By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Filipinos in New York braved the ice cold rain this midweek to denounce the sneaky burial of the remains of the late President Ferdinand Marcos in the national heroes cemetery in Manila early November. About a hundred anti-Marcos activists resurrected the horror that Martial Law brought into their lives and chanted “Marcos is a thief, not a hero”. The activists, now mostly middle-aged and residents of the east coast, lambasted President Rodrigo Duterte for being the ‘gatekeeper’ of the Marcos family to return to power.
Ruben Carranza, an international human rights lawyer and former Philippine commissioner for Good Government, said during the rally that although the protest may not have matched the size and strength of the protests back in the Philippines, “but the symbolism of it was meaningful.”
A student activist during the 1980s, Carranza added, “we stood in front of the Philippine consulate. The consulate is in a building that Imelda Marcos once claimed was ‘owned’ by her and the dictator, bought with money they stole from he people. The people took it back in 1986. No one will take it away again in 2016.”
Groups from Ugnayan NY NJ Youth, Anakbayan-USA, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, women’s and LGBTQ groups joined the indignation rally. “It was and is an example of how fighting a dictatorship and those that would resurrect it can be done with mutual respect and an overriding spirit of solidarity,” said Carranza.
In Los Angeles, the chairperson of the Justice for Fil-Am Veterans Arturo Garcia criticized Duterte for having allowed Marcos’s burial at the heroes’ cemetery. “Duterte insults the 250,000 Filipino American veterans who fought for democracy during World War II and the 73,000 victims of human rights violations during martial law, which includes his own mother,” he said.
Duterte, a close friend of the Marcoses,downplayed the burial issue as a family matter between the Aquinos and the Marcoses.
“Duterte is a Marcos loyalist. He is not healing the nation, he is dividing the nation by siding with the dictator. We will never accept that Marcos was a hero,” Garcia said.
Meanwhile, former Philippine House Speaker Jose de Venecia said that Duterte’s strong alliance with the Marcoses will bring his popularity down.
“The victims of Martial Law and their families will not go down quietly,” de Venecia said in an interview with OSM! at the New Yorker Hotel here.
De Venecia, the president of the International Association of Peace Parliamentarians, is in Washington, DC for a leadership conference on global peace building efforts. (Photos by Leani Auxilio and Ugnayan NY NJ)