In Davao and Mindanao, Jeers Meet Arroyo SONA

Jul. 25, 2006

Cultural workers depict the plight of the poor. (Barry Ohaylan/
Cultural activists depict the plight of the poor during the anti-Arroyo protest in the city on Monday. (Click here to view more pictures.) photo by Barry Ohaylan

In Davao City and across Mindanao, many are not happy with Arroyos promises.

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY Except for the brief moment when Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s name was mentioned, loud applause was hardly heard at the City Council building where city employees watched on a widescreen President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday afternoon.

Business leaders, when sought for comment right after the president’s speech, appeared not so pleased either. In her speech, Arroyo said her administration now has the money to finance government projects.

A trustee of the Davao Chamber of Commerce and Industry Incorporated, Sofronio Jucutan, who was present in the gathering, betrayed the disappointment in his voice when he said: “Honestly, all the promises were good but the question is how to fund it.

Jucutan pointed out that the country’s revenue collection is even 205 billion pesos short of the 1 trillion peso budget. “Where would the funds come from?” he asked.

He also wished for more projects for Mindanao. “What she said about Mindanao was good but there are more projects for Luzon,” he said, adding that he would have wanted to hear from the president that those factories that congest in Manila be transferred to Mindanao.

After all, he said, Mindanao is also rich in resources that could also be processed here and need not be transported to Luzon.

In her speech, Arroyo said “things are coming together for Mindanao” and that there is she called is “a prelude to their readiness for eventual federalism.” Arroyo talked about Mindanao rather briefly compared to how she delved into the details of Luzon projects.

At this city’s Rizal Park, close to three thousand protesters gathered to denounce what they called the all-out war, fascism and hunger wrought by the Arroyo government against the people.

The workers, farmers, urban-poor residents, and students who attended the march rally came from the provinces of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur.

The SONA was also was met with loud jeers from other places in Mindanao where simultaneous mass actions were also held.

Progressive groups in the SOCSKSARGEN region expressed disgust over the drive to change the Constitution and the series of political killings. March rallies in General Santos City and in Marbel, South Cotabato, were attended by 700 and 500 protesters, respectively. A demonstration-rally participated by some 200 militants was held in Polomolok, South Cotabato.

A simultaneous march rally was conducted in Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur. Some 200 protesters joined the activities in the cities of Pagadian and Dipolog. They denounced the Arroyo government’s political repression and Charter change.

In Tandag, Surigao del Sur, around 800 farmers and indigenous people joined the protest to express their sentiments against Arroyo. They denounced the government’s all-out war campaign and political repression, and called for genuine agrarian reform and the defense of their ancestral domains.

Some 2,000 protesters from Bukidnon, Iligan City and Misamis Oriental gathered at Cagayan de Oro’s Divisoria. They, too, raised their vehement condemnation of the all-out war and Charter change.

Arroyos SONA tackled points on stamping out terrorism and lawless violence, constitutional and electoral changes, and the Medium Term Public Investment Program, among others. (Cheryll Fiel with a report from Marilou Aguirre/

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