Hundreds march to Malacanang to denounce lack of change under Duterte presidency

Hundreds of workers, urban poor, students, and other activists belonging to Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Sanlakas, and Partido Lakas ng Masa today marched to the gates of Malacanang to denounce President Rodrigo Duterte’s failure to fulfill his promise to end “contractualization” and other anti-worker policies as well as his insistence on burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

They later joined thousands of other people who trooped to the People Power Monument in EDSA to condemn Marcos’ burial at the LNMB and block the restoration of declarations of martial law.

“We joined thousands of workers and other Filipinos today to remind the President that we are still here, that we have been waiting, and that we still haven’t experienced the change that he said will come if he gets elected as President,” Leody de Guzman, president of the socialist labor group BMP said. “It’s been six months since Duterte won and yet it seems that only the rich are again benefiting from the change in government,” de Guzman said.

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, secretary-general of multi-sectoral group Sanlakas, for his part said: “Militant groups were encouraged by Duterte’s initial steps, such as his appointment of leftists in Cabinet, his support for FOI, and his critical stance towards the United States. But none of these has so far translated into any concrete benefits for the majority.

“So far, the President has yet to back his words with actions,” Sonny Melencio, chairperson of Partido Lakas ng Masa. “We marched today because we find it hard to identify actual measures that could assure us that change is indeed on the way.”

According to Melencio, more and more Filipinos are starting to question whether Duterte will indeed deliver his campaign promises, in particular, his promise to end contractualization, to provide dignified housing for the urban poor, to stamp out corruption in the bureaucracy, to give tax breaks for those earning below 30k/month, and to chart an independent foreign policy.

After marching to Malacanang, the militant groups joined a Caravan for Justice that drove through several cities in Metro Manila before heading to the People Power Monument to join tens of thousands of other Filipinos protesting against Marcos’ burial at the LNMB.

“It seems that there are only two groups of people that Duterte will never betray: the police and the Marcoses,” Melencio said. “But it seems that he is all too ready to turn his back on workers, on the urban poor, and on the Filipino people.”

For real change to happen, the group urged the public to take action and use their power to achieve significant social transformations.

“As Andres Bonifacio has demonstrated, hope lies not in our so-called leaders but in the Filipino people themselves,” de Guzman stressed.

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