DAVAO CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines — Here in President Duterte Rodrigo ’s hometown, militant groups are calling for his ouster and an end to martial law in Mindanao because of his failure to deliver on his promise of change during his first three years in office.
Jong Monzon, secretary general of Pasaka, said members of his group of “lumad” (indigenous people) would join a multisectoral protest at Freedom Park in Davao City on Monday morning.
In the afternoon, the President will address the opening of the 18th Congress, marking the start of the second half of his presidency.
Teachers from 55 lumad schools recently ordered closed by the Department of Education (DepEd) on the recommendation of the military will also join the protest and present the state of indigenous communities two years after the President ordered the military in a speech to bomb lumad schools.
Carlo Olalo, secretary general of Kilusang Mayo Uno and council member of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Southern Mindanao, said the President failed to keep his promise to solve hunger and end poverty, corruption and proliferation of illegal drugs in the first three to six months of his administration.
“While he keeps on boasting about his government’s independent foreign policy, he keeps asking China to finance his [infrastructure program],” Olalo said. “He is repetitive, making promises that remain unfulfilled.”
He said the Duterte administration was giving priority to revising the Constitution instead of ending joblessness among 21.9 million Filipinos, the problem of contractualization, and the unabated increases in the prices of basic goods caused by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act.
In Davao City, he said, the houses of the poor were being demolished to clear the way for a coastal road project that is part of the President’s ambitious infrastructure program.
The administration borrows from China to finance the program, raising in just two years the Philippines’ indebtedness to China in official development assistance by 200 percent, he said.
China’s encroachment on Philippine waters in the South China Sea is no different from the encroachment of outsiders on lumad ancestral lands in Mindanao, he added.
96 activists killed
In southern Mindanao alone, he said, 96 political activists, 15 of them lumad, have been killed since the President came to office.
Monzon slammed the DepEd’s order to shut down the 55 schools run by Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. for lumad children.
The military alleges that the schools are fronts for the communist New People’s Army.
In Marawi City, a group of internally displaced people will hold a protest rally on the Mindanao State University campus on Monday morning.
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