Hong Kong protests make Filipinos reflect on the Philippines’ political climate

June 18, 2019 - 1:24 PM
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A placard is displayed during a protest following a day of violence over a proposed extradition bill, near the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong, China, June 13, 2019. (Reuters/Jorge Silva)

The massive protests in Hong Kong over a controversial extradition bill made some Filipinos perceive how such movements could also be done to resist China’s growing presence in the West Philippine Sea.

International media described it as one of the largest street demonstrations so far as over two million Hong Kong residents called for their political leader’s resignation and abolishment of the bill.

This caught the attention of some Filipinos on social media, many of whom recalled that two leaders in history have been deposed following massive demonstrations.

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson expressed how impressed he was with the determination of the people of Hong Kong, particularly those of the millennial generation.

“They showed the world how spontaneous, unorganized but determined dissent can achieve victory over a powerful regime,” Lacson on Twitter.

Twitter user @wejarlego, meanwhile, related this to the dysfunctional political culture in the Philippines.

“While in the Philippines, people are still allowing the laziest and incompetent president to rule,” she said, linking to a TIME article on the Hong Kong protest.

Another user @christermae_ referenced the Philippines’ row against the same state, China.

“When will we remain silent, Philippines?” part of her tweet said.

She also attached a video clip of the mass protest.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s perceived soft stance toward China and its growing military presence in the West Philippine Sea as well as the sharp increase of Chinese nationals illegally entering the country has been heavily criticized by administration critics.

Early this month, a Filipino fishing boat was rammed and sank by a Chinese vessel. The crew said that while the Chinese vessel sailed away and left them in the sea, they were later rescued by another vessel manned by Vietnamese crew.

Hong Kong protests and people power

The Philippines has undergone two “people power” revolutions.

The first one ended the authoritarian Marcos regime in 1986 while the second ousted former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 2001 in response to a corruption scandal.

While both events forced Marcos and Estrada to step down, their relatives continued to remain in power in succeeding democratic elections.

Marcos’ daughter, Imee Marcos, successfully secured a seat in the Senate after last May’s midterm election.

In Hong Kong, the demonstrations which started last week were triggered when Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a measure that would further reinforce Beijing’s authority over the semi-autonomous island.

News website Vox made a simple explanation on this extradition bill and the consequences should it be passed into law:

“The amendments would give the chief executive the authority to decide on a case-by-case basis if a suspected criminal should be extradited to a place with which the city has no formal extradition agreement. That on its own is already a problem for critics, as the city’s leader isn’t elected, but rather is picked by a committee appointed by the government in Beijing.”

Following the public outrage, Lam temporarily postponed voting on the bill on Saturday, June 15. The development, however, was not deemed enough as a crowd of 2 million took to the streets the following day.

Pro-democracy protesters demand that the bill be completely scrapped and Lam steps down.

Many of the protesters also call for Hong Kong independence from China at least until 2047, the year set for the communist Chinese state to can legally absorb the island as part of its larger territory.