Urban poor groups led by Kadamay took to the streets of Manila on Holy Monday to demand for wage hikes, job security, decent and affordable housing, and social justice in the annual “Kalbaryo ng Mamamayan” procession highlighting the dire situation of the Filipino poor under the Marcos Jr administration.
Kadamay likened the poor as the modern-day Christ, who carried the cross of poverty, injustice, and oppression. According to the group, the struggles of the poor under the current government are reflective of the sacrifices and passion of Christ, who was executed on the cross for his movement of liberation that threatened the Roman colonial reign and its local oligarchic reign in Jerusalem.
Kadamay National Secretary General Mimi Doringo stated, “Ginagawa rin ng gobyerno sa mahihirap ang ginawa ng mga Romano kay Hesus na nagpalaganap ng Mabuting Balita, tumulong at nagmalasakit sa mahihirap, at nanawagan ng kalayaan mula sa pang-aapi ng mga makapangyarihan ngunit pinarusahan at pinatay. Ito rin ang ginagawa ng gobyerno sa maralita ngayon sa anyo ng pagkakait ng nakabubuhay na sahod, katiyakan sa kabuhayan at paninirahan, at pagpapalaganap ng lagim sa pamamagitan ng red-tagging at militarisasyon ng mga maralitang komunidad.”
Kadamay criticized the Marcos Jr administration’s projects and policies such as the Manila Bay Reclamation project, which will displace thousands of urban poor communities along the Manila Bay coast, and its push for Cha-Cha and EDCA, which will further strengthen the hold of the Marcoses and their allies on power and allow for greater US military presence in the country.
“Milyon-milyon ang naghihirap na Pilipino, pero ang inuuna ni Marcos Jr, puro proyektong pinagkakakitaan ng mga kapitalista at magpapalayas sa libo-libong maralitang komunidad gaya ng Manila Bay Reclamation project. Bukod pa rito, tahasan ang pagraratsada sa Cha-Cha para matiyak ang kapit ng kanyang pamilya at mga alipores sa kapangyarihan at ang pagtutuloy ng EDCA para lalong palakasin ang dominasyon ng US military sa bansa at para libreng magamit ng mga tropang Kano ang lupa at mga serbisyo sa Pilipinas samantalang milyon-milyong Pilipino ang walang katiyakan sa paninirahan at ‘di na makabayad ng pagkain, tubig, at kuryente,” added Doringo.
The procession was slightly delayed when police officers from the Manila Police District harassed the groups along Loyola corner P. Campa St. in Sampaloc Manila and illegally confiscated the effigy used in the procession.
The activities culminated in Liwasang Bonifacio, where various cultural groups performed their own version of Senakulo, reflecting the struggles of the Filipino poor and calling for genuine unity to fight against the systemic oppression that continues to weigh down the cross of poverty.
“Kalbaryo ng Mamamayan” is an annual Holy Week event that serves as a call for social justice and highlights the plight of the Filipino urban poor. Despite rampant red-tagging and vilification by state forces, Kadamay remains steadfast in its commitment to fight for the rights and welfare of the Filipino poor and calls on the government to prioritize the needs of the many over the interests of the few.