Change may have come, even for militants.
On Thursday, June 30, militant groups marched to Mendiola Bridge near Malacanang — not in protest but to show support for the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte who will take his oath at noon.
“On this historic day, we march to Mendiola with high hopes that the next administration would deliver on its promise of change, and for the next generation to attain peace based on justice,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said in a statement.
The group praised Duterte for his desire to pursue peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and address the root causes of the armed conflict in the Philippines.
Also, Bayan welcomed Duterte’s favorable announcements on the release of political prisoners through amnesty.
Duterte also appointed left-leaning personalities, including former Representative Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Other pro-people policy pronouncements the militant group lauded were:
* appointing “progressives” to his Cabinet
* ending labor contractualization
* stopping destructive large-scale mining
* formulating an independent foreign policy
* increasing the budget for health services
* freeing irrigation and rice self-sufficiency for farmers
* reviving the steel industry
* increasing the pension for SSS beneficiaries
* passing the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill
* abolishing the pork barrel system
* strengthening campaign against crime and corruption
Bayan said the march to Mendiola was to advance the “People’s Agenda for Change” recently presented by the National People’s Summit at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
It said Duterte’s rise to the presidency was a direct result of the people’s resounding rejection of “six years of failed leadership of the Aquino regime.”
“Duterte stands to inherit a rotten social system made worse by the neoliberal economic policies, puppetry and corruption of the outgoing Aquino regime. Reversal of these policies remains an important challenge to the next administration,” it said.
It said these policies included junking Public-Private Partnership (PPP) contracts with sovereign guarantees, as well one-sided pacts such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
“For his progressive pronouncements, Duterte will likely face resistance from foreign and local interests who are intent on preserving the status quo. Intense struggles and contradictions now loom,” it added.
On the other hand, Bayan said it would continue to push its causes while engaging the new administration over important issues such as socio-economic reforms against failed neoliberal policies.
“Amid the tremendous opportunity to advance significant reforms, we call on the people to all the more be active in various movements and campaigns in support of the peace process and in support of the People’s Agenda for Change. Let us continue the work of arousing, organizing and mobilizing for the national and democratic aspirations of the people,” it said.