Last night I was watching the Warriors game held at the Oracle. How big is the Oracle? Maybe it has a capacity of 18 to 20,000. Imagine the Oracle full of dead bodies. This is the estimated number of drug-related extrajudicial killings in the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Perhaps you already learned from the news about the notorious anti-drug war, the mad president and his frequent outbursts against the church, women, and his critics. But what is not clearly explained is that in the past two years, Duterte has been waging three wars: the war on drugs, the war on terror in Mindanao, and the all-out war against communist groups.
Who are the casualties of these wars? The farmers, the Lumad and other indigenous peoples, plantation workers, activists, students.
A few minutes ago, we observed a moment of silence for the nine farmers who were killed in Sagay, Negros Occidental. They were massacred while resting during a bungkalan (collective farming) campaign in a hacienda. Hacienda? Indeed, we continue to use the word hacienda, a word first used in the 17th century, because oppressive feudal relations continue to exist in our homeland.
Starving farmers killed for trying to survive and for demanding land reform. Farmers accused of sympathizing with communist forces are the principal victims of Duterte’s all-out war.
To escape blame, authorities resort to lies and red-baiting instead of pursuing justice.
Facebook recently deleted 95 accounts, mostly pro-Duterte pages, for violating the platform’s standards. Most of these deleted accounts spew out fake news and outright lies meant to stir public opinion in favor of Duterte’s controversial policies. But the Sagay cover-up by authorities is a reminder that even if Facebook is removing rabid DDS pages, the machinery of disinformation is still running and its command center is inside Malacanang Palace led by Duterte, the country’s troll-in-chief.
But I am not here to bombard you with depressing updates from our country.
There are also inspiring stories to share. For example, the renewed enthusiasm among young people in resisting the return of tyranny. The brave defiance of many youth groups in rejecting the misogynist remarks of Duterte, his anti-poor statements, and incoherent rants. The online and offline organizing to defend rights and civil liberties. The campaign for free education, the agitation versus corruption, student support for labor demands.
How can we in the United States participate in the people’s protest? Help expose websites and social media pages promoting fake news. Inform our families and friends about the state-backed campaign of disinformation. Turn the 2019 midterm polls into an opportunity to discuss urgent people’s concerns. Draft a migrant agenda, an alternative agenda that should be highlighted during the campaign period. Put forward a people’s criteria in choosing the country’s next leaders. Be part of the struggle for real freedom, peace, justice, and democracy.
More than just beautiful islands and our sparkling seas, more than adobo and sinigang, be proud of the Filipino heritage and our tradition of dissent. We waged Asia’s first anti-colonial revolt led by the Katipunan. We became Asia’s first independent republic after the World War II. Our titos and titas fought Matial Law and dictatorship.
From Berkeley to Binondo and Diliman, there is solidarity among students, workers, and migrants. We support the ongoing strike by UC workers in their demand for equity and better conditions. Wherever and whenever there is injustice, there is resistance.
Makibaka, huwag matakot! Mabuhay ang paglaban ng mamamayan!
Remarks delivered by Bayan Metro Manila chairperson Mong Palatino during the Filipino American Visibility Day at University of California Berkeley on October 25, 2018