On the 25th of February 2019, Filipinos will commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising which culminated with the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship. Citing his “busy” schedule, President Duterte is most likely to skip the anniversary rites anew. For somebody who just had an exclusive Hongkong getaway, this is just his excuse to avoid being reminded of an event in Philippine history which hounds his closest political friends, the Marcoses.
For the OFW sector, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos was the primary culprit who orchestrated the systematization and institutionalization of the bankrupt labour export program (LEP). It was one of his schemes to keep the discontented masses from rising against his oppressive rule.
Even after the former dictator’s removal from power in 1986, there were those from among his deluded minions who have been working to distort and revise history in his favour. However, none of them can match the US-Duterte regime’s exertion to rehabilitate the political weight of the Marcoses. This is likewise evident in Duterte’s approval in burying the former dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and in Sara Duterte’s campaign for Hugpong ng Pagbabago which consolidated the loathsome Marcos-Duterte alliance with the rest of the dirtiest and most corrupt personalities in Philippine politics.
Thirty-three years after the overthrow of the US-Marcos regime, a new and even worse despot is sowing death and destruction to a much bloodier scale. The Martial Law extension in Mindanao and Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32 in another one-third of the country puts on a cloak of legality to justify his reign of terror.
Through the backing of his US-imperialist masters, the Duterte regime regularly upgrades the level of enmity it is waging against the Filipino nation by daily filling his vessel with the blood of the people’s defenders. To this day, AFP and PNP continues to persecute and besmirch survivors of the Sagay 9 massacre. State agents persist in circulating black propaganda against NDFP peace consultant Randy Malayao who was killed while fast asleep. The US-Duterte regime employs the same Marcosian tactics of slapping trumped-up charges, arrests, abduction, torture and assassination against rights activists and progressive mass leaders.
Approaching the midterm national elections, we are certain that state-sponsored violence is on a rampage while crooked elements of the elitist state pressured COMELEC to disqualify progressive partylist candidates — People Surge, Aksyon Health Workers and Manggagawa Partylist. On the other hand, fake partylists backed by big private interests are having their heyday since they smoothly made it to the roster of candidates. It is clear that the Duterte regime wants to disfranchise marginalized sectors and deter them from fielding pro-people representatives.
Aside from fake partylists, the propaganda machine of the evil Duterte regime is hell-bent in building the dominance of lies and fake news to deter the press from exposing the truth. We have seen this in the recent arrest of Rappler’s Maria Ressa at the pleasure of a Manila bay reclamation contractor William Keng. For this, it has become apparent that the struggle for defending press freedom is neither distant nor separate from the struggle of the urban poor as millions of them face eviction and displacement for the sake of private development in Manila Bay. It is incumbent for the Filipino people to hold the line and prevent falsehood from taking over. Concretely translate our devotion to justice and truth by actively mobilizing the organized masses in defense of their socio-economic rights.
At the back of the regime’s fealty to crony capitalism, our people’s economic rights are being violated through harmful neoliberal policies that burden the people with unjust statutes like the TRAIN Law, the Rice Tariffication Law, and state exactions whacked on OFWs like the mandatory insurance and the mandatory SSS coverage. The massive external borrowing and legalized extortion for Duterte’s Build Build Build program is meant to subsidize private profit.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s thrust to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility deserves the abhorrence of OFW families for their children are targeted casualties of Duterte’s fake war on drugs just as in the tragic deaths that befell OFW sons Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz. Just recall how state agents last month humiliated and terrorized children during a drug raid in Navotas while in contrast, gentle treatment was showered by arresting officers on Kenneth Dong who is Duterte’s friend and a big-time drug smuggler implicated in the Php6.4 Billion shabu shipment. To date, more and more EJK victims get added to the thousands of “drug war” casualties.
For over three decades after that fateful day on EDSA, the Filipino people remains subjected to the same problems of abject poverty, injustice and oppression reflecting the same deplorable reality that plagued the Philippines for centuries. The roots of forced migration that banished millions of Filipinos overseas remain firmly planted.
On those occasions when a corrupt tyrant is about to be knocked down from power, the economic elite and their imperialist masters benefiting from such evil reign would exigently anoint their successor of choice. We clearly understand that unless we completely dismantle and overthrow the unjust system that breeds corrupt despots subservient to imperialist interests, social transformation will remain elusive. Without justice, there shall be no peace in our days.
As we commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA uprising, let us remember those who fought the Marcos dictatorship from the very time of its inception for the uprising did not happen overnight. Let us hail the heroism of student activists of the First Quarter Storm; the workers of La Tondeña in 1975 who defied the protest ban as well as the peasants who rose up in the line of fire to defend their lands.
Let us draw inspiration from their legacy in our present-day struggle for national democracy. The battle that lies ahead remains tough. Before us is a long and narrow road to national liberation. Unlike the EDSA thoroughfare, it is wedged with thorns and drenched with the blood of those who valiantly struggled before us. Let us remain steadfast as we traverse this path. Marching with the Filipino masses, we shall charge forward to achieve a just and democratic society.