New York, NY — From Sunday, August 19, 2018 to Saturday, August 25, 2018, Malaya Movement, in partnership with Anakbayan New York and New Jersey, Bayan, GABRIELA New York and New Jersey, and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), launched a week of actions and a social media campaign, #ResistWeek. Timed around August 21st, the 35th anniversary of the death of Ninoy Aquino, opposition leader against Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship, #ResistWeek’s aim was to remind and educate the public about Martial Law and dictatorship in the Marcos era, and the need for vigilance in the Duterte era, as human rights, social justice, civil rights and democracy are under attack.
Around 150 people attended events and actions throughout the week. At Masses for Justice at St. Sebastian Church in Woodside, NY on August 19th and at Saint Aedan’s Church in Jersey City, NJ on August 23rd, prayers were said for Kian delos Santos, Fr. Tito Paez, Fr. Mark Ventura, Fr. Richmond Nilo, and others who have died as a result of Duterte’s “War on Drugs” and policing policies, which have led to an increase in brutal crackdowns on minor infractions such as loitering, illegal arrests and detentions, and extrajudicial killings now numbering over 22,000.
Film screenings of Jun Reyes’ documentary, “The Last Journey of Ninoy,” and Chito S. Roño’s award-winning “Dekada ‘70,” based on the novel by acclaimed Filipino author, Lualhati Bautista, also were held. After the screening of “The Last Journey of Ninoy” on August 21st, the audience viewed a specially-recorded message to Malaya by Kiko Aquino-Dee, grandson of Ninoy Aquino. On the 35th anniversary of his grandfather’s assassination, Aquino-Dee reflected on the kind of courage Ninoy Aquino espoused that was greater than “just being brave” or “overcoming your fears to do something.” Aquino-Dee observed:
These days, the narrative of politics in the Philippines, around the world, is very polarized, and we’re tempted to take sides. And I think it’s important to take sides a lot of times, to stand up for what’s right … But it’s also, I think, very important to remain loyal to the truth, even when the truth doesn’t fit our narrative … The challenge for us right now is perhaps even harder because the truth is being assailed in a way that’s never been assailed before … The challenge is not just to be brave, the challenge is to be courageous. The challenge is to overcome fear, but overcome it in the service of truth, in the service of justice.
#ResistWeek culminated in a #SamahanSaturday potluck picnic, where participants declared their personal commitments to live as #MalayangPilipino in solidarity with those in the Philippines fighting against the tyranny of the Duterte regime. Among the pledges were “to serve the exploited and oppressed and fight for justice,” “to support the workers’ strikes in the Philippines and #BoycottNutriAsia,” “to work towards cutting U.S. tax dollars support for Duterte’s dictatorship,” and “to use my privilege as an American to oppose U.S. imperialism in the Philippines.”
Additionally, over 27,000 people were reached by the week-long social media campaign on Facebook, with the posts garnering nearly 1,800 clicks, shares, likes and other reactions. #MartialLawMonday exposed abuses of power in the Duterte regime, from the continued displacement and persecution of indigenous Moro and Lumad peoples one year and three months since Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, to the rise in the number of political prisoners, illegal arrests and detention, and extrajudicial killings since he took office.
#TokhangTuesday (in reference to the Philippine National Police’s practice of knocking on a suspected drug trafficker/addict’s home and compelling them to surrender) shared the stories and put faces to the names of some of those killed as a result of Duterte’s “War on Drugs” and policing policies, including its youngest casualty, four year-old Althea Barbon, who was killed in a motorcycle police chase when the bullet that instantly killed her father penetrated through him and lodged in her spine.
#WelgaWednesday focused on the state-sponsored violent dispersal of the NutriAsia workers’ strike, calling on the multi-million dollar company to enforce the Department of Labor and Employment and Duterte’s own Executive Order to end the contractualization of its workers. On September 23rd, members of the Malaya Movement also had an opportunity to attend NYCHRP’s outreach training session on the organization’s upcoming mass campaign to educate restaurants, grocery stores and the community about #BoycottNutriAsia and #SupportNutriAsiaWorkers.
“With the resistance—unified and organized—growing stronger in the Philippines and abroad, the sovereignty of the people through democracy prove to always reign no matter the efforts to silence the rule of law, constitution and human rights,” said Kym Villamer, Northeast Co-Coordinator of Malaya Movement. “Malaya will continue to mobilize and inspire active participation in nation building, and, most importantly, resist all forms of oppression. Malaya is free. Ang malayang Pilipino ay walang takot lumaban para sa bayan.”
Through efforts, such as #ResistWeek, Malaya Movement is committed to exposing Duterte’s abuses of power and attacks against democracy and the rule of law. Malaya Movement stands in solidarity with those in the Philippines who are standing up against Duterte’s looming dictatorship. By holding corporations such as NutriAsia accountable to its export markets, and the U.S. government accountable to the millions of taxpayer dollars it has given to aid Duterte’s military and policing efforts, Malaya Movement will continue to use its voice and influence to uphold human rights and resist fascism and dictatorship in the Philippines.
“As Filipinos overseas and specifically in the United States, we have an important role of pressuring the the U.S. government to stop funding human rights violations in the Philippines in the form of military and police aid,” said Chrissi Fabro, Co-Coordinator of Malaya Movement. “With the anniversary of the declaration of martial law under Marcos approaching, we call on Filipinos in the U.S. to learn from history and to continue the resistance against dictatorship.”
About Malaya Movement
Malaya – the Tagalog word for “free” – is a US-based movement of individuals and organizations that seeks to broaden support for the cause of freedom and democracy and resist dictatorship in the Philippines. For more information, visit malayamovement.com