All democratic forces must consolidate their ranks and help each other in their democratic struggles against the Duterte regime. The need for unity is urgent in the face of the successive attacks of the tyrant against the people’s interests.
On July 10, Duterte’s rubberstamp congress carried out his order to shut down ABS-CBN in a clear case of political vendetta against a media outfit that has allowed the airing of criticism against the regime. It is a grave attack on press freedom and a thinly-veiled threat against those in the media who cross the tyrant. It also paves the way for Duterte’s favored oligarchs to make a bid of ownership of the broadcast company.
Earlier, Duterte signed his law on terrorism that is far worse than Marcos’ 1972 martial law. He claimed the power to order the arrest of anyone without a judicial warrant and detain people for up to 24 days without filing charges and denying them the right to defend themselves. Duterte will convene Anti-Terror Council (ATC) which has the power to designate anyone as a “terrorist” or “terrorist-linked” or “terrorist-supporters” using the law’s vague and overly broad definitions. The ATC is set to conjoin with the NTF-ELCAC to consolidate Duterte’s military junta.
Just days after, state forces mounted attacks across the country. In Masbate, police and military forces massacred three peasants. Successive arrests and harassment were also carried out against activists and human rights workers. Mass demonstrations, even Catholic masses, are being subjected to police surveillance, using pandemic lockdown restrictions as pretext.
With the law on state terrorism, Duterte is set on mounting even more attacks in the coming weeks and months. This shows his desperation to suppress the seething unrest and rising protests against his incompetent response to the Covid-19 pandemic, worsening corruption, devastation of the economy and complete disregard of the people’s livelihood and well-being. Duterte is rushing to pursue his scheme of establishing a fascist dictatorship and securing his rule or that of his chosen successor beyond 2022.
The monster Duterte must be confronted and slain by the people’s giant power of democracy and freedom. To grow in strength, the various sectors must act as one. They must support each others’ democratic demands. Only by doing so can they muster the strength and courage to stand up against the tyranny.
While calling for junking the terror law and bringing ABS-CBN back on air, they must also support the demand of nurses and health workers for protection, salary increases and mass testing to fight the pandemic; of jeepney drivers to get back on the road; and of workers for higher wages and safety at work. They must collectively assert for immediate and sufficient subsidy for millions who lost their jobs and whose livelihoods were lost due to the lockdown. They must join the demand of peasants and fisherfolk against destructive infrastructure projects, mining and other operations that will drive them away from their homes, land and fishing grounds; of the indigenous peoples and rural folk against military occupation of their communities, intimidation and the brutal campaigns of killings, abductions, aerial bombardment, artillery shelling and human rights abuses that characterize the regime’s counterinsurgency; of the children, youth and teachers to open classes safely; and of migrants for aid and safe return home.
Duterte is a rabid, but a sick and dying monster. He exploited the pandemic to claim extensive powers, accumulate wealth through corruption and use of public funds. He forced big business to their knees with threats to close or take over their property and operations. He placed the entire population under martial law control causing widespread misery and hardship. Tens of thousands were apprehended in the name of “public health.” He murdered activists and imprisoned critics. He bought billions worth of jet fighters, attack helicopters, artillery systems and other war matériel, all while accumulating more than $5 billion of foreign loans for his favored infrastructure projects to the detriment of the local economy and the people’s livelihood.
However, each time Duterte strikes at the people, he only becomes more isolated from the people. Striking at press freedom by shutting down ABS-CBN roused the indignation of journalists and media workers, as well as the entire people. When he signed the terror law, he enraged not only of the Filipino people, but also people and organizations around the world. More rage will be ignited by moves to push for charter change to allow 100% foreign ownership of enterprises and land, as well as to allow removal of term extension limits in order to pave the way for Duterte’s stay beyond 2022.
A range of democratic forces are now arrayed against Duterte’s tyrannical regime, from the patriotic and democratic organizations, alliances and movements; to the opposition forces in the conservative opposition, as well as Catholic Church, big business and those secretly within the government bureaucracy and in the AFP and PNP.
Street marches and large demonstrations must be mounted in the coming weeks and months to fend off the regime’s terrorist attacks. The bigger and more frequent these demonstrations become, the higher probability that disgruntled military and police officers, as well as the international community, will openly withdraw support and push for a process of succession in line with the 1987 constitution.
All the revolutionary forces under the leadership of the Party are aligned with the Filipino people’s aspiration to see an end to their sufferings under the tyrannical regime. While continuing to conduct public health and economic work among the peasant masses, the armed revolutionary forces under the New People’s Army must mount tactical offensives to defend the people against the Duterte regime’s terrorist attacks against the people.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the regime’s overarching priority to establish its fascist dictatorship is putting whatever is left of the people’s democratic rights and the people’s health in great danger. There is broad consensus that the tyrant must be ousted from power as soon as possible. The Filipino people must firmly unite and rise up now!