On July 15, eighty-five Filipino-Americans and allies from various organizations attended a forum known as “The Change We Need,” organized by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) Northern California, the Brotherhood for Duterte (BFD), Digong Duterte Supporters (DDS), and Migrante Northern California.
We, Filipino Americans throughout Northern California, congratulate Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on his victory in the May 2016 elections. We believe that Filipinos around the world voted for Duterte–a non-traditional candidate in many respects who has expressed progressive stances–because they clamor for social, political, and economic change in the Philippines. We believe that “The Change We Need” rests not on the president himself, but on all of us, who must vigorously and tirelessly advocate for genuine development, pro-people policies, and just and lasting peace in the Philippines.
We present our agenda for “CHANGE:”
Comprehensive social services: Oppose privatization of public services, such Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (a conditional cash transfer program). Provide free healthcare and education.
Human Rights and social justice: End forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and other human rights violations, and prosecute perpetrators of such. Implement genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization to establish a self-sufficient nation free from dependency and domination.
Advance the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers: It is a paramount duty of the Philippine government to protect Filipinos overseas, rather than commodifying them as laborers. Filipinos would not be forced to find work abroad if not for the root causes of the poverty and joblessness in the country. They face exploitation and become cheap labor forces in 200 countries around the world. Create more jobs via national industrialization to improve the Philippine economy and steer away from its export-oriented culture. Provide legal help, trainings, and resources to ensure the safety of overseas Filipino workers (OFW). Reduce fees on materials sent by overseas Filipinos to their families. Create a seat within the cabinet for an OFW advocate. Provide a sustainable source of livelihood for returning OFWs.
National Sovereignty, and just and lasting peace: Assert the dominion of the Philippines over the areas of the Spratly Islands within its exclusive economic zone. Stand against US militarization. Engage in peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in order to forge peace based on justice. Release all political prisoners as an act of goodwill in promoting just and lasting peace.
Good governance, and confronting crime and corruption: Promote government transparency and accountability. Abolish pork barrel and channel these funds to finance genuine social services and public infrastructures. Address the root causes of crime and drugs in the Philippines. Prosecute drug lords, and top military and government officials (the “big fish”) perpetuating the illegal drug trade. Promote rehabilitation for those addicted to drugs.
Environmental justice: Indigenous peoples and the poor have been disproportionately affected by environmental calamities; they have even been repressed by the Philippine state for protesting for environmental justice, as in the Kidapawan Massacre. Stand against large-scale mining, especially by multinational corporations. Provide government subsidies for green technologies. Hold the largest and wealthiest countries, which produce the most pollution and carbon emissions, accountable in promoting environmental sustainability on a global scale.
The president recently ordered the release of political prisoners, has asserted the national sovereignty of the Philippines with respect to the Spratly Islands and U.S. militarization, and has made pronouncements to end labor contractualization and prioritize the issues of overseas Filipinos. Under the Duterte administration, there is potential for substantive change. However, it is clear to us that real change can only happen through the support and participation of the people. Thus, we commit to remain vigilant and proactive in promoting justice, genuine peace, and prosperity for the Filipino people. We pledge to remain united and relentless in asserting the basic needs, democratic rights, and patriotic aspirations of Filipinos around the world. We pledge to advance “The Change We Need!”