Thousands of protesters in the Philippines took over the streets Sunday for the anniversary of the ousting of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled from 1972 to 1986, and to oppose President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal war on drugs and his intention to amend the constitution.
The memorial rallies commemorate the 1986's People Power Revolution, also called the Yellow Revolution, a protest and civil resistance movement that ended Marcos' authoritarian and repressive regime and drafted a new constitution.
The events have been commemorated by political leaders in the Philippines since then, especially by the Aquino family which was instrumental in ending the dictatorship, but Duterte has skipped the event twice since he came to power in 2016.
It's estimated that more than 3,000 opposition members were murdered and tens of thousands tortured during Marcos' regime. Duterte admits that about 3,967 “drug dealers and users” have been killed during the drug war that started in 2016, but activists and human rights organizations estimate that more than 20,000 people have lost their lives in extra-judicial killings during the same period.
The International Criminal Court is now investigating if Duterte is guilty of crimes against humanity for his policies. "It is important to stand up now, especially since last year, we saw that this administration blatantly disregarded our history, that they buried the dictator Marcos," said protester Jason Del Rosario. "Now see the same authoritarian tendencies from the current regime.”
The rallies were attended by people from different backgrounds, including Catholic and women rights groups, such as Gabriela, Voices of Women and Peace and EDSA, who are demanding an end to the bloody “war on drugs” Duterte is leading.
In the first days of February, Duterte declared that “crazy women” who leave their children to join the Maoist New People's Army (NPA) should be shot in their genitals, and on Feb. 26 he made the same remarks again. “I will tell them the same. Go ahead, have children, and then leave them. Join the NPA,” said Duterte before a visit from former rebels.
Duterte himself is openly a Marcos' admirer and has said he has a good relationship with his family, distancing himself from the Aquino family's political rule and the People Power Revolution.
In November 2016, Ferdinand Marcos had a clandestine and private burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani cemetery for national heroes. His remains were secretly flown in by helicopter and protesters quickly took over the streets when they found out.
The People Power Revolution memorial activities started on Feb. 23 and will last until the 27th.