President Duterte’s “realization” for the need of mass testing 10 months after the lockdown summed up how an immediate and responsive health solution to the pandemic was sidelined in favour of a militarist response. With former military and police officers taking over health and science experts in the fight against the virus, the Duterte regime went to war. But, not against the virus.
Using shock and awe, it tried to condition the minds of the people in urban centers to accept the overwhelming presence of soldiers, police, and war materiel on the streets. The regime targeted and punished those it called pasaway (disobedient) and reklamador (complainer, nitpicker), the activists, human rights workers, opposition, artists and media (at the same time shutting down ABS-CBN). The fascist response under the cover of the pandemic counted as casualties, too, the people’s freedom of expression, press freedom and the people’s right to know.
The regime is most vociferous against the revolutionary movement. In the countryside, the Duterte regime launched military offensives—bombed communities and massacred farmers and indigenous peoples believed to be supporters of the New People’s Army. It violated its own ceasefire declaration. It ignored the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) as a response to the United Nation’s call for cessation of hostilities during the pandemic. At least 146 barangays experienced various forms of human rights abuses that included prohibiting peasants to work on their farms amid food shortage. It staged fake surrender of “NPA members” to show it was winning its losing war.
At the same time, Duterte and his military junta and his minions in the bureaucracy went on a rampage—raided the nation’s coffers, acquired onerous loans in the name of the pandemic and granted special privileges and VIP treatment to its political allies, the big business, and foreign corporations. Duterte sought to consolidate further its rule of terror and control of the state to secure for himself and his clique loot from kickbacks, loans, pork barrel, and intelligence funds. It was also a way to deflect the regime’s accountability for the criminally negligent handling of the pandemic.
Shedding all its remaining pretensions, the tyrant Duterte and his fascist cohorts in the (Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted a campaign of terror using the anti-communist bogey. The regime intensified its attacks against the ‘enemies of the state”. It passed a new terror law amid rising cases of Covid-19 infection. The attacks were all preceded by an aggressive campaign of red tagging orchestrated by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the Duterte troll farm to justify the atrocities and heinous crimes against the people. As the reactionary government panicked, terrorist tagging became widespread. It created “enemies” from all fronts as it saw red everywhere: among critics, activists, critics, and the revolutionary movement.
The US government remains to be the number one provider of funds and surplus war materiél to the AFP under the guise of the “war against terror” and the Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines (OPE-P). By supporting the AFP, the US imperialist is able to expand its influence and domination in the country against China’s inroads.
China is also reinforcing the Duterte fascist regime through loans and government contracts, despite its rising conflict with the US. Like the US, China views Duterte’s fascist rule as an advantage for its interests in the country, including unhampered access to the country’s resources and territory.
Obviously, political repression and “counterinsurgency” were Duterte’s top priority—to destroy the democratic mass movement, the progressive political parties, and the opposition. More than that, it is a last ditch effort, a desperate one, to crush the more than 50-year old people’s armed resistance led by the CPP-NPA-NDF to end the oppressive and exploitative semicolonial and semifeudal system. The tyrant Duterte, like his predecessors, has been trying to prop up the ruling system from collapse as the economy slides further to depression due the global crisis of the capitalist system.###