U.S. Filipinos Commemorate EDSA & Vow to Continue Struggle Against Dictatorship

Community News & Features Feb 26, 2018 at 7:59 pm

IMG-0297NEW YORK CITY — On February 25, about 30 community members and leaders attended a community forum hosted by MALAYA: U.S. Movement Against Killings & Dictatorship and For Democracy in the Philippines to commemorate the 32nd Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Uprising, which was able to oust President Marcos and mark the end of 21 years of fascist dictatorship in the Philippines. The forum was not only a commemoration of EDSA but a call to action to Filipinos in the U.S. to fight another dictatorship in the Philippines under the current president Rodrigo Duterte.

“EDSA (Revolution) was not the end-all, be-all of the Filipino people’s journey towards genuine democracy. But it was a first step, a necessary first step. What the people accomplished during the People Power Revolution was to dismantle a major obstacle – the Marcos dictatorship,” said Noel Pangalinan, who served as the Editor in Chief of the Philippine Collegian, the official publication of University of the Philippines, during the time of EDSA People Power and the collapse of the Marcos dictatorship.

“The collective effort to rebuild the nation did not stop with EDSA. There is much more to be done post-EDSA. The task is not just to protect the gains of EDSA, but to persevere in bringing about true political and economic equality,” Noel continued.

IMG-0306“MALAYA asserts that the incessant drive for Cha-Cha [Charter Change] since the Ramos regime up to the present can be traced to the semi-colonial character of the Philippines where governance is marked by bureaucrats who embrace the role of enablers for foreign plunder and exploitation of Filipino labor through the complete sellout of the country’s resources and economy to foreign corporations. This will be done through a massive government revamp, displacement of government employees, and concentration of power to the dominant elite faction. If cha-Cha makes its way to Philippine governance, dissent to anti-people laws will be easily criminalize paving the way to another dictatorship,” stated Dr. Sarah Reyes, a sociologist and professor at the University of the Philippines, Diliman who cited her research on social movements.

Attendees then broke off into groups to discuss the concerns of Filipinos under Duterte. Included in the many issues is the fear of the establishment of a dictatorship through charter change, the ongoing human rights violations in the drug war and martial law, and the targeting of activists and community leaders in the Philippines.They also discussed the actions that Filipinos in the U.S. can take to respond the concerns. Attendees emphasized the need to educate fellow kababayan on the issue of charter change and join people’s organizations.

IMG-0307Ramon Mappala, a convener of MALAYA and ex-detainee of martial law under Marcos, gave a brief but insightful talk on how the Duterte regime’s tactics and style appear to not only mirror but aspire to the era of brutality that Marcos led. “Militarization, abuse of human rights, corruption…the same thing!” Mappala exclaimed. Mappala encouraged and called for Filipinos in the U.S. to be active in organizing. “Through grassroots organizing, relief missions, and awareness-raising events, overseas Filipinos can strongly oppose the Duterte regime. Filipinos in the U.S. can also lobby to pressure local politicians to end U.S. support for the Duterte regime,” Mappala continued.

Chrissi Fabro, External Vice President of Kabataan Alliance, a convener of MALAYA, called on Filipino youth to also take part in the fight against the dictatorship. “As Filipino youth based in the United States, we may not have been born at the time of EDSA People Power, but we still have a role in fighting the dictatorship. One of the greatest lessons of EDSA is to build the broadest unity among kababayan across the U.S. to fight for genuine freedom and democracy in the Philippines. The future of the Philippines belongs to the youth, and we must fight for it to brighter than today.”

The forum concluded with a call to action to sign the petition to stop the killings and dictatorship in the Philippines. There was also a call to organize events and actions to build the broad movement of Filipinos in the U.S. in opposition to Duterte’s dictatorship. After the forum, there was a community singing of “Bayan Ko,” which was sung and continues to be sung by Filipinos all over the world who believe in democracy.

MALAYA: U.S. Movement Against Killings & Dictatorship and For Democracy was convened nationally on February 6, 2018. MALAYA seeks to not only to broaden our opposition from the US to fascism, but also to broaden US-based support for the cause of freedom and democracy in the Philippines. Learn more at malayamovement.com