Critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have adopted the three-finger salute from the hit “Hunger Games” films as a sign of resistance against his rule and drug war killings.
The sign is in contrast to Duterte’s own iconic gesture, a clenched fist raised at or above eye level that is immensely popular with his support but which opponents have likened to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s hand salute.
Opposition lawmakers and other members of a new anti-Duterte coalition performed the Hunger Games salute in unison on Monday while announcing protests on Thursday against what they said was his “path filled with violence, contempt for law and hate”.
“Yes, we adopted the three-finger salute to signify resistance, same as that of the Hunger Games trilogy,” House of Representatives member Gary Alejano told AFP.
“It resonates with many young people,” said Emman Hizon, chief of staff of opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, another of those who made the three-finger salute.
Used by the lead character Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series, the salute is portrayed as a symbol of resistance in a dystopian future where youths are forced to engage in annual fight-to-the-death combat.
The gesture has since been adopted by pro-democracy protesters in military junta-ruled Thailand. Thai protesters have been arrested for flashing the salute.
A pro-Duterte blogger known as “Thinking Pinoy” ridiculed the opposition’s Hunger Games salute, writing in a Facebook post they were like “girl scouts”.
Hand signs are powerful political symbols in the Philippines, a riotous democracy with a bloodstained history of military dictatorship.
A generation ago, activists used the “L” hand sign to show opposition to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, toppled in a bloodless “People Power” revolution in 1986.
Supporters of Marcos, who was accused of massive corruption and of killing, jailing and torturing dissidents during a 20-year rule, had countered with his “V for victory” sign.
Apart from anger over the drug war, in which police have reported killing more than 3,800 suspects, critics also allege Duterte is imposing a form authoritarian rule that could lead to another dictatorship.
They point to his support of the Marcos family, as well as efforts by his allies in Congress to impeach the Supreme Court chief justice and defund the Commission on Human Rights.
Duterte has repeatedly warned he may impose martial law, saying military rule could solve many of the nation’s problems.