philippines. The first one took place on Dutertte’s 2nd SONA in July 2018. The adverse impact of the TRAIN law was immediately felt by many, the drug war was escalating, and the incarceration of Senator Leila de Lima and the Duterte-led ouster of the Supreme Court Judge Sereno all posed a real and shocking threat on democracy. Filipinos nationwide took to the streets to register their united opposition to Duterte’s tyranny.
The outcome of the recently concluded national elections demonstrates Duterte’s consolidation of power through the blatant use of guns, goons and gold—oligarichic mechanisms which allow the ruling elite to stay in power despite the people’s will. Apart from brutal force, the US-Duterte regime has nothing to show for its claims to economic growth and improved working conditions.
At least four striking features of Philiippine social reality keep people clamoring for genuine change.
Economic growth and employment are at their all-time low as human rights violations and foreign debt are at their all time high. This horrendous situation has drawn international attention due to a growing mass of critical citizens, institutions, and various communities. While attacks on critical opposition is certainly the priority of both military, police and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), no amount of harassment, killings, and fake news have so far silenced an already awakened people.
The Filipino’s struggle for national liberation dates back to the victorious Katipunan Revolution against Spain. This revolt proves to be unfinished not only with the subsequent Japanese and United States occupation of the Philippines. That we are still struggling with imperialist control and plunder is undeniable given the Chinese government’s occupation of our waters and its growing control on our economy, as well as the long standing US military, political, and economic control of our nation.
The years 2018 and 2019 mark the fast-paced growth of transnational social movements like MALAYA or the US Movement Against Killings and Dictatorship and for Democracy in the Philippines (MALAYA Movement) and MIGRANTE or the Global alliance of overeseas Filipinos. MALAYA called for nationwide actions Washington D.C. New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu.
Filipino migrants under MIGRANTE International “demanded the downfall of US-Duterte regime’s tyranny, treachery and dictatorship. Protest actions were held in 12 countries, namely, Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Nethernlands. New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
Both movements reflect the perennial economic crisis resulting in forced migration and the current wave of fascicization in the Philippines. The growth of these movements is complimentary to and supportive of the anti-fascist, anti-imperialist struggle in the Philipines. Similar transnational people’s movements such as BAYAN, GABRIELA and youth organizations like LFS and ANAKBAYAN have, earlier, been organized by Filipino immigrants in North America and Europe. These formations have made all the difference in this year’s SONA. There were a total of 20 international protest actions that took place in 12 countries and 9 States in the US participated by Filipinos with their non-Filipino comrades, allies, and friends.
Even on an institutional-multi-lateral level, support for the struggle of the Filipino people against Duterte’s tyranny is by no means scarce. The favorable vote to investigate the human rights situation in the Philippines was won by 18 countries in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). This coming together shows how race as a main weapon of division by the 1% or the global capitalist ruling elite is transformed into a moment of deep solidarity among peoples who struggle for rights, freedom and just peace. ###