On 34th EDSA anniversary, groups slam Duterte for being 'Marcos-like'
MANILA, Philippines – Multisectoral groups on Tuesday, February 25, trooped to the Mendiola Peace Arch to mark the 34th anniversary of the People Power Revolution and call for the "ouster" of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The groups pointed out oppressive policies and violations under the Duterte administration that mirror those of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Bayan Muna Representative Carlo Zarate said that the "nightmare" of the Marcos regime is coming back under Duterte's presidency.
"Ang bangungot na sana ay binigyan natin ng wakas noong February of 1986 ay muling bumabalik sa kasalukuyan, muling bumabangon sa hukay ng kasaysayan, sa panahon ng Pangulong Duterte...ang mga crony noon bumabalik sa kasalukuyan," Zarate said.
(The nightmare that should've ended back in February of 1986 is finding its way back, rising from the grave of history, under Duterte's presidency...a lot of cronies are returning.)
The EDSA Revolution is a globally-lauded bloodless movement that overthrew Marcos and restored democracy to the Philippines.
This paved the way for Marcos' political nemesis' widow, Corazon Aquino, to be installed as president. Her son, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, was Duterte's predecessor in Malacañang.
Duterte's attacks on free speech and press freedom can be likened to that of Marcos, who banned and suppressed any critical reportage or portrayal of his regime.
Back then, Marcos seized and shut down ABS-CBN after he declared martial law in 1972. Duterte now threatens to deny the media giant a legal franchise, which may lead to another shutdown or at least force the network to significantly scale down its operations.
"Matapos ang 34 na taon, sa ikatlong taon ng panunungkulan sa isang gaya-gaya na diktadura, ipinapasara rin ni Duterte ang ABS-CBN. Ang sabi niya, 'Eh ano ngayon kung mamatay ang mga mamahayag?" the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said at the mobilization protest.
(After 34 years, on the third year of a President who is imitating a dictator, Duterte threatened the closure of ABS-CBN. He said, "So what if journalists die?")
A representative from the party list Alliance of Concerned Teachers also slammed the Duterte administration for harassing activists and teachers, adding that several of them have received death threats and arrest warrants.
"Teachers [who] are overworked yet underpaid are now under attack.... Kami pong mga teachers na binabarat ang mga sahod ay hindi pinaligtas ng pasistang Duterte na 'to," the group representative said, noting how some teachers in the National Capitol Region aren't able to teach well because of fear from the threats they face.
(Teachers who are overworked yet underpaid are now under attack.... Teachers like us, who are earning less because of the limited salary aren't spared from the President's ire.)
Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, meanwhile, called for the release of an Altermidya correspondent and 4 other human rights leaders arrested in a joint raid of the military and police, who accused them of illegal possession of firearms.
Several other organizations also said that the President is an underachiever since he failed to fulfill campaign promises such as ending contractualization, resuming peace talks, and making the country self-sufficient in rice.
Groups such as Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, Kabataan Partylist, Anak Pawis, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Gabriela, Gabriela Youth, and Kadamay also joined the protest.
Protesters also burned a mural with a painting of Duterte and Marcos.
Before the big protest at Mendiola, members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Timog-Katagalugan kickstarted a protest at the EDSA Shrine in Ortigas before connecting with the other groups in front of the gates of the University of Sto Tomas.
They also aired their grievances against Duterte's Executive Order No. 70 – aimed at ending the local communist armed conflict – saying it only terrorizes peasant organizers and activists.
To commemorate the EDSA Revolution, the Philippine government holds a program annually at the People Power Monument in Quezon City. On Tuesday, however, the President was yet again absent from the official commemorative ceremony. – with reports from Daniel Asido and the UPLB Perspective, JC Gotinga and Lian Buan/Rappler.com