Duterte is overly confident that in the last two years of his legal term of office he will not be a political lameduck under the pressure of his accumulated crimes and failures, the spread of mass discontent, the rise of the broad legal opposition and the rivalries among his own political followers.
The source of overconfidence is the loyalty of the highest military and police officers whom he has pampered with tax money and opportunities for self-enrichment in so many corrupt and criminal ways and his absolute control of the Comelec which he can use to fake the results of any voting exercise as he did in the 2019 mid-term elections.
Based on the foregoing facts, Duterte has a number of options which in his subjective he can use to forestall the prospect of stepping down and ensure that he will not be held accountable in the Philippines for the gross crimes of treason, butchery and plunder that he has committed as well as for the crimes against humanity which the International Criminal Court is expected to summon him for prosecution and trial.
So long as he can still walk and order his armed and bureaucratic minions, despite his serious physical and mental infirmities, Duterte keeps as his main option charter change under the pretext of shifting to “federalism” under a highly centralized fascist dictatorship. Thus, he expects to stay in power even beyond 2022 and he can make even more certain that a dynastic heir succeeds him in case of death or total disability.
He hopes to clinch charter charge through his loyalists in Congress and in the Supreme Court and satisfy both his US and Chinese patrons by assuring them and their corporations of 100 per cent ownership of land, natural resources, public utilities and all other types of enterprises, despite the growing contradictions between the US and China.
Ensuring his replacement by a dynastic successor, like his daughter Sarah or someone else loyal to him, is one more major option for Duterte like Marcos in the past threatening the people with his wife Imelda as likely successor in case of his death or total disability. This option is closely related to the third option, which is to make way for a military junta to take over.
The current political value for Duterte in having a military junta in prospect is to flatter the military and whet its loyalty to him and at the same time threaten the opposition and the people with the prospect of military junta ruling the country in case of his death or total disability at any time or the failure of his dynastic successor to take over his position.
To threaten the opposition and the people, Duterte has systematically appointed recently retired military officers to take over departments and functions of government normally run by civilian officials. He has practically militarized and fascisticized his Cabinet and entire government upon his false claim that the military are more efficient than civilian officials, despite abundant proof of bigger corruption and inefficiency under a militarist and commandist rule.
In view of all the foregoing observations, the Duterte regime will continue without let up to vilify and escalate all-out war against the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the rest of the revolutionary forces of the people in order to command and manipulate the military and police forces to serve his options of staying in power beyond 2022, ensuring a dynastic heir as successor and threatening the people with the prospect of coming under a military junta.
The revolutionary movement of the people and all the honest and well-meaning peace advocates must cast away all illusions that it is possible to negotiate peace with the Duterte regime. They may still call for the resumption of peace negotiations if only to expose the Duterte regime as the enemy of just peace. But they must realize by now that it is against the selfish interest of the tyrant Duterte to resume peace negotiations.
More than ever Duterte is hell-bent on heating up the armed conflict with the revolutionary movement in order to keep the military and police as his private army and vassals in order to realize his selfish political objectives. The revolutionary government and the broad masses of the people have no choice but to intensify all forms of struggle against the increasingly oppressive and exploitative Duterte regime.
Duterte and his armed minions are carried away by their bloodlust and their delusion that they can eliminate the revolutionary movement through sheer anticommunist psywar and military suppression. They are oblivious of the fact that the economic and political crises of both the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system and the world capitalist system are rapidly worsening at an unprecedented rate.
They obscure to themselves the fact that the armed revolutionary movement of the people has grown in strength cumulatively from its modest beginnings since 1969 because it has resolutely and vigorously struggled against the Marcos fascist regime, all the post-Marcos pseudo-democratic regimes and now the current Duterte tyranny.
Because of the ever worsening social, economic and political crisis of the ruling system, the people’s democratic revolution has thrived and become strong through protracted people’s war. The revolutionary party of the proletariat, the people’s army, the revolutionary mass organizations, the united front and the local organs of political power which constitute the people’s democratic government have grown in strength and advanced nationwide.
On this basis, the broad masses of the people are expecting the intensification and expansion of tactical offensives against the armed minions of the Duterte regime as well as special punitive operations against the most notorious human rights violators and plunderers. All patriotic and progressive forces and people express hope and confidence that the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war will further grow in strength and advance at a rate faster than ever before.
Duterte is obviously trying to ride on the crisis of the ruling system in order to push forward his scheme of fascist dictatorship against the people. But he has offended powerful sections and groups of the comprador big bourgeoisie and landlord class by favoring at their expense his own oligarchic greed and his own upstart business cronies who depend on his bureaucratic power and loot, Chinese loans and dirty money from the smuggling of illegal drugs and other commodities.
He is repeating the same mistake that Marcos committed in favoring his own family and his cronies as the new oligarchs against the long-established oligarchs. There is now an increasingly bitter struggle within the narrow ranks of the exploiting classes, as Duterte and his cronies try to muscle in on well-established profitable enterprises, launder the bureaucratic loot of Duterte and acquire the key enterprises in real estate, construction, public utilities, telecommunications, mass media, transport, mining, plantations and so on.
Also, Duterte cannot be too sure that he owns and controls the entire military and police forces . There are enlightened military and police officers who respect the national and democratic rights and aspirations of the people and who disagree with the traitorous, genocidal, corrupt and extremely exploitative and oppressive policies and actions of the Duterte regime and are discreetly recruiting adherents and preparing for the right time to support the mass movement to oust the regime.
There are patriotic as well as pro-US officers who strongly oppose China’s control of the national power grid, the installation of Chinese-controlled cell towers in Philippine military camps and Duterte’s active support for China’s building and militarization of islands in the West Philippine Sea, despite the legal victory of the Philippines in 2016 against the baseless claim of China. The open emergence of anti-Duterte officers from the ranks of retired and active military and police forces can be fatal to the Duterte tyranny like it was to the Marcos fascist regime regime in 1986.
And of course the ability of the Catholic church to call its flock to oust a tyrannical regime cannot be underestimated if we recall how such an institution cooperated with other forces in society in bringing down the Marcos fascist dictatorship in 1986. There is no love lost between Duterte and the Catholic Church, In fact, he has offended the Church directly far more than Marcos ever did. He has publicly cursed the God and doctrines of the entire Church, vilified the bishops, priests and nuns and called on his following to attack them physically.
While the armed revolutionary movement of the people are focused on launching tactical offensives and mobilizing the masses against the Duterte regime, it must also pay attention to the possibilities of ousting the regime before 2022, ensuring that it does not rule beyond 2022 and making short shrift of the regime if it goes beyond 2022 through charter change, vote rigging, martial law or any other trick.
When the circumstances arise for the ouster of the Duterte regime, the revolutionary mass movement can participate in a broad united front, prepare for peace negotiations with a new regime and make further advances in the people’s movement for full national independence, democracy, social justice, all-round development and international solidarity for just peace and development. ###