MANILA, Philippines – Various groups and child rights’ advocates slammed the current administration’s performance ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 22.
Through the SONA, the president is expected to flaunt his administration’s achievements throughout the past year and lay down the legislative agenda for the next 12 months. (READ: 12 things to expect at Duterte’s SONA 2019)
Groups, meanwhile, have held rallies and even alternative SONAs to showcase their perspective of the Duterte administration’s policies and actions for that period.
Child rights’ advocates, especially, blasted the administration’s supposed anti-child policies on Friday, July 19.
Gabriela Women’s party-list representative Arlene Brosas, along with Caloocan Bishop-Emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez, Eule Rico Bonganay of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Rose Hayahay of Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, Frances Bondoc of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), and Girls for Peace convenor Marielle Rugas gave the president failing marks for his policies that supposedly threaten the welfare of children and their right to education.
“President Duterte did not only flunk in upholding children’s rights and welfare, but the President himself also is the primary perpetrator of human rights violations against children. The people will never forget his statement during his SONA, when he ordered the bombing of Lumad schools,” said Bonganay.
Bishop Iñiguez slammed the administration’s controversial and bloody war on drugs, which according to local rights monitors now include more than 100 children among its casualties.
“Dahilan sa iligal na pagpatay na ito, maraming mga kabataan natin ang nagiging ulila, ang nawawalan ng kanilang mga magulang. ‘Di lamang ‘yan, mayroon ding mga bata na nadadamay at pinapatay,” Iñiguez, who chairs the child welfare group Akap sa Bata ng mga Guro – Kalinga Philippines, lamented.
(Because of these illegal killings, many children become orphans. Not just that, there are also children who get implicated and killed.)
Three-year-old Myca Ulpina is the latest child victim of the war on drugs.
“Inaasahan kong hindi bulag si Duterte, na kanyang nadarama ang napakalaking impact ng extrajudicial killings (I am hoping that Duterte is not blind, that he sees the huge impact of extrajudicial killings),” added Iniguez.
More than this, Children’s Rehabilitation Center officer-in-charge France Bondoc noted that there are instances when children were not merely implicated but were the actual targets of deadly law enforcement operations.
Advocates called on the government to stop the proposed lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility and the implementation of mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), calling these measures “anti-poor and anti-children.”
“Our children’s future depends on the unity in principle and in action of the people to defend and protect our children,” Bonganay said.
In the same day, peasant women group Amihan together with the families of victims of EJKs and militarization appealed to stop militarization to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and CHR ahead of Duterte’s 4th SONA.
Meanwhile, youth leaders from various organizations assembled for an alternative SONA called SOPAS: State of the Province of China Address at Nepa Q Mart in Cubao, Quezon City on Thursday, July 18.
Led primarily by Akbayan Youth, the alternative SONA hit the administration’s pro-China policies, stressing how the Philippines is seemingly becoming a province of China under Duterte’s term.
They underscored Duterte’s initial silence and response toward the sinking of a boat with 22 fishermen onboard by a Chinese vessel, which the administration downplayed as a mere “maritime incident.”
In the alternative SONA, a man wearing a Duterte mask gave out soup bowls labeled with Duterte’s failed promises and twisted promises.
– with reports from Nico Czar Antonio/Rappler.com
For highlights of President Duterte’s 4th SONA, check out our live blog.
For related stories, visit Rappler’s 2019 State of the Nation Address page.
Rappler takes a deeper look at the first half of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency – its highs and lows, its achievements and shortcomings:
Duterte Year 3: The Halfway Mark