One-year Duterte presidency: Real change, still as far as the eye could see – Anakpawis

Anakpawis leaders protest at Camp Aguinaldo on the first year of Duterte presidency.Anakpawis leaders protest at Camp Aguinaldo on the first year of Duterte presidency.

One-year Duterte presidency
Real change, still as far as the eye could see – Anakpawis

Manila, Philippines – Marking the first year of Duterte presidency, Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao described it as with real change being as “far as the eye could see” or still distant as President Rodrigo Duterte’s promises for fundamental reforms are yet to be realized and with the basic sectors still demanding for it.

“The president’s promises, though they are still pending, but its accomplishment is still far-off from being realized, like a dot-sized figure on a long road. Our hope and expectation is for it not to totally disappear,” Casilao said in a statement.

Casilao said that the Duterte governance is not far diverse from its predecessor as it still did not break out from US dictates on national, political and economic affairs, with the government still dominated by the rich compradors and landlords; economy still frameworked under neoliberalism, genuine land reform and rural development absent, to be as foundation for nationalist industralization; and democratic rule, and respect to human rights are apparently being trampled upon.

“While we appreciate the president’s sporadic pronouncements that are favorable to poor, his comprehensive economic agenda is a repackaged version of his predecessor’s, still worshipping foreign investment as key factor to economic growth, vis-a-vis with the trampling upon the socio-economic and cultural rights of marginalized sectors,” he added.

The lawmaker cited as the president’s desirable statements on agrarian reform and rural development, such as free irrigation and support to farmers, the return of the multi-billion peso coconut levy fund, the stop to importation of rice and his personal assurance on the case of farmers against Lapanday Foods Corp. over disputed land in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte.

“With the good talk, the peasant sector is still waiting for the actual walk,” Casilao said.

While the House Bill No. 555 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) pushing for free distribution of land; HB No. 558 Free Irrigation Bill; HB No. 557 Genuine Small Coconut Farmers’ Fund or the return of the coconut levy fund to farmers, all authored by Casilao and Makabayan Coalition lawmakers are pending in congress, President Duterte’s actual assurance or certification for them to be urgent is inexistent.

Moreover, Casilao claimed that the president evidently failed to fulfill his promise to end contractualization of labor, and a national wage system and the stop to violent demolition of urban poor communities, when they have no relocation. He is even failing to resolve the housing crisis as underlined by the Kadamay group’s “Occupy Bulacan” action last March.

“The remaining saving grace that we see in the presidency is the non-termination of the peace talks with the NDFP and its corollary appointment of progressive leaders at some government institutions,” Casilao said.

Peasant leader and former Anakpawis Party-list representative Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano and martial law activist Prof. Judy Taguiwalao was appointed by the president at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD), respectively, upon recommendation of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). They were followed by the appointment of former Gabriela representative Liza Maza to lead the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

“While we appreciate the appointment of progressive leaders and their genuine service to the people, it is marginal compared to the comprehensive framework of governance, especially contrasting the continuing and intensifying all-out war operations in farmer communities,” Casilao said.

Casilao is also staunchly calling for the resumption of the peace talks between the government and the NDFP as he stressed that it is on the stage of deliberating the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER). The agenda involves free distribution of land to farmers and rural development, as well as, nationalist industrialization.

“Without the peace talks, the prospect for fundamental change under the Duterte presidency is bound to fade to black, consequently, the basic sectors, especially the Filipino workers and peasantry have no concrete basis or reason to support the president,” Casilao ended. ###