Anakbayan challenges Duterte to heed Filipino people’s clamour for genuine change

As Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gets ready to take Malacañang in the wake of his victory in the May 2016 polls, Anakbayan calls on the next president of the Republic of the Philippines to heed the Filipino people’s clamour for genuine change.

Duterte’s victory is a clear rejection of the anti-poor and anti-people program, policies, and big business-landlord interests represented by the Noynoy Aquino administration and ruling Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas.

The stunning defeat of the ruling party’s standard bearer in spite of the blatant use of public funds and resources to secure an electoral win shows the deep public disgust to the corruption, human rights abuses, incompetence, and everything rotten that “Tuwid na Daan” represents.

We challenge Duterte to give weight to this “protest vote” by carrying out his campaign pledge of punishing corruption starting with outgoing President Aquino and Budget Secretary Butch Abad who are involved in plunder and corruption through the pork barrel system.

We furthermore counsel the incoming chief executive to avoid appointing tainted individuals who are associated with the rotten rule of the previous Aquino and Arroyo administrations and instead make true his campaign promise of putting progressives in his cabinet.

More importantly, we call on Duterte to, without delay, resume the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Government of the Republic of the Philippines (NDFP-GRP) peace negotiations which has been stalled for 15 long years during the prior 2 administrations.

We call for the immediate release of all 561 political prisoners, 82 of whom are suffering from ailments and 136 of whom are still in the prime of their youth. They are dissidents now languishing in jails across the country just because of their political beliefs.

Anakbayan believes that just and lasting peace can be achieved not by rehashing the military solution preferred by the previous administrations but by addressing the politico-economic roots of the armed conflict by pursuing genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.

However, this can only be achieved by undertaking a serious shift from neoliberal economics that has been a tried and tested formula for depriving people access to basic services and violating their rights in the last 30 years. Duterte’s recent pronouncements on expanding privatization, trade liberalization, and economic deregulation runs counter to this commitment.

We urge the incoming President to match his talk about being the “first leftist president” with action by distributing land for the tillers, ending contractualization, enacting a P750 national minimum wage, giving basic social services for all, and respecting civil liberties.

Anakbayan challenges Duterte to adopt a youth agenda of providing free education at all levels, imposing tuition hikes moratorium, and immediately stopping the K-12 program which has caused more burdens to students’ families and threatens to dislocate thousands of teachers.

We likewise exhort Duterte to discontinue blurting tasteless statements and actuations for the mere sake of shocking the public especially if this would demean women, children, LGBTQ, and other marginalized sectors of society.

Anakbayan holds no illusions that radical changes can be done by one man alone or within the stifling confines of the neo-colonial state given the continuing entrenchment of oligarchic interests and the hidden hand of US imperialism.

Genuine social change can only come from the collective action of the Filipino people. Only by uniting with the people’s movement can a Duterte presidency succeed in asserting national sovereignty, empowering the people against the ruling elites, and overseeing development that benefits the majority.

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