Rise up and end the oppressive and heedless regime

Social inequalities in the country have worsened alongside sharpening of contradictions as the Duterte regime adopts militarist and anti-people measures to confront the Covid-19 pandemic. While a few remain insulated in their mansions and palaces and continue to accumulate wealth, abuse power and engorge themselves in the masses’ sweat and blood, millions of people are mired in poverty and extreme hardship.

The people demand justice for all those made to suffer hunger and poverty, suppressed and denied of their rights. After more than three months of failed measures and policies, the Filipino people suffer unprecedented hardships.

For close to three months, Duterte imprisoned the entire people in their crowded homes in the name of preventing the spread of the virus. But Duterte and his generals squandered the people’s sacrifices. Not enough funds were spent to enable the health system cope with the pandemic. There is no mass testing. No free treatment of Covid-19. Data gathering is delayed and deficient leaving the government blind as to where the virus is sprea­ding.

Not only did promised social aid come late, it was also inadequate and typically pilfered. “Life is good!” exclaimed a senator, as officials partied and have filled their pantries, while they forced people survive on porridge and sardines, if any. Majority of the people who live at subsistence level suffered hunger and distress. Those desperate enough to leave their home to scrounge for money and food were denounced, apprehended and se­verely punished.

Lacking a clear health plan to overcome the pandemic, Duterte stopped everything and shut down a large part of the economy. Millions lost their jobs and income. Small business owners faced devastation. When restrictions were eased this June, it did everything to help big business rise again, while abandoning the toiling masses and practically telling them “you’re on your own!”

While people were rigorously made to follow suffocating policies, Duterte and his rotten ilk freely breathed and moved around.

While Duterte flew back and forth to Davao aboard a private plane, hundreds of thousands couldn’t find a ride home. They were made to wait on streets and sidewalks, hungry and with no certainty when they could easily get a ride and reach home. Who can forget Michelle Silvertino who died after five days of waiting for a ride home to Bicol on a foor bridge in pasay?

Everyday, workers and employees race and ram against one another as they rush for seats in limited buses and trains. Because not enough safe mass transportation was prepared, thousands are now left with no other ooption but to walk or ride along dangerous high­ways everyday.

In the face of insufficient workers’ wa­ges, Duterte still permitted big capitalists to cut wages supposedly to help them recover their profits. They were also freed from responsibility to have their workers tested to identify possible Covid-19 infections.
Duterte is unperturbed in the face of millions of job losses. He is not rushing anything to stop the sharp downturn in their living standards.

While allowing “modern” jeeps owned by big corporations, it continues to ban hundreds of thousands of small jeepney drivers and operators. Duterte has turned a deaf ear to the clamor of ordinary drivers for subsidies to allow jeepneys to provide a safe ride even if, in fact, jeepneys and tricycles are much safer than the closed vehicles. Duterte has virtually kicked them out. The “kings of the road” are now pleading and begging on the streets.

While Duterte is once again rushing to import tons of rice from agriculture-subsidizing countries, funds are sorely lacking to subsidize Filipino peasant masses and buy their produce.

Millions of people are aggravated by onerous police requirements for those seeking permits to travel or go home to their provinces or regions.

Because of its refusal to allot enough funds to allow schools to open safely (more schools, classrooms, teachers and other educational infrastructure), Duterte banned classes in the coming months. Instead, he ordered teaching to be done online but without alloting funds, thus passing to teachers and students the costs of purchasing computers, internet services and other needs.

Millions of youth are gripped by fear as many schools plan to raise tuition, while state subsidy for education remain acutely insufficient. They are also victims of arbitrary restrictions against 16-21 year olds which prevent them from seeking work or participating in various social activities.

Instead of cutting spending for unproductive debt-driven infrastructure projects, and realigning billions of pesos for confidential and intelligence funds, hundreds of billions of pesos for the purchase of helicopters, bombs and war matériel, the Duterte regime has chosen to go on a borrowing spree to fund its expenses during the pandemic.

The debt burden is lopsided on the people’s shoulders. Instead of being increased, the tax share of the billionaire big capitalists were cut by the Duterte regime; and now plans to increase the share of ordinary income earners. The regime has refused to ease the tax burden on the impoverished people even for a moment and even by the slightest amount.

In the past three months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the anti-people Duterte regime has been further unravelled by its refusal to put ahead the people’s interests and prioritizing instead the interests of the big capitalists and pocketing large amounts of people’s money. Duterte himself has admitted he was the one who ordered the purchase of overpriced equipment. In addition, he has prioritized the Anti-Terror Bill, the silencing of critics and the strengthening of his military forces in order to intimidate the people, suppress democracy and per­petuate himself as a powerful dictator.

Over the past three months, the people have been boiling with rage against the Duterte regime. They slowly overcome fear and manifest courage and the willingness to fight.

The Filipino people stand on moral high ground to rise up and resist. It is imperative for them to unite and use their power to perform the historical task of shaping the country’s destiny. Clouds of social storm are now fast gathering. They must seize the time and opportunity to unleash all rage against Duterte’s corruption, neglect, fascism and treachery and put an end to his dictatorship.