June 14, 2020 (1:33 PM)

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OUTCRY. Student organizations and progressive groups assemble online to protest their grievances against the government and its performance throughout the pandemic via Bluejeans App, on Independence day. Screenshot taken from NUSP Davao Facebook Live.

In mockery of the alleged double standards in enforcing quarantine guidelines, student and progressive organizations last June 12 commemorated Independence Day through an online “manañita” via Facebook Live to voice out their grievances against the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the government’s poor performance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Representatives from the College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Davao (CEGP-Davao), National Union of Students of the Philippines-Davao (NUSP-Davao), the student government of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP), the LGBT Community, and youth workers were among the speakers for the online manañita.

The event covered discussions on the different sectors of the government and the issues faced by each during the pandemic.

Education and Healthcare

Harvey Lao, President of the USEP-Obrero Student Government, urged the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and other educational institutions to further support both students and teachers in the projected “blended learning” modality to be applied during classes.

“[This is] because some of the students may not afford the additional cost of education, because of the shift to online classes, or as they brand it, blended learning,” Lao said

“At kung ito naman po ang blended learning, let us speed up po the production of modules, capacitate our teachers, enable the resources to reach even to the underprivileged,” he continued.

Krisha Pongcamos, a representative from Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao, slammed the urgency given by the government to the Anti-Terror Bill. She emphasized  that the bill would only repress the value of criticism and information dissemination. Furthermore, she stated that pursuing the bill equates to more unjust attacks to the people.

“Ang epekto ng pagpapatahimik at institutionalisadong pang-aatake sa mga aktibista at sa mga kritiko ay nangngangahulugang mas lalawak ang kapangyarihan ni Duterte, at mas madali niyang mapasa ang mga neo-liberal, kontra-mamamayan, pro-US at pro-China na mga batas,” Pongcamos claimed.

Jeo Omar, a member of Kabatabaan Partylist- Southern Mindanao and a part of the LGBT+ Community, stressed that the government should first prioritize the health of the masses, especially the frontliners, by pursuing mass testing and contact tracing.

“Kailangan natin bigyang tuon ang pangangailangan ng ating mga kapwa Pilipino sa pag-angat ng healthcare system,” she said. “Ang kailangan talaga natin ay ang free mass testing at contact tracing… para matugunan at macontrol ng spread ng COVID-19.”

Resisting the Anti-Terror Bill 

During the event’s conclusion, Jayvie Cabajes, Vice President of the Kabataan Partylist for Mindanao, criticized the government for pursuing the bill saying that it reveals the incompetence of the current administration to serve the people.

“Ginadali nila ang pagratsada ni ini para malegitimize ug mahimong legal ang pag-atake nila sa mga nagaoposisyon, mga dissenters, ug mga nagatuligsa sa rehimen kay dili na matago ang kabulok sa sistema na iyang ginapamalakad sa atong nasud,” he said.

Last June 9, the House of Representatives transmitted the Anti-Terorrism Bill to the Malacanang Palace. President Rodrigo Duterte could now either sign the said bill, veto it, or not act on it which means the bill would lapse into law 30 days after receipt. 

“Karon, ato nang gunitan ang usa ka challenge sa mga kabatan-unan. Kung kaya sa una, kaya nato mabuhat na sa karon” Cabajes stressed.

The said event is part of the nationwide ‘mañanita’ protests to junk the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

It was conceptualized after Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas drew flak last month for calling the gathering for his birthday celebration a “mañanita”. To date, Sinas remains in his post and is yet to be held accountable for violating quarantine protocols.



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