The Duterte regime has reached a new level of international notoriety. Last week’s resolution of the European Parliament denounced the thousands of extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations both in the so-called drug war and against human rights activists, environmental activists, trade unionists and journalists. With his unmitigated and brutal reign of state terror, plunder and national treachery, Duterte is now among the ranks of history’s most detested dictators.
The brazenness of the regime’s fascist attacks against the people have prompted the international community to raise their voices. The European Parliament has taken a step further by calling on the European Commission to suspend the country’s trade preferences with EU. The European Parliament vote underscores the isolation of the Duterte regime not only from the Filipino people, but from the international community as well.
The Filipino people welcomes fervently the European Parliament resolution, as well as the statements of members of the Australian and Basque parliament as well as personalities from various countries. It is a big boost to their resistance against the Duterte regime’s reign of state terrorism. The resolution comes at a most opportune time as the Filipino people seek an urgent end to the regime’s failed response to the pandemic, its insatiable corruption, rapid accumulation of debt, and heightening state terrorism and repression.
The regime stubbornly insists on its militarist approach to the pandemic with token health measures and insufficient economic subsidies. There remains no free mass testing and contact tracing remains slow and unable to keep at step with new infections. Thus, the virus continues to run ahead while the government continues to lose the game of catch-up. In the past month, there are several thousand daily new infections pushing the number of Covid-19 cases to close to 300,000. Millions of Filipinos, especially the downtrodden cramped in congested communities, remain under threat of getting infected. The unmanaged pandemic is pushing the limits of health care facilities, especially in the provinces.
The number of infections have risen sharply among workers and ordinary employees who need to travel and work in factories and offices without sufficient protection. Duterte ordered the easing of restrictions on business operations but did not require capitalists to conduct testing and follow public health standards. Using the pandemic to force his anti-poor jeepney phaseout program, Duterte stubbornly refuses to allow Covid-19-safe jeeps back on the road despite the lack of public transportation.
The regime has practically abandoned millions of Filipino students and their teachers by failing to make sufficient preparations and upgrade schools and necessary facilities to allow teachers to safely teach before their students this year and next. It has refused to listen to criticism of its so-called “blended learning” that disdainfully disregards the concrete conditions of millions of families without funds for gadgets or internet access.
There has been no letup in the regime’s campaign of killings and abuses of human rights even amid the pandemic. Duterte’s dirty war has intensified marked by the successive killings, abductions, torture, arrest and prolonged detention against activists and critics of the regime. Gross violations of human rights are being committed everyday in the course of counterinsurgency and the tactics of psywar, military occupation and hamletting of rural communities.
Duterte and his cronies have taken advantage of the pandemic to intensify bureaucrat capitalist accumulation through overpriced government purchases, kickbacks and bribes. Billions of pesos of public funds have been realigned to the pockets of big bureaucrats in buying overpriced medical equipment and corruption in PhilHealth. Even without any clear prospects, Duterte is already scheming to buy vaccines from Russia and China in what may turn out to be one of the biggest scams in the regime’s Covid-19 response.
If the regime’s 2021 draft budget is to serve as any indicator, there clearly is no end to the people’s sufferings under the Duterte regime. The regime’s 2021 budget is utterly anti-people and prioritizes counterinsurgency and pork barrel over health. While Filipinos will get a measly P3.16/day for their health expenses, Duterte will get to spend P12.3 million per day of so-called confidential funds. No extra funds were allotted to education despite the urgent need for upgrading public schools. On the other hand, allocation for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) was increased by 2,969% to P19.1 billion.
The regime and its mouthpieces are endlessly dishing out lies and half-truths to cover up the real situation of the country. Without any basis, it claims the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is over, even as the Filipino people are experiencing unprecedented levels of joblessness and socioeconomic desperation. On the other hand, Duterte extended the “state of calamity” by one year to enable him and his minions to continue the plunder of public funds and pursue their various schemes to perpetuate themselves in power.
There is great urgency for the Filipino people to bring together the greatest possible number of democratic organizations, movements, institutions, agencies, sectors and classes in a broad united front for ousting the Duterte regime. Only by doing so can Filipino have better chance at fighting the pandemic, overcoming the economic crisis, ending state terrorism and paving the way to attain a just and lasting peace.
All sorts of sectoral, multi-sectoral, campus-based and territorial alliances, formal or non-formal, can be built to serve as centers for cooperation and coordination of all anti-Duterte forces. They can mount different types of activities to provide venues for political and cultural expression by people with different levels of consciousness. Overseas Filipinos must also mobilize to draw global support and help generate international diplomatic, political and economic pressure against the regime.
The national democratic forces must be the solid core of the broad united front of anti-Duterte forces. They must be flexible, creative and patient in bringing together people and raising their consciousness and militance. At the same time, they must be unwavering even in the face of the regime’s intimidation and threats.
The demand for Duterte’s resignation or ouster is the most urgent clamor of the Filipino people who desire to attain justice, restore their rights and freedoms, and to have a government that responds to their welfare and prioritizes efforts to attain peace instead of waging endless wars against the people.