BY SHIELA G. GELERA
Progressive groups in Negros yesterday gave a failing grade to the performance of President Rodrigo Duterte in the first four years of his administration.
Protesters also gathered at the Bacolod City Public Plaza and staged a protest hours before Duterte delivered his 5th State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, the traditional venue for the constitutionally mandated SONA.
The police said the group that held the protest at the plaza had secured a permit, practiced social distancing and wore face masks so they were not apprehended.
Ereneo Longinos, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros spokesperson, said in a press conference at the Negros Press Club yesterday morning that the performance of Duterte is in the negative because long before the pandemic and the passage of the Anti-Terror Bill, the public greatly suffered from violations of human rights, and killings, since he became president.
He said Duterte even used the Anti-Terror Law to silence the public, so they could not complain against the administration even if their stomachs already ache due to hunger, or they are not satisfied with the government service.
Pete Pico, Movement Against Tyranny spokesperson, said they are calling for the junking of the Anti-Terror Law.
The MAT, together with other groups such as Bayan-Negros, Paghimud-os, National Federation of Sugar Workers, Kilusang Mayo Uno Negros, September 21 Movement, Karapatan Negros Island, Kadamay Negros, LFS-Bacolod, Sanlakas, Partido Manggagawa Negros, Kabataan Partylist, Gabriela Negros, and Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas, also issued a unified position against the Anti-Terror Law.
“We believed that because of the vague and overboard definition of terrorism as defined by the Anti-Terrorism Law, it will not only violate free speech but a multiple number of constitutional rights,” the position paper of the groups said.
Fr. Chris Gonzales, MAT convenor, said the sentiments of the public should be really heard and that is they do not want the Anti-Terror Law, what they need are medical, financial, aid to students and those who are hungry.
RJ Ledesma, chairman of the League of Filipino Students, meanwhile said the greatest problem the students are facing is the resumption of classes next month, with no concrete plans on mass testing, contact-tracing, and health protocols, thereby risking the lives of students.
“We are calling to prioritize the pandemic and not the other laws which the only goal is to stifle dissent,” Ledesma added.
The coming together of the different groups in Negros to oppose the Anti-Terror Law can be considered historic, Nonoy Espina, NUJP-chairman, said yesterday.*