By Chuck Baclagon

Yesterday, volunteers of 350 Pilipinas took to the streets like we’ve always done before. Yet the action was not about coal, climate change and the environment. It was about something closer to home – the current state–and soul–of Philippine society.

An estimated crowd of 30,000 people joined the rally organized by the Movement Against Tyranny, in Rizal Park. Photo Ac Dimatatac

The contingent of Save Our Schools Network called for an end to the bombings of Lumad schools and communities that are being done by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ under the guise of its counter-insurgency operations. Photo AC Dimatatac

The march is a celebration of diversity in action against the growing repression of the current regime. Photo AC Dimatatac

Widespread protests commemorated the 45th anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law.

Activists, relatives of those killed during the Marcos dictatorship and the ongoing drug war, indigenous peoples, human rights advocates, students, church people, anarchists and punks raged against the rise of extrajudicial killings and the emerging fascist state in the Philippines.

The violent repercussions of the current drug war first became apparent to us at 350 Pilipinas when the brother of one of our volunteers was murdered last August 2016. He was one of the first of over 13,000 people who have met a violent death following Rodrigo Duterte’s ascent to power, all under the pretext of an unwinnable drug war that has deemed drug offenders as less than human beings.

BlockMarcos held a street performance to dramatize the current plight of the Philippines under the violent reign of Duterte during the morning protest of Laban Ng Masa at the foot of Mendiola Bridge. Photo AC Dimatatac

Members of clergy from the National Council of Churches of the Philippines called for peace based on justice. Photo: AC Dimatatac

Human rights advocates from KARAPATAN, called for the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao. Photo: AC Dimatatac

Unknown to many who joined the mobilizations, yesterday was also International Day of Peace. Peace is one of the values that we at 350 Pilipinas hold dear because we believe that the climate crisis falls within the broader context of the search for peace within society. Unchecked global warming would increasingly lead to the breakdown of peace and threaten national and international security.

Our pursuit is peace–one that is not just the absence of armed conflict, however maintained by an equilibrium that maintains the status quo and keeps conflicts in check. Peace is a product of a dynamic order, built upon justice realized in truth and animated by shared empathy. Alongside a just and sustainable future, peace is the inevitable endpoint of human history.

Anarchists holding a banner that reads: “Fake News Is Violence. Fight Fascism” conducted Food Not Bombs and set up a Really Free Market in Rizal Park. Photo: AC Dimatatac

Punk and indie rock artists from Musicians Against Fascism held a guerilla performance at the entrance of Burnham Green. Photo: AC Dimatatac

A member of the multi-sectoral formation Sanlakas holds a banner that reads: “Marcos and Duterte are no different from one another,” at the protest held in Mendiola. Photo: AC Dimatatac

Violence begets violence, whether it comes from state-sanctioned killings or as the consequence of society’s unequal distribution of power, access and opportunities. We cannot simply ignore the deaths as mere numbers in an unspoken quota of blood that has been sacrificed at the altar of change as promised by Duterte.

Yet we are also challenged to go beyond our differences in political affiliation and specific advocacy, petty and deep alike. What confronts us is a regime that bastardizes our shared humanity by rendering the lives of others disposable.

History will judge us of our response to the current spate of state-sanctioned violence.

It’s time we rise up to that challenge.