By NORWIN GONZALES
BAGUIO CITY — Different youth groups led by Youth Act Now Against Tyranny (YANAT) staged a Black Friday Protest on May 18, Friday in Malcolm Square, Baguio City.
The centerpiece of the protest were three women dressed in black as crying ladies, mourning for the nation’s democracy. The protest was a venue for students to lay down the reasons why they claim democracy was in peril under the Duterte regime.
Paul Soriano of YANAT set as example the ouster of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno as how the Duterte government desperately clings and tries to consolidate power for selfish interests, and not for the benefit of the people, as a whole.
He followed through by saying that Duterte only wants to railroad the Charter Change to give way to a federal form of government thereby extending his term to serve his bosses, the oligarchs and foreign powers.
He also lamented the current 14,000 body count in Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. He says it only targets the poor and has in fact killed civilians, specifically youth in the process.
“These are youth with dreams. They want to finish their schooling. They are not related in drug activities but they were taken as collateral damage in this crazed ‘war’.” Soriano said.
Soriano’s fiery speech was halted for a second when someone in the audience shouted “Duterte pa rin!” (Duterte still!), to which he replied: “We don’t like Duterte because he’s a dictator, a lapdog and a killer!”
The youth also protested the Martial Law in Mindanao which be a year old in implementation this coming May 23. They say it does not make sense that Martial Law was extended in December of last year when both the government and the armed forces had already pronounced that Marawi is already cleared of ‘rebel’ forces.
They said that the continued Martial Law only led to an increase in abuses by military and paramilitary agents. They cited killings in Lumad communities since the martial rule was effective.
Meanwhile, Noah Gajo of League of Filipino Students – Metro Baguio (LFS) denounced the 34th Balikatan Exercises under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). This means the entry of somewhere around 3,000 American soldiers on Philippine soil.
“This clearly means the overpowering of foreign powers in our country. No doubt that the Philippines only serves as a strategic base for the United States,” Gajo said.
The youth leaders called for unity in organizing among their ranks and among workers and peasants as well to strengthen the movement with the aim of curbing Duterte’s dictatorial rule. #nordis.net