In the Philippines, protesters gathered on Saturday to remember the “People Power” revolution that led to the overthrow of the dictator father of current President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the forced exile of the Marcos family.
Since Marcos Jr. gained government in June 2022, this was the first time the rebellion had been celebrated. He has spoken highly of his father’s 20-year rule, which was criticized as a time of terrible human rights abuses and corrupt leadership that led to the country’s economic decline.
Survivors of the elder Marcos’s martial law crackdown that resulted in the deaths, tortures, and incarceration of thousands of political opponents and critics marched on the “People Power” monument in Manila to commemorate the era of brutality.
About 200 police with shields stood by as protesters screamed, “Marcos, Duterte all the same, fascist dictators.” They were referring to former president Rodrigo Duterte and his successor Marcos Jr.
According to the rally’s organizers, “at least 1,500” people showed up, although an AFP reporter on the scene estimated that just about 700 people showed up, with many of them taking shelter from the tropical sun under trees and umbrellas.
Sister Mary John Mananzan, a veteran rights campaigner, advised demonstrators to “stay watchful” after the return of the Marcoses to power. About three-quarters of a century after the overthrow of Marcos Sr., Julio Montinola, now 53, told AFP that the task was to preserve the “message and spirit” of the insurrection.
According to Montinola, “it did not resonate with the next generation.” Finally, “the people elected him” (Marcos Jr.). Kyle Navera, age 13, reported that he had learned that “terrible things happened” to those who challenged Marcos Sr.
“It would appear that Marcos Jr. (to become like his dad). I really, really, really, hope he doesn’t take that route “Navera remarked, referring to Marcos Jr.’s predecessor Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug campaign.
‘Hand of reconciliation’
A massive wreath of white flowers was sent by Marcos Jr. to the memorial near the main road of the city, the site of the bloodless rebellion against his father.
In a statement, Marcos Jr recalled: “those times of tribulation and how we came out of them united and stronger as a nation”.
“I once again offer my hand of reconciliation to those with different political persuasions to come together as one in forging a better society,” Marcos Jr said.
Over four days in 1986, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of the capital in a military-backed rebellion against the regime of an ill Marcos Sr.
On February 25, the Marcos family, including Marcos Jr., boarded US military aircraft and escaped the presidential residence with suitcases and crates full of diamonds, gold, and cash.
Upon the death of the patriarch in Hawaii in 1989, the family returned to the Philippines to reestablish their political influence and reputation.
After a huge social media misinformation campaign that whitewashed the family’s past, Marcos Jr. won the presidential election in May 2022.
Human rights activist Cristina Palabay of the alliance Karapatan is concerned that the Marcos family will stop at nothing to rehabilitate their reputation and protect their “ill-gotten fortune,” which could be worth billions of dollars.
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