Protest rallies in Davao, GenSan greet first SONA of Marcos 

A handful members of progressive groups stage a protest in Davao City as President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. delivers his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, 25 July 2022. MindaNews Photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 July) – Activists in the two key Mindanao cities of Davao and General Santos (GenSan) staged protest rallies during the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Monday.

In Davao City, various progressive groups called on Marcos, the country’s 17th President, to consider their nine-point “people’s agenda that seeks to advance workers and people’s rights.”

Dubbed the People’s SONA 2022 protest held at the Freedom Park here, John Paul Dizon, secretary general of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao Region (KMU-SMR), said that they would continue to push for long-term solutions to major problems in the country.

Dizon said that they want “a pro-people development for the country and its people to ensure that the majority of the Filipinos would not be left behind.”

The nine-point people’s agenda include addressing inflation and providing tax relief to consumers; reviving the agriculture and making food production a priority; making land reform and national industrialization as the foundation of pro-people economic development; making the defense and promotion of human rights a key commitment of the Philippine government; adopting a clear government policy to fight disinformation, protect freedom of expression and press freedom; instituting a democratic, ethical and accountable governance; providing free healthcare and basic social services for the people by realigning funds from wasteful and unnecessary items; upholding national sovereignty and an independent foreign policy; and, ensuring environmental protection, rehabilitation and balanced use of the country’s natural resources.

Around 50 rallyists from different groups, including Bayan Muna Partylist, KMU-SMR, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-SMR, Gabriela-SMR, Anakbayan-SMR, Kabataan Partylist, Transmission Piston, ACT Davao, and Kadamay participated in the protest rally.

Dizon said the groups particularly demanded for the end of contractualization in the country and the prioritization of a pro-worker security tenure bill that is being pushed by the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives.

Aside from this, Dizon added they want the abolition of regionalized minimum wage and urged the government to set the national minimum wage close to P1,180, the daily cost of living for a family with five members.

He said the Marcos administration should prioritize genuine agrarian reform to strengthen the agricultural sector and, as such, it should distribute idle lands to farmers and provide them assistance such as farm inputs and free irrigation.

Dizon believed that helping the farmers would lessen the country’s dependence on imported rice, particularly from Thailand and Vietnam.

He said the government should bring back history subjects in schools and ensure the safety of students once in-person classes resume.

Dizon said Marcos should reopen peace negotiations between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which were cancelled during the term of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Activists hold a protest rally in General Santos City during the first SONA of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Monday, 25 July 2022. MindaNews photo by RICHELYN GUBALANI ichelyn Gubalani

In General Santos City, the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – Soccsksargen (Sentro) and allied groups also held a protest rally during the first SONA of Marcos.

At least 50 protesters marched along Santiago Boulevard towards the city public market, where they gathered to protest with the theme “SOPAnoNA? Unahin ang ayuda, trabaho at karapatan.”

Herbert Demos, Sentro secretary general, pressed Marcos to lower the soaring prices of fuel, reduce rice prices and increase workers’ wages.

Aurelio Talusi, GenSan transport alliance head, sought the scrapping of the oil deregulation law.

Kini ang rason sa pagpalisod sa mga naa sa public transportation (This is the culprit for the hardships experienced by the public transport sector),” Talusi said.

The GenSan activists also called on the Marcos government to uphold human rights and the passage of the security of tenure bill, among other issues affecting the nation. (Antonio L. Colina IV in Davao City and Richelyn Gubalani in General Santos City / MindaNews)