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The People’s SONA 2023

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The People’s SONA 2023

by Migrante Canada

The People’s SONA, the State of the People, is the Filipino people’s opportunity to say their story and hold this against that of the state of the nation address of the President. Bakit? Simple lang. The people’s story is not told. The state of the nation is delivered with a barrage of  statistics, of glowing reports of “economic recovery”, and the deliberate rebranding of the Marcos family image. What was not said in the president’s SONA at the Batasang Pambansa was what was shouted out loud in the People’s SONA, out in the Parliament of the Street.

The People’s SONA outside of the Batasang Pambansa was multiplied by similar protest actions in cities such as Bicol, Naga, Baguio, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro. Overseas migrant organizations held their protest actions in at least eight (8) cities in the Asia Pacific Region; six (6) cities in Canada and eight (8) cities in the United States, out on the streets, online, and indoors.

At the Migrante International’s Global Online Rally, Filipino migrant leaders from overseas chapters in the US, Canada, Asia Pacific and the Middle East showed their overwhelming response to Marcos Jr’s performance and gave him the mark of “FAIL!” “Instead of addressing the pressing problems of Filipinos on his first year, Marcos Jr. capitalized on our suffering to expand and speed up the overseas deployment of Filipinos,” said Migrante International chairperson Joanna Concepcion. This included the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), the “government’s marketing arm, actively entering into memoranda of agreement with countries” wanting Filipino skilled labour.

“Instead of addressing the most pressing problems of Filipinos during his first year in office, Marcos Jr. took advantage
of our suffering to expand and accelerate the overseas deployment of Filipinos,” said Migrante International chair Joanna Concepcion.

Renato Reyes, Jr of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) summed up the state of the nation succinctly: “The state of the nation is the state of economic decline, state of impunity, and the state of trampled sovereignty.”

Marcos Jr. was silent on the issue of drivers who were on strike. He skipped the matter of human rights violations, the extrajudicial killings on the “war on drugs” under Duterte, the investigation of the International Criminal Court and the continuing attacks against activists, that include murder, abduction, arrests, red tagging. That silence means that impunity continues. His mention of the “rule of law” seemed to be more of policing! No hope was heard on the resumption of peace negotiations with the NDFP and the work on resolving the 54-year-old civil war raging in the country.

Nothing was said about the tanker carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel oil which sank off Oriental Mindoro last February and caused the oil spill in the waters of Antique, Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, and Palawan.

He kept quiet about our claim on the West Philippine Sea and China. His shift in his foreign policy of “a friend to all and enemy of none” only showed too clearly that he does not care about the country’s national sovereignty.  At his first SONA, he said that he will “not preside over any process that will abandon even a square inch of the territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power.” He repeated those pretend fighting words to the alumni at the Philippine Military Academy homecoming earlier this year, “This country will not lose one inch of its territory.” Marcos Jr. lies. The people will lose not just an inch, but our whole territory! In his relations with the US, he has opened our territory, our country to four new bases, bringing to nine the number of US bases/facilities for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

He glosses over the Maharlika Investment Fund but does not say that he has sent the Philippine economic delegation and his Finance Secretary to Canada to invite the Canadian business community to invest in the MIF, shamelessly selling the Philippines, by declaring that the Philippines is now open to 100 percent foreign ownership of public services and renewable energy! Marcos Jr continues the program of exporting our labour force through the Department of Migrant workers and the Labour Export Policy, he sells our seas, our mountains and forests, the minerals underneath our waters and lands, and he talks about not losing one inch of our territory! He has spat on our national sovereignty; he has sold our national patrimony. Nothing will be left for our people, our children, and generations to come.

Glowing economic statistics mean nothing to the overwhelming majority of Filipinos who want food on the table, living wages, decent livelihood, jobs that can feed their families, support to work their farms, all the basic needs that make for a dignified and decent way of life. When Marcos Jr said “Nakita natin ang pagbaba ng presyo ng mga bilihin tulad ng bigas, isda, asukal,” a netizen answered back: “Nasaang bansa ka ba, deng?”  Another pulled up the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority and wrote “prices have gone up across the board from June 2022 to June 2023.”

In typical Pinoy humour, another one wrote: “Napakagaling ni Presidente Marcos, nakakawala ng pagod. Napapalitan ng galit.”

Levity aside, the People’s SONA raised their demands, their concerns in clear and easy to understand calls that included: “Dagdag na Sahod, Kabuhayan at Pagkain sa Mesa! Itigil ang Karahasan! Kapakanan ng Masa, Hindi Maharlika!” Overseas Filipinos added their demands: “Serbisyo, Hindi Negosyo! Serbisyo Ilaan, Pagmamatyag at Harassment, Wakasan!”