Endorsing organizations included 1Sambayan USA - Northeast, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan USA - Northeast, Filipino Migrants for Leni Kiko, Global Filipinos for Leni, Malaya Movement NJ Chapter, Malaya Movement NY Chapter, Solid Leni Kiko Global, Team Leni Robredo Pinoys NYC, United Filipinos for Leni North America, and Young Global Filipinos for Leni.
Estimated 700 Filipinos march along 42nd street towards the Philippine Consulate (Photo by Marion Aguas)
The crowd, consisting largely of supporters of candidates Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan, convened at 10AM in Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan before marching to the Philippine Consulate General at 11AM. Frankie Pangilinan, daughter of vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, spoke to the crowd, saying, “Nandirito po tayong lahat (We are all here) because we would like to better the social, economic, and political conditions back in our homeland, the Philippines…In the dark era of disinformation, fake news, and manufactured truths, we would like to call on the Commission on Elections of the Philippines…to have honest, clean, orderly, peaceful, and credible elections that we as a people can trust. This is a democracy and we will defend it…But freedom and democracy is not…hindi po yan minamana (these are not inherited). Pinaglalabanan po yan. (They must be fought for.) It’s a continuous fight, walang katapusan po ang laban. (The fight never ends.)”
Jillian Robredo, youngest daughter of presidential candidate and current Vice President Leni Robredo, also addressed the crowd. “Alam ko pong mahirap maging malayo sa Pilipinas kapag ang daming nangyayari. Pero nakakabilib po na sa inyong lahat na nandito kayo ngayon, standing up for democracy kahit napakalayo natin. Pinapakita natin kahit 8,000 miles away tayo sa Pilipinas na may pakialam pa rin tayo sa anong nagyayari sa atin, sa ating bayan.” (I know it’s hard to be far from the Philippines when so much is happening [there]. But I believe in you all who are here today standing up for democracy even if we are far away. We are demonstrating that even though we are 8,000 miles away from the Philippines, we still care about what’s happening back home, in our nation.)
Filipinos line up outside the Philippine Consulate of New York (Photo by Marion Aguas)
In front of the Philippine Consulate on 5th Avenue, the various groups fervently expressed objection to traditional dirty politics and chanted “tama na sobra na! (Enough is enough!)” to the corrupt political dynasties that dominate Philippine politics, especially the Marcos-Duterte faction. Loida Nicolas Lewis of Global Filipinos for Leni Kiko and other speakers urged participants to contact their relatives in the Philippines to encourage them to vote for progressive partylists and senatorial candidates over the next 35 days of the campaign period.
Citing the red-tagging tactics used by current Pres. Duterte against the political opposition and human rights defenders, Adrian Bonifacio of BAYAN USA called on Filipinos across the globe to unite against growing fascism in the Philippines. “Ang ating pagkakaisa ang kinatatakutan nila Marcos at Duterte dahil alam na alam nila kung gaano ito kalakas. Kaya naglunsad ang gobyerno ng all out offensive, para takutin tayo, para paghiwalayin tayo. (Our unity is what Marcos and Duterte are afraid of because they know well how strong it is. That is why the government launched an all out offensive [to attack us], to scare us, to divide us.)”
Frankie Pangilanan addresses the crowd (Photo by Marion Aguas)
The credibility of the upcoming elections was called into question after the recent appointment of Marcos’ lawyer to the Commission on Elections. Harassment and sabotage of Leni-Kiko, as well as other candidates' campaign activities has raised the alarm among civil society groups.
In response to these issues, march participants clamored for increased transparency and better governance. “Milyon ang nagugutom sa Pilipinas dahil sa korapsyon. Ipaglaban po natin si VP Leni, si Kiko para po maging epektibo ang kanilang gobyerno…Ito pong laban na ito ay laban ng mabuti at masama. Doon po tayo sa mabuti lamang, sa katotohanan at sa malinis na gobyerno. (Millions are starving in the Philippines because of corruption. We must fight for Vice President Leni and Kiko so their government can be effective. This is a battle of good and evil. We are for the good, the truth, and clean governance),” said Nida Gonzales-Chan of United Filipinos of North America.
Attendees encouraged their fellow Filipinos to amplify the demand for genuine, pro-people change and progress by supporting the growing opposition. “The future of our country is in our hands,” said Matt Rosales of 1Sambayan USA – Northeast.
Participants of the coalition intend to continue their momentum and grow the people’s opposition movement by holding another event, the Angat Buhay Walk of Hope, on April 3 in Jersey City, NJ.