Youth groups ready for big SONA mobilization for justice, peace, and people’s rights

In a press conference held today, youth group Anakbayan strongly condemned the extension of Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao by a “rubberstamp” Congress in yesterday’s special joint session that also saw the arrest of Kabataan 8 protesters who held a lightning rally during the said proceedings.

“Duterte is testing the waters on how far he can go to push nationwide martial law with his move to extend martial law in Mindanao. With a rubberstamp Congress and Supreme Court, we are one step closer to the edge of open military rule,” said Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.

He warned that martial law will mean arbitrary arrests, searches, and seizures by military forces, militarization of civilian communities, the re-imposition of mandatory ROTC, a national ID system, a curfew for everyone, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and the curtailment of free expression and assembly.

“Even without martial law some 12,000 people have been killed in Duterte’s brutal drug war while at least 68 political killings, hundreds of illegal arrests, and 416,005 forced evacuations have been documented in Duterte’s first year in power. More martial law will see the intensification of human rights abuses and repression of people’s rights,” said Crisostomo.

The youth leader also reiterated the call for the release of the #Kabataan8 youth leaders who were arrested after chanting “never again to martial law” and “martial law sa Mindanao ibasura” and unfurling anti-martial law banners during the Congress special joint session tackling the extension of martial law.

The arrested youth leaders include Anakbayan national education officer Vince Simon; youth activists Renz Pasigpasigan, Michael Joselo Villanueva, JP Rosos, and Almira Abril; and Mindanao-based Lumad community school ALCADEV teachers Chad Booc, Yasser Guitierrez, and Kenneth Cadiang.

Recedes said youth groups led by Anakbayan are ready to join big mobilizations on Duterte’s state of the nation address (SONA) on Monday against the extension in Mindanao and possible expansion nationwide of martial law and to highlight the following youth demands for justice, peace, and people’s rights:

1. Lift and resist martial law! Hold accountable the US-AFP, the Duterte regime and other groups spreading terror against the Moro, Lumad, Mindanao people and fellow Filipinos.
2. Fight for national sovereignty and democracy against US imperialist hegemony and domination. Advance the Philippines’ national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
3. Advance the peace talks based on resolving the root causes of conflict and crisis in the country. Free all political prisoners!
4. Promote national industrialization! Fulfill an independent foreign economic policy, and not for continued dependence on foreign capital and investments.
5. Call for genuine agrarian reform, and end the monopoly of landlords and foreign entities over our lands. Free land distribution and land to the tillers!
6. Fight for free education at all levels! Junk all neoliberal policies on education that push for privatization and continued profiteering in education. Free tuition in SUCs now! Junk other school fees! Junk the colonial and commercialized K-12 program!
7. Fight against militarization in schools and communities! Oppose and stop the revival of mandatory ROTC!
8. End contractualization and all forms of labor flexibilization! Scrap the regional wage boards! Fight for P750 national minimum wage in private and P16,000 for government employees and public sector.
9. Respect the national minorities and Moros’ right to self-determination. Condemn and oppose the Islamophobia and blatant disregard of their just struggles.
10. Fight for quality and affordable social services! Fight for affordable housing! Oppose the corporatization of public transport, health, and other basic social services! Oppose the profit-oriented tax reform!


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