Los Angeles march protests political repression and U.S. military presence in Philippines
Los Angeles, CA – On July 23, hundreds of protesters marched down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles for the People’s State of the Nation Address. The PSONA is an annual protest to counter the Filipino president’s state of the nation address and expose the real struggles of the Filipino people. This year it highlighted the issues under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. presidency, including record high inflation and miserable wages, intense political repression with prosecution and killings, and increased U.S. military presence.
Bayan SoCal, Malaya SoCal, and the International League of Peoples Struggle organized the protest.
The march began with a rally at the Wilshire/Vermont Metro Station and progressed to the steps of the Salvadoran Consulate, where the Philippine National Police (PNP) have an office. The PNP has killed tens of thousands of Filipinos since 2016 under former president Rodrigo Duterte and continues to kill union organizers and activists under Marcos Jr. The PNP has been setting up offices across the U.S. in order to keep close ties with the U.S. government and surveil and harass U.S.-based Filipino activists who have been speaking out against the Duterte and Marcos regimes.
Jill Colcol from GABRIELA LA, which fights for Filipina women, LGBTQ and children’s rights, stated, “What purpose does it serve to have police forces here when the people are clamoring for financial aid and other resources? How can women be safe when our governments in the U.S. and in the Philippines are funding militarization and policing instead of healthcare, education and sustainable jobs? Women are not safe when government leaders prioritize war and profit over the people.”
The march continued to the Philippine National Bank at the Equitable Plaza in Koreatown, where speakers described the conditions that immigrant Filipinos – who are forced to come to the United States to find economic opportunities and escape repression – face in the U.S., including human trafficking, wage theft and hate crimes.
In his speech, Freedom Road Socialist Organization member Luis Sifuentes connected the conditions of Filipinos with the national oppression of Chicanos and other oppressed peoples in the United States. “One thing that Chicanos and Filipinos have in common is that we both have a common enemy, and that is the U.S. empire,” Sifuentes said. “While your relatives are fighting them from abroad in the motherland, we are fighting from within!”
The energetic protest ended with a song and destruction of a paper mâché sculpture of Marcos Jr, inspired by the tradition of burning dictator effigies which is practiced at protests in the Philippines. The overall call from the march was for solidarity with the Filipino people’s continuous struggle for democracy and sovereignty, and to build the fight against U.S. imperialism.
Colcol said, “When we have a combined effort to expose and oppose the conditions that the Filipino people face, we have a fighting chance in seeing a Philippines free from foreign control, free from macho and misogynistic thinking, one where women can fully participate in a society that does not see her as inferior but instead as an integral part in moving our society forward.”
The Filipino organizations and solidarity activists plan to protest the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in San Francisco in November. Marcos Jr. will attend to solidify policies that open up the Philippine economy to U.S. control and further devastate the economy for Filipinos and force more immigration to the U.S.