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Rehabilitating the Enemies of the People

in Countercurrent
by Vida Gracias

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s power grab on the Speakership of the House of Representatives that stalled Duterte’s delivery of his third state-of-the-nation address on July 23 has highlighted the collusion between the Duterte regime, on one hand, and the Marcos and Arroyo political cliques, on the other. While this turn of event may seem to strengthen and consolidate Duterte’s political clout, in the long term it could loosen his grip on power and hasten his doom.

Ferdinand E. Marcos’ fascist and plunderous dictatorship and Arroyo’s corruption-and-brutality ridden regime that attempted to replicate Marcos’ type of rule were, in their respective times, the nation’s most-hated governments – and Ferdinand and Gloria, deemed as enemies of the people. But President Rodrigo Duterte has taken it upon himself to resurrect and rehabilitate these enemies of the people and restore them (in Marcos’ case, his heirs) to power. This is not at all surprising, given that Duterte has one thing in common with them: an obsession for dictatorship.

Arroyo is a professed ally and confidant of Duterte, and vice-versa. The relationship goes a long way back when Duterte was still mayor of Davao City. A number of Arroyo’s trusted men played important roles in Duterte’s presidential campaign. Duterte was so in awe of Arroyo as an economist and hard-driving chief executive that he put in his cabinet her key people to head his economic and security clusters.

Charged with plunder and other cases after she ended her nine-year presidency, Arroyo parlayed her allegedly serious medical condition and her network of appointees in the judiciary to have herself placed in hospital arrest, then get the case against her dropped. She ran and won the congressional seat previously held by her son, and plotted her rise to power.

But the brazen way in which she became Speaker of the House, which startled even Duterte and almost had him walking out of his SONA, should be fair warning. Arroyo is notorious for her betrayals—talking to the military generals against President Joseph Estrada even before his ouster, lying to the nation that she wouldn’t run for president, and stealing the elections from Fernando Poe, Jr. (via the“Hello Garci” scandal). Thus, staging a coup against former speaker and PDP-Laban partymate Pantaleon Alvarez was, to her, peanuts.

Even before he launched his belated presidential bid, Duterte had been vocal about his love for and idolization of Marcos and his dictatorial ways (hailing Marcos as the country’s “best president”). Amid the nation’s protests, and publicly flaunting that he was merely fufilling a promise he had made to the Marcoses, Duterte authorized the burial of the late dictator’s preserved body in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, with pomp and rites as a “hero”. He also allegedly made a deal with the Marcoses, though he denied it, to have their purloined wealth brought back to the country.

This was “utang na loob” in full display: during martial law, the dictator Marcos rewarded Duterte’s father Vicente with a cabinet post and the governorship of the then sprawling single province of Davao. Marcos’s elder daughter Imee was one of only three provincial governors who openly supported Duterte, shelling out considerable sums for his campaign. More importantly, she delivered the votes of the Solid North to help Duterte win.

Duterte has also been doing everything he can to help Ferdinand Jr. (Bongbong) to wrestle the vice-presidency from Leni Robredo, through a protest filed before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (constituting of all the Supreme Court justices). From day one, Duterte has sought to humiliate, belittle and demean Vice President Robredo, whom BongBong claimed narrowly won over him by cheating.

True, the Marcoses, particularly Imee, supported Arroyo’s power grab. But only in so far as this would also cause the downfall of her arch-enemy in the House of Representatives, former majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte, who hounded Imee with investigations regarding the misuse of the tobacco excise tax in their province.

In retrospect, the Marcoses and the Arroyos have an ax to grind against each other. Former President Diosdado Macapagal, Arroyo’s father, reneged on his promise to make Ferdinand Marcos the presidential standard bearer of the Liberal Party in the early sixties (Marcos switched party, became the Nacionalista Party presidential candidate and defeated the reelectionist Macapagal). Later, after he declared martial law in 1972, Marcos harassed and threatened to arrest Macapagal.

It was Sara Duterte, the President’s daughter, who markedly brought the Arroyos and Marcoses together, via her regional party Hugpong, in a common bid to demolish the ruling PDP-Laban party (which put up Duterte as presidential candidate) and strengthen their respective political turfs. Their collusion is highlighted at the moment. However, the emerging realignment of largely traditional and dynastic political forces, could give the Marcoses and the Arroyos more elbow room to undercut the power of President Duterte while consolidating their own in the coming days.

Already, Duterte’s draft charter change proposal for a shift to a federal system of government has come under fire from Arroyo’s minions in the Cabinet such as Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana. It is going to be a fiscal nightmare, they chorused. Government is not prepared for it, they said. While Arroyo did push for charter change during her extended term, she batted for a parliamentary system, not a federal one. She wanted to sit as Prime Minister with full powers to again rule the entire nation.

As for the Marcoses, they are not as eager as Duterte’s DDS to promote federalism, as they dream of getting back in Malacañang under the present unitary system. Imee is aiming to be senator while her brother Bongbong is intent on winning the electoral protest for vice president. Federalism will shoot down their ambitions. And should Duterte renege on any of his promises or deals, they can still wield the power of their stolen wealth and political bailiwick to make things difficult for him.

In a recent statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines hit the nail on its head by saying that “the Duterte-Arroyo-Marcos alliance is an uneasy one.” The CPP sees this alliance as a clear indication of the worsening state of the ruling system. “The ruling regime,” the party said, “now represents the starkest icons of fascism, corruption and puppetry,” adding, “it further boosts the anti-Duterte united front.”

Apart from his own sins against the people, Duterte’s maintaining such alliance shall make him jointly accountable for the plague of abuses and crimes that the resurrected Marcoses and Arroyo could inflict anew upon this nation. That said, the people’s progressive and revolutionary movements will have to make sure that when they drive Duterte out of power, the Marcoses and Arroyo shall be dumped along with him. They all must face the wrath of the people.

STATEMENT ON THE CURRENT DRIVE OF DUTERTE TO REALIZE A FASCIST DICTATORSHIP A LA MARCOS

in Statements
by Prof. Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant

September 24, 2018

 

Duterte and his military minions and propagandists are now frenziedly carrying out a psywar campaign to glorify the Marcos fascist dictatorship and to fabricate conspiracies to justify the eventual declaration of martial law nationwide and further realize Duterte’s scheme of fascist dictatorship.

There is no conspiracy between the CPP-NPA-NDFP and Liberal Party for the purposes claimed by Duterte and the military. Duterte and the military keep on insisting that there is such a conspiracy, a September plot to kill Duterte and a Red October plan to oust him.

Not satisfied with the atrocities that they are already inflicting on the civilian population in the urban poor areas and countryside, they wish to suppress the broad united front and political struggle of patriotic and progressive forces and the broad masses of the people. They are misrepresenting the broad coalition against tyranny as a mere conspiracy for them to suppress with state terrorism.

They are poised to do a series of antidemocratic actions like militarizing civil agencies of the government under an inter-agency task force, making Bongbong Marcos the Vice President and declaring martial law or state of emergency nationwide. These are the actions that will precisely ignite a people’s uprising to oust Duterte.

The military will be wasting their personnel by trying to command civilian agencies and will be sucking up the tax revenues of the government by trying to increase military personnel and so-called military-civilian operations.

Duterte is really crazy by trying hard to bring the country to perdition or hell. Peace negotiations would have been a more economical effort of the Duterte regime were it not for its mania for fascist dictatorship.

THE DUTERTE-ARROYO-MARCOS ALLIANCE ROUSES GREATER PEOPLE’S RESISTANCE

in Countercurrent

Communist Party of the Philippines
July 24, 2018

  1. To fully comprehend the significance of the House coup mounted yesterday by Gloria Arroyo, it is important to take stock of the political context. In its July 21 editorial, Ang Bayan pointed out:
  2. Under Duterte’s reign, the ruling system’s political crisis has exacerbated. The fissures among the ranks of the ruling class have deepened because of his repeated attempts to establish a fascist dictatorship and consolidate state power.
  3. In the coming weeks and months, the contradictions between Duterte and the anti-Duterte united front are set to intensify. Factional strife among ranks of reactionary forces will surely worsen. And the people’s movement will undoubtedly strengthen and gain ground. These contradictions and struggles will further weaken Duterte’s already weak control over the state. While his power weakens, it is certain that his attacks against various classes, sectors and groups that are hindering his fascist ambition will escalate.
  4. At the outset of his reign, Duterte, opportunist extraordinaire, sought to consolidate the widest possible political alliance. One of his key gambits was forging ties with Arroyo. Less than a month after Duterte took oath, the Sandiganbayan and Supreme Court dismissed the plunder cases against Arroyo and had her released after four years of detention. To further secure her support, Duterte soon ran after Leila de Lima, who as Justice Secretary under the Aquino regime, prevented Arroyo from leaving the country, and ordered her arrest and detention to face plunder charges.
  5. Arroyo has played a key role in the consolidation of the Duterte regime. Besides having her cronies support Duterte’s agenda in congress, the large Arroyo bloc in the Supreme Court has repeatedly voted to favor Duterte–on the legality of the Mindanao martial law, on the quo warranto case against Sereno, and others.
  6. Of course, in the process of supporting Duterte, Arroyo has succeeded in expanding her political power and influence. Arroyo’s hand extends to the very inner sanctum of Malacañang. Her henchmen, including National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, have been appointed to key positions in the Duterte regime. Under Duterte, courts have been most lenient to them. Last May, Arroyo’s husband Mike was allowed to leave for abroad in what many believe was aimed at securing the loot they have stashed in offshore accounts.
  7. Arroyo yesterday mounted a blitzkrieg coup to grab the leadership of the House of Representatives. She was fully supported by the Marcoses (Imee, Imelda and their loyalists, Floirendo et. al.). She gathered 184 votes or 67% of the 271 representatives in attendance. The supermajority in congress is no longer “super,” nor is it exclusively Duterte’s. Arroyo’s House coup was a consolidation of her power. While allied with Duterte, she remains her own power.
  8. Under Arroyo’s baton, Duterte’s charter change scheme will probably gain more headway, perhaps more than under the shabby leadership of Duterte’s minion erstwhile Speaker Alvarez. But Duterte will have to do a little more political wheeling and dealing to succeed in advancing his tyrannical aims. Duterte spoke before congress yesterday a little bit uninspired, perhaps aware of the political war clouds ahead, with the threatening “you’re next” ringing in his ears.
  9. The Duterte-Arroyo alliance, or more exactly, the Duterte-Arroyo-Marcos alliance, is an uneasy one. It is a clear indication of the deepening political crisis and worsening state of the ruling system. The ruling regime now represents the starkest icons of fascism, corruption and puppetry. It further boosts the anti-Duterte united front.
  10. The need to unite against charter change, nationwide martial law, all-out political repression in the name of anti-terrorism and other Duterte schemes has become even more urgent.
  11. With the rise of Arroyo in congress, the ruling Duterte regime becomes even more isolated from the Filipino people. Aware of the grave crimes of corruption, plunder, extrajudicial killings, political repression and rampant military and police abuses committed by the Marcos dictatorship, Arroyo and Duterte regimes, the broad masses of the Filipino people are now even more determined to carry out mass struggles and revolutionary resistance.
  12. Under the Duterte-Arroyo-Marcos alliance, worse liberalization policies will be further bulldozed to open the economy in order to attract more loans and investments, as ruling class politicians seek greater bureaucrat capitalist booty to share among themselves. The Filipino people are set to suffer worse socio-economic conditions as the reactionary regime seeks more loans, impose more taxes, provide incentives to big capitalists and further cut on social spending for the people.
  13. The demand to end martial law in Mindanao and end the military siege against rural communities reverberates even more. The demand for wage increases and an immediate end to contractualization is uniting even more workers and rousing them to carry out ever more militant protests and strikes. The demand for genuine land reform is mobilizing ever greater number of peasants to resist land grabbing by big landlords and big capitalists.
  14. The rise of the Duterte-Arroyo-Marcos alliance further incites the Filipino people to wage people’s democratic revolution to put an end to the class dictatorship of big landlords and big bourgeois compradors. It inspires more and more people to join the New People’s Army to wage armed struggle and build a truly democratic government that genuinely represents and serves the interests of the people.

Marcos’s Burial is History’s Reversal

in Countercurrent
by Bukang Liwayway

The overthrow of the Marcos regime by a people’s uprising in 1986 was historic for the Philippines. The growing people’s war in the countryside had steadily weakened the regime’s military clout and political grip on power and gave the urban-based anti-dictatorship struggle the opportunity to oust the hated regime. President Ferdinand Marcos and his family, aided by the US imperialists, fled the country in fear. Corazon Aquino and a new administration rose to power.

That would have been the end of the Marcos family’s political rule. Instead, the last 30 years have seen the steady rehabilitation of the Marcoses and their return to national politics through ruling class accommodation, compromise and opportunism. Six consecutive administrations played their part, culminating in the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016 under the Duterte government.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) sharply pointed out: “The hero’s burial accorded to Ferdinand Marcos virtually completes the political rehabilitation of the Marcoses and the revision of the historical judgment against the crimes of the Marcos family”. The Filipino people’s verdict in 1986 was clear: the Marcos regime was guilty of puppetry to US imperialism, gross bureaucrat capitalism, and ruthless fascism. What happened?

 

Corazon Aquino’s magnanimity in victory

Ironically, the refurbishing of the Marcos family’s political fortunes started under the watch of Pres. Corazon Aquino whose family is supposedly the main political rival of the Marcoses.

Pres. Aquino set a compromising tone early on. “I can be magnanimous in victory,” she declared. Evading the problem of dealing directly with the fate of the deposed dictator, she allowed US imperialism to facilitate the “graceful” exit from the country of the late dictator and his family aboard a US air force plane on February 25, 1986.

More than that evasion of responsibility to exact justice for the people, the new administration and supposed return to democratic rule did not mean any real change in elite-driven and anti-people governance. Repressive and anti-people laws, programs and policies of the Marcos dictatorship quickly became manifest under the Aquino regime, especially after Pres. Aquino, in March 1987, “unsheathe(d) the sword of war” against the revolutionary forces and the people in general.

The Aquino regime used the vast powers of government to reapportion the economic spoils of political power with the previously excluded economic political elites. Compromise deals were sealed to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies. In the end, foreign corporations and local oligarchs close to the Aquinos took hold of erstwhile Marcos and crony resources for their own profitable ends. The US-Aquino regime ensured the consolidation of its ruling clique and of elite rule over the country.

Cronyism continued with, for instance, Aquino’s brother Jose Cojuangco and her brother-in-law Ricardo Lopa. The Lopez family was handed back Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation on a silver platter. The Presidential Commission for Good Governance (PCGG) itself, purportedly created to fight corruption, was rife with gross irregularities.

Soon after assuming the presidency, Pres. Aquino also said: “I would like to show by example the sooner we can forget our hurts, the sooner we can start rebuilding our country.” This notion of ‘moving on’ would be echoed 30 years later by the Marcoses themselves.

It was then left for the Filipino people to neither forgive nor forget the horrors of Martial Law (ML) and to seek and fight for justice. In April 1986, the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) with the victims and their families filed a class action suit against the Marcoses at the Federal District Court of Honolulu in Hawaii. Almost 10,000 victims won this landmark Hilao vs Marcos Estate case six years later in 1992. The court, in 1994, awarded a minimum of US$1.2 billion from the Marcos ill-gotten estate as indemnification.

On November 4, 1991, President Corazon Aquino allowed the return of Imelda Marcos, ostensibly to face trial on tax fraud. She was arrested the day after she arrived but posted bail (for US$6,340) and never spent a single day in jail.

Without legal impediments Imelda Marcos brazenly ran for president in May 1992, if not to win then certainly to condition the electorate to their family’s return. The rehabilitation of the Marcoses was thus well underway by the end of Pres. Aquino’s term in 1992.

 

Ramos-Marcos reconciliation: Marcos (body) returns

Pres. Fidel V. Ramos followed suit. On September 7, 1993, he allowed the return of the dictator’s body to the Philippines. Pres. Ramos proceeded to negotiate compromise deals with the Marcoses themselves. The first attempt was a 75/25 sharing of US$400 million of the Marcos’ wealth, brokered in 1993. The second was a 50/50 split of US$100 million negotiated by the PCGG with Robert Swift—lawyer of the victims who filed the class action suit—in exchange for dropping the suit against the Marcoses. But the victims protested so Pres. Ramos was unable to finalize these deals.

No help was given to ML victims during the Ramos administration, despite the NDFP’s demand continuously in the peace negotiations with the Ramos regime for the indemnification and compensation of the victims. It succeeded to have this support to victims enshrined in Article 5 of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

But justice continued to evade the Filipino people. On September 23, 1993, Imelda Marcos was finally sentenced 18-24 years in jail for graft, with permanent disqualification from public office. But Mrs. Marcos was allowed bail by the court and was set free while the decision is on appeal. She again ran for public office in 1995.

The Ramos administration saw the Marcos family quickly regaining their political ground with the dictator’s son, daughter, and wife taking political office. Bongbong Marcos was elected Representative of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte from 1992-1995. He failed in his first bid for the Senate in 1995 but became governor of Ilocos Norte in 1998 until 2007. Imee Marcos meanwhile took over as Representative of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte in 1998 and similarly held this position until 2007. Imelda Marcos became representative of the 1st district of Leyte from 1995-1998.

 

Estrada’s loyalty is to the Marcoses

The country’s next president, Joseph Estrada, was an unabashed Marcos loyalist. Imelda Marcos again ran for president in 1998, hoping still that a Marcos can reclaim the presidency, although she later withdrew to support Estrada.

Pres. Estrada showed his loyalty and gratefulness by also initiating compromise deals with the Marcoses. He did a 75/25 sharing similar to the one by former Pres. Ramos. Another one was worth US$150 million involving Atty. Robert Swift, legal counsel of the latterly-formed group Claimants 1081. It took protests by SELDA, the victims and their families to again prevent these compromise attempts from succeeding.

In October 1998, barely six months from office, the Supreme Court (SC) under Estrada reversed its earlier decision and acquitted Imelda Marcos of corruption. (Under Ramos, the SC, upon Imelda Marcos’s appeal, upheld the 1993 guilty verdict of the former first lady by a lower court. In its decision the court downgraded to 12 years Imelda’s prison sentence and asked for a fine of $4.3 million).

It was Pres. Estrada who first proposed, in 1998, to transfer the late dictator Marcos’ body from Ilocos Norte to the Libingan ng mga Bayani. This plan was thwarted by the instant vigorous and widespread protest by the people.

The NDFP continued to press for justice for the victims of martial law especially when the CARHRIHL was signed. But nothing came of it as the Estrada regime eventually suspended the peace negotiations with the NDFP as he declared an “all-out-war” against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Even after Estrada was ousted in 2001 on charges of bribery, graft and corruption, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the reactionary Constitution, the Marcoses remained in solid control of the 2nd Congressional District of Ilocos Norte and of the province’s governorship.

 

Remaining 15 years and next

By the abrupt end of Pres. Estrada’s term, just 15 years after the Marcos dictatorship was overthrown, the Marcos family had not only preserved huge amounts of their ill-gotten wealth but had also used this to rebuild their political alliances with traditional politicians especially, but not only, in the northern part of Luzon. Their re-entry into Philippine politics was complete, moving from local politics to national positions.

The two consecutive regimes of Gloria Arroyo (2001-2010) and even that of Corazon Aquino’s son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino (2010-2016) did nothing to push back the restoration of the Marcos’ political fortunes.

In 2004, the Arroyo government sought “closure of the Marcos issue” and started negotiating yet another compromise agreement. This was stopped by the militant protests of ML victims and people’s organizations. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) sharply pointed out: “Successive reactionary regimes from [Corazon] Aquino to Arroyo have failed to mete out swift and appropriate justice on Imelda Marcos and the Marcos cronies because of their interest in the Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth.” It went on further to remind that: “The people’s history has adjudged Ferdinand Marcos as the Philippine Hitler.”

Pres. Noynoy Aquino meanwhile delayed the passage and implementation of the Marcos Victims Compensation Bill or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. By the end of his term, only 23% of the 75,000 applicants/registered victims were processed. He could have expedited the process—especially because most of the claimants have become old and sick—aside from more aggressively going after the Marcos ill-gotten wealth.

Even as this was happening Imee Marcos remained as governor of Ilocos Norte and Imelda Marcos the Representative of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte since 2010, with both on their third terms.

But it is Bongbong Marcos who has been groomed to be his dictator father’s heir apparent. He was Representative of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte until 2010 when he passed this to his sister, Imee, and took a Senate seat from 2010-2016. In 2016 he ran for the vice-presidency in a virtual ticket with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. While Duterte took the presidency, Bongbong Marcos closely lost to Leni Robredo but is currently contesting this. He is generally believed to be gunning for the presidency in 2022.

That the son of the reviled dictator is so close to the country’s highest office says much about the rottenness of Philippine politics. Reactionary politicians from the ruling classes have allowed and even supported the Marcos’s return to power—as much for their own narrow, opportunistic and self-serving interests as to deny the Filipino people of their victory of thrashing the Marcoses after 14 years of dictatorship.

As matters stand, the rehabilitation of the Marcoses rapidly picked up under the Duterte administration. At his proclamation rally in February 2016, then candidate Duterte outright declared Marcos as “the best president ever” with the qualification “ïf not for the dictatorship,” as if this was not at the core of his tyrannical rule. He even went on to cite economic programs that he said were worth emulating.

Pres. Duterte downgraded the annual commemoration of the EDSA “People Power Revolution” in February 2017 and did not even bother to attend it. And there was of course his orally ordering the burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani of the dictator’s remains including a vigorous defense and justification, as if this was the most natural thing to do.

The CPP denounced this act of burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. In a statement it said the heroes’ burial “was an act of great reversal of the historical judgment of the Filipino people against the US-Marcos dictatorship and a completion of the political resurrection of the Marcoses.” It called on the Filipino people to demand from the Duterte regime to reverse the historical wrong it committed against the people and end all the legacies of martial law.

But the Duterte regime seemed far from heading towards this direction. It would still be up to the Filipino people to put an end to the Marcos rehabilitation as they once did to the Marcos dictatorship. History will be the final judge.

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