Anti-fascist Malaya Movement elects new leadership

From left: Chairperson Tabitha Ponciano, Vice chair Audine Tayag, Secretary General Julie Jamora, and treasurer Prof. Joy Sales. Photo by Jill Janairo

Just before the September 21 anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, over 100 Filipino Americans from California to Florida gathered in a large hall of the Barnard College campus in Manhattan to vote on their “program of action” against the government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice-President Sara Duterte for the next two years.

“We don’t take this lightly,” said Tabitha Ponciano from Portland, newly elected chair of the Malaya Movement USA, the organization founded in 2018 in response to the mounting killings under the “war on drugs” of former president Rodrigo Duterte. “This organization is at the forefront of the Filipino anti-fascist movement right here in the United States, and the task of uniting Filipinos in the U.S. to move into action to turn the tide of rising fascism in the Philippines is crucial.”

In a rousing and emotional election, throughout which participants reminded each other of the grim political landscape under the Marcos-Duterte administration, Ponciano was elected alongside Audine Tayag of Los Angeles as vice chair, Julie Jamora of New York City as secretary general, and Prof. Joy Sales of Los Angeles as treasurer.

“This room ranges in politics, but we’re all united in the belief that we need to fight for genuine democracy in the Philippines and stamp out fascism completely,” said Jamora, pointing to a room that also ranged in age, from college-aged to Martial Law survivors. “We can’t fight fascism without a plan to frustrate the Marcos-Duterte regime, or without bringing in more people to wage campaigns to stop anti-democratic ploys like Marcos’ National Expenditure Program, which allocates ‘confidential funds’ to god knows where or to a travesty of democracy like the NTF-ELCAC.” 

The Malaya Movement was founded in 2018 in response to then-President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs.’

Jamora was referring to the recent development in the case of environmental activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano, both of whom revealed in a press conference by the NTF-ELCAC, or National Taskforce to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, that they were abducted and threatened into “surrendering” by the military.

Following the two-day long gathering, complete with workshops like “How to wage a propaganda war,” participants organized a protest march beginning in front of the Jollibee branch in Times Square and ending at the Philippine Consulate General on Fifth Avenue.

“Fascism, simply put, is the use of state power to stop workers and poor people from organizing and challenging injustice. The Marcos-Duterte government protects bad actors like Caktiong by targeting activists and labor organizers,” said Ponciano.

She was  referring to Tony Caktiong, whose Honeybee Food Co. illegally terminated employees at a Jersey City branch of Jollibee for circulating a petition for higher wages.

Marcos is set to visit San Francisco for the final Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting in November. According to Ponciano, members of the Malaya Movement USA will be organizing a hundreds-strong protest against Marcos’ participation in APEC, which she said would produce trade deals that will “further hurt wages, employment, and workers’ rights, and empower the Marcos-Duterte administration to violently crack down on any consequent unionizing and workers organizing.”

Malaya Movement USA is a broad organization  of individuals, organizations, and various formations united in the objective  of defending human rights, democracy, and sovereignty in the Philippines. Visit 

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