‘Comprehensive agenda’ : Sectoral groups present set of reforms for Duterte gov’t

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On June 30, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte assumes the highest seat in the country with the promise of change. Over 1,000 leaders from various people’s organizations gathered at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman on June 29 to present their agenda for the first 100 days of the Duterte presidency.

Dubbed as the National People’s Summit, the event presented a detailed set of programs and proposals for the incoming administration, covering reforms for economic development; social policy; peace and human rights; governance and fighting corruption; and national sovereignty and foreign policy. The set of proposals was a result of various sectoral and regional consultations that gathered the different demands and issues of the public, according to People’s Summit convenor Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Among the reforms for economic development is the focus on building the local market through its own industries instead of fully relying on foreign investments. According to research group IBON, foreign investors are allowed to maximize the country’s resources but barely contribute to the Philippine economy. IBON executive director Sonny Africa said that if Pres. Duterte makes it a strategy to build national industries, government will be able to solve problems like unemployment and poverty. “Tingin namin na mailalagay nito sa sentro ang mga pagsisikap ng mamamayan para sa ikauunlad ng ating bansa,” he said. (We think this agenda will put at the center the people’s efforts to develop the economy)

Labor leaders also called for a substantial increase in the national minimum wage, protection of workers’ rights, and putting an end to contractualization. Meanwhile, peasants from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilpinas (KMP) said that their demand for the distribution of land is just and immediate. Indigenous people groups called to end large-scale mining of foreign firms.

Organizers of the Summit also put forward proposals for Duterte’s social policy. They called for greater accessibility to education, health, housing, and social security. Information Communication Technology (ICT) workers also supported the need for faster broadband speed and the removal of the data cap in the country.

Following the Oslo agreement to resume peace talks, the convenors called on Duterte to continue negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). They also urged Duterte to push through his pronouncement of releasing NDF consultants that are supposedly protected under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). Peace advocates and political prisoners’ relatives also want Duterte to uphold human rights despite his controversial remarks towards death penalty and a shoot-to-kill policy towards criminals. Meanwhile, Lumad communities from Surigao del Sur, who were forcibly displaced from their communities, joined the Summit to ask the future Commander-in-Chief to end military presence so they can return to their villages.

The set of reforms also contained proposals for pro-people governance and fight against corruption, including the abolition of pork barrel system through legislation and stricter audit of regular and special funds.

Meanwhile, national sovereignty is also upheld in the agenda with its proposal to remove agreements and deals that can undermine the country’s independence. Liza Maza of Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya (P1NAS) said the country should reject the path taken by Duterte’s predecessors “who faithfully followed US dictates”.

Incoming Cabinet members Judy Taguiwalo of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) and Rafael Mariano of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), both recognized members of progressive groups, promised to discuss the people’s agenda with Pres. Duterte.

Incoming Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo
Incoming Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo

Hindi na bago ang agenda na ito, matagal na nating itong pinaglaban at patuloy na ipaglalaban,” Taguiwalo said. (This agenda is not new, we’ve been fighting for these reforms and we will continue to fight for them.”)

According to Bayan’s Reyes, “The People’s Summit is not just a one-day affair. The agenda will be crucial to the discussions and mobilizations on June 30 and beyond.” He added, “We will rally around the people’s agenda as we encourage the new administration to walk the extra mile for genuine change and just peace.”

Report by Danielle Isaac and Wowie Tubije

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