LOS ANGELES, CA–More than 65 community members gathered outside the Philippine Consulate to remember the 46th anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines and the thousands of people who suffered human rights violations, government corruption, torture, and killings under Marcos’ dictatorship. Through songs, performances, and speeches, the community called for an end to the tyranny under current Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s dictatorship and highlighted the recent verdict of the International People’s Tribunal held in Brussels, Belgium which found Duterte guilty of slaughter and other crimes against the Filipino people.
Young people were among those who joined the community action, sharing the importance of learning their history in order not to repeat mistakes made in the past. Valerie Vargas, a student at UCLA and a member of Anakbayan Los Angeles, said, “I stand in front of you all today as a testament that the youth, the so-called “millennials” have not forgotten the endless list torture victims, the countless murders, the thousands disappeared, the insurmountable debts, the suppression of press freedom, the deplorable conditions of workers, the rising costs of education and healthcare, all under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos with his declaration of Martial Law 46 years ago.” Vargas called on Filipino youth to “stand on the right side of history, to stand on the side of the Filipino people, and to fight for a future we deserve.”
Women from Gabriela Los Angeles performed a theatrical piece highlighting the worsening conditions workers face in the Philippines, calling for an end to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, a tax reform program that has raised consumer taxes for the poor and has aggravated current inflation.
Photo: Gabriela Los Angeles performs a skit about the impacts of worsening conditions impacting workers in the Philippines.
Photo credit: Romeo Hebron
Visiting from the Philippines, Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno, spoke on the utter failure of Duterte the fulfill his promises to the Filipino people and the need to end the scheme of contractualization in the Philippines. Despite the increased repression of workers and labor leaders, Filipino workers continue to organize mass actions and strikes around the country, with over 200 notices of strikes. Labog states, “The struggle continues not just for the regularization of contractual workers…We struggle against intensifying militarization and fascism of Duterte where there are over 20,000 people already killed. We cannot just struggle for the regularization of workers, but we must struggle strongly to affect genuine change until genuine justice is achieved in our motherland.”
Photo left: Chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog of Kilusang Mayo Uno speaks about the need to end contractualization and continue the fight for genuine change in the Philippines. Photo Credit: Romeo Hebron
Speakers also shared their messages of solidarity with the Filipino people, including Jasmin Tabar from Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) who spoke of the parallels she saw between the struggles of the people of El Salvador and the Philippines and the need for people to unite against U.S. imperialism.
Joy Prim, the regional coordinator for International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) in Southern California also highlighted the U.S. military aid given to the Philippines over the last year. She stated that the United States gave more than $175 million in military assistance to the Philippines in 2017-2018, promised an additional $60 million in security assistance, and is set to give another $111 million in military assistance in 2019. Prim said, “The U.S. military aid to the Philippine government facilitates the war crimes and crimes against humanity they continue to commit. As ICHRP, we commit to strengthen our solidarity with the Filipino people in their struggle for just and lasting peace and invite other American peoples to join us.”
Representing the Malaya Movement, community activist Audine Tayag shared that while people may have forgotten the atrocities under martial law in the past, the Filipino people must remember that “we defeated dictatorship before. The people, the workers, the peasants, the students emerged victorious and crushed tyranny and we’re going to do it again.”
Photo Right: Members of the Malaya Movement calls for an end to the Duterte Dictatorship. Photo Credit: Romeo Hebron
“We need united, international opposition to defeat this dictatorship,” Tayag urged, calling on people to join the Malaya Movement, one of the main networks organizing the event, to bear witness to the Duterte regime’s atrocities and to take a stand for freedom and democracy in the Philippines.