Mindanao’s true face portrayed by peasants, workers, IPs on Duterte’s second SONA

Jul. 25, 2017
  • Alongside the second State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 24 is the People’s SONA presented by various sectors including the workers, peasants and indigenous people from Mindanao. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – They came – the workers, peasants and indigenous peoples, to represent their class to depict the true conditions of their communities and workplaces during the second State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte. They joined the thousands of the marginalized sectors of the country and camped out in strategic areas in Metro Manila to air out their grievances that one year into the present administration, no changes were effected in Mindanao.

Facing unforeseen dangers and odds, they marched on the streets and brought to the doorsteps of agencies the long-standing issues and concerns – landlessness, contractualization and all-out war in communities in Mindanao. They fear martial law extension will further aggravate their situation that more of their leaders and members will be executed, arrested and charged with trumped-up cases.

The workers at Shin Sun Tropical Fruits in Davao Region, many of them dismissed from their works, worry about the outcome of their demands now that Martial Law is in full forces in Mindanao.

“Martial law was used against us, by state forces in cahoots with the management. Soldiers and police break through our picket line, arrested and harassed us,” said Roy Jim Balanghig, president of Shin Sun union of workers. He said their demands are justified as it concerns security to their work and just compensation to uplift their living conditions. But harassment, not the granting of what they yearn for, was what they got instead.

The peasants in Southern Mindanao, too, decried the series of extra-judicial killings and arrests of their leaders and members. A total of 68 politically-motivated killings already took place under the Duterte administration, the majority of the victims were farmers. Worst, 10 of said cases of EJKs happened during the first 60-day implementation of martial law. Included in the spate of killings and arrests are peasant leaders in Davao region, particularly in the province of Compostela Valley.

The unceasing intrusion of soldiers and paramilitary groups into Lumad schools in Davao Region and CARAGA was also raised by IPs. “Our children could no longer attend schooling as they fear uniformed men in school premises,” cried Lorena Mandacawan, an IP mother from Talaingod, Davao del Norte. She asked the government to stop the all-out war in Mindanao but also expressed apprehension her pleas will be unheard as the Congress already nailed the extension of martial law until the end of 2017.

​Despite the uncertainties​,​ these sectors said they are now cowed by the unfolding events coupled with the inept and inappropriate responses the present administration has offered to their pleas.

“Martial law in Mindanao will fail,” in unison, they affirmed. (davaotoday.com)

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