S. Tagalog Groups Denounce Last SONA, Call for an End to Aquino’s ‘Monstrous’ Rule
SANTA ROSA CITY, Laguna – Five days before Pres. Benigno Aquino III delivers his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), people from the Southern Tagalog region are joining nationwide mass actions to expose the real picture of his “monstrous” rule: continuing poverty, human rights violations and corruption in government.
As opening salvo to a four-day People’s March, various groups under the Southern Tagalog Resign Movement Against Aquino (ST Remove Aquino) today staged a protest rally in this city dubbed as “Bigkisan ng Mamamayan” (People’s Girding). Similar activities were also held in Quezon, Palawan and Mindoro provinces.
They want to hold the Aquino regime accountable for its neo-liberal, anti-people policies that destroyed the lives and worsened the living conditions of the common folk, especially the poor.
“Workers have suffered five years of monstrous cruelty under Aquino such as unemployment, mass layoffs, low wages and increasing costs of water, electricity, tuition and other basic needs and services,” said Roque Polido, chairman of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik-Kilusang Mayo Uno).
He said the labor sector will continue to go on strike against systematic contractualization, such as in the case of Tanduay Distillers Inc. in Cabuyao City, as well as in Sagara Metro Plastic Industrial Corporation, Karzai Corporation, Manila Cordage Company, all in Calamba City.
He added, “Now is the time to remove Aquino. Another day more in office means another day of exploitation, poverty and hardship.”
ST Remove Aquino spokesperson Diego Torres lambasted the government’s biggest and most expensive Public Private Partnership (PPP) project to date, the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike Project (LLEDP), which will lead to loss of homes and livelihood among residents surrounding Laguna Lake. He said: “LLEDP is like a death sentence to fisherfolks and urban poor hiding behind the ‘Tuwid na Daan’ (Straight Road) empty rhetoric.”
Meanwhile, justice remains elusive for victims of political killings, illegal detention, torture, harassment and repression supposedly perpetrated by 29 batallions of combined elements of the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police and Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) deployed in the Southern Tagalog.
Human rights watch groups said there are 54 political prisoners in the region, including Maria Miradel Torres and her baby. At least 28 cases of political killings have also been recorded.
Rev. Gil Sediarin, deputy secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, lamented: “It is monstrous how badly political prisoners and human rights victims are treated in the last six years with Aquino as president.”
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