In the middle of his 5th state of the nation address, right after his call for the passage of a law to revive the death penalty for crimes specified under the 2002 Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act in order to solve the ever-worsening problem of criminality in the country, Duterte briefly swayed from his prepared speech in order to enlighten his audience by means of a remarkably infuriating tale. “I’LL TELL YOU THE STORY [OF] WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PHILIPPINES,” he began. In essence the story starts with illustrating the prevalence of international and local big crime syndicates thriving in the Philippines who prey on the masses of poor Filipino families, and then citing an example of a poverty-stricken family with a shabu-addicted father, whose addiction gradually destroys the family: leads the wife to find another husband or work in the Middle East as an abused domestic slave, the children to likewise adopt the drug-habit, abandoning school, forced into prostitution – all culminating into the disintegration of the family. The solution, of course, is to kill, to impose the death penalty on the malevolent gangsters and all those who prey on the innocent Filipino people.
What’s particularly infuriating and noxious is that he has the audacity, the utter lack of shame and daring to expound on the pitiful and miserable lives of families victimized by the syndicates when he himself and his clique are one of the most powerful and notorious criminal bureaucrats in the nation. A wicked irony, these poor families – and not the big Triad bosses and local kingpins– abused by the syndicates are the ones targeted by the Philippine War on Drugs, with thousands of dead bodies of average Juans left in its wake. Moreover, in cahoots with the Chinese government, he is accountable for the flourishing of the Triad syndicates who run criminal enterprises – such as prostitution, illegal gambling, money laundering, contraband smuggling, contract killing, and of course the manufacturing, smuggling, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs. With regards to the solution to rid the nation of the crime syndicates, the death penalty, if it is to be actualized, it is he who should be the first to be penalized with death by lethal injection for the crimes he has committed against the Filipino people.
This story as told by Duterte himself sets the defining themes of his 5th SONA: outright lies, shameless pronouncements, mad fairytales, inane babble, anti-populist schemes, and empty promises of recovery and prosperity.
“We live in a troubled time. Our dream of prosperity for our country was suddenly snuffed by a pandemic virulent virus,” he began, kicking off his speech after greeting an exclusive audience. Truly, the Filipino people harbor no fantasies nor illusions of national prosperity even before the outbreak of the COVID-19. What the pandemic did however “snuff” is that it exposed the current conditions, made lucid the material reality of the country, brought to the spotlight the glaring economic and political crisis engendered by foreign monopoly-capitalism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism; it banished, casted away all false notions of equality, freedom, progress, development, peace, and prosperity; it helped bring into the light of day the economic reality of the masses and the real state of the Philippine economy – a tragic neoliberal catastrophe; it made ever clearer that the government has no interest in effectively and efficiently providing public and social services for the benefit of the broad masses of workers and peasants; it placed the government on the spotlight and showed for whom the puppet GRP is truly for – the imperialists, the big comprador-landlords, and the criminal bureaucrats; instead of a public health approach and solution, it unleashed the fascist dogs, terrorizing the people, all in the name of fighting a war against the dreaded virus.
Nevertheless, Duterte insists that the government is doing all it can to battle the pandemic. However, he mentions that corruption and criminality spiked and elevated to higher levels. “My countrymen, it is sad that while government focuses its attention and resources to battle the coronavirus, there are those who take advantage of a pre-occupied government…. The corrupt, the grafters…. The dealers and purveyors of illegal drugs, hiding in the shadow of COVID-19, have stepped up their activities.” A relevant point to consider is to raise the question of who controls the bureaucracy that is replete with graft and corruption? Who runs the local criminal enterprises and collaborates with foreign drug cartels and crime syndicates? Is it not the case that the Duterte clique controls the civil bureaucracy by means of civil-military junta by virtue of NTF-ELCAC, controls the majority in the Senate, House, and Supreme Court? Is it not the case that , along with the Chinese mafias, Duterte and his minions dominate the criminal syndicates and enterprises?
Historical levels of unemployment are at an all time high, and all the government could muster up is to give out chump-change, a measly sum of cash, and a few baskets of groceries – an insult to the poor masses who struggle to survive and need to work day-to-day just to put food on the table. OFWs in the tens of thousands are returning to the country, and Duterte offers them special TESDA training programs and low-interest loans so that they can find employment here at home. It seems that Duterte glosses over the underlying cause of why OFWs left the country in the first place – the lack of employment opportunities due to the ever-worsening economy, made even more severe by the economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Technical skills training and added debt are of little help to the OFWs.
As for education, he states that “Until the COVID-19 vaccine is available, I will not allow the traditional face-to-face teaching or learning…. We must implement online, modular, and TV- and radio-based broadcast.” So for the time being, the poor masses who cannot afford or do not have access to smartphones, computers, and internet connection, let alone electricity, must make do with modular learning, drastically lowering the quality of education for the masses of poor peasants and workers. Nationwide electrification and digitalization of the countryside, – which is, like most of Duterte’s promises, likely never to materialize — is a must if Duterte wishes to make online, TV, radio based broadcast for “which students coming from different backgrounds can avail.”
As to the solution for the mass of unemployed workers in the congested NCR, he reiterated the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa Program and its supposed advantages; followed by him saying, “kung hindi ninyo naiintindihan sa binabasa ko, mas lalo ako.” But the Filipino people do understand what the Balik Probinsya Program entails — mass decongestion of Metro Manila, by means of violent demolitions of informal settlements to pave the way for big real estate capitalist ventures all in the name of going back home to and developing the countryside.
To achieve so called peace and development in the countryside, once again he addresses the issue of internal security, pursuing the all-too-famous whole-of-nation approach, and implementing the Barangay Development Programs of conflict affected communities under Retooled Community Support Programs; but the peasants in the baryos know all too well what RCSPs and so called development programs lead to: mass arrests, deceitful government projects, activities, and programs, fake and forced surrenders, armed military and police occupation of the baryos, local intelligence asset recruitment, proliferation of intrigues, and the sowing of uneasiness and anxiety and even outright terror among the baryo populace.
He admits that the armed forces, national government agencies, and LGUs have some difficulties in implementing the barangay development plans, mostly due to “skirmishes and the assassination of our soldiers,” then , referring to the aforementioned problem, he directed, “correct this so that we can proceed with the barangay implementation as soon as possible.” Is Duterte seriously telling the AFP officers to “correct” the problem of “his” soldiers dying as casualties in the civil war? The sheer nonsense is astounding.
“Martial law in Mindanao ended without abuses by… the police, by the military.” Another outright lie as tens of thousands of victims of human rights violations during the 3 years of martial law in Mindanao would most vehemently disagree.
“I reiterate the need for the passage of the National Land Use Act,” he stated, which has indeed been proposed decades ago but never made its way into actuality. If it is to be passed, this would be a green light for the real estate magnates, big landlords, and agribusiness giants to gobble up and further monopolize the country’s real estate and the rural economy; also, land-grabbing and the concomitant displacement of workers and peasants is bound to intensify.
Interestingly, he emphasizes: “ I cannot stress enough the importance of agriculture. The growth of our economy depends on a robust agricultural sector.” He oddly follows with “we must utilize the coconut,” referring to coconut levy funds, “for the welfare of our coconut farmers.” What about the other farmers that plant other crops, Mr. President? However, he highlights that “the problem is we can no longer trace who are the farmers of yesterday.” What a tragedy it truly is for all the powers of the GRP and its bureaucracy to be unable to determine who the owners of the land are, when a simple trip to the land itself will uncover the mystery of the actual tillers of the land, what their names are, how many kids they have, who their neighbors are, how many years they have been working on the land and the ancestral lineage connected to the land tracing all the way back in time long before Duterte came into this world.
In connection to his plan to revamp the agricultural sector, he called on Congress to pass the Rural Agricultural Fisheries Development Financing System Act to “provide adequate, accessible, and affordable food for every Filipino through the Plant, Plant, Plant Program,” further adding, “mas madali ito kaysa Build, Build, Build. Ito Plant, Plant, Plant lang eh.” Indeed, it would be much easier to displace and dislocate fishermen along the coastlines, settlers in the hinterlands, and small planters in the rural plains to give way to big capitalist plantation farming, accompanying crop-conversion, commercial fishing, and agribusiness cartels. The program forebodes of another round of white elephant projects, onerous foreign debt, and graft and corruption.
“We will continue to pursue an independent foreign policy.” Really, Mr. Duterte? Are you sure of what you are talking about? Apparently he is not, for he continues, “I have nothing against America and China, but if you put bases here, you will double the spectacle of a most destructive thing like Manila during the Second World War.” One unmistakable trait here is that of a pathological liar, for the Filipino people know for a fact that on vast territories in the West Philippine Sea stand erect gigantic military reservations – complete with armed Chinese People’s Liberation Army personnel, aircraft carriers, warships, warplanes, and missile and artillery systems — built on artificial islands. Likewise it is no secret that during Duterte’s term at least 5 US military facilities have been built in various AFP camps, and many other satellite bases under Operation Pacific Eagle, adding to the number of US military installations in existence scattered throughout the nation even long before Duterte won the presidency. So once again, Mr. President, would you care to elaborate on what exactly you are talking about?
“We worked without fail to protect our rights in the South China Sea, neither beholden nor a pawn to anyone…. China is claiming it. We are claiming it. China has the arms. We do not have it. So it is simple as that…. Talagang inutil ako dyan. Wala akong magawa.” First claiming to be pursuing an independent foreign policy and “working without fail to protect our rights in the South China Sea,” and then admitting to cowering in fear of the military might of a foreign invader encroaching on Philippine territory is the acme of hypocrisy and contradictory, incoherent thinking. At least, he admits he is an inutile imperialist puppet.
“Together, we shall fight this pandemic with the same fervor as our campaign against illegal drugs, criminality, insurgency, and corruption.” The people are desperately hoping that the fight against the COVID-19 won’t be similar to the war on drugs, corruption, and so called insurgency, for it shall bring forth even more suffering, misery, and bloodshed under the terror of the fascist minions.
Capping off his long unbearable oration, he concludes with verbal strikes at Drillon and a brief lecture on oligarchy. “This is the oligarchy that controls the Philippines… control of the water and electricity. Iyan ang oligarchy mo Drilon. Wala ng oligarchy except that.” The people would beg to differ, Mr. President. Surely, it is not merely the water and electricity that are run by oligarchs. What about the land, Mr. President? What about the monopoly of the land by the big comprador-landlords? What about the oligarchy of the most trusted agents of imperialism, the comprador-bourgeoisie, who dominate every single sphere of the economy, from banking, real estate, manufacturing, mining, and energy? What about the oligarchy of the government of criminal bureaucrats, just like you, Mr. President?
Truly, the mad tyrant has either completely lost all sense of actual reality, or he is deliberately lying; possibly, it may be both. At this point, Duterte has totally isolated himself from the broad masses of the people, and even from his fellow puppet-bureaucrats. His ouster is highly probable as he is surrounded by his enemies from all angles and directions. What he has left is the puppet armed forces, that which he utilizes to perpetuate his open terrorist dictatorship over the people; but the rising tide of national democratic revolution will inevitably devour the raving tyrant Duterte, just as what happened to the fascist dictator Marcos, as history is bound to repeat itself. The people have had enough and are taking up arms, venturing onto the radical path of revolution to overthrow the dictatorship of the US puppets, to dismantle the neocolonial state and build a nation truly free, just, progressive, equitable, and peaceful.