Over 250 People Stage Die-In and Rally at Philippine Embassy in Washington DC to Call for the Ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines
Over 250 Filipinos and allies from across the U.S. rallied in front of the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. yesterday, in a protest organized by BAYAN-USA that brought together people from multiple generations, political views, and organizations calling for the ouster of President Duterte. Protesters expressed their outrage at the deteriorating social and economic conditions of the Philippines, as well as the Duterte government’s increasingly violent repression against government critics, human rights defenders, and grassroots people particularly among the poor. Fourteen people staged a die-in at the gates of the Embassy, to symbolize the 14 peasants and farmers killed by the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines in a joint “anti-criminality” operation in Negros Island.
“We’re here in front of the Philippine Embassy to say the U.S.-backed Duterte regime must go!” shouted rally co-emcee Nina Macapinlac, Deputy Secretary General of BAYAN-USA. “Duterte is responsible for the murders of 30,000 people under the drug war and 230 people whose only crime is standing up for their rights. His taxes under the TRAIN law are starving the poor, and his trade agreements with China are selling-out Philippine sovereignty. Duterte must be ousted!”
The rally culminated in a militant march from the main Embassy Building to an adjunct building of the Embassy, where the Ambassador was in attendance at an event. Protestors again staged a die-in at the steps of the building, calling for justice for the “Negros 14” farmers, followed by a noise barrage lasting several minutes. They also demanded Ambassador Romualdez to “show his face” and answer questions about the human rights violations, martial law in Mindanao, and fascist counter-insurgency programs of the administration that are targeting human rights defenders for assassination or detention on trumped up charges.
Speakers at the rally included leaders from the Philippines Raymond Palatino, Chair of BAYAN Metro Manila, and Ed Cubelo, President of Kilusang Mayo Uno Metro Manila, who are conducting a speaking tour in various cities throughout the U.S. Palatino and Cubelo called attention to the repression being meted out on activists, workers and labor leaders, including those being targeted for their union organizing efforts. Andre Powell, with the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly, and Pamela Brubaker, an activist and professor of religion and ethics, both cited the strong solidarity movement against the Marcos dictatorship during the 1980s and pledged to help build a similar solidarity movement to oust Duterte now. Bernadette Herrera, Chair of Migrante USA, railed against the economic policies of the Duterte administration, demanding an end to such policies that drive up prices, drive down wages, and force thousands of Filipinos to leave their families behind and migrate abroad to find work. Angelica Lim with Gabriela USA described the myriad ways that Duterte has made life for much worse for women in the Philippines, from implementing policies that increase poverty for families to fostering a culture of impunity among police and the military, who are encouraged by Duterte himself to commit acts of rape and violence against women.
The rally ended with chants of “Sino, sino, sino ang terorista? Ang U.S., Duterte–sila ang terorista! (Who is, who is the terrorist? US-Duterte are the terrorists!)” and “Duterte-mismo Babagsak! (Take Down Duterte!).”
The rally was conducted following the first day of the three-day National Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in Washington D.C.