Davao activists will take to the streets on Duterte’s SONA

Jul. 25, 2020

Davao City, Philippines – Progressive groups here will go back to the streets since the start of the Covid-19 quarantine in time with President Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) this Monday, July 27, 2020.

Paul John Dizon, spokesperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Southern Mindanao, said their group will a joint rally with Nakaisa Labor Coalition to push the workers’ issues and to condemn the recent attacks on unions and labor groups.

The coalition will also include the issue of the ABS-CBN network’s non-renewal of its franchise that led to the retrenchment of thousands of workers nationwide.

“We are with our colleagues in ABS-CBN who despite the pandemic have to endure the uncertainties of being jobless. We are with them in their fight,” Dizon added.

Since the implementation of community quarantine due to Covid-19, progressive groups here have resorted to online programs during the usual dates where protest actions were held such as Labor Day (May 1) and Independence Day (June 12).

But Dizon said progressive groups continue to engage in their respective sectors, asserting the right for relief and protection of their rights amid the pandemic.

KMU-SMR has received various reports of the “unjustified retrenchment of workers” due to the streamlining of companies in their workforce and of poor health and safety standards in workplaces.

“Based on the Department of Labor and Employment data, there are 10,133 companies, that will dismiss or implement retrenchment since the start of the pandemic,” he said.

Davao City Police Office spokesperson Captain Rose Aguilar said in an interview that the city is under red alert with the SONA, as they are deploying more personnel, on top of the 2,000 police force deployed to implement the community quarantine.

“We are on red alert status since we already anticipate this kind of event,” Aguilar said.

The Department of Interior and Local Government released a memorandum on Friday prohibiting mass gatherings including protest actions.

“IATF strongly reiterates that mass gatherings, such as but not limited to movie screenings, sporting events, and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work gatherings are prohibited,” the memorandum said.

“We are on red alert status since we already anticipate this kind of event,” Aguilar said.

But Karapatan said they will push through with the protest action. And said this year’s SONA protest will have a limited number of attendees to ensure physical distancing and to observe protocols for the safety of everyone.

Jay Apiag, spokesperson of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, said they will join the SONA to highlight that Duterte’s hometown Davao region has the most number of political killings in the country.

Karapatan has recorded 96 cases of killing in Davao region under Duterte’s watch since 2016 with farmers as the most number of victims.

The group also slammed the recent vilification poster that has spread in the city, tagging him and other Davao activist leaders as “terrorist recruiters”.

The groups will slam the imposition of the Anti-Terrorism Act as an attack on the people’s democratic rights amidst the crisis they face in the pandemic. (davaotoday.com)

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