“I do not care if I burn in hell for as long as the people I serve live in paradise.” This is one of the famous quotes attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte during his electoral campaign back in 2016. Four years later, it is evident that OFWs along with the rest of the Filipino people are being roasted in the deepest recesses of hell while Duterte and his cronies are living their grandest lives in paradise.
Today marks President Duterte’s four years in office and Filipino migrants vividly remember the words he uttered when he took his oath. He “solemnly” vowed to faithfully and conscientiously fulfill his duties as President, to “preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man”, and “consecrate himself to the service of the Nation.” All of these are being violated with utmost conceit. At this period of COVID-19 crisis, Duterte’s military approach to a public health emergency situation has catapulted the Philippines into the epicenter of the pandemic in the Western Pacific region.
Many Filipinos not so long ago were already surviving on a hand-to-mouth existence but the Duterte regime’s monstrous follies in the last three months decisively reduced even the most industrious among our kababayans into hapless beggars in the streets. Our very own OFWs dubbed as ‘modern-day heroes’ are scouring trash bins for food while Duterte’s most loyal stooges from DFA and DOLE are outrightly dismissing migrant miseries as mere “theatrics.” With 8,467 total COVID-19 cases among OFWs, Nine (9) from the Middle East have died in the last two days alone.
Untold thousands of Filipino migrants are stranded overseas as multitudes are left without aid under No-work-No-pay schemes while those who have been repatriated remain stuck in holding facilities after spending their most gruesome days in quarantine. As if Filipino migrants have not suffered enough, the Duterte regime is itching to extort hundreds of billions from OFWs through his mandatory Philhealth and premium rate hike. If it weren’t for the strong opposition registered by OFWs, even its suspension would have been unimaginable. To date, Duterte’s thorny Universal Healthcare Act which saddled OFWs with this additional exaction remains unaltered while the Makabayan bloc’s amendatory House Bill No. 6698 languishes in Congress since the Duterte regime prioritized its rubbish Terror Bill.
Duterte’s litany of praises to NCRPO Chief Debold Sinas despite his bloody crimes in Negros and his violation of quarantine protocols in plain sight demonstrates the culture of impunity at its extreme point. The Philippines has been Asia’s largest killing field in the last four years. Violent persecution of activists and the extrajudicial killings of civilians continue despite repeated denunciations from international bodies like the UN Human Rights Council. His fake war on drugs alone has already claimed more than 30 thousand lives.
We have nine days left before the Duterte regime’s Terror Bill lapses into law and it is incumbent upon Filipino migrant communities to charge forward in their path of resistance against the Duterte regime’s neoliberal and Fascist assaults. OFWs and their families find foremost strength in their unity with the Filipino masses and other progressive sectors in the struggle for the defense of our human rights and democratic interests. Migrante International and its member organizations worldwide shall launch actions in the coming days to express the collective rage of Filipino migrants against Duterte’s crimes against humanity. For presiding over the worst kind of state-enforced terrorism, a hard-core criminal like Rodrigo Roa Duterte must no longer be accorded any place in the Philippine government. For his orders to shoot all of us dead for daring to stand against his detestable tyranny, we call for the Duterte terrorist regime’s immediate ouster.
Ayuda hindi diktadura!
Junk Terror Bill!
Oust US-Duterte regime!