The Filipinos Fight Against Inequality Must Intensify
Nothing should inspire the public’s outrage more than the chasm that exists between the haves and have nots in Philippine society.
And what better indicator can there be of inequality than when poor people suspected of involvement in drugs start dropping dead on the streets while the rich and powerful escape plunder charges through the courts?
We must also collectively ponder our values as a nation when we are disgusted when bullets are planted in our luggage, but applaud when bullets are planted in another person’s head.
But the continuing relevance of democracy is that it leaves room to correct injustices where they are prevalent, and it is there where Akbayan intends to channel its energies for the next six years, in spite of, and despite the allure of strong-man solutions to our country’s woes.
On the occasion of President Duterte’s inaugural State of the Nation Address, Akbayan vows to heed the imperative to fight inequality more than ever. Only in a society where opportunities abound for everyone, can drugs and criminality truly subside. There are no magic bullets for change, just the hard work that is required to open up spaces, provide opportunities for the poor while holding the powerful accountable. It is our hope that this be the language we see in the SONA, and more importantly, be embodied in our policies.
Which is why Akbayan will continue to stand for the sanctity of life, and the rights of even the worst among us -- against the hysteria of vengeance, against the bloodlust of some. We will continue to oppose the re-imposition of the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal liability, even as we work doubly harder to enact the laws that will create and protect more jobs against contractualization; fight for the implementation of women’s reproductive rights; the creation of a department that will oversee and protect the welfare of fisherfolks; a law that will bring justice to coconut farmers; laws that will advance the interests and welfare of health workers; widen the spaces that allow youth participation in governance; a law that will ensure LGBTs are able to enjoy their rights to education and employment.
Akbayan will not give up the fight against corruption even as big time crooks evade justice through legal acrobatics, insulting the steadfast resolve of working peoples everywhere. We will continue to lend our voice in the pursuit of lasting peace against the underdevelopment and conflict in Mindanao.
These are the reforms that will seek to eliminate the barriers that keep the poor impoverished and unable to fulfil their potentials. For in the end, to fight lawlessness is only possible when we create citizens that are able to enjoy their rights to the fullest. That is what the fight against inequality is all about.
Akbayan’s challenge to the Duterte administration is for it to pave the way for this change to come, a change that is decidedly biased for the poor, decisively favors those with less, against those who have made a mockery of our democracy with their greed for wealth and power.
The Duterte administration must allow the passage and continuity of legislation that will truly improve the lot of the marginalized and disempowered. Together, let us prove that we are our brothers’ keepers, not their killers.