Into his second year in office, Rodrigo Roa Duterte has blown away his publicly declared wish to be the first “Left” president of the Philippines and unraveled himself as a fascist — a fascist compliant to US imperialism.
Still he flaunts his claim of being a “socialist”. Remonstrating against the Left revolutionary forces’ tagging him as fake, Duterte has drawn a line differentiating himself from them: he would not resort to armed struggle to attain fundamental or revolutionary social change. But he wages wars and kills wantonly.
So what sort of socialist is he?
As though responding to that question, Dante C. Simbulan, a political-social scientist, graduate and former professor of the Philippine Military Academy who became a political prisoner of the Marcos dictatorship, recently wrote in the social media:
“Hitler called himself a ‘socialist’, a national socialist, that is. Nazi Germany’s ideology was National Socialism or Fascism. Duterte also calls himself a ‘socialist’ but the fascist type. Like Hitler, he developed his reliance on the military and police to back up his regime.”
“To fool the marginalized poor,” Simbulan added, “Duterte even had [when he was mayor of Davao City] a radio program called “From the masses to the masses.” Appointing Left-wing personalities [to his Cabinet] was a façade, while at the same time he was consolidating his control of the police and military, the ruling class and the people he fooled — the Dutertards.”
Simbulan caps his insightful comment with this indictment: “A devilish man, Duterte is. But the oppressed and exploited Filipinos will rise up and bring him down like his idol, FERDINAND MARCOS.”
Jose Ma. Sison, the NDFP chief political consultant in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, has provided a broader and deeper view of Duterte’s unraveling. “The people must realize,” he recently remarked, “that Duterte is well on the way to establishing his fascist dictatorship.” The latter’s proclamation of martial law in Mindanao in May and its extension till the end of this year, he warned, is in preparation for a nationwide martial law.
The founding chairman of the reestablished Communist Party of the Philippines cited the following factors in support of his prognosis: Duterte’s capture of the majority in Congress and in the Supreme Court through corruption and blackmail; the filing of an impeachment case against the Chief Justice to tighten his control of the highest court; the allocation of huge intelligence and other discretionary funds to the Office of the President; the corruption of the AFP and PNP and their conversion to Duterte’s private armies; the use of public funds to build Kilusang Pagbabago-Masid Masa as propaganda machinery and spy network; the usurpation of the power to appoint barangay officials; the relentless propaganda for mass murder against drug suspects, social activists and revolutionaries; the plot for charter change by the “supermajority” in Congress; and his pursuit of pseudo-federalism under a unitary fascist dictatorship.
Specifically, Sison accuses the Duterte regime of carrying out a policy of mass murder and bombing of communities. Spurning national and international protests and condemnations, he points out, the regime unrelentingly uses its “war” on illegal drugs to project an image of “a strongman with an iron fist” in order to intimidate the people and political opponents and to popularize extrajudicial killings as a device for building a fascist dictatorship.
The mass-murder policy is likewise applied in the military campaigns of suppression against social activists, national minorities, and the revolutionary forces. Meantime, aerial bombings, artillery and mortar firing have become de riguer in attacking hinterland communities to force the people to evacuate en masse. The objective is to grab the fertile land and other natural resources for the benefit of foreign and domestic corporations engaged in mining, logging, and plantations for export.
In Marawi, Duterte has bared himself as an incorrigible puppet of US imperialism. He has allowed the latter’s military intervention and adopted with alacrity the US military doctrine – used in Iraq, Libya, and Syria—of “saving a community by destroying it.” Thus the aerial bombings and artillery barrages have devastated Marawi.
Duterte’s posturing as a Leftist who offered to amnesty and free all political prisoners as an act of justice and to negotiate peace with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) based on social, economic and political reforms to improve the lives of the poor has been exposed as simply that: posturing. His excuse for not issuing an amnesty proclamation and not freeing all the political prisoners—because the military opposes such actions—betrays his real standpoint. He has taken the side of the oppressors, not the oppressed.
Similarly, he has put obstacles to the formal negotiations on social and economic reforms when these were positively moving forward. He has backstopped his national security cluster’s insistence that a bilateral indefinite ceasefire agreement (a scheme for pacification and capitulation) must precede negotiations and agreement on social and economic reforms. Likewise, he has adopted the stance of his neoliberal economic team that’s pushing policies and programs starkly opposed to the NDFP-proposed reforms.
In effect, Duterte has encouraged these two pro-imperialist groups in his Cabinet to sabotage the peace negotiations. No self-respecting Leftist would do that.
Given these facts and circumstances, Sison told a recent gathering in Utrecht, The Netherlands:
“Forewarned by the repeated threats of Duterte to declare martial law nationwide, the people and the revolutionary forces represented by the NDFP have come to the consensus that it would be easier to oust Duterte from power than to conclude a peace agreement with him.