The Duterte administration’s sensationalized commemoration of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ birthday today is a denial of the atrocities of his fascist rule and a betrayal of the struggle of the Filipino people then and now. To celebrate and memorialize this day is to attack the masses’ efforts to topple the murderous tyrant — it is an outright disrespect and dismissal of the suffering and pain this day means for the victims of Martial Law.
It is just like Rodrigo Duterte to pull this kind of foolish and callous antic as the country grapples with the worsening crisis due to Covid-19. It shows not only how much of a blood-thirsty dictator he is too, but also how desperate he and his cronies are to distract the masses from and veil the countless failures and misdeeds of this administration in handling the pandemic.
Indeed, since the start of the lockdown, Duterte never paid heed to the issues that needed tackling. Instead, he channeled all his government’s efforts and money into funding war, militarization, and state terrorism in whole.
While the Filipino people are down in the sewers in trying to make ends meet, Rodrigo Duterte is on a blithe shopping binge for new weapons to further excite his absurd yet vicious counterinsurgency and all-out war.
On May 12, the government spent ₱2.4 billion on artillery systems from an Israeli company (Elbit Systems). This comes after the April 30 approval of the purchase of ₱75-billion worth of helicopters, missiles, and other war equipment.
The ₱75-billion package includes AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles costing ₱5.08 million apiece. Duterte’s administration, looking to secure 200 payloads, would thus have to conjure up ₱1.02 billion — enough to purchase around 408,000 sacks of rice and feed approximately 1.09 million people for an entire month.
To add salt to the masses’ wound, and contrary to statements made by NCRPO chief Debold Sinas, Duterte’s bloody war on drugs did not stop even during the pandemic. 53 drug-related killings were recorded between March 15 to May 5, and 42 of those murders were confirmed to have been carried out by the PNP, occasionally alongside the AFP and PDEA.
As if the worsening hunger and poverty brought about by the economic fallout from the pandemic isn’t good enough for him, Duterte is urgently seeking more and more ways to wage his deadly war against the people and fasten his dictatorial rule.
Even greater amounts have been squandered by this regime in the way of corruption. From the PhilHealth controversy, to the Palace communications team and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), no amount of being exposed pushed Duterte and his moneygrubbing cohorts to shy away from their criminal activities.
It took a public health crisis to totally expose the utter rottenness of the state’s peddled healthcare system. The PhilHealth corruption issue revealed billions being pocketed by government officials in fake surgeries and operations, on top of a hefty sum being dissipated by unnecessary travel, accommodation, and leisure activities by PhilHealth stakeholders. But, Duterte does not seem keen on demanding accountability from the officials involved. Instead, he carries on defending Health Secretary and PhilHealth ex-officio chairman Francisco Duque III while the government’s Covid-19 response remains a phantom to the masses.
On the other hand, the NTF-ELCAC, in conjunction with the Palace communications team, has done nothing but falsely quote youth leaders and accuse them of being members of the CPP-NPA-NDF, thus making civilians targets for overzealous fascist state forces and putting their lives at risk.
It was under Duterte’s EO 70 that this task force was launched in what turned out to be a spree of red-tagging, harassment, and spreading of false information. Since its formation, this task force which is directly under the Office of the President has done nothing but harass, persecute, and terrorize civilians and militant leaders and groups to intimidate and threaten those who dare speak up against the regime. No sooner was it clear that the NTF-ELCAC is but a cash pool for Duterte and his allies that also conveniently legitimizes war crimes and human rights violations.
Just this year, ₱622.3 billion has been allotted for the operations of the NTF-ELCAC —an astounding amount of money just for spreading fake news online and cultivating social media troll farms.
Yet, notwithstanding the pandemic and the continuous and growing clamor from the Filipino people, the Duterte regime is proposing a 2,969% budget increase for NTF-ELCAC — from ₱622.3 million in 2020 to ₱19.1 billion next year.
Also part of the budget request of the Office of the President is ₱2.25 billion each for unfathomable and inexplicable “confidential expenses” and “intelligence expenses”. This is on top of “billions of pesos” in remittances it receives annually from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). An infuriating manifestation of unabashed corruption in the face of a global crisis that’s leaving the country in shambles.
Meanwhile, expecting aid beneficiaries were forced to make do with what little food they have left as they waited for government help that never came. Mass testing still costs thousands to avail — an amount alien to the working class Filipinos who merely want to get a ticket back to their minimum wage jobs. Duterte preoccupies the entire nation weekly with his useless jabber — spewing lie after lie about revolutionary organizations and confounding the people with his ill-planned adjustments regarding quarantine conditions everywhere.
All the while, his military let loose their barbarous tactics in the countryside.
Just during the first half of the year, 30% of recorded political killings and torture were committed against farmers in different regions, as well as 63% of illegal arrest and detention cases. There have been mass arrests of up to 100 civilians in rural areas, and at least 625 barangays in 54 provinces suffered attacks from the military ranging from community militarization to unrestrained aerial bombing.
The second half of the year brought an onslaught of intensified attacks against the national minority from all over the entire country —mass destruction of schools, murder of a tribe leader in Southern Mindanao, massacre of nine Moro peasants, and the brutal torture and violation of the rights of Aeta communities in Zambales.
Now, no matter how good these fascist hounds are at lying through their teeth, there is no way one could spin the narrative to erase the facts. Duterte’s sadistic game of terrorizing the masses in the countryside is a hopeless attempt to flush out the revolutionary forces and damage their convictions.
What Duterte and his lapdogs fail to understand — as did the many dictators and fascists before them — is that they cannot force the masses and revolutionary forces to cower at them through their brutal tactics.
Every drop of blood that’s spilled from their bullets; every land and home that’s decimated by their bombs; every child that’s traumatized by their overkill cannons; and every life that’s destroyed by their inhumane psychological warfare — these all just lead to another warm body decisively joining the New People’s Army to fight to restore the dignities and rights they were deprived of so long ago.