A small group of activists marched from Dupont Circle to the Philippine Embassy calling for President Biden to stop supporting the Philippine government of “BongBong” Marcos while calling for the prosecution of former President Duterte for the extrajudicial killings in his “War on Drugs.” Signs in both English and Tagalog were used to inspire resistance and to fight for change. “Makibaka Huwag Matakot” (don’t be afraid), “Wakasan Na” (end it), “Kapit Bisik” (tight fist) and “Marcos Magananakaw” (Marcos steals) were buttressed with chants in both languages.
Protesters called for the prosecution of former President Duterte who promised the Philippine people if he was elected he would do what he had done in Davao during his 22-year tenure as mayor where his extrajudicial violence campaign attacked drug dealers, criminals and what he described as “do-nothings.” Since June of 2016 as president of the Philippines, he has been responsible for more than 20,000 killings that victimized mostly the urban poor across the islands. His “War on Drugs” has been condemned as crimes against humanity by Human Rights groups around the globe.
With the recent election of Bongbong Marcos, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ son, protesters also demanded the end for US aid to the Philippines, by not supporting what will highly likely evolve into yet another dictatorship-kleptocracy not unlike what Filipinos experienced during Bongbong’s father’s regime. During his 21-year reign Ferdinand Marcos stole an estimate $10 billion from the country stashing it in various bank accounts along with making other investments.
Much of the stolen proceeds were used by Marcos and his wife in acquiring luxury homes, antiques, jewelry and other valuables along with amassing a museum quality art collection. Swiss banks eventually returned $684 million to the Philippines of his “personal fortune.” All this on a presidential salary of $13,500 a year. A remarkable feat of leveraging one’s paltry salary into a financial windfall.
It may well be remembered, too, that while much of the country’s citizenry lived in abject poverty, the president’s wife Imelda enjoyed a life of riches including her famous 3,000 pairs of shoes that filled a massive closet. Seven hundred pairs of her shoes now reside in a shoe museum in Manila. This is the stuff of revolutions and Filipinos are right in being on guard and ever vigilant when the second generation raised in a despotic and kleptocratic family is elected to take the helm of his nation.
(This article has previously appeared in Nuzeink.)
Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.