Groups of Filipinos were found chanting upon the arrival of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr on US soil, where he is set to attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York City on a week-long visit.
Yesterday, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr arrived in the United States, where he is set to attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York City as part of his week-long visit. His arrival was met with two very different reactions by Filipinos in the U.S.
While one anti-Marcos group took to the streets of New Jersey to yell “Makibaka! Huwag matakot!” (Join the struggle, don’t be afraid!) and “Ang tao, ang bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban!” (The people, the nation is fighting back!), the battle cries of activists during Ferdinand Marcos Sr’s Martial Law regime, a crowd of the president’s supporters chanted “Marcos, Marcos pa rin!” (Marcos, Marcos still!) at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center prior to his arrival at the venue.
The opposite reactions reflect the divided political views between overseas Filipinos over the election of Marcos Jr as president, with those sentiments further magnified by his arrival in the United States on the week marking the 50th anniversary of his father instituting Martial Law.
“Ironically, the martial law anniversary coincides with Marcos Jr’s visit to the US to speak at the United Nations General Assembly,” Malaya Movement, a progressive Filipino political group in the United States, pointed out.
Meanwhile, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at the New Jersey theater waved Philippine flags, danced and sang Ako ay Pilipino and Bagong Lipunan, two songs associated with the Marcos Sr era, while they waited for the president to arrive for his speech to members of the Filipino expat community.
Marcos Jr’s visit marks the first time he has stepped foot in the United States since facing a US$353-million contempt order issued by the District Court of Hawaii for not answering a judgement against Marcos Sr in a 1995 human rights class action lawsuit. He and his mother Imelda are held liable as executors of Marcos Sr’s estate, who died in 1989.
However, during a visit to the Philippines in June, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman confirmed that Marcos would be protected by diplomatic immunity once he steps onto US soil. US President Joe Biden’s also officially invited Marcos Jr to visit him in Washington.
In his pre-departure speech, Marcos Jr confirmed his participation in the UN General Assembly to “affirm the country’s commitment to the ideals of the UN.”
“’I depart today to participate in the High-Level Week of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where I will also attend a number of bilateral meetings and business engagements and meet with, of course, the Filipino community,” he said.
“’The UN is where the countries of the world congregate to discuss the most pressing challenges facing our people. Thus, it is important for us to participate in the General Assembly and to make certain that our voice is heard.”
In New York City, Marcos Jr is expected to have a one-on-one audience with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as well as other Philippine allies, where he is set to discuss food security, agriculture, renewable energy and climate change, which make up some of his administration’s key priorities.
While the president cited the United Nations’ “contributions to peaceful settlement of disputes and of international law” and the “importance of the UN in fostering international dialogue and cooperation,” it is unclear whether Marcos Jr will discuss the Philippines’ long-standing territorial dispute against China in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines won the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitration against China, in which the tribunal unanimously favored the Philippines over China’s controversial nine-dash-line claim — a ruling Rodrigo Duterte ignored when he sat as president.