P-SONA 2023 in Toronto highlights poverty, red-tagging, corruption

Rally at Bathurst-Wilson Parkette, Toronto

By Patricia Gabrielle Dolor

The Philippine Reporter

SONA ng Bayan or People’s SONA (PSONA) 2023 took place on Monday, July 24 at 6pm in the Bathurst-Wilson Parkette located in Toronto.

The PSONA is the people’s response to the speech made by the President every year in July, also known as the State of the Nation.

The rally was hosted by BAYAN Canada alongside many other organizations that support democracy in the Philippines and beyond.

In a statement made by BAYAN on their official Instagram page, they noted, “Filipinos are often met with lies and deceit as it ignores the situation of Filipino people who continue to face persistent poverty with high prices and insufficient wages.”

“Throughout the year of another Marcos, we see how he continues to disregard the genuine calls of the Filipinos, such as the demand for increased wages. Instead, Marcos Jr.’s administration prioritized pushing for another source of corruption through the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), where Filipinos’ social security and pension funds can be seen as ‘joint ventures’,” the post continues to say.

Photos: Patricia Gabrielle Dolor

BAYAN and Anakbayan Toronto said in their statements that they want to commemorate and uplift the profound veracity of what it means to be Filipino, both in the Philippines and abroad. The Filipino journey is diverse and vibrant – the workers, farmers, migrants, Indigenous peoples, youth, women, LGBTQ folks, and countless others. They aimed to converge in unity with their voices echoing through the streets.

During the PSONA, chants were made during and after every speaker. They include chants such as, “The people, united, will never be defeated!”. The energy was high and frustration visible, as these groups and individuals demand change, and demand to be heard.

Organizations such as Malaya Movement in Canada, Migrante Ontario, International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines Canada Chapter (ICHRP), Anakbayan and many more were present to speak on issues affecting Filipinos in the Philippines and worldwide.

Topics such as Filipinos seeking jobs abroad, red-tagging, continued perpetrating on activists, human right defenders, community organizers, counter-insurgency programs, the worsening socioeconomic conditions in the Philippines, the treatment of overseas and migrant workers and more, were all spoken about during the rally.

One event that recently occurred, and was spoken about in the rally, was the murder of the Fausto family of Negros Occidental. The family was brutally slain last month on June 14, 2023. They were active members of the Baclayan, Bito, Cabagal Farmers and Farmworkers Association (BABICAFA). Before their murder, the Fausto parents had been red-tagged and were subjected to physical and mental harassments, illegal searches and coercion.

The rally aims to bring awareness to events like these with the PSONA, and demand a stop on the violence to vulnerable communities. The crowd would yell “SHAME!” while topics like these would be spoken about.

The rally ended with chants from all over to the beat of “We Will Rock You.”

Together as one community – the PSONA attendees embraced the heritage of the Philippines and the strong power that comes from unity.

The Philippine Reporter – P-SONA 2023 in Toronto highlights poverty, red-tagging, corruption