On July 25th, a group of more than sixty individuals gathered at Bathurst and Wilson Parkette to resist and respond to Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s first State of the Nation Address. Passersby stopped and listened to speeches and cultural performances in both Tagalog and English, from different sectors of Filipinos in Canada such as youth, migrant workers, martial law survivors allies and solidarity groups from BAYAN Canada and allied organizations fighting for human rights in the Philippines in the wake of this year’s fraudulent elections.
Speakers from organizations such as Migrante Ontario, Anakbayan Toronto/Scarborough and Malaya Canada gave powerful statements about how the corruption in government affects both Filipinos both at home and abroad, from soaring gas prices to inadequate COVID-19 response while the Marcos and Duterte political dynasties continue to profit off of the exploitation of their own people.
“For us Filipinos who support not only ourselves, but also our families back home, we are doubly-burdened by the failures of the Philippines under self-serving governments, greedy landlords, and a devotion to foreign economic interests. How can we continue like this? … How can we – the direct victims and family members and friends of direct victims – sit idly by as these injustices continue and the pockets of the country’s corrupt politicians grow fat from the blood and tears of the Filipino people?” asked Mitch, chairperson of Anakbayan Scarborough.
Concerned allies, such as the International Coalition of Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and Canada Philippines Solidarity Organization (CPSO), spoke to the complicity of the Canadian state to the oppression of the Filipino people. The Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) spoke to the links between the egregious military occupation of Palestine to the state violence faced by activists in the Philippines.
“To fear the democratic and progressive voices of the people at a time of great social upheaval and economic crisis is a deplorable act that warrants the attention of the international community,” said Aidan, chairperson of CPSO. “The international community can no longer turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity that have already and will continue to occur under this regime. By remaining silent, we become complicit.”
“As Palestinians, we recognize these tactics as tools intended to quell the peoples’ struggle for national liberation. We have seen these acts of violence mirrored in our homeland and employed against our people … We call for the freedom of all political prisoners from the Philippines to Palestine. We call for an end to imperial and colonial tyranny, violence, and oppression in our homelands,” said Dalia, on behalf of PYM.
The return to power of the Marcos and Duterte political dynasties through Marcos Jr., and Sara Duterte, Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter, as his vice-president, recall the violence of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. ‘s era of Martial Law. In the month since his inauguration, the US-Marcos II regime has committed numerous human rights abuses, such as state censorship of alternative media, arrests of land defenders and activists, and historical revisionism to whitewash the horrific legacy of both Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and Imelda Marcos.
The Filipino community in Toronto stands together to amplify the same calls — “Duterte Panagutin! Marcos-Duterte Itakwil!” [Duterte must pay! No to Marcos-Duterte]!