Filipinos say NO! to dictatorship and economic misery

SLL photo: Stephen Millies

More than a hundred Filipinos and their allies rallied outside the Philippines consulate in New York City on July 23. They were protesting Philippines President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr.

The rally was one of many protesting President Bongbong Marcos’s State of the Nation address. Tens of thousands protested in Manila and other towns and cities across the Philippines.

Bongbong Marcos is the son of the late Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos who declared martial law in 1972. Thousands of people were tortured, imprisoned, and killed.

Meanwhile, the corrupt Marcos family stole tens of millions. People suspect that today’s Maharlika Investment Fund is also being looted. Food prices are rising while President Bongbong Marcos flies around the world and stays at five-star hotels. 

Bongbong Marcos was elected president last year in a voting process that many considered crooked. His running mate — Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio — is the daughter of the previous president, Rodrigo Duterte.

What a bloody team! Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016-2022 presidency was dominated by his so-called war on drugs, in which 30,000 people were killed by police and the army.

Many of the victims were peasants and workers. Activists were “red tagged” — that is, labeled “communist terrorists” — and assassinated.

Bongbong Marcos is following the same path, which he tried to justify in his “State of the Nation” address. People gathered at Filipino consulates around the world — including the one on Manhattan’s swanky Fifth Avenue — as well as throughout the Philippines to protest Marcos’ lies.

Filipino activists from Bayan, the Malaya Movement, and the women’s organization Gabriella presented a “people’s state of the nation address.” Speakers described how poor and working people are suffering. The late revolutionary leader Jose Maria Sison, who died last year, was quoted about the need to struggle. 

The current minimum wage in the Philippines is half of what a family needs to survive. 

President Marcos is bragging that he’s increased the minimum wage by 40 pesos per day in the Manilla metropolitan area, but that amounts to just 72 U.S. cents.

Just as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying to ban Black history from the Sunshine State’s school books, President Marcos wants to wipe out any references to his daddy as a ruthless, corrupt dictator.

But the truth will come out. Among the speakers at the Manhattan rally was a survivor of the concentration camps that the elder Marcos erected as part of his martial law regime.

U.S. out of the Philippines!

A worker at Jollibee — a Filipino-owned fast food chain — described how when he suffered second-degree burns as a cook, he had to keep working to avoid being fired. Workers at the Jollibee restaurant in Journal Square, Jersey City, have been fired for organizing against low-paid, dangerous working conditions.

It’s these sweatshop owners and big landlords that are the biggest supporters of the Marcos-Duterte regime.

As a speaker from the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines pointed out, it’s the Pentagon that’s the real power in the country. The U.S. is now at nine military bases in the supposedly sovereign Philippines.

Instead of addressing people’s needs, like developing food self-sufficiency, the government has bought a billion dollars of U.S. arms. Wall Street wants to drag the Philippines into its war plans against the People’s Republic of China. President Joe Biden welcomed President Bongbong Marcos to the White House.

Manila is just 700 miles from Hong Kong. The Philippines’ proximity to China is the reason that the U.S. started its war with Spain in 1898 in Manila, not the Caribbean.

A million Filipinos were killed by U.S. troops during its dirty war to establish its colony in the Philippines. Mark Twain denounced the tortures, which included waterboarding, committed by U.S. forces.

Almost a tenth of Filipino people have been forced to live abroad. World shipping would come to a halt without 400,000 Filipino sailors.

New York City hospitals would be forced to close without Filipino and Haitian health care workers. It was Filipino farmworkers in California that started the grape boycott in the 1960s.

The 117 million Filipino people are fighting back. Just as his father was swept from power, so will President Bongbong Marcos.

BAYAN USA General secretary Nina Macapinlac addresses the rally. SLL photo: Bill Dores

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