A few dozen protesters gathered in Tsim Sha Tsui today to protest Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
The controversial leader — internationally condemned for thousands of extrajudicial killings in his “war on drugs” and accused of tilting toward authoritarianism with legal attacks against activists, critics and the press — is currently in Hong Kong after attending an economic forum in China.
The protest, organized and supported by a mix of local and Filipino activist groups, began about 11am near the Intercontinental Hotel, where Duterte is staying during his three-day visit amid a heightened security presence.
Holding banners featuring photos of drug war victims, the small group, seemingly outnumbered by the police officers watching on, called for a “stop to the killings,” an “end to tyranny” and respect for human rights.
While speakers shared a microphone, decried the strongman leader and led intermittent chants, two women lay motionless on the ground with bloody bandages wrapped around their heads, a symbol of the thousands of extra judicial killings at the hands of Philippine state security forces implementing the president’s ruthless drug crackdown.
Speaking to Coconuts, one of the women, 52-year-old domestic worker Lucy Taa, said she had relatives killed back in her native Laoag City.
“They said [my relatives] were using the drugs but that was only a frame up. They never used drugs,” she said, who has worked in Hong Kong for 16 years. “Maybe six or seven [relatives] all die.
“We want to stop the killings in the Philippines, we don’t want this tyranny.”
Duterte is due this evening to address an invitation-only gathering of 2,000 members of the 189,000-string Filipino community in Hong Kong at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, where he will report on “developments” at home and listen to “concerns” of workers.
Despite facing international criticism, he remains hugely popular in the archipelago nation and among segments of its large oversea worker communities.
Speaking at the protest, Filipino domestic worker Melony Balaan, 42, said that sentiment among Hong Kong-based Filipinos was certainly mixed.
She said while many gravitated toward the president’s message of “change,” others, like herself, saw nothing but a lack of job opportunities at home and continued corruption.
“He says he wants to remove corruption but, in fact, he’s protecting corruption. A lot of us are not supporting Duterte because we’re looking at what he’s doing, there’s killing and impunity. It’s the poor people who are killed.”