“Bayan, bayan, bayan ko
‘Di pa tapos ang laban mo
Rebolusyon ni Bonifacio
Isulong mo bagong tipo”

Workers and labor unions, farmers, fishermen, urban poor, jeepney drivers, youth and political groups sang in chorus as they made their way along the University Avenue in University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman to commemorate the 157th birth year anniversary of the revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio.

The groups marched while carrying placards bearing various demands to decry the Duterte government’s ‘criminal negligence’ amid the ongoing economic woes, social inequities, and disaster and pandemic response among others.

Bonifacio Day is only one of two national holidays where known national heroes are commemorated, the other being Rizal Day on December 30, the anniversary of Jose Rizal’s execution by the Spaniards in Bagumbayan in Manila.

Filipino activists of today on every November 30 remind the rest of the nation of Bonifacio, lauded as the Father of Philippine Revolution, and his significant and historical contribution in order to attain genuine democracy and freedom by challenging and toppling the 333 years of Spanish colonial rule.

Activism, revolution and the youth

“Ngayong araw ay hindi lamang kaarawan ni Andres Bonifacio kundi ay ito rin ay anibersaryo ng Anakbayan at Kabataang Makabayan,” Anakbayan Metro Manila chairperson Mark Fernando shared.

Anakbayan is a comprehensive youth formation established on November 30, 1998. It became prominent in the second EDSA uprising in 2001 and the campaign to abolish the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program in schools, among others.

“Nananatiling pinakamilitante, pinakamapaglaban, at patuloy pang lumalawak na pangunahing nagtataguyod upang patalsikin ang inutil at mapanupil na si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte,” Fernando asserted.

Kabataang Makabayan (KM) was formed in 1964, the founder Jose Maria Sison will become founding chairman of the new Communist Party of the Philippines a few years later. KM was a legal democratic organization, until Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. declared Martial Law and outlawed KM and all other progressive organizations or any form of association that may carry out or foment dissent or criticism of his dictatorship.

Habang itong Kabataang Makabayan ay simula pa noong panahon ni Marcos nagkaroon na malawakang pakikibaka. Sila ang nagsimula ng First Quarter Storm (FQS) at sa kanila nanggaling ang napakaraming martir na rebolusyonaryong Pilipino,” Fernando said.

According to Fernando, these organizations were established on Bonifacio’s birth anniversary to pay tribute and recognize Bonifacio’s deeds to achieve independence and liberty.

“Ang KKK ang nagtaguyod ng pinakarebolusyonaryong pakikibaka noong panahon ng kastila,” Fernando discussed.

Bonifacio founded the Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK) in July 7, 1892, an underground revolutionary movement which struggled to uphold Philippine independence against the foreign powers of Spain through armed revolution.

Armed struggle was the main form of battle, while Bonifacio and the many brilliant Katipuneros also engaged in propaganda work to organize and expand the movement, Fernando expounded.

“Hanggang ngayon ay marami pa ring mga kabataan ang ginagawang inspirasyon si Bonifacio, hindi lamang sa pag-oorganisa at pagpapakilos sa kapwa-kabataan at ordinaryong mamamayan dito sa kalunsuran ngunit marami ring mga kabataan ang sumusunod sa tinahak ni Bonifacio na isang masukal na rebolusyonaryong landas sa kanayunan,” Fernando asserted.

Fernando lambasted the Duterte administration for the rampant threats of red-tagging and harassment against progressive groups and organizations.

“Tinatawag nilang terorista ang mga kabataan, ang mga aktibista, at ang New People’s Army (NPA) dahil sa katunayan, ito ay nagiging banta sa kanilang kasalukuyang kapangyarihan at hawak na mga yaman,” Fernando firmly assailed.

Fernando pointed out the nuances of activism and armed struggle being a threat to people with the powers-that-be in consolidation to the three basic problems of the country such as imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism.

“Ang mga aktibista ang pangunahing kritiko ng korapsyon ni Duterte, mula sa pagpapakatuta sa ibang bansa, pati na rin ang pagkamapanupil niya sa sarili niyang mamamayan. Habang ang mga armadong grupo ay nagiging banta rin sa malalaking korporason at panginoong maylupa sa kanayunan. Ibig sabihin, nagiging tunay na takot lang sa rebolusyonaryo na tumatawag sa kanilang terorista ang kasalukuyang nakikinabang sa mapanupil na sistemang ito,” Fernando further emphasized.

Fernando posed the question: who  is the real terrorist?

“Ang terorismo kasi ay ang nagbibigay ng takot at naghahasik ng karahasan sa mamamayan. Ngunit sino nga ba tunay ang nananakot sa mamamayan? Sino ang tunay na terorista?” Fernando asked.

The real terrorist?

Under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, frequent reports of extra-judicial killings, HRVs,  corruption among other issues have been a staple angle, if not always, among different media outfits.

In a report from Human Rights Watch, Duterte’s bloody war-on-drug campaign has led to the deaths of more than 12,000 Filipinos to date. Not to mention the crackdown against human rights defenders and activists. Local human rights group place the number of those killed in the war on drugs to more than 30,000 in 3 years.

In fact, among the political prisoners are the #Tondo5 which include Reina Mae Nasino who was separated from her daughter, baby River, who passed away after her mother’s difficult pregnancy and only more than a month’s separation. Nasino was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, which the groups cited said were ‘planted evidence.’

“Hindi ba’t si Duterte? Hindi ba’t siya ang nanguna sa Oplan Tokhang na higit-kumulang 30 libo ang pinaslang na Pilipino? Hindi ba sa ilalim ng kanyang rehimen ay nagkaroon ng iba’t ibang masaker sa mga magsasaka, mga katutubo, at iba pa?” Fernando assailed.

These assertions was supported by Lala, a lumad student from North Cotabato, Mindanao who has long been participating in mobilization protest in Metro Manila since they arrived last 2018.

“Sa kalagayan naming mga kabataang lumad, hindi rin kami ligtas sa pang-aatake at paglabag sa karapatang pantao kasi kahit sa gitna ng pandemya ay patuloy ang pang-aatake. Sa paaralan namin, sa 215 lumad schools sa Mindanao, 178 o higit pa nga ang napasara,” Lala shared.

According to Lala, Salugpongan Lumad Schools in Mindanao has long been threatened with bombings by President Rodrigo Duterte.  This also include the relentless attacks, harassment, any killings perpetuated by military and police forces within their community and schools.

“Sa kabila ng pandemya ay patuloy ang pang-aatake, pagpapasara sa aming paaralan, at pagpapakulong sa aming mga guro, pananakot sa mga volunteer teachers namin, mga magulang namin pati na rin sa aming mga estudyanteng lumad,” Lala added.

Groups also condemned the administration’s budget for war, especially the billions for the counter-insurgency propaganda. Instead of putting premium to address medical solutions, livelihood and aid amid calamity distress and global pandemic, the administration’s COVID-19 pandemic response has been marred with issues of misspending, overpricing and corruption. Meanwhile, aid is to slow to come for those who barely escaped with their lives the wrath of the last five strong typhoons.

“Kung hindi sila kikilos, kung hindi kikilos si Duterte; ang kabataan kasama ang batayang masa ang kikilos. […] kung kailangan tayo mismo ang babago sa sistema na nang-iiwan sa pinakamahihirap, pinakainaapi; gagawin natin ito. Ito ang hamon ng ating panahon. Ang ating welga ay pakikiisa sa kalagayan ng mga estudyanteng apektado sa mga kalamidad at pandemya. Ang ating welga ay laban para singilin ang rehimeng Duterte sa lahat ng kanyang naging kapalpakan,”  a student from Ateneo De Manila University asserted.

Some students from Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) who recently initiated and initiated calls for Duterte to “Act Now or Step Down” joined the protest.

“Hindi pwedeng sa susunod na bagyo ay relief operations lang ang aatupagin natin, sapagkat hangga’t nasa poder ang mga kurap, inutil, at pasista na tulad ni Duterte ay hindi magwawakas ang ating problema,” said Elise Ofilada.

The Bonifacios of today

In political philosophy, the right of revolution (or right of rebellion) is the right or duty of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests and/or threatens the safety of the people without cause. To some, it is not only a collective right, but also a duty to overthrow an oppressive government. In some places in the world, it is not only invoked as a natural law, but applied as a positive law.

Had the Propagandista movement been here today, they would have been red-tagged, or worse subjected to human rights violations–from illegal arrests and detention, disappearances and extrajudicial killings–such as the unfair trial and execution of Jose Rizal, mused Fernando.

Had Bonifacio and the Katipunan been alive today, they would have been in the mountains waging guerilla warfare—it was also what Gen. Antonio Luna had pushed for before he was betrayed by his own countrymen. The tactic has then been employed by the liberation fighters against Japanese invaders and currently by the NPA in its 50-year armed conflict. As Bonifacio and the Katipuneros are revered now, they would be still be considered martyrs and heroes among the people who continue to long to end decades of social injustice and inequalities, said the youth activist.

Indeed, Bonifacio’s historical contribution will always be remembered and tapped into as an inexhaustible source of revolutionary inspiration so long that the ills of society alongside class conflict prevail.

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