NEW YORK – In a forum organized by the MALAYA: U.S. Movement Against Killings & Dictatorship and For Democracy in the Philippines to commemorate the 32nd Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Uprising, community leaders and members discussed issues of concern about the Philippines. The forum was not only a commemoration of EDSA but a call to action to Filipinos in the U.S. to highlight the precarious conditions under Philippine 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 Pangilinan, who was the Editor in Chief of the Philippine Collegian, the official publication of University of the Philippines, during the time of 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,” Pangilinan continued.
Included in the many issues discussed at the forum were 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 deliberated on the actions that Filipinos in the U.S. can take to respond to these issues. They emphasized the need to educate Filipinos on the issue of charter change and join people’s organizations.
Ramon 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 bringing about these issues to the forefront. “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 this fight for genuine freedom and democracy in the Philippines,” she said.
“The future of the Philippines belongs to the youth, and we must fight for it to brighter than today.”