Multi-sectoral groups in Bicol unite to rally vs EJK, tyranny
By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY --- After several years without a common issue to fight for, groups from different shades of political persuasions are uniting here for the Sept. 21 rally for nationalism and against tyranny and extra-judicial killings. The coalition comprising Bayan, Akbayan, Naga City People’s Council, Protestant Churches, Ateneo de Naga University, Magdalo and College Editors Guild of the Philippines and other groups and individual professionals was formed into Bicol Alliance for Nationalism Against Tyranny (BANAT). Homar Murillo, one of the convenors of BANAT, said the coalition will be launched (today), Sept. 21, at the city hall of Naga City with a press conference. From there, they will march to Plaza Rizal to denounce the growing number of extra-judicial killings and the tyrannical tendencies of the Duterte administration. According to its concept paper, BANAT aims to unite Bicolanos in protecting human rights, promoting nationalism, and resisting tyranny. It considers itself as an all-inclusive alliance that includes students, out-of-school youth, members and leaders of churches, artists, businessmen, journalists, teachers, lawyers, community organizers, farmers, fisher folks, members and leaders of cause-oriented/progressive organizations, and public personalities. “We welcome all organizations and individuals who believe in our common cause.” “The movement started as a youth-led grassroots mass protest against extra-judicial killings, specifically in connection with the public outrage against the murder of an innocent 17-year-old Grade 11 student, Kian Loyd delos Santos. With the help of social media and word-of-mouth, the movement grew from being a loosely organized group of youth leaders into a multi-sector movement.” Also, the militant organizations that include Karapatan, Bayan, Gabriela and League of Filipino Students will mobilize some 13,000 participants in a simultaneous rally in the provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Albay and Sorsogon, according to Vince Casilihan, convenor of Bayan Bicol. Casilihan said the militant organizations condemn the extra-judicial killings that resulted in the death of more than 12,000 in its so-called war against drugs. “We also condemn the all-out war against the revolutionary movement that victimize progressive leaders and activists who are arrested on trumped-up cases,” he said. Casilihan describes President Duterte as “fascist dictator” who idolizes Ferdinand Marcos and is an instrument to rehabilitate the Marcos family by allowing the remains to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and at the same time brokering the return of the hidden wealth plundered through the years of dictatorship. He said the militant groups will mobilize 500 in Camarines Norte, 300 in Catanduanes, 1,500 in Sorsogon, 5,000 in Masbate, 2,000 in Albay, 3,000 in Camarines Sur and some 500 organized peasants.