Thousands of Filipinos marched on the streets of Metro Manila and other parts of the country on 26 July, calling out the Rodrigo Duterte government as an “epic failure” and demanding an end to his “incompetent, corrupt, treasonous and murderous regime.” The protests marked Duterte’s State of the Nation Address before the joint Houses of Congress, his last before the presidential elections of May 2022.
Uniting under the calls “Duterte Wakasan” and “WakaSONA” (End Duterte, Final SONA), protesters converged towards the Congress compound in Quezon City in Metro Manila, in Cebu City, Iloilo City, Bacolod City and Aklan in central Philippines and in Duterte’s hometown Davao City in the south. Protests were also mounted in California, Oregon, Washington DC and New York in the US, in Canada and Hong Kong. In front of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, California, protesters condemned “the anti-people dictatorship” of the Duterte regime.
They were united in blaming Duterte for the murder of tens of thousands of Filipinos in his ‘war on drugs’ and ‘anti-terrorist’ hysteria. They also condemned his failed, militaristic response against the Covid-19 pandemic. Various groups of workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, students, teachers, health workers, lawyers, religious leaders, artists, journalists and other sectors took turns in exposing the real ‘state of the nation’, disputing Duterte’s speech in Congress.
In his SONA, Duterte inflated his regime’s achievements in the last five years, claiming victories against ‘communist insurgency’, illegal drugs, criminality and corruption. He also touted his regime’s “independent foreign policy” and claimed to have “taken away the misery of public commuting”.
Defiant against the impending investigation of the International Criminal Court on his regime, Duterte said, “Those who destroy my country, I will kill you! And those who destroy the young people of our country, I will kill you! I will destroy you because I love my country.”
Netizens mocked Duterte for claiming ‘victories’ where he has failed. “An epic failure,” they said, posting under hashtags #DutertePalpak (Failure), #DuterteInutil (Incompetent) and #DuterteWakasan (End Duterte).
On the streets, the protesters decried the fictions and the deadly threats. Ms. Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of human rights alliance Karapatan, said Duterte once again confirmed “his deranged desire to continue his kill, kill, kill policy, even going as brazen as giving the order to ‘shoot them dead’ in the halls of Congress.”
Renato Reyes, Secretary General of BAYAN patriotic alliance, added that Duterte has “signaled that the massacre policy will remain in place for the remaining months of his term.”
Ms. Palabay said, “All these, and more, make the calls to end Duterte’s murderous regime and to prosecute him for his atrocities ever more urgent. One more year of Duterte is too long… We cannot allow this tyrannical and incompetent governance continue to claim lives and freedoms.”