Philippines: Never again to martial law!

New York, July 24. SLL photos: Bill Dores

New York ― A terrible heat wave didn’t stop a hundred people from demonstrating in front of the Philippines mission to the U.N. on July 24. Filipinos, Filipino-Americans and their supporters were protesting the newly installed regime of President Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos, Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte.

Marcos is a son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who instituted martial law in 1972. Thousands of people were killed and at least 70,000 jailed during the 14-year long martial-law era that was blessed by four U.S. presidents.

Sara Duterte is the daughter of outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte, whose mis-named “war on drugs” involved thousands killed by police and army units.

The Sunday protest on Fifth Avenue was called by the Northeast Coalition to Advance Genuine Democracy in the Philippines. In a leaflet that was handed out, the coalition raised the following issues:

  • The questionable results of the May 2022 elections that included faulty voting machines along with cases of vote-buying, violence and disenfranchisement of voters. The elections were held after decades of lies that covered up the crimes of the bloody Marcos dictatorship. These crimes include the looting of billions of dollars, some of which the Marcos family still controls. Much of the loot must have been siphoned off by U.S. banks and the greasy fingers of U.S. power brokers.
  • The continuing economic crisis that includes a tenth of Filipino citizens having to work in other countries. Their remittances keep millions of Filipinos alive. New York City hospitals would collapse without Filipino and Haitian workers. Poorly paid Filipino sailors keep thousands of ships on the oceans operating.
  • The humanitarian crisis that has led to murders committed by Philippine police and military. One of the signs at Sunday’s protest was “activism is not terrorism.” Among those assassinated have been peasants, workers, union organizers, teachers, journalists and LGBTQ2S activists. Police and army officials slander the victims by claiming they were terrorists. “Red-tagging” ― that is, labeling people as communists ― is used as an excuse to murder.

A representative of the women’s organization Gabriela spoke of the arrest and disappearance of four women activists in the last two months: labor organizers Elizabeth “Loi” Magbanua and Alipio “Ador” Juat and land rights activists Elena Cortez Pampoza and Elgene Mungcal.

People’s agenda for change

Many Filipino organizations have come together to support the new coalition including the Malaya Movement; Gabriela, National Alliance of Women and BAYAN-USA. Also supporting the rally was the International League for Peoples’ Struggle, an anti-imperialist alliance.

A banner said “prosecute Duterte, justice and accountability for the Filipino people.” One of the signs read “Oust Marcos.”

On the same day in Quezon City, the Philippine capital, thousands of people demonstrated against the Marcos-Duterte regime.

The new coalition along with other Filipinos has put forward a 9 point People’s Agenda for Change in the Philippines. The items include regulating prices; reviving agriculture; enacting land reform and developing national industrialization; fighting disinformation while promoting freedom of expression; free health care and social services; and ensuring environmental protection.

For more information on the North East Coalition contact:

The rally was closed by Nina Macapinlac representing Bayan USA. After she spoke, protesters stomped to pieces painted cardboard boxes representing social injustices in the Philippines. 

Read the fiery speech by Nina Macapinlac here

Painted cardboard boxes represent social injustices in the Philippines.
Protesters stomp painted cardboard boxes representing social injustices in the Philippines.

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