This speech was delivered at the People’s State of the Nation Address, or SONA ng Bayan, in Toronto at the Bathurst-Wilson Parkette.
Good afternoon, I’m Aidan, the chairperson of the Canada-Philippines Solidarity Organization. Though I was born and raised in Canada, I came to support the struggle for national democracy with a socialist perspective in the Philippines through the patient explanations of my friends and by witnessing the exploitation of the Filipino people here in Canada.
In April of this year I traveled to the Philippines to observe the May 9th elections. After conducting interviews with community leaders, activists, and ordinary people, I was moved to action by the dozens of individuals who bravely shared their stories of government harassment and intimidation for the simple act of daring to speak out on behalf of their communities. Despite fearing for their lives, the people I interviewed felt it necessary to continue their work because the cost of silence would mean the continued suffering of their friends, families, and colleagues.
Extrajudicial killings. Shootings. Abductions. Death threats. Illegal arrests. Harassment. Surveillance. Red-tagging. Media suppression. Voter intimidation. These are the cowardly acts of a government that wishes to remain unaccountable to the people that it allegedly represents. To fear the democratic and progressive voices of the people at a time of great social upheaval and economic crisis is a deplorable act that warrants the attention of the international community.
Today I understand that it is not enough to know the suffering of the people; we must work together to change it. Today I see a brighter future for the Filipino people, where the fear and pain they currently experience can be the basis for a fundamental transformation of Philippine society. And today I am proud to be speaking here alongside the members of the Filipino community that have chosen to take a stand and declare that the government must be accountable to the people.
We know from history that it is the masses who will be the decisive factor over the next six years of Marcos Jr.s’ presidency. It is through their movements that true democracy is expressed, and the people will not remain silent! It is important now more than ever that the international community pays attention to the Philippines, and lends moral, political, and material support to those who daringly, in the face of severe repression, continue to organize and mobilize the Filipino people towards national democracy with a socialist perspective. The international community can no longer turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity that have already and will continue to occur under this regime. By remaining silent, we become complicit.
Join the Canada-Philippines Solidarity Organization!
Join the National Democratic Movement!
Let’s work together as the Filipino people reject Marcos Jr, and hold Duterte accountable!
NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!
MAKIBAKA! WAG MATAKOT!