Protesters hurdle police blockades to denounce Duterte’s ‘Marcos-level corruption, tyranny’

A youth protester joins the commemoration of Martial Law at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila, Sept. 21. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)


MANILA — Mao Hermitanio’s face was wet and red when she reached Liwasang Bonifacio this afternoon, Sept. 21, the 49th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. She and her colleagues played cat and mouse with the Manila police. The chase, however, was not at all fun.

Hermitanio, deputy secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and her companions assembled at around 1:30 p.m. on Carriedo street, where they were prohibited by the police from holding a program. The contingent, composed mainly of farmers, workers, youth and urban poor, decided to go to Sta. Cruz Church. After a short program, they started marching toward Liwasang Bonifacio. The police blocked them from setting foot on the bridge, and dispersed them with water canon.

Amid the chaos, former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao and Kilusang Mayo Uno Secretary General Jerome Adonis tried to negotiate with the police, but the latter refused to even identify their ground commander. The protesters then dispersed, and found ways, literally, to get to the site of the protest.

A few meters away from Liwasang Bonifacio, former Gabriela Women’s Party Liza Maza was also blocked several times by policemen in fatigue. She tried to cross the underpass from the Metropolitan Theater but was prevented from proceeding. She walked along the Jones bridge, hoping she would be finally allowed to join the other activists. Policemen told her and her colleagues they could not pass through. Asked for a reason, a policeman just said, “That’s the order.”

Fuming, Maza told the media in Filipino, “I remember when I was still in college, when lighting rallies were still prohibited during Martial Law. The people were not allowed to express themselves freely just like what is happening now.”

“Everything came back to me. I was just waiting for someone to shout, ‘Marcos, Diktator! Tuta!Duterte at Marcos, parehong-pareho ang pakana,’” (Marcos, Dictator! Puppet! Duterte and Marcos have the same tactics.) she said.

Eventually, Maza and hundreds of other protesters managed to hurdle the obstacles.

“On the anniversary of Martial Law, they tried to suppress the rights of the people to peaceably assemble and to free expression,” Obet de Castro of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said in a Facebook post in Filipino hours after the protest. “Duterte is so much like Marcos. And just as how the Filipino people toppled the Marcos dictatorship, the corrupt and fascist in Malacañang failed to stop the militant action of the Filipino people earlier today.”

Marcos-level corruption, tyranny

A religious reminds the politicians of one of the ten commandments. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)

Progressive groups denounced what they called as Duterte’s Marcosian tactics.

In his speech, Antonio La Viña, former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, said Duterte proves to be similar to Marcos when it comes to corruption and tyranny. He cited the purchase of overpriced pandemic items from Pharmaly, and the killings of activists and drug suspects.

Renato Reyes Jr., BAYAN secretary general, meanwhile, called on fellow protesters to make their choices clear in the coming elections.

“We reject everything that is destructive to the country. We reject those who act as dictators, the son of the dictator, and the lackeys of dictators. We reject corruption, killings, apathy and subservience to foreign interests,” Reyes said in Filipino.

Former ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, who represented 1Sambayan, said the Filipino people should “unite in restoring democracy back.” (

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