By Nuel M. Bacarra
Another picket protest hounded a dinner organized for Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr., his party, and Filipino billionaires at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Washington DC last Tuesday, leading to the arrest of four Filipino-American activists.
Continuing their series of rallies against the president’s official visit to the United States, activists chanted “Marcos is not welcome here!” both inside and outside the Fiola Mare restaurant where Marcos was set to dine with billionaires Enrique Razon Jr., Lance Gokongwei and Sabin Aboitiz.
House of Representatives Speaker Martian Romualdez and former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were among the president’s party to the dinner.
The four activists chanting their slogans inside the restaurant were the ones arrested by the police, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-USA (BAYAN-USA) said.
The four has since been released from jail, Kodao sources said.
The group refused to disclose the names of the arrested activists, saying they were so advised by their lawyers.
Anakbayan-USA said those arrested are their members. The group has since launched an online appeal for donations for their defense.
In a statement, Anakbayan-USA said it salutes its members “for facing off against the cowardly and fascist US-backed Marcos II regime.”
“Anakbayan USA condemns the arrests of four, brave Anakbayan members after rightfully disrupting an excessive and lavish dinner between President Marcos, his cabinet secretaries, and some of the Philippines’ richest billionaires,” the group said.
The Marcoses are the ones who should be arrested, the youth group added.
Malaya Movement’s Julie Jamora said the police arrested the wrong persons.
“If you want to arrest someone, arrest the thieves inside. The only reason Marcos was not detained when he stepped foot inside this country is because of diplomatic immunity,” Jallora told the police during the rally.
Marcos Jr. and his mother Imelda were held in contempt by a US court in 1995 for “contumacious conduct causing direct harm to [a class of human rights victims].”
The continuing contempt offense already amounted to US$353 million in 2011.
Marcos Jr.’s ongoing visit is his first in decades, allowed by diplomatic immunity that he gained after assuming the presidency in 2022. # (with reports from RB Villanueva)