University#NeverNovember protest against Imelda held at People Power Monument
#NeverNovember protest against Imelda held at People Power Monument
November 20, 2018
November 20, 2018

Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) was spared from rallies and protests held against the Duterte administration in the recent months. Although last Saturday, November 18, opposition groups staged a protest dubbed as #NeverNovember in front of the People Power Monument to commemorate the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani and to call for the arrest of former First Lady Imelda Marcos after her guilty verdict in a case filed to the Sandiganbayan.

Various youth groups and student-led organizations spearheaded the rally, which emphasized the recent conviction of Marcos for seven counts of graft during her tenure as former Metro Manila Governor through slogans displaying Imelda Iselda. Testimonies and experiences were shared by invited speakers, which included Martial Law victims, representatives of opposition groups, and student leaders.



Context of the protest

According to JC Tejano, chairperson of Akbayan Youth, the EDSA rally was organized by a network of youth organizations, which he mentioned also includes his own organization, along with Youth Resist, Tindig Kabataan, ASEAN Youth Forum, and Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) of De La Salle University, among others.

“Youth organizations remind the Marcoses that we have not moved on; that we will continue to call on our fellow young Filipinos to never forget the atrocities and the corruption of the Marcos regime, and to never again allow this family to return to power, to never again allow dictatorship in our country,” Tejano asserted.

With the protest having been set before the said arrest order on Marcos, event organizer and National Chairperson for Students’ Rights and Welfare Philippines PJ Foronda-Tanglaw explained that the rally still was to reiterate that the youth are not going “to forget or to forgive what the Marcoses did.”

Highlighting the charges against the former First Lady, Foronda-Tanglao further added, “This is a victory because now we have—in an institutional and state level—Imelda, proven by the state of the Philippines, was corrupt in graft, and that there was gross negligence on her part.”

This was seconded by Tapat Vice President for External Affairs Lance Dela Cruz who stated, Nagpapatunay lamang ito na buhay ang hustisya sa Pilipinas kahit na si Duterte ang nakaupo [bilang presidente]. We still have the Sandiganbayan intact with the integrity to convict dictators and plunderers in the country.” Dela Cruz further pointed out that such conviction of Marcos “proves that no one is safe from the law, that justice will always prevail no matter how long it will take.”

(This only signifies that justice is still attainable in the country despite Duterte being president.)



Mutual interests in opposition

Attendees of the event consisted of opposition senatoriables, youth leaders, and Martial Law victims. Supporters of the cause were also present and joined in crying foul against the government through a People’s Warrant of Arrest against graft convict Imelda Marcos.

For The Silent Majority Founder Jozy Acosta-Nisperos, the objective of their group in attending the Sunday protest was to “support the millennials in their call for accountability from the Marcoses.” According to her, the advocacies promoted by the event are similar to what she and her group support as well. “We want to make sure na ma-support namin sila para hindi nila makalimutan ang mga pinag-daanan ng mga henerasyon namin,” Acosta-Nisperos emphasized.

(We want to make sure that we support the youth so that they would not forget what our generation went through.)

Pertaining to the impact of activists in the #NeverNovember protest, former Solicitor General Atty. Florin Hilbay explicated, “It represents the continuing effort of ensuring that justice is enforced, that history is remembered, and that attempts against historical revisionism are rejected.”

Former Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Ging Deles and former Human Rights Commissioner Etta Rosales were among those who narrated their testimonies and experiences during Martial Law under the Marcos regime. In a statement, the former presidential adviser recounted, Tatlo po ang anak ko. Dinala ko sila sa mga rally para makita nila ang ibig sabihin ng protesta.”

(I have three children. I bring them to rallies so they can see what it means to protest.)

Deles also iterated that the remaining Marcoses seek election in different political seats in the government. Tumatakbo bilang gobernador itong si Imelda na dapat iselda; si Imee tumatakbo bilang senador; at si Bongbong ay naghihintay na nakawin ang upuan ng Bise Presidente.”

(Imelda, who should be locked up, is running as governor; Imee is running as senator; and Bongbong awaits to steal the position of the Vice President.)



On the case of Imelda

Marcos’ conviction was publicized last November 9. The ruling states should have led to her arrest and imprisonment of six years and a month to 11 years maximum in prison for each count of graft charged against her. This was not the case, as the former first lady was absent during the promulgation of the judgment on her conviction. She later posted a P150,000 bail for her provisional liberty on the same day her arrest warrant was released. The Sandiganbayan forfeited the warrant after the bail was confirmed. As of press time, the Sandiganbayan is still deliberating on post-conviction actions.

Tejano further clarified that this was due to her “illegal” participation in the management of Swiss “foundations”, which he explained became dummy companies to circulate their family’s wealth. “Ang tinatayang nanakaw ng mga Marcos ay nasa $200 million; that is P10-billion…even if you earn P1-million per month, you [will] need to work a thousand years for you to earn that amount of money,” Tejano laid out.

On the implications of holding other people accountable for violations of the constitution and of the law in reference to Imelda’s case, Foronda-Tanglao asserted, “If Imelda was given such leniency, then such leniency will also be given to ally politicians of the current administration. Not only does this set a precedence for being lenient towards people who are convicted of graft and corruption, it creates a precedent that it’s okay to repress opposition.”


with interviews from Judiel Libot