Duterte call for rebel truce drowns militant protest vs anti – drug killings
Hours before President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, militant groups in Cebu staged a march-rally calling for an end to extrajudicial killings.
However as the SONA wound up, the estimated 500 people who converged at the junction of Juan Luna and Colon Street from Fuente Osmeña Circle, left the rally generally satisfied with the President’s speech, even if it did not promise an end to the state-sanctioned killing of drug suspects.
Members of the militant groups Gabriela, Anakbayan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the party list group Sanlakas, went home very happy with the President’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire with communist rebel groups “effective immediately”.
“To the CPP/NPA/NDF, let us end these decades of ambuscades and skirmishes. We are going nowhere. And it is getting bloodier by the day,” Duterte had said in his speech.
“I am now announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF effective immediately and call on our fellow Filipinos in the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly,” he added.
“Enduring peace can only be attained only if we meet these fundamental human needs of every man, woman and child,” Duterte also said.
Anakbayan vice president Niño Olayvar told Cebu Daily News that “this means the President is very willing to talk especially on the urgent reforms which is the root cause of poverty.”
Olayvar was also happy with Duterte’s declaration to fight against the corruption that pervades in government, his promise that there would be no demolitions of informal settlers without relocation, the assurance of transparency in government transactions and Duterte’s pledge to lower income taxes.
Although these are general statements, Olayvar said that Anakbayan is looking forward to specific directions from the Duterte administration on how to attain the President’s plans.
“I hope all of these will be realized,” said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Central Visayas chairman Jaime Paglinawan who is also pleased that Duterte wants to prioritize solutions to attain long term peace in the land.
“To our Muslim brothers, the Moro country and the members of the CPP/NPA/NDF, let me say this: All of us want peace, not the peace of the dead but the peace of the living. We express our willingness and readiness to go to the negotiating table, and yet we load our guns, fix our sights, pull the trigger. It is both ironic and tragic — and it is endless. What I see instead are the widows and the orphans and I feel their pain,” Duterte said in his speech.
“That is why, I reach out to you, to all of you today. To our Muslim brothers, let us find, let us end the centuries of this mistrust and warfare,” Duterte added.
For Sanlakas-Cebu Secretary General Teody Navea, while the ceasefire with communist rebels is a welcome development towards peace, he was not fully satisfied with the overall SONA of the President as it failed to mention ways to end the contractualization of workers.
“What good will it do to the majority of Filipinos if the security of tenure of our workers is not ensured. This just simply means that President Digong listens more to the clamor of big businesses and there will always be contractualization in our land so as not to affect the income of the rich capitalists,” Navea told CDN in Cebuano.
Earlier, Navea led a group of rallyists in hanging streamers on a skywalk along Osmeña Boulevard opposing Duterte’s plan to reimpose the death penalty.
Cebu rallyists also criticized the rampant killing of drug suspects in police operations, saying that “there should be due process given” and respect for human rights.
But to all those worried over the spate of extrajudicial killings, Duterte had this to say in his SONA: “Human rights must work to uplift human dignity but human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country, your country and my country.”
Later on, Duterte also made this appeal, “If we cannot, as yet, love one another, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much.”
Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Cebu, expressed elation over President Duterte’s remark, reaffirming the president’s need for divine help.
“In the name of political correctness, the President has beautifully expressed his deep conviction of faith in the Almighty God as sovereign in the land. It is laudable for him to honor that presence in his speech,” he said in a text message to CDN.
During the first part of his SONA, Duterte told bishops, reverends, Imams and pastors that while he was a stickler for the separation of the Church and State, he strongly believed that there should never be a separation between God and State.
Duterte nonetheless called for a full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law which the Catholic Church strongly opposes.
“We hope the law of the state would be sensitive to regulating life and to remember that without conscientious education of the so-called poor, the artificial means of contraception will end up being seen as an easy out way out and take away responsibilities that necessarily accompanies the marital act,” Msgr. Tan said.
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