MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and other progressive organizations met with President Rodrigo Duterte “pawis, putik, (drenched in sweat, mud, and all)” inside Malacañang, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes told Rappler.
“Pasensya na, po, we may not be dressed for the occasion,” Reyes, who was in jeans, recalled telling the president who met with them for an hour Thursday afternoon, June 30, in the Osmeña Room of the Kalayaan Hall in Malacañang.
The activist’s audience with Duterte happened in between the reception for the diplomatic corps and the first Cabinet meeting.
It was the first time that their group was invited to the Palace on inauguration day, Reyes said.
People’s Agenda for Change
- Abolition of labor contractualization
- End to destructive mining
- Immediate distribution of about 6 million hectares of public land to farmers
- Safe return of the displaced Lumad in Mindanao
- Release of political prisoners on humanitarian grounds
- Continuation of peace talks
The activists were at the historic Mendiola Bridge while Duterte was being sworn in as the 16th President of the Philippines when members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) ushered them to the Palace.
It is usually againts Palace protocol to enter Malacañang grounds in jeans, but they made an exception for the activists.
“We wanted a symbolic opening of the Mendiola, but they instead invited the leaders to Malacañang,” Reyes said.
“When it was time to present our tokens, he gamely posed for pictures. He was the first to raise his fist, and we followed his lead. I told him that we don’t remember any sitting president raising his fist like that. He said it was because he was serious in his pledge of bringing change,” Reyes said.
- Former Representative Liza Maza (Makabayan)
- Representative Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis)
- Representative Sarah Elago (Kabataan)
- Elmer Labog (Kilusang Mayo Uno)
- Antonio Flores (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas)
- Cristina Palabay (Karapatan)
- Windel Bolinget (Cordillera Peoples Alliance)
- Eufemia Cullamat (Lumad from CARAGA)
- Diego Torres (Activist from Southern Tagalog)
- Christian Tuayon (Activist from Negros)
“On this historic day, we march to Mendiola with high hopes that the next administration would deliver on its promise of change, and for the next generation to attain peace based on justice,” the group earlier said before they met Duterte.
When Duterte was Davao mayor, he made alliances with progressive groups on various issues. Duterte appointed to his Cabinet at least 3 personalities endorsed by the Left. It also resumed peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF). – Rappler.com