The world has breathed a sigh of relief as the 46th President, President Joe Biden was inaugurated in the highest office of the USA on Wednesday, 20th January 2021, in a peaceful and moving occasion. There were no stones left unturned to ensure that the event transpires in the usual peaceful and memorable occasion in the American history.
There was a huge concern that the avid followers of former President Donald Trump would cause lawlessness and violence as witnessed by the world on 6th January, 2021. This occurrence which was condemned worldwide is still being talked about in the news and in social media. Investigations and action to prosecute those who were involved are still on-going.
The Australian Filipina is glad to share below the views of one of its readers. Armie de Leon who expressed her vocal sentiments about the siege on social media and was interviewed on Radio Tagumpay* on 11th January.
What is your overall view on the storming of the Capitol?
Trump’s encouragement to his supporters on Twitter feeds culminated to the violent siege which started at 1.15pm on 6th January. It was a deadly consequence of a barrage of misinformation that the election was a fraud and stolen votes despite the 59 cases that was filed in court were all found to be false. On 23 December, Trump tweeted and directed his supporters to attend a “big protest in DC on Jan the 6th”, “Be there, will be wild”. His supporters interpreted that as a call to action, as their marching orders. He clearly incited his supporters to disrupt and thwart the Congress’ Constitutionally-mandated count of the Electoral College votes presided by Vice President Pence. One middle-aged female journalist covering the riot observed that his supporters were so pumped and revved up chanting “fight for Trump”.
Massive crowd with all sorts of flags, MAGA hats and silly costumes identifying them with their cause, some looking like hobos and punks and rednecks, overrun the guards. We witnessed in the News of the mob shattering windows and doors, ransacking offices while shaken lawmakers huddled inside, some down on the floor between seats for cover. I really feel for them. Then we hear Biden addressing the people that it was not a protest but an insurrection and called on Trump to go on national television then to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution by demanding an end to the siege. While this was all happening, the First Lady Melania Trump was reportedly elsewhere in the White House, overseeing a photoshoot of decorative objects for a coffee table book she’s working on. She was alerted of the melee outside and was requested to speak to the president but brushed it off.
Nine hours later, Trump calls the people to “go home”. Some supporters cursed Trump for leaving them high and dry in the aftermath.
What is your view on the reported participation of Filipinos in the event?
There was a picture of a rioter holding a “walis tambo” attached to what looked like a round big logo that seem to serve as a shield which caught my curiosity. He had an aviator goggles with a US flag mask worn upside down, a symbol of declaration of war. He was also wearing a black helmet with “RodBusters” written on it, a large US flag he used as a superman-like cape and a pair of leg armours like a gladiator in battle. In the shield, that resembles Polytechnic University of the Philippines logo, were written “Coup Flu Fighter” in the middle around it, “Pandemic Hoax Coup” and “Mail-in Fraud Coup”. God knows what these meant. I believe the photos went viral and comments flowed that this person comes from Ilocos Sur. In published news article, the Philippine Ambassador to US in DC commented that there were Filipino supporters of Trump that were among the insurrectionists who arrived in DC from various parts of the US. It made me wonder whether these blind supporters are plain delusional, have personal issues, or just ignorant about the true character of their idol clinging to power.
As an aside, one comment I read was Duterte urged Filipino-Americans to vote for Trump. Worth citing, in a televised presscon in Malacanang one evening before US election, Duterte openly said Filipino-Americans should support the re-election of US President Trump. “If they say, I am interfering, of course, I am intentionally interfering as a way to getting back at US legislators who have been meddling with Philippine internal issues. They did it first, accusing me of seventy thousand extra-judicial killings.” Whether this statement was heard by Filipino-Americans and acted on it resulting to their participation, remains a mystery. I can only assume their participation would be mainly of some religious significance when Trump used the religious card of anti-abortion and prayers in school. Do Trump even care about these? I bet it’s a lure for them to believe in him. I heard a third of his followings are evangelicals mainly from Texas and southern states.
What is your view on the impeachment action?
Trump’s presidency definitely finishes on the 20th, like it or not, and the double impeachment would be an indelible stain on his presidential legacy.
In the 2ndImpeachment, the Democrats filed a single article of impeachment on Monday against Trump for “incitement of insurrection” following the siege that left one police officer and five others dead as a result. There is no need to prove this I think as there were 535 Congress and their staffs shown in the news, left fearing for their lives and saw the terror before their eyes right there so obviously, you have a case.
Trump did respond on video through a News Channel reading a script which is in contrast to everything he had been saying in the past. I think nothing he will say now will exonerate him.
The Senate trial for a vote to convict him is expected to be on the 19th, the day before the inauguration at this stage. He could also be barred from seeking election again and hold office and will stop him collecting campaign donations to fund his lifestyle.
What advice would you give kababayans who maybe contemplating joining in mass action on the 20th January?
Yes, the plot we hear is terrifying and the MAGAmaniacs’ threats are being taken very seriously by the FBI, Homeland Security, and other security agencies. FBI in DC said they will leave no stone unturned and perpetrators will be charged with sedition. They are aware of an armed protest being planned for the 50 state capitols and Washington DC to overthrow the government to fight like hell.
I hope Filipino-Americans do not act out their stupid allegiance to Trump and not to participate and be part of this wildness at all. And I would strongly suggest to our “kabayans” to be aware, and if they happen to know of any criminal activity relevant to this, to report to police authorities.
If you are able to give advice to President elect Joe Biden, what priorities would you suggest he needs to act on upon his assumption of office?
Biden has already unveiled today his Economic Rescue Package of $1.9 trillion (equivalent to about A$2.3 trillion).
So much on his plate and I could imagine the gargantuan priorities, both domestic and foreign. Foremost, as already revealed, is his focus on fighting COVID.
In bullet points, I think…
- On Climate Change, rejoin Paris Climate Accord and
- Rejoin World Health Organisation
- Health reforms, injecting more funds in mental health
- Taxing the rich and big tech companies
- To rally US allied countries (which is half the world’s economy) – to address common challenges in China, North Korea, Russia and the Middle East instabilities
- Lastly, important to the Philippines, US strategy on South China Sea – NOT TO BE SOFT ON CHINA.
I think Biden will bring many are desperate for, and that is, EMPATHY. People who knew him says he is an authentic guy and with his years of experience in the halls of power, he is equipped to bring opposing sides to come together.
Lastly, our favourite question - how do you define 'success'?
I do not truly know definitively. 'Success' means different to different people, depending on context.
In my 68 years of life on earth, I learnt… that being able to surmount and endure the highs and lows in life, accept and embrace what life throws at you, purpose intact, and still comes out being GRATEFUL is probably close to what they call success. I can equate it to happiness and contentment.
ABOUT ARMIE DE LEON
Armie hails from Quezon City. She is the middle child of five to a school teacher and a postmaster. She shares that she and her siblings endured a tough life when they lost their mother at a young age. They were brought up by their father on his own and to his credit, all of them managed to finish their studies.
Her two sisters earned their degrees in nursing and migrated to USA; while Armie and her other sister in Commerce, and the youngest in Engineering. Armie migrated to Australia in 1977 and a sister and brother followed thereafter. She married her long-time boyfriend from Mindanao who followed her in Australia and they were blessed with two beautiful girls. Sadly, he succumbed from stomach cancer and she was left to look after her girls at a young age.
After various employments in the corporate world, Armie had a career shift in nursing which she did for thirteen years while dabbling in admin work to keep up with the mortgage and raise the girls. Her daughters are now settled and she is now happily enjoying her sea change retirement in the Central Coast.
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*Radio Tagumpay airs on Mondays, 2-4 pm on Triple H 100.1FM. It is accessible globally by streaming via: Home (triplehfm.com.au)