By Hanah Tabios
Groups, coalitions, and organizations gathered for decentralized protest and discussions to appraise and protest about the country’s key issues.
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) on Friday held a protest camp in front of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) head office in Intramuros, Manila to call for the government to strengthen its anti-poverty and anti-poor policies on labor and contractualization.
Partido Lakas ng Masa (BMP) allied organization of BMP, also gather in a simultaneous protest in Welcome Rotonda and call for the suspension of the Train Law.
Edwin Guarin, who has been leading the group during the protest, said that the law imposes high prices and regressive taxes primarily on basic commodities.
“Panawagan naming ay ibasura na, itigil na ito dahil hindi naman ito makakatulong sa mga mamamayan,” he said.
This was also the stand supported by opposition Senators Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros who attended the mass against Charter Change a day before the SONA organized by a laity-led organization Purple Cross Movement in UP Diliman Parish of Holy Sacrifice.
“Ako, matagal ko na pong sinasabi, ito pong pagsuspinde ng Train Law ay kailangan na pong gawin. Ang pag-rollback po ng mga buwis na nakapataw sa ating petroleum products ay kailangan na pong aksiyunan,” Aquino said in an interview.
However, the call for the cancellation of the law is contrary to what Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Officer-In-Charge and Spokesperson J. Prospero De Vera III said in a Pre-SONA press briefing on Friday.
According to De Vera, the critical funding of the Republic Act 10931 is anchored in the revenues generated by the Train.
CHED’s accomplishments, according to De Vera, focused on the programs undertaken in the concepts of equity, quality, and access to education, thus, highlighting the approval of RA10931 last year which will cater to around 1.3 million Filipino students in the academic year 2018 to 2019.
“This is the reason why the commission has officially given a press statement that we fully support the Train Law because the Train law provides the critical funding for RA10931. If our intention is really to provide access and equity to quality education, we need significant funds for that. And we need the implementation of the Train Law to make sure free quality higher education is achieved,” he said.