By Mario Casayuran
Various political forces sat at a single online press conference table on Thursday (June 11) to announce their respective “mañanita” anti-terror bill protest activities on June 12, the 122nd celebration of Philippine Independence.
The meeting — the first held in a long time — was headlined by opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, Liberal Party (LP) president; Akbayan Party chairperson Sen. Risa Hontiveros; and human rights lawyer Manuel “Chel” Diokno.
Sectoral groups aligned with the so-called “yellows” (those identified with the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III) and “reds” (leftists or the left of center) came together to agree to a common protest time (9 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and to use the hashtags #Mañanita, #AtinAngPinas, #BawiinAngKalayaan, and #JunkTerrorBill in their online and offline activities.
Brother Armin Luistro FSC, Brother Provincial of the Lasallian East Asia District, served as moderator of the press conference.
He thanked everyone who took part in the press conference, saying, “Ito ang kauna-unahang press con sa panahon ng COVID na nagsama-sama ang matatapang na Pilipina at Pilipino para ipagdiwang ang ating kalayaan sa isang panahon at sistema na talagang sinisiil ang lahat (This is the first time during the current coronavirus disease situation that brave Filipino women and men celebrate Independence Day under a time and system that abuse us).”
Among those who spoke against the anti-terrorism bill now awaiting the President’s signature were:
· George San Mateo, national president of PISTON (Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide);
· Sr. Mary John Mananzan, co-convenor of MAT (Movement Against Tyranny);
· Jerome Adonis, secretary-general of KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno);
· Judy Ann Miranda, spokesperson of Nagkaisa Women and secretary-general of Partido Manggagawa;
· Dr. RJ Naguit, chairperson of Akbayan Youth and Tindig Kabataan;
· Raoul Manuel, national convenor of Youth Act Now Against Tyranny and president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines; and
· Lawyer Pochoy Labog, national council member of the artists group Dakila.
“Ito ang unang pagkakataon na may malawak na pagkakaisa ang iba’t-ibang grupo. Nagsasalamin ito ng sentimyento ng marami nating kababayan na apektado na ng mga nangyayari sa ating bayan, lalo na nitong pandemya (This is the first time in a long time that there is a massive unity among various groups. This reflects a common sentiment among those affected by what is happening, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic),” Pangilinan said.
He called on everyone to continue seeking answers to their questions about fellow Filipinos’ struggles, especially in the time of the pandemic.
Pangilinan said his own nieces and nephews have asked him to a Webinar to explain why he voted no to the anti-terrorism bill.
“Never ito nangyari, na maraming karaniwang tao ang nagtatanong, naghahanap ng sagot. I suggest na mag-attend ng mga webinar tungkol dito at makinig,” he said. (This never happened before where many common men are asking and seeking answers. I suggest they attend webinars and listen.)
Of the 122nd birthday of the Philippine Republic, Luistro said: “Sabay-sabay po nating ipagdiwang ang kalayaan ng Pilipinas kung nasaan man kayo (Let us celebrate Philippine Independence Day wherever you are).”