June 30, 2020 marks Rodrigo Duterte’s four years in power since he was elected president in 2016.
Duterte, the presidential strongman, is a stark reminder that speaking and posing as a “leftist” is just that – a pose that was useful at the start to spread the fake news that Duterte was a “nationalist”, a president with “progressive” ideas, a rich man who claimed to understand the poor and the marginalized. The truth that many Filipinos in and out of the country know is that Duterte is a tyrant and four years of Duterte rule are enough.
In his first year, the Filipino people, particularly the poor and disenfranchised, aspired for meaningful change, particularly on the issues of crime and corruption. He promised to end contractualization and to provide jobs at home for the thousands of overseas Filipino workers. In the first year nothing happened to the workers and OFWs. Wala pakialam si Duterte.
The Filipino people yearned for peace but got violence instead. Duterte sanctioned the killings in his “war” on drugs; deployed troops in the poorest regions of Samar, Negros and Bicol, launched a bloody war in his native Mindanao; and intensified Oplan Kapayapaan (Operation Plan Peace) against his own citizens. Tens of thousands were killed, many of them from the urban poor, and Duterte’s drug war only yielded a measly one per cent of the drug supply seized. Killings and sowing fear were Duterte’ trademarks. Maraming naulila sa magulang at anak.
The Filipino people hoped for a champion of social reforms. Yet Duterte carried on the legacy of the regressive tax system (Train Law), unregulated education (Libreng Kolehiyo), the many anti-people economic policies (Rice Tariffication), even the P7.7 trillion debt of the presidents Arroyo and Aquino,Jr before him and the slavish following of the dictates of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Instead, the poor paid more taxes and higher rice prices. Maraming ginutom si Duterte.
Thousands of Filipinos pinpointed the government’s criminal neglect of their communities when storms and the volcanic eruption hit their regions. The coronavirus-19 which could have been handled earlier , if not better, by the government before it became a pandemic exposed the government’s military approach to the pandemic instead of the health, economic and medical responses needed by the people and by public health in general. The regime’s terrorist approach put the lives of many at greater risk. Amidst the pandemic, Duterte sought to implement the mandatory PhilHealth membership and the premium increases on the backs of overseas Filipinos. On top of this, Duterte rammed the Anti-Terror Bill which granted him and the anti-terrorist council vastly expanded emergency powers to arrest, detain, intimidate anyone, including Filipinos abroad. More powers to crush people’s dissent and resistance. Laban niya sa pandemya ay bala, lockdown at gutom. Hindi mass testing, ayuda, o trabaho.
Four years of poverty, unemployment, lack of medical care, and abandonment are enough! The thought of two more years of Duterte till he finishes his term in 2022 can bring to mind the people’s response to tyrants: 1986 overthrow of Marcos the dictator, the ouster of Joseph Estrada, and the militant people’s movement that led to the electoral defeat of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
We must shake the foundations of the US-propped Duterte fascist regime with massive protests from all across the sectors, in and out of the country, and raise the people’s just demands for nationalism and democracy. Let us call for his stepping down from power or ousting him from power. Let us encourage everyone to actively participate in education, campaigns and mass mobilizations and reach out to the broadest range that we can.
Apat na taon na pagyurak sa mga manggagawa, magsasaka, kababaihan at kabataan, maralitang taga-lunsod, katutubong Pilipino, at ang migranteng Pilipino at marami pang iba. Tama na! Sobra na!
We must strengthen and broaden the national democratic movement and raise its level to soaring heights. Let us carry forward the struggle for national liberation and genuine people’s democracy against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.