How activists continue Bonifacio’s revolutionary spirit

Dec. 06, 2023

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The spirit of militancy and defense for the marginalized remains in members of progressive organizations as the nation commemorates the 160th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio on November 30, the founder of the Katipunan that waged the Philippine revolution liberating the nation from 300 years of Spanish rule.

In a rally held in Davao’s Freedom Park, the activists led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan raised sectoral issues which they say embody the struggle of Bonifacio for freedom for the people.

The labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao lamented the “dire and worsening” conditions of Filipino workers amidst skyrocketing prices of commodities while salaries have not increased.

The average salaries of workers in the Davao Region range at P426 a day, but IBON Foundation says the family living wage, or the income needed to sustain a family’s basic needs, is at P1,143 a day.

KMU says the Marcos administration has not laid down programs for the workers amidst inflation and high unemployment.

What has made things worse is the attack on labor rights with red-tagging. The group said its leaders, secretary general Paul John Dizon and officer Leoncio Rabaca were “intimidated” by agents of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in their respective residences.

“With these in mind, KMU SMR commits to resisting all forms of attacks against trade union and human rights and pushing for relevant pro-people socio-economic reforms such as significantly raising the minimum wage, scrapping labor contractualization, upholding workers’ freedom of association, and universal access to quality social services,” the group said.

Jeepney drivers, who number around 7,000 in Davao City and have served the commuting public for decades, are protesting the nationwide Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program phaseout of their units with no definite programs for their livelihood coming from the local government.

Larry Arguilles from the group Transmission Piston said that while Davao City’s High Priority Bus System will replace jeeps with 1,500 buses under the “green commuting” project to lessen carbon emissions, the jeepney drivers will be “massacred” as this will take away their livelihood.

“Kini ang hulga namong mga driver, mga gagmayng operator nga kung mutake effect na ni daghan nag mawad-an og panginabuhian, daghan ang mga anak nga dili makaeskwela ug daghan ang magutman tungod kay wala nay trabaho,” said Arguilles.

(This is what we drivers and operators fear if this takes effect, a lot of us will lose our livelihood, our children may not be able to go to school and many will go hungry because we will lose our jobs.)

The modernization program, which includes 400 electric buses, may also become an additional burden to commuters as they are expected to bear pricey fares once the bus system goes on its implementation in 2024.

The youth activist group Anakbayan shares its 25th founding anniversary with the birthday of the Supremo.

The group challenges the youth to continue the legacy of Bonifacio by fighting for their right to education.

Anakbayan criticized Congress for prioritizing the budget for mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) which is given a P6.1 billion allocation. This has resulted in a P6-million budget cut for state universities and colleges (SUCs)and a P583-million allocation for beneficiaries under the Free Education Law for tertiary students.

“This has resulted in budget cuts in 36 of 177 SUCs, including the University of the Philippines- Mindanao (UP-Min) and the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) in Davao region,” said Beverly Godofredo, regional spokesperson.

The group also lambasted the red-tagging campaign of the military against Anakbayan and other youth organizations when they expressed their freedom of expression and demanded better conditions for the people. (

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