Duterte engages in double puppetry to US imperialism and Chinese imperialism. So far, he seems to benefit from his servility to each power. It remains to be seen what will be the crisis impact on the Philippine ruling system and his regime as the inter-imperialist contradictions between the US and China intensify.
Contrary to the impression that he occasionally tries to make, Duterte is not really distancing himself from the US in order to be closer to China. For his selfish benefit, he is subservient to each imperialist power in a definite way.
He does not dare to challenge or change the most dominant role of the US over the Philippines. He has maintained the treaties, agreements that have allowed the US to be the most dominant power on the economy, politics, culture and security aspects of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.
He is highly conscious of maintaining support for himself from the US in order to keep the loyalty of the pro-US military and police officers. In fact, he has deliberately kept US support for his rule with his policy of rabid anticommunism and proclaimed goal of wiping out the revolutionary movement of the people.
He and his principal political and security subalterns take orders from their US masters as regards red-tagging patriotic and progressive forces, misrepresenting communists as terrorists and murdering suspected revolutionaries, social activists and even human rights defenders.
The Duterte regime is actually in cahoots with US imperialism in using mass intimidation and mass murder in order to preserve the US-dominated ruling system of big compradors, landlords and corrupt officials. Under Oplan Pacific Eagle-Philippines, the US actually provides funds and arms that are beyond US congressional oversight.
While Duterte’s puppetry to US imperialism is determined by his greed for power and his desire to be secure from the threat of ouster, his puppetry to China is mainly determined by his greed for lucre and desire to avail of the opportunities for quick money from high interest loans and overpriced infrastructure and other contracts in dealing with China well as from expanded drug smuggling and distribution in collaboration with criminal Chinese triads.
In both types of puppetry, the Duterte regime cannot avoid the historic role of being a butcher and mass murderer. It has been quite easy for Duterte to kill the poor drug suspects by the tens of thousands in order to install himself as the supreme protector of drug lords and to subordinate the local drug market to the Duterte drug syndicate. The poor victims and their families are silenced by the acts of murder and threats of further harm to them.
For obvious reasons, it is far more difficult to engage in the mass murder of organized social activists and human rights defenders, suspected revolutionaries from the intelligentsia and even worker and peasant activists who belong to patriotic and progressive organizations. But the killing has started and can gain momentum.
There is now a system of mass intimidation and mass murder well- established and protected by Duterte and this is now generating the criminals in power in the civil officialdom and in the security agencies at various levels. State terrorism is now flourishing and is now on the way to a full-blown fascist dictatorship.
The brazen line of the counterrevolutionary butchers in power is that all problems of the nation are not due to foreign monopoly capitalism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism but due to the communist revolutionaries and the people’s resistance to oppression and exploitation.
Of all regimes that have arisen since the time of the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the Duterte regime is the one that has complete contempt for the Filipino people and their revolutionary movement and is hellbent on using violence with impunity in order to suppress them.
It is not at all surprising that Duterte holds the highest regard for the Marcos fascist dictatorship. He is oblivious of the fact that it is precisely because of the Marcos fascist dictatorship and the subsequent US-designed strategic operational plans implemented by their Filipino puppets that have given the patriotic and progressive people no choice but to take the road of armed revolution.
While he stays in power, Duterte runs the high risk of being destabilized and overwhelmed by his own abuse of political power as in the case of Marcos or by the crisis impact and debilitating consequences of the escalating contradictions between the US and China on economic, trade, financial, political and security matters.