Aussie MPs join protest greeting Marcos visit | Global News
At least 4 members of parliament air criticism

Aussie MPs join protest greeting Marcos visit

05:32 AM March 01, 2024

Sen. Janet Rice of Australia’s Greens Party

LONE OBJECTOR Sen. Janet Rice of Australia’s Greens Party holds a sign calling for a stop to rights abuses as President Marcos speaks in the House of Representatives at the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Thursday. —REUTERS

A pocket protest clamoring for justice for human rights abuses in the Philippines greeted the arrival of President Marcos in the Australian capital of Canberra on Thursday, as he addressed members of the country’s Parliament.

The group, composed of around 30 members of the Philippine Australia Association, said Marcos was not welcome in Australia while the Filipino people had yet to obtain justice for state atrocities committed during the dictatorship of his father and namesake, and the government’s failure to recover his family’s ill-gotten wealth.


“While the Marcos family is back in the seat of power in the Philippines, their crimes should not be forgotten,” said Emy Gasendo, a Filipino-Australian academic at the Australian National University and a Canberra resident.


“On the contrary, and with all the more reason, Bongbong Marcos should continue to be made answerable for these atrocities in the interest of justice and accountability,” she said in a statement.

MPs’ social media posts

At least four Australian members of Parliament, or MPs, also objected to Mr. Marcos’ state visit by joining the picket or posting their sentiments on social media.

While the Philippine leader was delivering his speech, Sen. Jordon Steele-John joined the flag- and placard-bearing protesters outside the building.

“While President Marcos Jr. gave a speech to the parliament today, I was proud to protest in solidarity with the Australian-Filipino community outside Parliament! Stop the human rights abuses!” he said on Instagram.

Australian media reported that Victorian Sen. Janet Rice of the Greens Party flashed a poster inside the Parliament that read: “Stop the human rights abuses.”

Rice was then escorted out of the room. In a later session, she said she stood by her actions for the sake of every Filipino whose human rights were abused by the Marcos administration and its predecessor.


“I was appalled that President Marcos was given the privilege to address our Parliament today,” Rice said.

On X (formerly Twitter), she said it was a “shame” for the Australian government to have invited Mr. Marcos to speak before the Parliament.

“Under President Marcos Jr. corruption in the Philippines is getting worse. There are hundreds of political prisoners and ‘antiterrorism’ laws are used as legal cover for extrajudicial killings. Yet the Australian Government invited him to address the Parliament today. Shame,” Rice said.

‘Deep, cruel legacy’

Sen. David Shoebridge lamented that the Australian Parliament was “once more being used to launder the political reputation of those involved in serious human rights abuses.”

“This time it is Bongbong Marcos, President of the Philippines. The Greens joined protesters outside Parliament and made our views known in the chamber,” he said.

His tweet was shared by fellow Sen. Barbara Pocock, who also expressed her disgust at Marcos’ visit and speech.

“The deep, cruel legacy of the Marcos regimes—senior and junior—have crushed community, peasant, women’s, trade union and human rights activists in the Philippines. We marked this legacy today as he visited Parliament,” she said.

In the Philippines, the rights group Karapatan applauded Australian lawmakers Rice, Steele-John, Pocock and Shoebridge for their “solidarity in protesting the presence and address” of the Philippine leader.

Taken with ‘grain of salt’

Karapatan said the history of plunder and human rights violations under the two Marcos adminisrations “should be enough reason for the Australian people to denounce this regime.”

In a statement, Human Rights Watch’s Australian director Daniela Gavson said Marcos’ statements during his speech in Canberra should be taken with a “grain of salt,” considering the “rampant human rights violations” in the country, such as drug-related killings by the police, the refusal of the government to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and Red-tagging, or the branding of activists as communists.

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Gavson said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese should urge Mr. Marcos to stop the abuses and investigate recent killings.

TAGS: Australia, Marcos

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