The protests against Rodrigo Duterte, the 16th President of the Philippines, began on November 18, 2016 following the burial of late president Ferdinand Marcos, whom Duterte supported. These series of protests are conducted by several left and right-wing groups and other opponent figures mainly due to ongoing war on drugs in the country and other administration issues.
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 has been the subject of heavy criticism by local politicians and international human rights, as well as the Western 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". Its 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. 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.
On March 8 to April 4, 2017, an urban poor group Kadamay (Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap) led an occupation in the 5,000 idle housing in Pandi, Bulacan, and eventually slamming Duterte for not giving the house to the poor.
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.
Ahead of Duterte's third State of the Nation Address, opposition lawmakers announced that they will wear protest Barongs with artwork. Opposition figures—such as Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Risa Hontiveros, and Bam Aquino—attend the mass at the University of the Philippines Diliman. There, Bishop Broderick Pabillo said on the sermon that the proposed federalism and the charter change are not the solution of wiping out the problem in the country.
On the day of SONA, over 6,000 police officers will deploy in different areas in Metro Manila to secure the SONA. Dubbed the protest as "United People's SONA," different groups coalitions and organizations held a protests on the day of Duterte's third State of the Nation Address nationwide. Bayan Muna Southern Tagalog featured Duterte's effigy and then burned it. Demonstrators gathered at University of the Philippines Diliman, slamming the series of killings in the country and the increase of basic goods due to Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN law) while some considering to "Oust Duterte." Gabriela, in Commonwealth Avenue in front of Tandang Sora flyover, also slammed Duterte by bearing the messages in the tarpaulin, "Manyakis," "Dutertambay,", "Bomba King," and "Endoterte." In Bicol, militant groups also held a rally. Meanwhile, Pro-Duterte groups also gathered in Batasan Road.
On September 21, 2017, 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 Duterte administration, 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 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."[note 3] 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 September 21, 2018, nationwide protests are conducted, marking the 46th anniversary of Martial Law. These protests are mainly conducted by several groups such as Youth Act Now Against Tyranny and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. They also featured the menacing artworks of Duterte, along with former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Ferdinand and Bongbong Marcos. Also, removed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno also present at the event. Liberal Party members held the event by mass. Meanwhile, pro-Duterte supporters also held the demonstration. Other groups featured the pile of buckets with the pictures of Duterte, the Marcoses, newly-appointed Chief Justice Teresita de Castro and other Duterte's cabinet — parodying the milk brand Alaska, which was then being toppled by the slippers.
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, Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes — who said that the decision is similar to Duterte's strategy against De Lima's imprisonment for drug charges, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Anakbayan, UP Diliman, and the anonymous critic from The New York Times. Other bloggers and journalists were also present at the protest.
Duterte signed the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, also known as TRAIN law, on December 19, 2017 that lowers personal income taxes while increases the price of fuel, cars, coal and sugar-sweetened drinks. Since then, it was met by the protests among the groups, who said that the TRAIN law made the people (especially poor) burden.
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 actions. 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'.
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.
On May 1, 2018, about 20,000 protesters[note 4] clad in red shirts gathered at Mendiola for the much awaited of "endo" termination, featuring Duterte's effigies. Duterte signed the executive order about ending of end-of-contract scheme or "endo". However, what Duterte signed about is for the employers not the workers — not the EO they had drafted, much to the dismay of the labor groups. Before that, Duterte promised on February to signed the EO but it was postponed to March 15 and then on April 16. The signed EO garnered mixed reception from various groups. Therefore, labor groups vowed to held a larger protest until the contractualization is ended.
Demonstrations staged by the supporters of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno occurred, following her impeachment process filed against her and her subsequent indefinite leave. The main reasons for the impeachment proceedings, according to the complainant, lawyer Larry Gadon, was that Sereno allegedly failed to declare her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) and was also responsible for tax misdeclarations and unauthorized expenses.
On April 10, a video showing Gadon approaches in front of the Sereno supporters and the blocking police officers several meters away, raises his middle finger and shouts "Mga bobo" (English: Idiots), prompting the supporters to filed the complaint against Gadon nine days later.
After Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against her, the Supreme Court voted for the removal of Sereno from the high court on May 11, 2018 with the votes of 8-6. At the same time, supporters of Sereno gathered at the streets near the Supreme Court. Politicians expressed condemnation of ousting Sereno. In the aftermath of ousting Sereno, a prayer rally and protests was conducted in Bacolod, Katipunan Ave, Quezon City, and even displaying a makeshift coffin that, according to the protesters, symbolizes and mourns the "death of democracy" and the "death of judiciary." Among those who joined the rally were former CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales and Archdiocese of Manila Broderick Pabillo. On May 12, church groups members announced that they will held the 10-day vigil in front of the Supreme Court.
On June 10, 2018, a priest, Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan, was gunned down by unknown assailant as he was preparing for evening mass at a small chapel in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija on June 10, 2018 at 6:05 pm. Nilo was the third priest to be killed in the last six months: in December 4, 2017, Marcelito Paez was killed by the unidentified gunmen in Jaen, Nueva Ecija and Mark Ventura on April 29, 2018 in Gattaran, Cagayan.
Following the murder, the Philippine National Police said that they tagged at least five suspects in connection with the killing of Nilo. One of the suspects linked to the murder, Adell Roll Milan—an altar boy at the church, was arrested by the police on June 14. PNP chief Oscar Albayalde identified him a resident of Barangy Malapit, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. The police retrieved surveillance cameras; one showing the two men riding in the motorcycle in a road near the chapel moments before the crime, and another one showing a third suspect who served as lookout while two others were seen in a getaway vehicle. Another CCTV footage, timestamped 5:09 pm, shows Milan is seen riding his motorcycle outside T. Ador Dionisio National High School, roughly 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the church. However, Elena Matias, grandmother of Milan, during the interview with Rappler, said that the police (wearing only civilian clothes) wrongly arrested him as they did not introduce themselves, and did not present any warrant of arrest. The distance between Milan's house and the small chapel is just at least 25 kilometers away. Matias also said that neither she nor her grandson had knowledge of the killing.
Several members from religious sectors, such as CBCP, and opposition politicians, have directly pointed the finger at Duterte, who is known for his attacks against the church—whom are critical of the administration.
On mid-June, Duterte launched the campaign, called Oplan Tambay, against the loiterers (Tagalog: tambays) who violated the city ordinance such as smoking in public places, drinking liquor on the streets, and going shirtless in public. The campaign had at least 8,000 residents were either accosted or apprehended for violating the rules in two weeks. However, this campaign was described by some sectors as another human rights violation being committed by the administration. Randy David, sociology professor of University of the Philippines, said in an opinion statement that Duterte has "able to instill fear in people's minds even without declaring martial law by ordering the Philippine National Police to crack down on "tambays" or street loiterers". Conversely, Chief Insp. Mercy Villaro, spokesperson of the Mandaue City Police Office said the campaign against loiterers "would help address the problem of fraternities in the city." Gabriela party-list blamed Duterte for high volume of loiterers in the streets, citing the government's failure of ending the ENDO and wage increase.
On June 25, a netizen posted a photo of commuters holding a tarpaulin banner saying "Hindi po kami tambay, nag-aabang lang ng jeep. At kung tambay man huwag kaming hulihin, saktan, patayin!" (lit. "We're not hanging out, just waiting for the jeep. And if we do not hang around, strike, kill!") while waiting for a jeepney ride.
A 25-year-old[note 5] Genesis 'Tisoy' Argoncillo, who was arrested during an Oplan Tambay operation on June 15, was allegedly killed by fellow detainees inside the Novaliches Police Station on June 19 after serving 4-days in the detention. According to Argoncillo's elder sister, Marilou Argoncillo, he was watching videos on his phone in front of a store next to their house in Novaliches, Quezon City when police officers arrested him for being a topless. Supt. Carlito Grijaldo, commander of Quezon City Police Station 4, said Argoncillo's death was self-inflicted, claiming the detainee was "mentally disturbed". A death certificate shows that Argoncillo's "immediate cause" of his death was "multiple blunt force trauma" applied to his "head, neck, chest, and upper extremities." QCPD Director Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel said that Argoncillo had no signs of external injuries when the autopsy conducted. The police earlier claimed that Argoncillo had died from shortness of breath. The police filed the charges against the Justin Mercado and Richard Bautista—alleged Sputnik gang members. The two were held responsible for supposedly mauling Argoncillo. According to Esquivel, they have been relieved at least five police officers following the death of Argoncillo.
The so-called "Red October" plot is the alleged rumor of ousting President Duterte from the office. The alleged plot was announced by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on September 24, who said that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), opposition parties such as Liberal Party (LP) and Tindig Pilipinas were behind the planning of the ouster plot. One of the opoosition being mentioned about the involvement is ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who subsequently denied the ousting or removal of the President. Robredo made a statement on September 25, saying that linking the opposition to the plot is a tactic used in the Martial Law and the claim was baseless. She and Senator Antonio Trillanes denied the plot involvement. The Philippine National Police doubted about the plot. The Makabayan bloc denied the involvement in the plot, though they admit that they will held a massive rally the next month. Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that the plot is just hearsay and he added that ousting the President is impossible as Duterte is being given a strong support by the people.
On September 25, the NBI and Philippine Army raided the farm house in Teresa, Rizal where they arrested a Chinese national Lily Ong and confiscated the high-calibre guns. According to the NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin, they still have no evidence proving that Ong and the confiscated guns are connected to the National People's Army (NPA), as well as the "Red October" plot. However, AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said that Ong is connected to the rebel groups and she used the farm house as a hideout for NPA members.
On October 4, the AFP bared that the CPP is allegedly brainwashed the various universities and colleges in Metro Manila to participate against the government through showing the film of darkest years during the Martial Law era. The AFP also had a list of schools which were allegedly involved the plot:
Shortly after the list has shown, representatives from some above-mentioned lists slammed AFP for being included in their plot, with some calling it "baseless and dangerous". The CPP also made a statement, slamming Duterte and the AFP for blaming the communist group in order to justify the plot, and also said that they "would ultimately bring down Duterte administration" not the so-called plot.
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