A day before the 48th anniversary of the nationwide Martial Law declaration, Migrante leaders, members and martial law survivors from different Filipino migrant communities brought themselves together through a global online rally to recount the struggle and resistance of the Filipino people during the Marcos dictatorship. The fight for our democratic rights continues to rage on in our present day with the US-Duterte regime’s bloody record of 30 thousand plus extrajudicial killings and the violent persecution of political dissidents.
The recent passage of House Bill 7137 declaring September 11 as Ferdinand Marcos Day in Ilocos Norte is truly a colossal desecration of our country’s history. Despite all-out efforts by the Duterte regime to rehabilitate the Marcoses and deify them through the legal sanctification of their lies and deceptions, Filipinos hit back with the trending on social media of #ArawNgMagnanakaw on his very birthday.
Despite living overseas, Martial law survivors have never allowed their stories to be negated or reduced into mere constructs as how enemies of the truth wanted it to be. Life during the Marcos period of cronyism and militarism was far from being a ‘golden age.’ It was during this time that Filipinos saw themselves being peddled as cheap commodities through the systematization of the government’s Labour Export Programme. Yesterday’s global online rally participants likewise equated Marcos’ Martial Law to Duterte’s Terror Law.
Filipino migrants strongly reject and oppose the Terror Law for it only reinforces state-terror as an official government policy and is certainly Duterte’s way of armouring himself with immunity from criminal liability. The killing spree perpetrated by the Duterte regime has already claimed the lives of Allan Rafael, Bryan Conje and many others from OFW families.
In April, Migrante Iloilo’s founding organizer Jory Porquia was gunned down right inside his place of residence in Iloilo City. The shedding of innocent blood remains unremitting with the recent killing of Anakpawis Chairperson Randy Echanis and human rights worker Zara Alvarez. The recent call by EU parliamentarians to probe the killings and abuses under the Duterte regime plus the threat of trade sanctions further turned President Duterte into an international outcast at a time when his debasement of the Philippine economy buries the people further into the epicenter of the global crisis.
OFW repatriates have not been spared from the militarist response of the Duterte regime in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The early stages of the world’s longest lockdown meted out detention-like conditions in quarantine facilities where tens of thousands of Filipino migrants were held for almost a month without access to regular medical and psychosocial services. Most of whom were sent back to their provinces without receiving a single penny of financial aid. In addition, Duterte’s defense and counter-insurgency budget for 2021 is even higher than the planned allocations for public health, assistance and welfare services for OFWs.
The deployment of PNP outposts in the US, the holding of red tagging seminars by NTF-ELCAC attaches in Philippine embassies and the deportation attempt against a Taiwan OFW early this year for criticizing the government are just among the many attempts of the Duterte regime to outperform his idol Ferdinand Marcos. With the economy nosediving to a negative 16.5% in the second quarter, the gravity of economic collapse being experienced by the country under Duterte has even surpassed the downturn figure from the time of Marcos.
In sheer desperation, Duterte’s folly of surrounding himself with military cronies may accord him impunity for now. But history attests that no tyrant has ever kept himself on the throne forever. We will rise up once again to reclaim our rights and freedom. Filipino migrants and their families stand with the masses in their boiling outrage against the Duterte regime’s bloody tyranny. Our enduring resistance shall thunder aloud even up to the time when the Duterte terrorist regime will be finally made to pay for its detestable crimes against the Filipino people. ###