The protests against Rodrigo Duterte, the 16th President of the Philippines, began on November 18, 2016 following the burial of late president Ferdinand Marcos, which Duterte supported. Duterte had been criticized locally and internationally due to his implementation of war on drugs in the country. These series of protests are conducted by several left-wing groups and other opponent figures.
Since his inauguration on June 30, Duterte implemented the war against illegal drugs in the country, promising to kill thousands of people involved in the drug trade. This campaign was criticized by local politicians and international human rights, and was attracted by international media, due to human rights violations and high number of killings amid drug campaign.
The youngest known person killed in the drug operation is the 17-year-old student, Kian Loyd delos Santos, from Caloocan, on August 16, 2017. The killing sparked the controversy among the local politicians and militant groups, and triggered massive protest in the country. The family of Delos Santos, on August 25, filed murder and torture charges against police officers involved in the drug operation.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Duterte supported the burial of late President and dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery in Taguig. On November 8, 2016, the Supreme Court permitted Marcos' burial in a 9–5–1 vote. Marcos was buried at the Heroes' Cemetery on November 18. Following his burial, protests — organized by, mostly, youths from various universities, militant groups and local politicians — sparked in the whole country.
A series of protest and strike action staged by jeepney drivers in the Philippines to oppose the government's plan to phaseout jeepneys over 15 years old. The strike, which started on February 6 and 27, caused hundreds of passengers to be stranded. As a result of protests, classes in the country were suspended, as well as the government work. Transport groups resumed the protests on September 24 and October 14 to 16. On October 18, 2017, Duterte said that on January 1, next year, "If you can’t modernize that, leave. You’re poor? Son of a bitch, go ahead, suffer in poverty and hunger, I don’t care.” However, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Martin Delgra said the next day that Duterte's call was only his "expression of urgency". It's proposal of jeepney modernization will displace 270,000 jeepneys nationwide and around 650,000 drivers and it costs up to P1.6 million.
In January 2018, an operation called “Tanggal Usok, Tanggal Bulok” was implemented by Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) for the dilapidated and smoke belching jeepneys. However, its commuters gave a difficult time in riding jeepneys, particularly the students who arrived late in their class. Commuters expressed their frustration on social media for apprehending the jeepneys that causes the commuters to be stranded.
The "Walk for Life" was a mass demonstration organized by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) protesting the reintroduction of the death penalty and call for an end to killings amid the country's ongoing "war on drugs". On February 18, 2017, the march gathered approximately 20,000 Filipino Catholics in Manila. The church had led the revolutions that successfully toppled former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001. Among those who joined the rally was Senator Leila de Lima, a critic of Duterte who opposes the war on drugs. On January 30, 2017, the CBCP issued a statement opposing the revival of the death penalty. CBCP President Socrates Villegas called on the Filipino people to join a rally, which the CBCP had called a "Walk for Life", opposing the killings amid the country's war on drugs.
A five-month-long armed conflict in Marawi, Lanao del Sur, that started on 23 May 2017, between Philippine government security forces and militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi jihadist groups. The battle also became the longest urban battle in the modern history of the Philippines. Following the clash, Duterte declared martial law in the whole Mindanao.
Several groups led the protest on the day of President Duterte's second State of the Nation Address (SONA). According to Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bayan, the president’s promises of improvements during his first SONA still remained unfulfilled, including issues on contractualization, land reforms, and economic policy. Reyes also said that, “Under his administration, regularization has already happened: It is now regular to kill drug suspects, regular to sabotage peace talks, regular to militarize, and regular to spread fake news and disinformation.” Also, labor unions Kilusang Mayo Uno and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon led similar protests, calling "to resume peace talks and to end martial law in Mindanao." About 5,000 members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan from Roxas City, 3,000 in Iloilo City, 2,500 in Kalibo, 500-800 in Cebu City, and 500 in Estancia, Iloilo joined the protest, concerning an end to contractualization, land reform, free education and jeepney modernization. Also, about 300 Lumad people joined the protest, calling to stop the martial law. At midnight, around 100 anti-Duterte protesters held a candle vigil, led by Senator Risa Hontiveros, condemning the extrajudicial killings and extension of martial law in Mindanao. Hontiveros called Duterte's second SONA a "fake".
At night, Duterte confronted the protesters for the first time.
On September 21, 2017, a nationwide protests — also known as "National Day of Protest" — are conducted by various groups against the government's implementation of war on drugs and the ongoing martial law in the whole of Mindanao under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, as part of the commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in 1972 by late President Marcos. As the day of protest approaching, Malacañang Palace released Duterte’s Proclamation No. 319 and Memorandum Circular no. 26 on this day. A Memorandum Circular no. 26 states that government offices and public schools at all levels are suspended. Duterte said that he will not condone any means of violence committed by protesters. Duterte even dared the communist New People's Army "to bring the protests to Manila, as he vowed not to arrest them."
Left-wing activists and opposition of Duterte accused him of abuses and authoritarianism similar to that of the late dictator Marcos. Vice President Leni Robredo states that “If we do not remember the past, we are condemned to repeat it. Sadly those who are deceived do not even know that they are walking a doomed path.” In Plaza Miranda, about 500 pro-Duterte rallyists occupied in front of the Quiapo Church. Teddy Casiño said to Duterte that "he is the subject of the protest", after the latter declares September 21 a day of protest. Pro and anti-Duterte rallyists also engaged in chant battle. A group of pro-Duterte supporters are seen elsewhere in the city, calling to stop the "destabilization," which is rumored to be made by the opposition.
On November 5, 2017, the Catholic Church held a prayer rally and healing mass along the EDSA highway, the site of the People Power Revolution, to oppose the extrajudicial killings. The procession was attended by around 3,500 people. CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said:
“Let us ask that our prayers for the country’s healing be answered. The November 5 activity has no colors. It will stand for transparency, clarity of vision, purity of heart. We won’t be there to shout and hold a rally. We will pray and whisper to Jesus’ heart to ask for forgiveness, forgiveness for the country that sinned.”
Administration opponent groups such as Movement Against Tyranny and Tindig Pilipinas were present at the event. They clarified that the event was to only express frustration, not the "destabilization." Opposition politicians such as Senators Bam Aquino, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Antonio Trillanes were also present.
Protests erupted from November 9—14, 2017, thousands staged the protest against the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit hosted by the Philippines. Their call was to ban the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump, who visited the country to attend ASEAN-related summits as a dialogue partner. It is because, according to student leader Elijah San Pedro, Trump seemingly "to have dragged the Philippines into his war rhetorics against North Korea." Atty. Aaron Pedrosa of SANLAKAS also said that Mamasapano massacre and the war in Marawi were created by the U.S.-led War on Terror. Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights slammed the Trump administration for "'funding' the administration's war on drugs." The Philippine Coast Guard reported that protesters attempted to bribe fishermen to get them close to the United States Embassy. A group of protesters led by Anakbayan managed to reached the gate of Philippine International Convention Center, despite tight security.
Militant group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) also staged protests against Trump. A group said that the ₱15.5-billion ($292 million) budget of the ASEAN Summit could have been used for the poor. Aside from Trump, protesters also burned the images of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, whom "protesters said are responsible for the anti-Filipino and imperialistic agenda allegedly promoted by the Duterte administration."
Anti-riot police used water cannon and sonic alarm to repel activists. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, led by Renato Reyes, have the Trump's effigy — with four rotating hands shaped into the swastika symbol and President Rodrigo Duterte can be seen behind — burned. Despite being fired by the water cannon, the protesters continue to push forward against the blocking police. It is reported that 20 members of militant groups were injured after engaged the clash with the police. Trump arrived in the country on November 12.
On October 2017, Duterte said that he would declare a revolutionary government against the supposed conspirator of destabilizing the government made by the communist rebels, Liberals and other factions. He said to the media that “’Pag ang (if the) destablization ninyo patagilid na at medyo magulo na (would be shaky and more trouble), I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term.” The next month, he clarified that he would only declare a revolutionary government if “things go out of control.” Should the revolutionary government declared, "he would order the security forces to arrest all destabilizers and go on a full-scale war against communist rebels." Duterte draws criticism from the opposition, stating that the declaration is a beginning of the stage towards his dictatorship.
On November 30, as part of the celebration of Bonifacio Day, a protest was held, condemning the revolutionary government threat. On the other side, around thousands of Duterte supporters gathered at Mendiola, urging Duterte to declare a revolutionary government. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque advised the pro-revolutionary government supporters "to conduct their rallies in a peaceful, orderly manner." Harry Roque also said that “The president has earlier said that he does not want a revolutionary government. This, however, does not mean he would prevent citizens from expressing their support for a revolutionary government.”
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines staged a protest, dubbed as "Black Friday Protest for Freedom", in Quezon City and other parts of the country such as Bacolod and Zamboanga City on the evening of January 19, 2018, following the revocation of online news site Rappler by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) eight days prior. At the same time, National Bureau of Investigation has issued a subpoena against CEO Maria Ressa, former reporter Reynaldo Santos, and businessman Benjamin Bitanga for violating the anti-cybercrime act. The protest was attended by 300 people, wearing black T-shirts, against the attacks on press freedom by the government. Rappler is known to be critical of the Duterte administration. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that Duterte has no involvement in the SEC's decision. Roque said that the Friday protest “is a testament that freedom is alive and democracy is alive in the Philippines.” Nevertheless, the revocation was widely condemned by the opposition figures such as Kadamay chairperson Gloria Arellano and Senator Leila de Lima, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Anakbayan, UP Diliman, and as well as The New York Times. Other bloggers and journalists were also present at the protest.
The February 23 walkout by thousands of students from different universities nationwide, along with other several opponent sectors, occurred when they protest against the jeepney phaseout and ongoing martial law in the Mindanao. The hashtag #WalkOutPH reached more than 3,000 tweets and at least 2.6 million impressions on Twitter.
Demonstrators commemorate the 32nd anniversary of People Power Revolution (also dubbed as “People Werpa”) on February 25, 2018, which was successfully ended the dictatorship of Marcos on the same day of 1986. According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte will not attend the event but instead "the President will be in his home province in Davao City". Last year, Duterte also did attend the event. As the day approaches, several groups including students, activists, and other opponents held the protests against Duterte administration issues. An online poll conducted by Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, stating "Naniniwala ba kayo na ang 1986 EDSA PEOPLE POWER ay isang produkto ng FAKE NEWS???" ("Do you think the 1986 EDSA People Power is a product of fake news?"), which garnered 84% voted "yes" out of 61,800 respondents. However, Harry Roque said that the event is not 'fake news'.
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The contractualization defines "a practice where a company hires contractual workers only when is necessary" while "endo" (end of contract) "refers to the scheme that corrupt companies exercise to abuse their workers.". The above-mentioned was heavily opposed by the labor groups as they urged Duterte to sign executive order (EO) that will regulate contractualization. According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the EO will be possibly signed on May 1, Labor Day. However, on April 19, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III confirmed that there will be no longer an executive order, and, instead, the Congress will be the one to pass it.
Shibby de Guzman, then a 13-year-old student from St. Scholastica's College, Manila who stood up against the burial of Marcos and war on drugs, is included in the Time's 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017.
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