CPA Statement on the President’s SONA

On Mining
After one year of the Duterte regime, there is no substantive development on the issue of mining. Mining plunder and destruction continues and is business-as-usual especially since Sec. Gina Lopez was replaced by an ex-military general who has no record of advancing the protection of the environment and the people’s welfare. In the Cordilleras, the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation and Benguet Corporation, despite being suspended for non-compliance to environmental standards continue to operate. Change did not happen.

On Economic Policies
Duterte’s “independent foreign policy” is a myth. He has been continuing the neoliberal policies on the economy of his predecessors Aquino and Arroyo. He is treading the path of continued dependence to foreign loans to finance his build-build-build infrastructure plan.

We heard no mention of ending contractualization and the rights of workers to decent wages.

The new tax reform packages that the government is intending to pass in congress aims to increase government revenues through additional regressive tax collection which is in compliance to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund. This would mean that additional revenues will come from higher VAT that will be collected from end-consumers majority comprised of the poor.

On the Political Situation
Duterte’s stance to extend martial law poses grave threat to human rights, “rule of law”, checks and balances and the principles of democracy. This has emboldened the military and police to further violate established human rights concepts with impunity. Extending martial law through the dogged support of a large majority of congressmen and senators might be a prelude to a nationwide implementation of martial law. Fascism is rearing its ugly head.

Duterte’s attitude towards the peace talks with the NDF and his strong words against the left negates his “comfortable life for all” speech. Instead of insisting on a cease fire and surrender of the revolutionary movement, Duterte must first address the roots of the armed conflict by agreeing on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms. In particular, what we wanted to see was for the national government to respect the indigenous peoples’ right to ancestral land and self-determination.

Lastly the Cordillera Peoples Alliance condemns the political vilification that took place on the day of the SONA. Black propaganda materials were hung beside the offices of the CPA and Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC) in the early morning of July 24 and more of these were hung in parts of the city. These were made to condition the public mind of the bloody reign of the Duterte regime and looming danger of a nationwide martial law.

CPA condemns these dastardly acts of harassment and intimidation against the people legitimately expressing criticism to an anti-people government. We urgently call on the public to defend people’s rights and safeguard civil liberties. Stand for just peace and human rights!

Reference: Windel Bolinget, Chairperson


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