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Australian Senator censured for disrupting Marcos’ speech

Australian senator who protested

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Senator Janet Rice of Australia received a censure vote from other senators for her demonstration during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s speech in front of the Canberra parliament.

Before the sanction was announced on Thursday, February 29, Rice made a statement in which she defended her choice to hold up a sign that read, “Stop human rights abuses,” as Marcos addressed the assembly.

“The action I took in the House today was deliberate and powerful. And I did it on behalf of every Filipino person whose human rights have been abused by the government of President Marcos and the government of [former] President Duterte before him,” Rice said.

“I learned, and I heard firsthand about what is going on in the Philippines, where I learned about extrajudicial killing, where people on trumped up charges are red-tagged, and then they are hunted down, and they are killed,” she added.

Senator Jordan Steele-John, her partymate, criticized the sanctions imposed on Rice. “The only unparliamentary thing to happen today was that the Albanese government, supported by the Coalition, allowed the son of a dictator, a human rights abuser, and a man living off stolen wealth from the Filipino people to use our parliament as a platform of legitimacy,” the Senator stated on X, formerly known as Twitter.

According to Rice, she organized a small protest to voice her opposition to anti-terror law enforcement and a large number of political prisoners in the Philippines.

The majority of the anti-terror law’s provisions were affirmed by the Philippine Supreme Court in 2022. Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos’s predecessor, enacted the legislation. Opponents have worried that the law might be used as a weapon against the opposition.

Ninety of the roughly eight hundred political prisoners in the Philippines are said to have been detained during the Marcos regime, according to rights groups. Throughout Marcos’ 17-minute address, human rights were not explicitly mentioned.

On Thursday morning, a few dozen demonstrators from the Philippines staged demonstrations in front of the parliament building—additional Australian Greens senators, such as Steele-John, David Shoebridge, and Barbara Pocock.


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