Halfway through his term, President Rodrigo Duterte has consummately arrayed the most vicious state mechanism of death and destruction in which by its scale, not even the long-gone dictator Ferdinand Marcos could have ever imagined. An immense mantle of grim darkness enfolds the entire country as the evil forces of plunderers and marauders led by a maniacal tyrant, rabidly feast over their spoils. Sharply contrasting the unwarranted ease and opulence of this brood of vipers is the vast majority of the Filipino people riling in anger and discontent.
Seeking to perpetuate itself in power, the Duterte regime systematically rigged the May 2019 midterm elections through automated cheating which has spawned a rubber-stamp congress that is now hankering to push for his anti-people policies like the death penalty and 100% foreign ownership of private and sovereign assets in the Philippines. Nevertheless, there is no denying that the insatiable greed of his lap dogs for prime positions foment internal wranglings that endanger the Duterte family’s predominant clout in the legislative body.
The use of the entire state-machinery to wage a black propaganda against Makabayan Partylist groups and progressive organizations like Migrante International is still at full blast through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Instead of devoting government resources to improve social services for the poor and for Filipino migrants in distress, the regime is ramming concocted lies to justify its violent instigations against rights defenders.
Draining government resources, numerous military attaches were also deployed by the regime in Philippine embassies abroad to give NTF-ELCAC a hand in demonizing Migrante International and other progressive organizations through government-funded seminars. At this point, 40 thousand OFWs based in the border regions of Saudi Arabia are in need of immediate assistance due to the raging Saudi-Yemen war deep inside Saudi territory while Filipino seafarers in the Persian gulf are now rocked by the US-Iran conflict. However, these military attaches implanted by the Duterte regime as parasites in Philippine embassies are not even lifting a finger to help lay out concrete measures that will save OFWs from an impending full-blown crisis.
Now ranked as the fourth most dangerous country in the world for civilians, a foreign think-tank recently verified the Philippines’ debasement as an extensive killing field where destitutes are targeted as sacrificial offerings for the blood-thirsty führer in Malacañang. Among the victims of Duterte’s fake drug war are young people from migrant families and even OFWs themselves.
Almost a year after the killing of ex-OFW and cancer patient Allan Rafael, justice continues to elude his grieving family. Rafael was mugged and subjected to torture by Manila police officers after being suspected as an illegal drug user on the mere basis of his frail physical appearance. Rafael that time has just completed months of chemotherapy for his cancer ailment.
Just several weeks after Allan Rafael’s murder, Duterte publicly admitted on national television that his “only sin” are the “extrajudicial killings.” This public admission made in September 2018 should give more weight to preliminary investigations conducted by the International Criminal Court last year including the recently passed UN resolution raised by Iceland to compel the UN Human Rights Council to furnish a comprehensive report on human rights violations and extrajudicial killings perpetrated under Duterte’s watch.
Very recently, another son of an OFW was added to the death figures in Duterte’s fake war on drugs. Bryan Conje went missing on the late evening of 2 July. He was later declared dead after an alleged encounter with the Navotas police who were quick to vilify the slain victim as a robber and drug criminal.
Duterte’s bloody war on the poor in the guise of combating drug crimes has already claimed 27,000 lives. Most of the regime’s EJK victims are from poor communities. Meanwhile, big time smugglers and big drug lords are having a heyday. Some of them were even appointed by Duterte himself in key government positions. Vener Baquiran, a former Manila International Container Port district collector who was linked to the Php13.4 Billion shabu smuggling controversy is now deputy commissioner in the Bureau of Customs.
To the astonishment of the public, Kerwin Espinosa who is a self-confessed drug lord, Peter Lim, Peter Co and other notorious drug traders were cleared from criminal charges by the Department of Justice last year. It was only after an enormous outcry from infuriated citizens that the authorities got compelled to re-indict them. Duterte’s version of judicial process only works for wealthy criminals while the poor are sent to their graves right away without even having the chance to face the court to defend themselves from charges.
Drug criminals like Michael Yang and Allan Lim were likewise exonerated by Duterte despite incriminating intelligence reports. Yang was a former adviser to Duterte while Allan Lim was already arrested in 2003 following a raid in a Shabu laboratory in Cavite. We have all the reasons to rightfully point to President Rodrigo Duterte as the supreme drug lord and chief benefactor of big time drug criminals in the Philippines.
In the countryside, Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan and Martial Law in Mindanao led to atrocities which are now triggering a humanitarian crisis in places wrecked by militarization and aerial bombings. As of June 2019, Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32 and Oplan Sauron has already resulted to fatalities composed of 66 farmers and peasant activists in Negros alone. They were executed in the most gruesome manner by state security forces and paramilitaries.
Through the Whole-of-Nation-Approach, militarist stooges in the US-Duterte regime are directing all government departments and agencies to be involved in the surveillance and persecution of organized government employees, community workers and NGOs who are consistently red-tagged by Fascist thugs.
The massive displacement of 370,000 Lanao residents brought about by the devastation in Marawi does not seem to bother the Duterte regime when it decided instead to prioritize the construction of an EDCA-compliant military camp in Kapantaran, Marawi City which was actually the main objective of the scripted war directed by the Pentagon.
The US military, World Bank, IMF, USAID and other imperialist tools are cashing in like ravenous vultures in various rehab projects and loans as their way of maximizing profit for the global financial elite. In return, the people of Marawi and the Filipino people in general would now have to sustain added insult to injury with Duterte’s compliance to IMF in the form of reducing government spending on social services. As Marawi lies in ruins more than two years after the US-sponsored war, thousands upon thousands of our dear Maranaos continue to languish in evacuation centres and temporary shelters.
Fearing for his political standing, Duterte has raised the salaries and benefits of AFP and PNP personnel. Hordes of Duterte’s top appointees in his cabinet and government agencies come from the military. Time and again, these pro-imperialist lackeys in the military have always worked on behalf of foreign powers primarily for US imperialist interests.
With approval from Duterte, Retired General and DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu currently presides over a colossal environmental degradation in the country at the cost of our national sovereignty. After lifting the 2-year ban on mining explorations, foreign mining corporations are devouring our land and marine resources. Tons of mined extracts end up as piles for China’s illegal reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea. Hundreds of thousands of rural villagers face forced evictions from their communities and ancestral lands to give way to destructive mining. DepEd’s closure of 55 Lumad schools in mineral-rich areas is geared for mining interest. Once mountain ranges are blown up, communities wiped out and the bodies of water have been poisoned, 97% of private profits are remitted overseas by these foreign mining firms.
Meanwhile, the roots of forced migration are getting stretched at an unbearable magnitude. Duterte’s Rice Tariffication Law continues to drag down the price of unhusked rice as production costs shoot up. Coconut farmers are dejected by extremely low copra prices. The expansion of palm plantations and commercial development projects exacerbates the plight of landless farmers and small-sized landholders. Peasants who dared to struggle for their rights are slaughtered by state-sponsored butchers. In his speech on 28 October 2018, Duterte himself ordered PNP to shoot striking farm workers. Massacre victims in the farmfields of Negros remain deprived of justice.
The labour situation is at its lowest point. Based on the 2019 ITUC Global Rights Index, the Philippines figured anew as one of the world’s top 10 worst countries for workers. Private corporations like PEPMACO and NutriAsia wage violent assaults on striking workers as the Duterte regime keeps itself stiff-necked in rejecting workers’ demands for a national minimum wage closer to the living wage and for the outright abolition of labour contractualization.
With the gross amount of Philippine borrowings poised to hit Php1.4 Trillion in 2020 coupled with a staggering unemployment rate of 5.1% which remains the highest in the ASEAN region, the Duterte regime is scampering to drive out more Filipinos for overseas deployment through its aggressive Labour Export Program. Aside from the US$32.2 Billion OFW remittance flows, Duterte is itching to increase the Php36.9 Billion government collection from numerous state exactions with additional impositions through the mandatory SSS, mandatory insurance and the mandatory 1-year Philhealth premium.
This would then boost the regime’s credit rating as it craves to win more private contracts for its Build, Build, Build (BBB) program. No other than former SSS Chairman Amado Valdez has revealed SSS’ intention to divert reserve funds as additional investments in BBB projects where profits go directly to big private contractors while OFWs would have to meet life-threatening accidents or even death before they could even get the additional insurance benefits promised to them by the governmnt agency.
Many OFW families are already reeling from the rising cost of living due to Duterte’s TRAIN Law. Even before deployment abroad, these OFWs are already buried in debt just to comply with horrendous state exactions imposed by the regime. Payments for these exactions serve as hurdles before OFWs can pull off with their claims. The regime’s NO PAYMENT, NO SERVICE policy is the usual excuse by government agencies in denying assistance to OFWs in distress.
OFWs are at a loss as to how the Duterte regime is spending DFA’s Php10 Billion fund earmarked as Assistance to Nationals plus the Php400 Million Legal Assistance Fund when several dozen OFWs on death row are awaiting execution while 4,000 are left to waste away in overseas jails. The death of Constancia Dayag is a testament to the Duterte regime’s negligence of Filipino migrants and it is an unremitting outcome of the government’s corrupt labour export program.
During a speech on 12 July, Duterte pointed to the almost “400,000” OFWs in China as his alibi for his weakling attitude on the West Philippine Sea issue. Many are puzzled as to where this fentanyl-crazed buffoon drew his estimate but it was not long ago when he threatened to wage war against Canada where half a million Filipinos reside. Just very recently, 18 countries were rebuked with “far-reaching consequences” by his minion for affirming the UN human rights resolution on the Philippines.
President Duterte’s faulty brain waves are only capable of perceiving war as the only course for the country in the face of China’s encroachment on our sovereign rights. Conforming to his train of thought amounts to treachery and extreme foolishness. Without a single shot fired, our country’s historic and economic rights in the disputed waters have already been affirmed internationally through the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
By entering into a verbal agreement with China over fishing rights within our territory, Duterte has committed treason, violated the constitution and betrayed public trust. Duterte has also placed the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea as a loan collateral for China worth US$62 Million. These are clear grounds for Duterte’s impeachment and removal from power.
Millions of fisherfolks in coastal regions whose livelihoods are threatened by China’s aggressive encroachment will be left with no other option but to sign-up for overseas jobs. Moreover, Duterte has openly dared the US military to fire the first shot against China. That is akin to offering the Philippines as a major battleground between two opposing imperialist rivals. By his willingness to turn the Philippines into a desolate warzone for the sake of gratifying both the US war machine and China’s militarist bent, Duterte has already went beyond the kind of puppetry expected of him by his imperialist masters. This therefore makes President Duterte the number one threat to national security.
All who would desire to save this country from terrifying damnation must shun the course of the US-Duterte regime’s sinister machinations. Across the globe, we Filipinos in faraway lands are waving our banners high for the triumph of the national democratic struggle in the Philippines based on genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization. Our unwavering faith rests in the collective power of the masses in building a truly democratic society where every Filipino will enjoy the fruits of his own labour, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
Broad legions of the Filipino people have already risen from their slumber. The downtrodden masses shall cast reproach and inflict the severest verdict on the US-Duterte regime for its unspeakable Fascist crimes. The insatiable wrath of the Filipino people are ever before him. Marching forward with peasants, workers and other oppressed sectors, we will reclaim our freedom and ignite the blazing flames of national democracy and social justice.
Junk labour export!
End modern-day slavery!
No to charter change!
Uphold Philippine sovereignty!
Address the roots of forced migration!
Atin ang Pinas, China layas!
Proteksyon! Hindi koleksyon!
Serbisyo sa tao, huwag gawing negosyo!
Stop the killings! Stop killing farmers!
Enough of Duterte’s plunder and tyranny!
Makabayan ako! Pilipino ako!
Ayoko sa traydor, bentador at diktador!
Tama na! Sobra na! Wakasan na!
Patalsikin ang traydor, pahirap at diktador!
– Joanna Concepcion, Chairperson, Migrante International
– Arman Hernando, Chairperson, Migrante Philippines