We, the chapters and affiliates of Anakbayan-Canada, stand here today to deliver the people’s true state of the nation address on behalf of the Filipino youth and students around the world who oppose the US-Duterte regime’s authoritarianism and corruption in our homeland of the Philippines.
Since Duterte’s puppet presidency started in 2016, he has worsened the all-around conditions for Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad through his consistent fascist, tyrannical, and anti-people policies and actions. This is now four years of his lies, deceit, and his criminal empire of cronies and thieves.
The worsening economic crisis in the Philippines has resulted in the highest rate of unemployment and a student drop-out rate of 23%. The US-Duterte administration total amount of loans for COVID-19 response is now at $7.73 billion (P385.3 billion) despite being granted emergency powers which included $5.4 billion (P275 billion). If the government secured this much money, and it has not made its way to the people, then where and to whom is it going?
We hear over and over again that the youth are the hope for the future. But how is that possible, if the hopes of the youth in the Philippines are being crushed by imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism?
Our youth counterparts in the Philippines cannot even access their basic needs. Not only are the masses of Filipino youth struggling to survive day-to-day, but they are also being attacked, arrested, and killed in the struggle for life, land, and freedom.
Last November, Reina Mae Nasino, a pregnant youth activist, was arrested and detained for trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. She recently gave birth and remains in prison, separated from her child by the military.
This June, there was a surge of red-tagging against youth activists and students. Outspoken youth on social media, including those of us here in Canada, suddenly found fake Facebook accounts stealing their identity. Some accounts sent threats to the real owners.
When the Anti-Terror Bill was introduced, #Cebu8, #Pride20, #Cabuyao11 were youth, students, LGBTQ+ activists, and allies who were violently dispersed and illegally arrested for peacefully protesting. Since Duterte signed the bill into law, these crackdowns have only escalated despite the growing condemnation domestically and globally.
The Philippines holds one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns and has the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in Southeast Asia with 85,000 cases, a statistic that is expected to keep increasing due to the severe negligence of the government. Instead of responding to the people’s needs during this pandemic such as mass testing and social assistance, the US-Duterte administration prioritized the passing of the Anti-Terror Law, the shut down of ABS-CBN, and the arbitrary arrests of citizens and activists.
Even before the pandemic and the Anti-Terror Law, police violence and militarization were already rampant due to Duterte’s “war on drugs”; now, as medical solutions are urgently needed, the people are met with intensifying state terror, abuse, and violence.
We demand that the US-Duterte administration junk the Anti-Terror Law. This law specifically targets activists and human rights defenders. As a nation and as a people, we have the right to dissent and hold our government accountable for its wrongdoing. We echo the struggles of our kababayan back home fighting in the streets and filing petitions to the Supreme Court. We have the right to freedom of expression and information. The terror law is designed to silence us. We will not cower under its dictates. Instead of stopping us, it only spurs us on to greater action.
All of this makes it clear why we join our kababayan around the world for SONAgkaisa, the People’s State of the Nation Address. We invite Filipino youth in Canada to fight for a world where our basic needs are met. A world where we can pursue our dreams and serve the people, instead of being another cog in the capitalist machine. To get there, we must strive for National Democracy with a socialist perspective.
This means Philippine independence from foreign powers. It means technology being used for the benefit of the masses of people, not for profit. It means that the workers wield the means of production. It means culture that doesn’t demean women, LGBTQ+, and Indigenous peoples.
To get there, we as youth must dedicate ourselves to the national democratic movement. Abroad, we must expose and oppose the US-Duterte regime. We must build support for the people’s movement in the Philippines. We do this through propaganda, cultural work, and carrying out social investigation among the masses.
We are Anakbayan, the Youth of the Nation. We will continue to fight and to speak up against these injustices against the people. We take to heart the lessons and inspiration of the youth activists of the past, and persist in the righteous struggle for our people for national liberation and social emancipation. We will not be silenced, as the revolutionary spirit of the youth will continue on.