No human rights, labor issues in Marcos' 1st SONA

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 25 2022 08:58 PM

MANILA — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. on Monday delivered his inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA), setting the tone of his administration's policy agenda for the next 6 years. 

But some noted that the 1-hour, 10-minute speech failed to mention key issues Filipinos face daily. 

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said Marcos' first SONA was silent on human rights and labor issues.

"Wala tayong narinig kung paano ba tugunan ang isyu ng mga manggagawa... Wala siyang nabanggit tungkol sa usapin ng human rights and usaping pangkapayapaan, or the peace issue," Zarate said. 

Wage hike is the second top concern of Filipinos that they want the new administration to address, next to bringing down inflation, according to a Pulse Asia survey released last July 12.

According to Zarate, labor issues such as contractualization and unemployment should have been discussed in Marcos' first SONA.

"Wala rin tayong narinig kung paanong masolusyunan 'yung malawakang problema pa rin ng kontratwalisasyon at 'endo', lalong-lalo na sa government sector na ito ang isa sa pinakamalaking employer ng mga job orders and contractual," the former lawmaker said. 

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas also called out Marcos' SONA, saying it was "clearly addressed to big businesses and corporations, not ordinary Filipinos."

"While there may be good sounding plans and programs, his top priorities are not in sync with what poor Filipinos need - lowering of prices of food and basic commodities, wage hike, contractualization, affordable housing, end to human rights violations and extra-judicial killings, and continuation of peace talks," Brosas said.

Issues of human rights in the context of extra-judicial killings marred the previous administration of President Rodrigo Duterte due to his controversial war on drugs, now the subject of investigation by the International Criminal Court.

While unmentioned in his first SONA, Marcos was said to have committed to continue Duterte's crackdown on illegal drugs "with respect for human rights and focus on rehabilitation," Ambassador Annika Thunborg of Sweden told reporters last June following a meeting with the new president.

The decades-long regime of Marcos' father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was also hounded by its human rights abuses. 

Some 11,000 people were identified as victims of rape, mutilation, psychological and emotional abuse, arbitrary detention, forced exile and extrajudicial killings during Marcos Sr.'s martial law from from 1972, according to the Human Rights Violations Victims' Memorial Commission.