Friends among academics, journalists and political activists have repeatedly asked me whether Duterte is proceeding to establish a fascist dictatorship as a result of successfully rigging the 2019 midterm elections and obtaining overwhelming control of Congress and the local governments.
I have dared to say that Duterte is stubbornly on the road of establishing a fascist dictatorship through charter change and ensuring that he is succeeded by someone who can protect him from prosecution for his grave crimes against the people. Duterte is publicly saying ad nauseam that there must be charter change to give him absolute powers or else he would proclaim a “revolutionary government”.
My friends abroad have also asked me how the Filipino people are responding to Duterte’s scheme of fascist dictatorship. I am quick to point out that Duterte is truly hated by the people despite his incredible popularity ratings by paid poll surveys and the recent rigged elections. The people will certainly rise up as soon as Duterte pushes charter change to give himself absolute powers.
The people despise Duterte for waging a “war on drugs” that has murdered 30,000 poor people and that has installed himself as the supreme protector of drug lords and smugglers who continue to benefit from the expanded and thriving illegal drug trade. Close friends and relatives of Duterte have been exposed as key players in the illegal drug trade.
In considering his role in the illegal drug trade alone, Duterte has become the biggest crime lord and has converted the military and police as his private killing machines. Aside from the lopsided official transactions of his dummies with Chinese banks and corporations, he connives with Chinese criminal triads in the illegal drug trade, casinos and other criminal enterprises.
He has become the No. 1 corrupt official. He is the chieftain of his alliance with the biggest plunderers in the previous regimes of Marcos, Estrada and Arroyo. He has been in connivance with them in the 2016 and 2019 elections and in various major types of corruption involving his presidential office. He has caused the Supreme Court to junk the plunder cases and convictions of his allies and has let them go scotfree.
The Filipino people have gone through the historical experience of the 14-year Marcos fascist dictatorship. They remember that it was a time of unprecedented oppression and exploitation by a Filipino tyrant but it was also the time that the revolutionary forces grew from small and weak to big and strong.
The Filipino people are thoroughly disgusted with the tyrannical, treasonous, brutal, corrupt and mendacious character of the Duterte regime in the last three years. They hold Duterte responsible for the aggravation of the crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.
The crisis conditions abet and yet limit his capabilities for either coercing or deceiving the people.
The broad masses of the people and even the overwhelming majority of government employees are outraged by the militarization of Duterte’s cabinet and civilian functions and the colossal amounts of public funds for intelligence, military equipment, military campaigns of suppression and doubling the salaries of soldiers and policemen under the slogan of “whole-nation approach” to end the revolutionary movement.
The social economy remains underdeveloped and stagnant, ever exploited by foreign monopoly capitalism,, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. The people are groaning under the weight of soaring prices of basic commodities, joblessness, landlessness and low incomes perpetuated by the absence of genuine land reform and national industrialization, the system of landgrabbing, short-term work contracts and the rapid population growth.
The escalating acts of brutality and mass murder are driving the people to greater open resistance to the Duterte regime. Those who are most threatened by red-tagging, arrests and summary execution by the regime are finding their way to the urban underground and onward to the ranks of Red fighters in the people’s war in the countryside.
The revolutionary movement is now far more extensive and deeper and is far more experienced and tempered than during the period of the Marcos fascist dictatorship. The armed revolutionary forces can actually move freely in 90 percent of the Philippines and can strike at will any weak point of the enemy forces.
In contrast, the size and strength of the military, police and paramilitary forces of the Duterte regime cannot cover even only ten percent of the Philippine population and territory at any given time. Wherever they are, they engage in all kinds of abuses and atrocities, including extortion, mass murder, torture, arson and forced evacuations, and thus they incur the ire of the people.
The forces of the reactionary military are overconcentrated in Mindanao due to prolonged martial law. They can focus on only a few areas in the Visayas and Luzon. Their combat strength is further reduced by psy-war and intelligence operations under the pretexts of “peace and development” and “community support program” and by staging fake localized talks, fake surrenders and fake encounters.
The reactionary military officers take over civilian functions and civilian structures, including public schools, clinics and barangay halls. They are hated most when they red-tag people and murder them to be able to collect cash rewards and merits for fake encounters. They lay open and vulnerable to the tactical offensives of the people’s army the deployment of small detachments, checkpoints and patrols. They cannot avoid travelling single file on the highways and country roads.
In any particular area, where the reactionary military or police can concentrate and advance in superior strength, the targeted units of the people’s army retreat and observe the deployment of enemy units in order to determine their weak points. The enemy units ultimately become the targets of ambushes, raids and other guerrilla offensives. Thus they unwittingly transport and supply arms to the people’s army.
When the reactionary armed forces seek to encircle the forces of the people’s army, the latter have the options of counter-encircling the weak points of the former within the contested area or shifting to another area where the enemy forces are far weaker. Retreat for active defense and shifting of forces are tactics available to the people’s army to evade a superior enemy force and seek better circumstances for launching tactical offensives within the shortest span of time.
It is publicly well-known that while the people’s army gives full play to tactical offensives in order to seize weapons from the enemy, it can also engage in a wide range of actions that compel the enemy to be on the defensive, merely doing guard duty. Such actions include punitive missions against tyrannical and corrupt officials, harassing enemy camps, sniping, use of command-detonated explosives and the sabotage or destruction of enemy facilities.
Should the Duterte regime proclaim nationwide martial law as in 1972, outlaw all urban-based legal democratic forces critical of it and inflict violence on them, the revolutionary movement can be expected to intensify the people’s war and administer justice by arresting and punishing all human rights violators and plunderers, thus forcing the military and police to deploy more armed personnel for protection of these brutal and corrupt officials.
Common sense tells us (sharpened by theoretical and practical support from Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) that the Duterte regime cannot engage in red-tagging and acts of terror without facing fiercer responses from the armed revolutionary movement. Duterte cannot engage in the most brutal acts of butchery and bloodletting without facing the risk of drowning in the same sea of blood that he creates. This is a point that is easily understood by anyone from the developing situation in the Philippines.
So far according to published reports, the people’s army has carried out competently guerrilla warfare within the current strategic defensive of the people’s war. It has shown determination to wage only the battles that it is capable of winning. It is also increasingly heeding the clamor of the broad masses of the people for accelerated punitive actions against those reactionary officials who have incurred blood debts and plundered the economy and public resources.
Duterte’s threat of imposing a fascist dictatorship on the people through a nationwide martial rule and suppressing all democratic rights does not frighten the revolutionary forces of the people but pushes them to undertake punitive actions against the fascist dictator and his brutal and corrupt subalterns. The declaration of nationwide martial law in 1972 by the fascist dictator did not frighten the people and the revolutionary forces but emboldened them to strengthen their ranks and intensify the people’s war.###
Featured photo by Mel Matthew – ManilaToday.net