Strange Bedfellows: Bello and Imelda unite to save Barcelona consulate

2 Feb

Akbayan Party-list Cong. Walden Bello and Ilocos Norte Cong. Imelda Marcos

Akbayan found itself in a bizarre alliance with the wife of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on January 31st as they urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to maintain the Philippine post in Barcelona.

According to Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello he was “surprised” when Imelda Marcos, representative of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte, supported his position to keep the Philippine Consulate General in Barcelona operational after the DFA announced its closure along with several other posts.

“Barcelona, Spain is home to one of the strongest-organized Filipino communities abroad, and it is also a hub for Filipino seafarers. I was explaining to the committee that we needed a functioning consulate to see to the needs of our migrant kababayan in the region. And here comes Imelda Marcos openly agreeing with me, citing the geo-political importance of having a post in Barcelona,” Bello explained.

Bello also pointed out that it was precisely the OFWs in Barcelona that lobbied for the creation of the Barcelona consulate, making its closure clearly against the interest of Filipinos in the region.

“So I moved for the Committee to make a recommendation to the executive for the maintenance of the Barcelona post, and Mrs. Marcos seconded it. As we speak, the Committee Report is being prepared for submission to President Aquino as a plea for reconsideration,” Bello added.

According to Bello, Mrs. Marcos explained that she frequented Barcelona previously and experienced firsthand how it is the most important port in the Mediterranean given its close proximity to Africa.

“Perhaps Barcelona is also very important to Mrs. Marcos because of its close proximity to Libya, where her good friend, the late dictator, Muammar Gaddafi hails from,” Bello added.

Bello, who is closely associated with civil society in the effort to make the Marcoses accountable for the grave abuses committed during the time of the dictatorship, aired his willingness to work with the Marcoses on legislation that is very important to the Filipino people.

“I really didn’t imagine that Mrs. Marcos could agree with me on any significant issue. I am happy to know that we have similar priorities, such as quality service and assistance for migrant Filipino workers,” Bello concluded. “Perhaps this may facilitate more openness between the Marcoses and Akbayan, and eventually lead to Mrs. Marcos’ support for the compensation for victims of human rights violation during the dictatorship.”

Bello figured prominently in the anti-Marcos dictatorship movement, and among the highlights of his activism was his satirical portrayal of the Marcos couple as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in protest actions against the World Bank’s support for the late dictator; he also orchestrated radical demonstrations to disrupt socio-cultural events in the U.S. organized in honor of Mrs. Marcos. This 15th Congress, Bello authored a resolution declaring Ferdinand Marcos an “enemy of democracy.” He is also a main force behind the legislation that seeks compensation for Marcos’ victims of human rights violation using the sequestered wealth of the Marcoses.###

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