No matter how President Duterte and his ilk or downplayed the regime’s crimes against the Filipino people as joke, no one is laughing. Surely, not even Pres. Duterte as he is obviously shaken to face the people’s wrath and the prospect of an international trial after his term. In his five-year tyrannical rule, the Duterte regime has brought about catastrophic consequences into the lives and livelihood of the people.
As things went, he failed to silence his critics and has instead isolated itself more from the people. And, for all his arrogant pretensions Pres. Duterte failed to neutralize the revolutionary movement (like the past regimes) and despite wasting billions of public funds. That the regime sees red everywhere is a sure sign of political paranoia.
Now on its final year, the Duterte regime is haunted by the innumerable and most atrocious crimes committed against the poor majority. And, the Filipino people are not joking. The people are determined to block all the manoeuvres of Duterte and his minions to remain in power beyond 2022 and cause more harm to the people and damage to the country. Some of these crimes are listed below:
- “Maliit na bagay”(It’s no big deal).Duterte, March 2021
Criminal neglect of people’s health
Duterte treated the pandemic as a national security concern instead of a health crisis. He, thus, took the militarist approach to solve the pandemic through the Inter-agency Task Force against COVID-19 (IATF) which is dominated by military men instead of health experts. His regime ensured more funds for its killing machine rather than strengthening the overburdened healthcare system. He failed to secure vaccines for the Filipino people in the same way he neglected mass testing, contact tracing and isolation which are basic requirements to prevent the spread of the virus.
- “Mahirap kayo? P****g i*a, umalis kayo. Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom, wala akong pakialam(You’re poor? Son of a bitch, leave. Bear with hardship and hunger, I don’t care). Duterte, October 2017
Failure to provide assistance to those who lost their jobs because of the lockdowns
The quoted Duterte statement was a warning to the jeepney drivers as the government pushed for jeepney phase-out in the guise of modernization. True enough, jeepney drivers were among the hardest hit during the lockdown and even when transport services were eventually allowed. The jeepney drivers were among the 5.8 million unemployed workers in 2020. They are among the jobless Filipinos denied of financial assistance despite the trillions of loans acquired by the regime supposedly to alleviate the plight of the poor during the pandemic. The regime only knew how to impose repeated lockdowns in response to the pandemic.
- “Ignore human rights! Kill them right away.” Duterte, March 2021
Executing tokhang-style mass murders, illegal arrests and detention of civilians
This oft-repeated order by the president, coupled with its “counterinsurgency” program, has turned the state guns on non-combatants (farmers, fisherfolk, trade unionists, lawyers, journalists, human rights advocates, activists, critics, political opponents) amid its failure to vanquish the five-decade people’s armed revolution. Thousands of suspected drug users and hundreds of political activists were killed. With dubious search warrants and planted “evidence” it perpetrated murders, massacres, arrests and detention of activists. It displaced thousands more as a result of bombings and intensified military operations in areas deemed as mass base of the revolutionary movement. Red-tagging was employed and orchestrated by the state’s well-oiled fascist machinery—the NTF-ELCAC and the AFP and PNP which were refurbished with war materiel from imperialist US.
- “For the law-abiding citizen of this country, I am addressing you with all sincerity, do not be afraid if you are not a terrorist,” Duterte, July 2020
Legitimizing repression, exploitation, and tyrannical rule through laws
The Duterte regime has weaponized the laws, and even some courts, against the people. Having railroaded the passage of “Anti-Terror” law during the pandemic, it uses it as one of its licenses for state terrorism and criminalizing dissent and rebellion. The law violates even the Constitution of the reactionary government. Specifically, it violates the Hernandez doctrine which states that rebellion could not be mixed up with common crimes because rebellion has deep social roots which needed to be addressed. Before ATL, it issued Executive Order 70 creating the now notorious NTF-ELCAC and Memo No. 32 which effectively declared martial law in the regions of Bicol, Samar, Southern Luzon and the province of Panay, resulting in hundreds killed and illegally arrested.
Laws pertaining to the economy were also used to institutionalize exploitation and oppression. The Rice Tarrification Law and the proposed and actual changes in the reactionary Constitution to allow foreign ownership of the country’s vital industries and other measures to further liberalize the economy will, eventually, kill local industries and producers, especially the farmers.
- “Wala na tayong pera” (we have no more money), Duterte, August 2020
Acquiring trillions of loans to be paid for by the people without accounting for its spending
In June 2020, the regime’s Covid-19 war chest reportedly reached $6.5 billion, largely from loans and emergency fund allocation from Congress. But two months later, in August, Pres. Duterte declared the funds were already spent. It had yet to satisfactorily implement basic mass testing, contact tracing and isolation, or address widespread calls for financial assistance to those who lost their jobs and to the overburdened health workers.
The regime kept acquiring loans in the name of the people but it scrimped on the needs of the poor majority; while refusing to let go of the billions of pesos of his intelligence and confidential funds and that of his killing machine. Government debt which burdens further the people hits a new high of PhP10.4 trillion in January 2021. Every Filipino now has a debt of more than Php 95,000 from these loans.
- “Not even a whiff of corruption”, Duterte 2018
Depriving the people of adequate social services in favor of corruption
Pres. Duterte plundered the economy and has caused its bankruptcy. Corruption scandals in the Duterte regime stink that even its own Commission on Audit cannot help but flag government officials and agencies. These funds benefit Duterte allies and cronies and their families and businesses. Also, public funds are grossly misappropriated in favor of its war chest—the presidential intelligence and confidential funds, the “counterinsurgency” budget in the AFP and PNP and several other agencies, the “general’s pork which is the Php19-billion peso budget of the NTF-ELCAC.
The funds for NTF-ELCAC are “spent”, among others, to assist fake rebel returnees, but actually end up in the military officials’ pockets. A huge amount of money is also wasted on its propaganda materials to red tag the opposition and to vilify the revolutionary movement (but, oftentimes these are simply greeted with loud guffaws by the public).
- “Nag-file sila ng kaso nanalo tayo… Sa totoong buhay, between nation, ‘yang papel wala iyan…. Actually… bigay mo sa kin iyan sabihin ko ‘P*t*ng-ina papel lang iyan.’ Itatapon ko iyan sa waste basket” (They filed a case and we won. In real life, between nations, that paper is nothing. Actually, if you give that to me, I will tell you ‘Son of a ***** that is just paper.’ I will throw that in a waste basket.”). Duterte, May 2021
Sell out of the country’s sovereignty
Duterte denied he promised to defend the West Philippine Sea. He even called those who voted for him stupid for believing what was supposed to be a joke. He warned of “bloodshed” if the Filipinos were to retake the West Philippine Sea. No wonder, his regime has long looked the other way when the Chinese held reclamation and dredging activities in the Spratlys Islands in the West Philippine Sea, leading to the Chinese military’s nearly unopposed illegal occupation of some islets within Philippine territory. Not only are Filipino fisherfolk being bullied out of their fishing grounds. They are losing a territory said to be rich in oil and mineral deposits. This year, Beijing even issued a controversial ban on fishing on these portions acknowledged by the UN as Philippine territory. Duterte has only reportedly told China to “kindly” allow Filipinos to fish in the West Philippine Sea.
While Duterte is all but ceding the WPS to China, it is at the same time “strengthening” relations with US, a fierce rival of China. The Philippines is host to US troops and shared military bases. It periodically holds joint military exercises to enhance its “interoperability”. Much of the Philippine armed forces’ war supplies are from the US government. ###