Philippines: Thousands take to streets for Bonifacio Day

BMP contingent at Bonifacio Day, November 30. Photo by Tony Iltis.

A 1500-strong march wound its way through Manila to mark Bonifacio Day on November 30.

The day marks the birthday of 19th century Filipino independence leader Andres Bonifacio, known as “the Great Plebian” due to his humble origins and support for the poor. Bonifacio died at the hands of pro-elite rivals in the independence movement.

The march was organised by the BMP trade union confederation, the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM), the peasants’ and rural workers’ organisation AMA, the KPML organisation of the urban poor and the SANLAKAS democratic front.

Bonifacio Day has become the national day of the Philippines' left and popular movements, the country’s “second May Day”. The march began with BMP chairperson Leody de Guzman laying a wreath at the memorial to Bonifacio.

Demands of the march were for an end to starvation wages, for regular jobs for workers in the country’s vast informal sector and an end to contractualisation, opposition to electricity and oil price hikes and the privatisation and deregulation of essential services such as energy and water. It also called for decent housing and an end to demolitions of poor neighbourhoods by developers.

The march joined a further 1000 protesters at a rally organised by Nagkaisa, a coalition of trade union confederations that includes the BMP, the Alliance of Progressive Labor, the Federation of Free Workers, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, the Labor Party and Makabayan.

A separate thousands-strong march was blocked by riot police trying to reach the US embassy.