Activists defend Philippine press freedom, protest President Duterte at Malaya Movement summit

WASHINGTON DC — From the east coast to the west, hundreds of Filipino activists and their allies trooped to the nation’s capital to send a loud message to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

A die-in protest at the Philippine embassy in Washington DC was meant to spotlight Duterte’s nearly 3-year-old war on drugs that continues to kill mostly poor Filipinos.

This protest is part of the national summit for human rights and democracy in the Philippines, held in Washington DC over the weekend.

More than 350 members and supporters of the Malaya Movement attended panel workshops on the human rights crisis in the Philippines, as well as the impact of Duterte policies on Filipino workers and press freedom.

Rappler chief Maria Ressa – who was supposed to deliver the event’s keynote speech — did not make it to Washington DC, due the what they call Duterte’s attacks on press freedom.

Ressa told the Malaya Movement – when it comes to Duterte’s war on the truth – there’s still much to be done especially when it comes to social media.

“A lie told a million times on social media, becomes the truth – that is the biggest change and until social media deals with that, all our democracies around the world are at risk.”

Ressa says, pro-Duterte and pro-Marcos accounts on Facebook have been shut down recently.

Protesters say they are taking their fight for freedom and democracy in the Philippines to the US Senate.

They are calling on lawmakers to end the US support for Duterte’s war on drugs by cutting hard-earned tax dollars sent as aid to the Philippines.

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