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VOA Asia Weekly: Filipino Torture Survivors Campaign Against Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

VOA Asia Weekly: Filipino Torture Survivors Campaign Against Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
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Marcos and Robredo lead the field for Philippines’ president. Why some Filipinos are campaigning against Marcos. Sri Lankan protest ends in arrests. Indonesia celebrates Eid al-Fitr.

Taking aim at the frontrunner in the Philippines presidential election.

Hello and welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington. That story coming up.

But first, making headlines.

North Korea fired another ballistic missile towards the sea off its east coast, just days before a new South Korean president takes office.

Authorities in Beijing have shut down dozens of subway stations to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Experts say Hong Kong’s only endorsed candidate for upcoming leadership elections, John Lee, is likely to take a harder-line approach on the city’s freedoms.

China signaled an easing of its crackdown on the once-freewheeling tech sector in light of mounting economic difficulties.

The U.S. Federal Reserve raised its benchmark short-term interest rate by a half-percentage point — the sharpest rate hike since 2000.

Candidates in the Philippines presidential election are in the final stretch to woo voters.

Current vice president Leni Robredo is one of the top two contenders in the most recent polls. But the frontrunner is former senator Ferdinand Marcos Junior, son of the late dictator.

The candidacy of Bong Bong Marcos, as he’s known, has alarmed proponents of human rights and democracy. His father was overthrown in a 1986 army-backed "people power" uprising.

Meanwhile, victims of torture and abuse during the reign of the elder Marcos are actively campaigning against his son. Dave Grunebaum reports for VOA.

Walking along the streets and alleys of Caloocan are Danilo dela Fuente and Santiago Matela. They’re bringing stickers and leaflets to go with their personal stories of torture during the Ferdinand Marcos regime.

“I experience the mental torture of Russian roulette a .38-caliber revolver with one bullet was spun three times and pointed at me.”

“I was electric shocked through my private part. They beat me up. They imprisoned me in a very dark cell.”

During Marcos’ two-decade reign from the mid-1960s to the mid-80s, thousands of people were tortured, killed or disappeared. The Marcos family is accused of stealing $5 billion to $10 billion from the government while he was in power.

Now the late dictator’s son and namesake holds a wide lead in the polls for the May 9 presidential election.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has not addressed the atrocities that happened when his father was in power and has repeatedly dismissed questions from local reporters about the billions of dollars in unpaid estate taxes that the family owes the government.

Nerissa Roa Azana is a 54-year-old grandmother who runs a small stand selling snacks and cigarettes.

“For me it was fake news, because I didn’t know anything about it. If I experienced it myself, I would say that it’s true, but I didn’t, so for me it’s fake news.”

Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch says this opinion is not uncommon for many older generations who didn’t see the abuses first-hand and many young voters who weren’t alive during the Marcos regime have been influenced by massive social media disinformation campaigns.

“Flipping the story about the corruption. People are saying the Marcos era was the golden years of the Philippines, which is the opposite of what actually happened.”

So for dela Fuente and Matela the work continues to try to bring the truth to one voter at a time.

Dave Greenbaum for VOA News, Caloocan, Philippines.

Please visit our website for the most up-to-date news. This is VOA Asia Weekly.

Sri Lankan police arrested demonstrators in front of the country's parliament amid ongoing protests over a deepening economic crisis.

Demonstrators have been calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to resign.

The island nation's economy is in dire straits with its usable foreign reserves down to less than $50 million dollars.

Finally on VOA Asia Weekly, thousands of Indonesian Muslims in Jakarta gathered for mass prayers to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Drone footage showed large crowds of people standing shoulder to shoulder outside the newly constructed Jakarta International Stadium for morning prayers, the first mass Eid gathering in two years in Indonesia.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly. I’m Chris Casquejo. See you next week.