Howdy, and welcome to Very Online, issue #9.
Today, June 30, 2022, is a sad day for my motherland, the Philippines.
At 12:00 PM PHT, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos was sworn into office. He, the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos and convicted grafter Imelda Romualdez Marcos, is now the 17th President of the Fifth Republic of the Philippines.
His Vice President is Sara Duterte Carpio, the daughter of Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the 16th President of the Fifth Republic of the Philippines best known for his raging misogyny, his literally bloody “war on drugs” that targets the poor, and for his unwillingness to enforce our sovereignty through our 2016 international-court victory over China and its fabricated “nine-dash line”. She was sworn in several days earlier, while Leni Gerona Robredo, the Vice President and Marcos’ main rival for the presidency, was still holding office.
So… Yep. Darkest Timeline.
Assuming that the number of people who voted for them is made up of real, living, breathing human beings and not padded with false election returns, Marcos and Duterte were given their mandates by millions of Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad. Marcos is said to have garnered 31.6 million votes, translating to “58.77% of ballots cast, with an 82% turnout.”
(The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines or ICHRP found “massive fraud” during these national elections, BTW. In Tagalog: Putangina, luto.)
He is also the first candidate to win without a solid campaign platform other than “Unity”; the first president to belong to a family that plundered (a conservative estimate of) US$5-10 billion from the country’s coffers; and the first president to be in control of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), a government agency tasked solely with investigating his family’s ill-gotten wealth. Among many other massive red flags – thinking about writing about all of them is making me tired and my blood boil.
For a wider picture, the Marcos and Duterte families have robbed the country blind, killed thousands (and had more killed in their name), and remain completely unrepentant for their decades-long crimes. And they and their cronies run the land now. (Not that they ever stopped. Philippine politics, y’all.)
I don’t move on easily. I am still processing Robredo’s election “loss” – and how 31 million people fell for propaganda via troll farms and wasted their right to vote. I am still processing my rage at the many ways governance in this country keeps getting worse, how politicians are becoming more brazen in their crimes, and how the silencing of media outlets and individuals began before Inauguration Day. And I am still processing my fear that this hellhole will not end after six years. I mean, baby dictators gotta dictate like dear ol’ daddy.
All that processing means I don’t have the words, patience, or bandwidth to express what so many of us already have, online and offline. What I can tell you right now are:
Read up on what the Marcoses have done in their previous 21 years in power. Printed, factual history is now being revised, and they will use modernized tactics for the same goals of plunder and power.
Watch everything you can. I mean everything. Make all those streaming accounts worth the fees.
Imelda by Ramona Diaz and The Kingmaker by Lauren Greenfield are must-sees.
Diaz’s A Thousand Cuts as well, for how Duterte goes after journalists (Maria Ressa and Rappler, in particular) and the rise of fake news here.
Explore your available migration/relocation options.
Become much more selective in the people, businesses, and groups you support, financially or otherwise. If you cannot change people’s minds or engage them in healthy and respectful debates, and are being attacked by staunch Marcos and Duterte supporters, starve them of their supply.
Right after the elections, many in my social circles have vowed to restrict their philanthropic efforts to Robredo’s Angat Buhay NGO (which is officially launching tomorrow!), patronize businesses that were vocal about their support for Robredo and her sterling track record in governance and public service, and their contacts who also supported Robredo and candidates other than Marcos and Duterte and their slate. They have also swiftly unfriended pro-BBM and pro-DDS contacts from their social media accounts and in their offline lives.
I plan to do the same, and I am in the middle of the unfriending process as well. They cannot have access to me and my meager resources if we do not have the same morals and respect for human life and freedoms.
And if they can compromise their belief systems and morals, they can compromise my life and safety. Dictators love using informants to maintain their power, FYI.
Vet your sources, and stick to legitimate journalism publications for your news updates. Online misinformation has long taken hold of the Philippines – we were the testing ground for how Facebook can be weaponized for election campaigns.
Enjoy your freedoms (and internet access) while you still have them. The silencing starts with journalists and activists, then extends to private citizens. I dread the day I will come under attack for this newsletter and my book blog and my politics and mere existence, even if I am not as militant as other folks. The question isn’t IF; it’s WHEN. And Filipinos have died for much less.
Today is Day 1. Take a deep breath, and maybe a few more. We’re in it now. I love you, friends.
And for friends reading this who are outside the Philippines – I love you too, but please don’t come back here. Not until someone else who isn’t a relative or crony is in Malacañang.