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Marcos returns to Malacañang Palace, the fight for national democracy continues

Cely Corpuz from the Northern California Pilipinx American Student Alliance on July 25, 2022. Photo: Jen Rocha

A new yet familiar face is back in Malacañang Palace. In June, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was sworn in as the 17th President of the Philippines, stepping into the same position his father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., acquired from 1965 to 1986.

During his 21-year reign of terror, Marcos Sr. and his cronies stole over $10 billion from the Filipino people, many of whom lived on average less than $2 per day by the time he left office. According to journalist Raissa Robles, the government murdered more than 3,200 people and tortured about 40,000 during the Marcos years for speaking out against the corrupt, anti-people, and anti-democratic regime. The People Power Revolution ousted the Marcos family, who fled to the United States in 1986. But now, 36 years later, the Marcos dynasty returns, with Marcos Jr. as president and Sara Duterte, daughter of outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte, as vice president.

Like Marcos Jr., Sara Duterte refuses to acknowledge or apologize for the massive human rights violations under her father’s presidency. Rodrigo Duterte’s rule for the last six years was filled with broken promises. Two-faced with bloodstained teeth, Rodrigo Duterte presented himself as a candidate of peace, only to unleash his terror through a “War on Drugs” that killed over 30,000 people, mainly those in poor urban communities. His administration and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) maintained a brutal counter-insurgency campaign funded by the United States through a $2.5 billion arms deal. Under this campaign, government officials established the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which has actively targeted organizations and individuals struggling for their fundamental rights, livelihood, and true independence.

The red-tagging of these organizations has resulted in ongoing and increased surveillance, restrictions on material support for food pantries and disaster funds, and targeted attacks on human rights defenders, including Chinese American activist Brandon Lee who survived a failed assassination attempt by the AFP in 2019.

A protestor at the People’s State of the Nation Address in San Francisco on July 25, 2022. Courtesy: Glenn Mercado

What we see now with the new Marcos-Duterte tandem is the continuation of vicious, fascist tactics and a complete denial, whitewashing, and revision of their families’ past crimes. The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) conducted an independent survey of the 2022 election and observed massive fraud, vote buying, faulty electronic voting machines, large-scale red-tagging of activists and political opponents, media manipulation, and election-related violations of human rights.

Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte campaigned with an empty platform that failed to address the worsening economic conditions in the country, the rising cost of oil, sinking wages, or even the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they parroted the lies of their families, engaging in a massive disinformation campaign, aided by Western corporations and institutions such as Facebook, Google, and Cambridge Analytica, to rewrite their histories and buy votes. Marcos Jr. appointed himself Secretary of Agriculture and now heads a $1.78 billion fund meant to repay what his family stole from coconut farmers during Martial Law. Sara Duterte, who was appointed Secretary of Education, aims to militarize Philippine society through ROTC and erase the atrocities of her predecessors. Prompt congratulations from President Joe Biden and Secretary Antony Blinken signal another chapter of U.S. domination over a puppet government in the Philippines.

An internal sickness rooted in bureaucrat capitalism plagues the Philippines. Those in the top one percent continue to rule the country like a business, separate and detached from the wants, needs, and will of the people. Feudalism furthers the exploitation of workers and denies the mass majority of peasant farmers ownership of their land or access to modern tools. The United States plays a role in these injustices, viewing the Philippines as a place of profit and militaristic advantage against China. The only solution to the country’s problems is revolution. From centuries-long resistance during Spanish colonization to the ousting of two puppet dictators in power, the revolutionary history against the ruling classes of the Philippines and the United States has shown time and time again that the people are the true makers of history.

Filipinos from all classes and sectors march from Union Square to the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco on July 25, 2022 for a People’s State of the Nation Address. Photo: Jen Rocha

U.S. officials not only backed the Marcos Sr. dictatorship but have helped bleed the Philippines and its people dry of resources, opportunities, and rights. In response, peasants and workers are leading the fight against fascism with the support of student youth and the middle class. But this struggle is not unique to the Philippines. The United States has extended its imperialist arms worldwide and destabilized tens if not hundreds of nations through colonization. International solidarity is critical in furthering the movement for liberation and justice across the world, for the mass fight against fascism is both a class and international struggle.

Fascism in the Philippines has entered a new and even harsher phase. As Filipinos living in the belly of the beast, the United States, we hold the People’s State of the Nation Address (PSONA) in response to the bogus claims that Marcos Jr. and the many puppet presidents before him spew out during their state of the nation addresses. We hold these actions as a reminder that we are the masses and can confront the oppressors head-on. We must continue to organize, continue to mobilize, and continue to build a mass movement dedicated to tackling root problems that plague the Filipino people!

The National Democratic Movement in the Philippines is this mass movement. Committed to eradicating U.S. imperialism, this movement fights for true independence, defends the people as the makers of history, and demands that industry and agriculture be self-sufficient and serve the starving masses. PSONA is just one step in the movement. If you want to help build a better future, we encourage you to look for organizations in your area such as BAYAN, Gabriela, Malaya Movement, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, or the International League of Peoples’ Struggle.

Continue the fight, remember Martial Law, and reject the U.S.-Marcos II regime! Fight for National Democracy in the Philippines!

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