Philippine Independence Day

IN PHOTOS: Independence Day 2021 protests around the Philippines

Joven Jacolbia
IN PHOTOS: Independence Day 2021 protests around the Philippines

CHINA OUT. Youth groups lead protest action against West Philippine Sea occupation and human rights abuses at the Chinese Consulate in Makati on Saturday, June 12.

Photo from College Editors Guild of the Philippines

Groups nationwide hold on-ground mobilizations and coastal protests to raise the call to fight for freedom against the attacks on Philippine independence

Various groups nationwide urged the government to end its dependence to the United States and China as they raised their call for “true freedom” on Saturday, June 12. This was the second time Filipinos commemorated Independence Day under a persistent COVID-19 pandemic.

They conducted on-ground mobilizations and coastal protests, in an intense call for freedom against attacks on Philippine independence. They urged government to fight back against Chinese militarization of the West Philippine Sea and to end President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of neglecting China’s encroachment into Philippine waters. 

Aside from the calls for Philippine sovereignty, groups also clamored for an end to human rights abuses and the controversial Anti-Terror Law.

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On 123rd Independence Day, groups slam gov’t over West Philippine Sea

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Metro Manila

Human rights activists, students, indigenous groups trooped to the Chinese Consulate in Makati to make the call even clearer to China. (READ: TIMELINE: China’s vessels swarming Julian Felipe Reef, West PH Sea)

Human rights group Karapatan, which held an earlier demonstration at the University of the Philippines Diliman, urge China to get its hands off the West Philippine Sea.

CALL FOR FREEDOM. Human rights group Karapatan joins Independence Day motorcade with its ‘M/V Karapatan’ in a bid to call for the protection of human rights and Philippine sovereignty.
Photo from Karapatan

Makabayan Bloc lawmakers and LGBTQ+ organization Bahaghari urged the government to end China and US dependence and called for the ouster of President Duterte. 

ATIN ANG PINAS. Protesters from various groups lead an Independence Day mobilization in Makati City in a bid to call for Philippine sovereignty.
Photo from Arlene Brosas

The Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), which described Duterte as a “puppet,” slammed the government’s neoliberal policies such as the economic charter change, the CREATE Law, and jeepney phaseout.

CALL FOR OUSTER. Protesters at the Chinese Consulate in Makati calls for the ouster of President Duterte on Saturday, June 12.
Photo from PUP’s The Catalyst

Filipino activists from Milk Tea Alliance, the largest international solidarity movement in Asia for human rights & democracy, joined the Makati protest and also stood in solidarity with activists in Hongkong, Thailand, and Myanmar, who were also experiencing persecution from their governments.

SOLIDARITY. Activists from Milk Tea Alliance Philippines call for ASEAN solidarity against Chinese aggression in Southeast Asia and nearby regions
Photo from Milk Tea Alliance Philippines

After the protests at the consulate, the caravan went to the Israeli embassy in Taguig to show support and solidarity with Palestine and urged the US-Israeli forces to stop the terrors in Gaza strip and Palestine lands.

In Manila Bay, small fishers from Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (​PAMALAKAYA) – Cavite joined the coastal protest. The group said that President Duterte is the major stumbling block in regaining control over West Philippine Sea.

CALL FOR SOVEREIGNTY. Fishers from PAMALAKAYA-Cavite joins the coastal protest on Independence Day.

Fishers in Botolan, Zambales, kicked off Independence Day protests by marching along the shorelines of West Philippine Sea. They were chanting, “Atin Ang Pinas! China Layas!” while carrying Philippine flags.

These fishers used to frequent Panatag Shoal (Scarborough) until it was occupied by Chinese forces.

COASTAL PROTEST. Fishers in Botolan, Zambales hold an Independence Day demonstration on Saturday, June 12, protesting against Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

Fishers from Rizal staged their localized fluvial protest to support fellow fisherfolks in Zambales.

PAMALAKAYA also added that “it is unlikely to regain control of West Philippine Sea not especially under the Duterte regime which is subservient to China”. For them, “Duterte’s subservience emboldens China to become more aggressive in our territorial waters.”

FLUVIAL PROTEST. Fisherfolks conducts a fluvial parade in Rizal province on Saturday, June 12.
Photo from Pamalakaya

In Kawit, Cavite, where independence from Spain was declared 123 years ago, Southern Tagalog activists and other concerned groups staged a protest denouncing “false liberty” as the country still grappled with US and China imperialism. 

CALL FOR INDEPENDENCE. ctivists from Southern Tagalog stage a protest in Kawit, Cavite on Saturday, June 12 to commemorate Independence Day.
Photo from League of the Philippines Students – Cavite

In Cebu, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)- Central Visayas led the Independence Day protest at the Cebu Heritage Park in Parian

INDEPENDENCE DAY PROTEST. Protesters gather at the Cebu Heritage Park in Parian on Saturday, June 12.
Photo courtesy of AMA Sugbo-KMU

In Bacolod City, progressive groups led by Bayan Negros also commemorated the Independence day through a protest-march towards the Fountain of Justice to denounce Duterte’s continued puppetry to US and China and the human rights abuses in the region.

Negros Island is one of the hotspots for cases of police brutality and killings, with activists being constantly targeted with death threats.

PROTEST MARCH. Protesters in Bacolod join Independence Day protest march in Bacolod City.
Photo from Panghimutad Negros Island

In the Duterte hometown, youth and workers from BAYAN – Southern Mindanao led a bike protest going to the Chinese Consulate in Davao to demand Chinese forces to leave the West Philippine Sea. 

However, they failed to reach the consulate as the police barricaded the road to the Chinese consulate.

“We condemn these acts of the police in Davao City as they became instruments of the Duterte regime to be the defender of their imperialist masters — US and China,” Kabataan Southern Mindanao said in a tweet.

BLOCKED. Activists on bikes were prevented from holding protest at the police-barricaded Chinese Consulate in Davao City
Photo from Kabataan Southern Mindanao

Other groups held their activities online to show solidarity with the Filipinos on Independence Day. –

Joven Jacolbia is a Rappler volunteer studying organizational communication at the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM). He is Editor-in-Chief of Assortedge Media and Research and Education Head of Bahagsari UPM.