Even after only four years in power, the Duterte regime is set on surpassing all the past reactionary regimes in terms of corruption, abuse of authority, suppression of democratic rights and national treachery. Under his tyrannical rule, Duterte, his ilk, and their foreign masters have accumulated power and wealth, causing the sharp worsening of the basic problems of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism and resulting in unprecedented sufferings on the Filipino people.
Over the past four years, the socio-economic conditions of the people, especially of the toiling masses of workers, peasants and semiproletariat, have steadily degenerated as a result of the Duterte regime’s anti-people neoliberal economic policies. These conditions have further nosedived under Duterte’s arbitrary imposition of a militarist lockdown in the name of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. The people suffer from mass unemployment, low wages and income, landlessness, rising prices, burdensome taxes on the people, homelessness, disease and lack of social services. Duterte has perpetuated dependence on foreign debt, allowed foreign big capitalists to plunder the country’s human and natural resources and carried out policies which prevent the economy from standing up on its own two legs. The Philippines remains non-industrialized even as agricultural production continue to wallow in backwardness.
For four years now, the Duterte regime has waged a relentless war of terror against the poor, in the form of mass killings in his fake war against drugs, the siege and continued military occupation of Marawi City and the war against the Moro people, the brutal war of suppression against the peasant masses and curtailment of democratic rights. After the nearly 1000-days of martial law in Mindanao, Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70, Duterte is now set on completing his martial law regime with the Anti-Terror Bill. He has used the full arsenal of the reactionary state to perpetuate himself and his factotums in power.
Under Duterte, the country’s state of national sovereignty has deteriorated with his failure to stand for the country’s rights amid heightened military presence and economic plunder of rival imperialists China and the US.
On the one hand, he has virtually surrendered Philippine territorial seas and economic resources in the West Philippine Sea by allowing China to reclaim land to build seven military facilities, station its Coast Guard and paramilitary vessels in the area, destroy and take away the country’s mineral resources and ride roughshod on Filipino fishermen. He has kowtowed to China in exchange for promises of several billion dollar anomalous loans to fund corruption-ridden infrastructure various roads and infrastructure projects.
On the other hand, Duterte has allowed the US to station its aircraft carriers in both the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Sea (east of the country) and build military facilities inside at least five AFP camps around the country. The Duterte regime has not abrogated the Visiting Forces Agreement, which he made a show to terminating last January, much less the Military Defense Treaty and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, all unequal military treaties heavily favoring the US. Hundreds of US military forces continue to operate in the country under the Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines. Duterte remains ultra-dependent on US arms and alms, which in turn keeps the AFP’s fascist generals happy and in line. In exchange for arms, he has promised US President Trump to allow US troops and equipment in every inch of Philippine soil and waters, as well as grant US companies unrestricted access to Philippine resources.
For four years, Duterte has flaunted the reactionary constitution and has aggrandized wealth and power. He has ingratiated himself with the military and police through increased budgetary allocations, appointment of a number of generals in the Cabinet and other juicy positions in the bureaucracy and giving the military and police unprecedented martial law powers in the name of fighting the armed revolution. The country is now under a civil-military junta in the form of the National Task Force (Duterte-Lorenzana-Año-Esperon), which has accumulated ever greater powers under the military-led Covid-19 pandemic response. He has abused his powers to silence and intimidate critics, take over the operations of rival big business in favor his crony oligarchs, take control of the smuggling of drugs and other contraband, and pocket billions of pesos from cuts in government contracts. With control of the Comelec and the TIM-Smartmatic, he has manipulated the outcome of the 2019 elections to dominate the Senate, congress and local governments.
Duterte’s failed response to the Covid-19 pandemic has further exposed its militarist and anti-people orientation and is rousing more and more people to stand up and resist. Not only did the Duterte regime fail to prepare and strengthen the public health system, it has also plundered billions of pesos in people’s money, and caused widespread economic devastation and destruction of people’s jobs and livelihood. In the face of rising Covid-19 infections and delayed and incompetent response, it has become clear to the Filipino people that it is Duterte himself who is the biggest threat to their safety and survival amid the pandemic.
Drawing lessons from history, the Filipino people are ever determined to end their sufferings, remove Duterte at the soonest possible time, and hold him accountable for all his crimes. The Filipino people are being roused and are becoming increasingly vocal and active in their demand for Duterte’s resignation or ouster from power. A widening array of forces are ranging themselves in a broad united front against his tyrannical regime. The Duterte clique is becoming increasingly isolated the more it accumulates power and money and the more viciously it attacks the people.
The unprecedented sufferings of the people under the Duterte regime is a clear manifestation of the country’s chronic state of crisis. It underscores the urgent need to wage national democratic revolution in order to put an end the moribund semicolonial and semifeudal system, attain national independence and people’s democracy and build a progressive and modern socialist future.