Davao militants learn lessons from Trillanes’s botched coup

Dec. 05, 2007

By Cheryll D. Fiel
Davao Today

For the militants in Davao city, if there is one thing to learn from the botched coup at the Manila Peninsula Hotel led by Lt. Senior grade Antonio Trillanes IV and Brigadier General Danilo Lim, it should be that “banking on spontaneity is not enough”

Joel Virador, one of the activist leaders in Davao City, thinks that for Trillanes to succeed, he should have enough “base,” referring to the “organized, critical mass” of people supporting his cause.

He said this can be done only through “constant efforts to awaken people,” to explain to them the issues, so that they develop a “deeper appreciation” of these issues enough to encourage them to work for change. “Just like what we are doing in this rally,” Virador said in a Davao city Bonifacio day rally simultaneous with the big rally in Manila, a day after the Trillanes-led mutiny was quelled in Makati.

Virador is the vice-president of the Bayan Muna national executive committee, one of the organizers of the rally. He said Trillanes’ move was “justifiable” in the face of the “illegitimacy” issues against President Arroyo.

He condemned the “overreaction of the military,” the unnecessary use of force against Trillanes, his civilian supporters, and the media covering the Manila Peninsula Hotel siege. He said this “unnecessary” use of force might be a sign of something more “ominous” in the offing.

Virador pointed out that after successfully quelling the mutiny, the government ordered a curfew, which was unprecedented since the days of Martial Law.

In Davao City where activists are known for “organized” mass actions, the Bonifacio Day rally went on as planned.

Marshals were assigned at strategic places. People who came to the rally wore badges on their shirts just to make sure they can be easily identified and accounted for; preventing infiltrators from getting into their ranks.

Posters calling for the ouster of President Gloria Arroyo had been put out on strategic public places days before the march.

Free snacks, consisting of porridge, were handed to the rally participants, courtesy of the City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Estimates on the number of people who marched on Bonifacio Day in Davao reached 4,000. There were farmers, workers, women, students and teachers, people from urban poor communities in Davao, church leaders and the laity, the lumads and the Moro people and drivers of public utility jeepneys.

“Bayan, Bayan, Bayan ko, di pa tapos ang laban mo! Ang rebolusyon ni Bonifacio, isulong mo, isulong mo!”(My country, your fight is not over. The revolution started by Bonifacio is ours to advance and move forward),” the crowd chanted, as they moved from the Bonifacio Monument along Magallanes street to meet the crowd coming from the Bankerohan public market.

They shouted their demands for just wages, land for the tillers, speedy investigations of the alleged scams committed by the ruling administration; outrage and indignations against the Arroyo administration, converging at Claveria street, marching down Freedom Park, in one of the city’s busiest intersections.

Songs were sang, cultural groups performed, and students tirelessly waved red banners.

The peasants belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and local chapters like the Farmers Association of Davao City (FADC) deplored their continued landlessness and the “systematic land grabbing” by multi-national firms and government’s own agrarian reform program, CARP.

Labor unions affiliated with Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), such as Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Osmea (NAMAOS), Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa San Miguel (NAMASAN), Nagkahiusang Mamumuo of Suyafa Farms (NAMASUFA), Maragusang United Workers Union (MUWU) in Compostela Valley decried their working conditions and the “inhuman treatment” they receive from their respective companies.

They called for a stop to “labor contractualization” and “labor flexibilization,” they experience in the form of the “pakwayan” system, “illegal closure” and outright dismissal and retrenchment in the banana plantatiosn where they work.

The workers of Marsman Plantations in Sto. Tomas and Panabo in Davao Del Norte; the Davao International Mega Gas Corporation Union, Lakas ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa from Bunawan District in Davao City and unionists from dessicated coconut manufacturing company Franklin Baker in Sta. Cruz, Davao Del Sur shared the same sentiment.

Workers of the Davao Integrated Transport Facilities, Incorporated (DITFI) who used to haul export fruit products for the multinational DOLE-Stanfilco told rallyists how 200 of them lost their jobs after the management arbitrarily declared “closure” in the midst of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations, where they pressed for just wages.

Workers belonging to the Davao City Water District labor union who are at the forefront of the protest against an alleged loan scheme being worked out by the management towards privatization of the company brought their band, “Agos.”

So, there was dancing and singing among the crowd of rallyists, who ended their program shortly before dark; pelting rotten tomatoes at the face of President Arroyo, depicted in a painting as a voracious serpent. (Cheryll D. Fiel, davaotoday.com)

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