By April Burcer
Despite pouring rain, political, human rights, faith-based, labor and other groups gathered at Liwasang Bonifacio Tuesday afternoon, June 12, to commemorate ‘HINDIpendence Day’, their own version of Philippine Independence Day.
“We are not genuinely free,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary-General Renato Reyes said about their message with holding the rally.
“Even if we commemorate Independence Day today, we feel it is HINDIpendence Day. We need to continue with our ancestors’ struggle for freedom,” Reyes said.
“Hindi” is the Filipino word for “not”.
The rally included speeches by leaders about issues including President Rodrigo Duterte’s tax reform law, extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations, violence against minority groups, China’s encroachment on the West Philippine Sea, attacks against freedom of expression, the president’s misogynic statements, labor issues and poverty.
Earlier, the same groups held Independence Day rallies in front of the Chinese Embassy in Makati and the United States Embassy in Manila while Bayan-Southern Tagalog protested as Duterte delivered his Independence Day speech at the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit Cavite.
“In our celebration of Independence Day, it is right that we ask ourselves: Are we enjoying genuine freedom? Is there freedom when our fisherfolk are like foreigners in our own seas, they who are already poor whose catch at sequestered on the high seas?,” a message from detained Senator Leila de Lima asked the Liwasang Bonifacio crowd.
“Is it freedom that we have a cowardly government in regard to our right to freedom of expression? Is it freedom that women’s dignity is being trampled and the people’s right is crudely violated?” the Senator added.
Anakpawis Partylist Representative Fernando Hicap echoed de Lima’s condemnation, saying the harassments against fisherfolk started when China conducted construction activities and occupied islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador for her part denounced the Duterte governments Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, saying women the unpopular measure continue to impose greater burden on the Filipino family through higher prices of basic goods and services.
Labor leaders Lito Ustarez from Kilusang Mayo Uno and Joshua Mata of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa criticized the failure of the Duterte government to end contractualization and its rejection of the P750 national minimum wage proposal.
Other participating groups included #BabaeAko, Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Alitaptap, Dampi, Girls for Peace, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, and Suara Bangsamoro.
When asked why he joined the rally, Bicolano artist Edwin dela Torre said, “First, is there still hope? I wanted to hear other people’s motivation. As an artist, I believe in the power of songs, visual arts, dances for the achievement of change—even if we just start with ourselves.”
The program featured performances by Danny Fabella of Musikang Bayan, Maya Santos of Girls for Peace, Tubaw Music Collective and CRC Children’s Collective.
Tension cropped up when the participants tried to take down a Duterte poster hung by President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters at the Bonifacio munoment, but police intervened.#
Representatives from various organizations laid out the different issues their “HINDIpendence Day” event would tackle on June 12, Philippine Independence Day. (Video by Louella Marie Ladaran)