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rodrigo duterte

Have we got the government we deserved?

in Editorial

The midterm elections of 2019 have come and passed, as in previous ones, tainted with doubts over the results and assumptions of machinations by those in power.

As cynically expected, the Duterte regime emerged “victorious”. Almost all of its candidates were declared winners, with its most loyal vassals – the omnipresent presidential assistant Bong Go and the comedian former Philipppine National Police (PNP) Director Ronald ‘Bato’ de la Rosa – making it to the top-6 circle in the senatorial race.

Now the President has got the supermajority in the Senate, aided by the comebacking election of scions of political dynasties, the daughter of a deposed dictator, a known plunderer, and a celebrity wannabe.

The opposition Liberal Party has been crippled, as the Otso Diretso senatorial slate did not win a single seat. And progressive candidate Neri Colmenares – who notably consistently engaged the administration on timely and popularly-supported issues throughout the campaign period – saw his votes in the 2016 elections shaved by 1.7 million votes. “Duterte magic?” asked a skeptical election analyst.

Having retained a clear majority in the House of Representatives, Duterte has openly dictated a term-sharing scheme for the Speakership in the 17th Congress: the first 15 months on the rostrum for Representative Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig, and the remaining 21 months for Representative Lord Velasco of Marinduque. Before this arrangement, Duterte’s son Paulo (elected Davao City congressman) and daughter Sara (reelected Davao City mayor) unabashedly displayed their own power-tripping by forming a “Duterte Coalition” in the House to back up comebacking Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab for Speaker.

The sole positive aspect of this election was the tenacity and resiliency with which the progressive partylists belonging to the Makabayan Coalition defiantly withstood and prevailed against the sustained, vicious, nationwide attacks and deceptions used against them by the military-bureacratic machine of the Duterte regime.

To a considerable extent, the voters rejected the regime’s open campaign of “zero votes for the Makabayan partylists,” aimed at dislodging the progressives from their congressional seats held since 2001. Bayan Muna won the three maximum seats allowed by the law, while Gabriela Women’s Party, Act Teachers, and Kabataan Party won a seat each. Only Anakpawis fell short in attaining the number of votes for one seat. The Makabayan bloc, the real consistent opposition in the House, remains intact.

The state machinery was slyly at work before, during, and after the elections. Its most brutal attacks were aimed at progressive candidates and partylists – ranging from killings, arrests and trumped-up charges, harassments and threats, to interminable red-tagging. Brazenly disregarding the clear prohibition by the Constitution, the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines openly engaged in electioneering, campaigning against the progressives even on election day. Vote buying was more massive and rampant than ever. And the much-assailed automated election system (AES), used for the fourth time, recorded the worst incidences of malfunctions that appeared to have been intentional, not accidental (as one IT expert remarked).

Nevertheless, the elections are over and as the winners claim, “The people have spoken.”

Really?

WHAT FALLACY

The elections are meant to be a democratic exercise. The exercise is said to be a great equalizer – rich or poor, everyone is entitled to only one vote. But that is the fallacy of the ballot-box equality. In a class society like the Philippines, the machinery of the state is lodged in the hands of a few, of the rich and the powerful. The great majority is, in reality, represented only in name in these processes and has no real say in the turnout of the elections.

In truth, elections only make it possible for the ruling class to use democratic institutions in furthering their own interests. They have the economic, political, and armed means to use power practically at their whim. This is no democracy at all.

The much-touted “free, fair and honest elections” aphorism is an illusion. Practically anyone who is of age and has the mental capacity can run for public office, but only the moneyed elite can successfully run a campaign, or simply resort to vote buying. The people can choose their representatives, but again only from among the moneyed and the elite. Even if asked to vote wisely, many people are bribed, fooled, hoodwinked, cheated, or forced to vote even for the most undesirable of their oppressors. People want a peaceful election, but threats, intimidation, and violence abound.

When Otso Diretso lost to Duterte, some sectors started calling the voters “bobotante”. The system, not the people, is the culprit. Elections in a semifeudal and semicolonial society are a hoax and fraud is a common occurrence.
Democratic laws and institutions are ample in this Republic claiming to be a democratic state – but only in form, not for real. Human rights are enshrined in the Constitution but state officials are the first to violate, dismiss or disregard the laws. Duterte is a prime example. There are three branches of government for check and balance. But the ruling regime regards all the key posts within the president’s appointing authority as juicy positions to reward its loyalists and supporters.

The minority rules and the majority suffer. That is the meaning of democracy in a semifeudal and semicolonial country.

Despite this rude reality, it is important for the people to participate in the elections as a way to experience and develop their consciousness about how rotten the system is, and what fundamental changes need to be done. The elections become a training ground for the development of revolutionary consciousness. It makes people realize that democracy is lip-service and that the voice of the people can be suppressed or manipulated at any time.

Even elected officials whom the people may initially have felt were true to their promises can turn out to be corrupt, or worse, to be tyrants as in the case of Duterte. The ancient Greeks invented the term tyrant to mean agents of the people who became dictators.

In some cases, progressives and reformers are able to gain power or concessions but only in a limited or temporary sense, and as generally defined, may be tolerated or allowed by the ruling system. Again, this is more an exception than the rule; and exceptions do not make the rule. Once the ruling regime unleashes its full terror, there is no more room for democratic pretensions and all arenas for open people’s participation are deemed closed.

PURSUING DEMOCRACY

Be that as it may, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has even more reason to pursue democracy not just in form but in substance. Its significance – the rule of the majority – is aimed not just in politics but more so in the economic sphere.

In the Philippine context, this means liberating the most numerous, yet also the most oppressed, class – specifically the farmers and agricultural workers who comprise 70% of the population – from oppression and exploitation by a privileged minority.

Hence to stand its ground democracy must be rooted in the economy, which means satisfying the demand for land reform of the landless majority. This means addressing their economic and social problems to effect changes in their class position in Philippine society. This means liberating the country’s productive forces to define their own existence towards justice and prosperity. For too long, widespread landlessness has engendered gross poverty and inequality not just for the peasantry but also for other oppressed classes.

Hence in waging the people’s democratic revolution, the struggle for land takes precedence over all other demands of the people. This is basically an agrarian war. The peasants, in alliance with the working class, have to wrest control of the land from the ruling elite as a means to end poverty and inequality. This is a struggle that may be bloody, because the most reactionary class, the landlords, will not take this sitting down when their land monopoly is challenged, or private property is subdivided and distributed among the tillers of the land.

In due time, as the revolution advances the will of the majority shall find expression not just in the economy but in politics as well. One who holds economic power wields political power. Hence the dominant position of the great majority must be secured for the flowering of true democracy.

Revolutionaries are aware that the quest for democracy does not stop with the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution but shall be carried on to the next stage, the socialist revolution. Ultimately the working class becomes the majority of the population, and the dominant class as well. The leadership of this class will find expression in a proletarian state until such time that the people can govern their own lives with no more need for classes or states.

As Lenin put it, it is not the bourgeoisie but the proletariat who can make democracy happen.

True enough, in the Philippines and through the leadership of the proletarian party, the CPP, changes are becoming more visible in many guerrilla fronts in the country.

Emboldened by the revolution, the peasants in the countryside are not just taking up arms to fight for their rights; they are building their own organizations and setting up organs of political power. Elections are called in a truly free, fair and honest manner; the ballot is treated as sacred; representatives are selected from their own ranks and are subject to recall when they err.

Group meetings, mass assemblies, education sessions, deliberations, consultations have become as common as farming. The people are involved in governance as well as in policy-making. Even matters related to production is no longer just an individual or family decision but is addressed by the entire community.

Once the majority of the people gains the power over their own lives – that will be democracy. And that is what the ruling class fears most: an awakened citizenry schooled in the ways of democracy.#

—–
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ON DUTERTE’S SCHEME OF FASCIST DICTATORSHIP AND THE GROWING PEOPLE’S RESISTANCE

in Statements
Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant
July 29, 2019

http://tiny.cc/p2pgaz

Friends among academics, journalists and political activists have repeatedly asked me whether Duterte is proceeding to establish a fascist dictatorship as a result of successfully rigging the 2019 midterm elections and obtaining overwhelming control of Congress and the local governments.

I have dared to say that Duterte is stubbornly on the road of establishing a fascist dictatorship through charter change and ensuring that he is succeeded by someone who can protect him from prosecution for his grave crimes against the people. Duterte is publicly saying ad nauseam that there must be charter change to give him absolute powers or else he would proclaim a “revolutionary government”.

My friends abroad have also asked me how the Filipino people are responding to Duterte’s scheme of fascist dictatorship. I am quick to point out that Duterte is truly hated by the people despite his incredible popularity ratings by paid poll surveys and the recent rigged elections. The people will certainly rise up as soon as Duterte pushes charter change to give himself absolute powers.

The people despise Duterte for waging a “war on drugs” that has murdered 30,000 poor people and that has installed himself as the supreme protector of drug lords and smugglers who continue to benefit from the expanded and thriving illegal drug trade. Close friends and relatives of Duterte have been exposed as key players in the illegal drug trade.

In considering his role in the illegal drug trade alone, Duterte has become the biggest crime lord and has converted the military and police as his private killing machines. Aside from the lopsided official transactions of his dummies with Chinese banks and corporations, he connives with Chinese criminal triads in the illegal drug trade, casinos and other criminal enterprises.

He has become the No. 1 corrupt official. He is the chieftain of his alliance with the biggest plunderers in the previous regimes of Marcos, Estrada and Arroyo. He has been in connivance with them in the 2016 and 2019 elections and in various major types of corruption involving his presidential office. He has caused the Supreme Court to junk the plunder cases and convictions of his allies and has let them go scotfree.

The Filipino people have gone through the historical experience of the 14-year Marcos fascist dictatorship. They remember that it was a time of unprecedented oppression and exploitation by a Filipino tyrant but it was also the time that the revolutionary forces grew from small and weak to big and strong.

The Filipino people are thoroughly disgusted with the tyrannical, treasonous, brutal, corrupt and mendacious character of the Duterte regime in the last three years. They hold Duterte responsible for the aggravation of the crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.

The crisis conditions abet and yet limit his capabilities for either coercing or deceiving the people.

The broad masses of the people and even the overwhelming majority of government employees are outraged by the militarization of Duterte’s cabinet and civilian functions and the colossal amounts of public funds for intelligence, military equipment, military campaigns of suppression and doubling the salaries of soldiers and policemen under the slogan of “whole-nation approach” to end the revolutionary movement.

The social economy remains underdeveloped and stagnant, ever exploited by foreign monopoly capitalism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. The people are groaning under the weight of soaring prices of basic commodities, joblessness, landlessness and low incomes perpetuated by the absence of genuine land reform and national industrialization, the system of landgrabbing, short-term work contracts and the rapid population growth.

The escalating acts of brutality and mass murder are driving the people to greater open resistance to the Duterte regime. Those who are most threatened by red-tagging, arrests and summary execution by the regime are finding their way to the urban underground and onward to the ranks of Red fighters in the people’s war in the countryside.

The revolutionary movement is now far more extensive and deeper and is far more experienced and tempered than during the period of the Marcos fascist dictatorship. The armed revolutionary forces can actually move freely in 90 percent of the Philippines and can strike at will any weak point of the enemy forces.

In contrast, the size and strength of the military, police and paramilitary forces of the Duterte regime cannot cover even only ten percent of the Philippine population and territory at any given time. Wherever they are, they engage in all kinds of abuses and atrocities, including extortion, mass murder, torture, arson and forced evacuations, and thus they incur the ire of the people.

The forces of the reactionary military are overconcentrated in Mindanao due to prolonged martial law. They can focus on only a few areas in the Visayas and Luzon. Their combat strength is further reduced by psy-war and intelligence operations under the pretexts of “peace and development” and “community support program” and by staging fake localized talks, fake surrenders and fake encounters.

The reactionary military officers take over civilian functions and civilian structures, including public schools, clinics and barangay halls. They are hated most when they red-tag people and murder them to be able to collect cash rewards and merits for fake encounters. They lay open and vulnerable to the tactical offensives of the people’s army the deployment of small detachments, checkpoints and patrols. They cannot avoid travelling single file on the highways and country roads.

In any particular area, where the reactionary military or police can concentrate and advance in superior strength, the targeted units of the people’s army retreat and observe the deployment of enemy units in order to determine their weak points. The enemy units ultimately become the targets of ambushes, raids and other guerrilla offensives. Thus they unwittingly transport and supply arms to the people’s army.

When the reactionary armed forces seek to encircle the forces of the people’s army, the latter have the options of counter-encircling the weak points of the former within the contested area or shifting to another area where the enemy forces are far weaker. Retreat for active defense and shifting of forces are tactics available to the people’s army to evade a superior enemy force and seek better circumstances for launching tactical offensives within the shortest span of time.

It is publicly well-known that while the people’s army gives full play to tactical offensives in order to seize weapons from the enemy, it can also engage in a wide range of actions that compel the enemy to be on the defensive, merely doing guard duty. Such actions include punitive missions against tyrannical and corrupt officials, harassing enemy camps, sniping, use of command-detonated explosives and the sabotage or destruction of enemy facilities.

Should the Duterte regime proclaim nationwide martial law as in 1972, outlaw all urban-based legal democratic forces critical of it and inflict violence on them, the revolutionary movement can be expected to intensify the people’s war and administer justice by arresting and punishing all human rights violators and plunderers, thus forcing the military and police to deploy more armed personnel for protection of these brutal and corrupt officials.

Common sense tells us (sharpened by theoretical and practical support from Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) that the Duterte regime cannot engage in red-tagging and acts of terror without facing fiercer responses from the armed revolutionary movement. Duterte cannot engage in the most brutal acts of butchery and bloodletting without facing the risk of drowning in the same sea of blood that he creates. This is a point that is easily understood by anyone from the developing situation in the Philippines.

So far according to published reports, the people’s army has carried out competently guerrilla warfare within the current strategic defensive of the people’s war. It has shown determination to wage only the battles that it is capable of winning. It is also increasingly heeding the clamor of the broad masses of the people for accelerated punitive actions against those reactionary officials who have incurred blood debts and plundered the economy and public resources.

Duterte’s threat of imposing a fascist dictatorship on the people through a nationwide martial rule and suppressing all democratic rights does not frighten the revolutionary forces of the people but pushes them to undertake punitive actions against the fascist dictator and his brutal and corrupt subalterns. The declaration of nationwide martial law in 1972 by the fascist dictator did not frighten the people and the revolutionary forces but emboldened them to strengthen their ranks and intensify the people’s war.###

#FightTyranny
#OustDuterte
#JoinTheNPA

—–
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AFP Sings Old Tune

in Countercurrent

For five decades now, the reactionary state and its armed forces have been singing the song, “It’s Now or Never,” popularized by Elvis Presley in the 1960’s. They belt it out in an attempt, at first, to nip in the bud the CPP-NPA-NDF, later to “decapitate” the revolutionary organizations and push the rebels to surrender through various counterinsurgency oplans.

Marcos used this tactic. And so did all the succeeding regimes that took their turns with the “restoration” of elite democracy in the country.

Through the years the pattern has been the same: Employ force and deception, carrot and stick; guns and bullets, artillery and bombs; and the lure of financial and material rewards. Fifty years have passed and yet the tactic has repeatedly failed.

What makes Duterte think he can make it work this time around? He blew his chance when he recklessly abandoned the GRP-NDFP peace talks and instead issued the order: Kill, kill, kill.

E-CLIP Briefer: it’s all about money, money

in Countercurrent

The Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) took off from the Comprehensive Local and Integration Program (CLIP) of the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) and the PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan-Peaceful and Resilient communities) program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). The two programs were centralized under the Task Force Balik Loob, through Administrative Order 10 issued on April 3, 2018 by President Duterte. The consolidated program was renamed (how else?) E-CLIP.

On May 31, 2018, the Defense Department released a seven-paged Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR). It was jointly signed by DND chief Delfin Lorenzana, National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., then OPAPP head Jesus Dureza, and retired police general Nelson Estarez of Office of the President (OP).

Heading the Task Force Balik-Loob is DND Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu. Aside from the DND, among the lead agencies are the DILG, OPAPP, OP, and the NHA, with the rest of the Executive departments as members.

The Task Force claims it shall pursue a “comprehensive, integrated, community-based national program” that will be implemented in the local areas to address twin objectives: secure the legal status and security of former rebels; and take care of the former rebels’ economic and social needs and psychological rehabilitation.

These objectives, according to the IRR, shall be carried out through the CLIP and PAMANA programs. E-CLIP committees shall be organized in the provinces and highly urbanized cities.

Before the two programs were integrated, the CLIP under the DILG claimed to have spent Php 101.67 million as of January 2017 to assist 1,573 “former rebels” (or Php 65,000 per “rebel returnee”). The Php 65,000 is broken down into: Php 15,000 for immediate assistance while the “former rebel’s” enrollment to CLIP is processed, and Php 50,000 livelihood assistance once enrolled.

This does not include, the DILG said, rewards for surrendered guns, if there are any. In Davao City the president’s daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte, gave away an initial Php 20,000 and Php 50,000 for every low-powered firearm and high-powered firearm, respectively.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) unit or the local government unit that processes said enrollment receives Php 7,000 assistance, supposedly for the “board and lodging” of the “surrenderees”. Based on the 1,573 “former rebels” processed as of January 2017, at least some Php11 million of the budget went to the PNP and/or the local government unit.

Numbers don’t add up

Noticeably, under the Enhanced CLIP, the increase in the budget allocation went to the PNP and/or the local government unit handling the “rebel returnees’s” board and lodging. From Php 7,000, it was raised to Php 21,000 per police unit or LGU. The Php 65,000 budget per “surrenderee” remains the same.

In several news reports, DILG chief Gen. Eduardo Año boasted that in 2018 some Php 488 million have been downloaded nationwide to build halfway houses for the “rebel returnees”, to build the capacity of agencies involved in the program, and to support military and police units handling the “returnees”. The NHA was also said to have spent Php 450,000 for the construction of settlement houses of the “returnees”.

For 2019, Año said he would allocate another Php 250 million for the E-CLIP, “in anticipation of the “influx” of NPA members who presumably would want to surrender.

If approved in the bicameral conference committee deliberating the 2019 budget, the DND would get a separate allocation of Php 48.766 billion also for E-CLIP and the Task Force Balik-Loob.

For its part, the OPAPP has been seeking an increased budget for the PAMANA program since 2016: from Php 700 million in 2016 to Php 8 billion for 2017. And the Php 5.8-billion actual allocation in 2018 is planned to zoom to Php 30.216 billion for 2019.

The PAMANA project, according to the OPAPP website, “aims to extend development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach, conflict-affected communities.” This would be done through road projects and delivery of social services that would be carried out by various government line agencies.

That the OPAPP had been involved in various corruption issues even during the time of Pres. Noynoy Aquino has recently been exposed. At that time, OPAPP got more than Php 2 billion from the corruption-reeking Disbursement Acceleration Program.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza resigned in November 2018 after President Duterte fired the OPPAP undersecretary for support services and PAMANA national program manager, Ronald Flores, and his assistant secretary for support services and PAMANA concerns, Yeshtern Baccay. Both officials were accused of corruption, and Dureza assumed command responsibility for their misdeeds.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has raised concern that the Php 36-billion cut in its 2019 budget, initiated by the House of Representatives, would affect its scholarship programs, including those offered to the children of “rebel returnees”. While the government kept drumbeating state support and services for the “surrenderees” in 2018, the scholarship program was not implemented simply because there was no budgetary allocation.

Indeed, the campaign to lure rebels “into the fold of the law” and the mock “influx” of alleged surrenderees are designed to fatten the bureaucrats’ pocket. What gives away the money-making scheme is this: the government’s actual spending and the reported number of “surrenderees” don’t add up.

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