On May 25, Congress officially announced the “victory” of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Sara Duterte as president and vice president of the Philippines. The premature proclamation of their win is a testament to the desperation of both tyrannical dynasties to restore and expand their power. The congratulatory messages from both the U.S. and China to Marcos, Jr. also reflect the shameless lengths these imperialist powers will go to maintain a hold over the Philippines as a strategic geopolitical and economic base in the Asia-Pacific.
Marcos and Duterte celebrate their victory while multiple petitions sit at the Supreme Court contesting the legitimacy of Marcos’ candidacy, and while thousands of people have taken to the streets to reject the massive fraud and cheating that pervaded the elections: widespread disinformation, vote-buying, red-tagging and political repression, a defective automated election system, and a neglectful COMELEC that turned its back on all these issues.
Already, the state has brutally attacked the masses protesting the looming dictatorship. Thousands were blocked by the police from marching to the COMELEC in the days following the elections, a student leader was illegally arrested while others were violently dispersed at a protest in front of the US embassy, and more than ten people were injured after police water cannoned protestors at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after the victory proclamation was made.
The state’s vicious response to these righteous protests is not only a clear violation of the people’s constitutional rights, it is also a taste of the six years to come under a Marcos-Duterte regime: one marked by fascist repression and violence to defend a system built off the people’s suffering. It will also be one marked by rampant exploitation, as made evident by the Department of Finance’s recent proposal for a tax system in which the Filipino people will be expected to shoulder the debts incurred by the Duterte regime during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mass protests in the Philippines and abroad against the victory of Marcos and Duterte show that these incoming dictators have far from won the hearts and minds of the Filipino people. The aspirations of the masses remain unfulfilled, and the official proclamation of Marcos and Duterte has only made more urgent our duty to struggle for a vision of freedom and democracy that goes beyond a six-year term.
As we approach this dark chapter of our nation’s history, it is up to the Filipino people to remember all those who fought the Marcos dictatorship decades ago by continuing the fight that they had started. To sit in hopelessness and despair is to turn our backs on our history of resistance and the crimes these families need to be held accountable for: their human rights violations, their selling-out of our national sovereignty, and all the wealth stolen off the backs of the people.
We cannot lose hope when history has shown us time and again how the Filipino people have rightfully resisted colonization, occupation, and dictatorship throughout centuries. The real fight for genuine freedom and democracy did not begin and end with the elections. Let us learn the lessons from the past to ensure that this chapter in our people’s history ends victoriously–with Marcos and Duterte removed from power and the Filipino people one step closer to building the system that our people deserve.