As the Duterte regime commences its third year in office, a thick cloud of darkness hovers above as multitudes fall into despair and misery. Bloodshed and terror dominates while the country descends further into the Hades of tyranny.
We can no longer endure the deprivation Duterte has inflicted upon us. Struggling Filipinos are exhausting their meagre income to basic necessities, the prices of which have risen up to insane levels. Inflation rate, now the highest in almost a decade is worsened by the peso’s depreciation to its lowest in 6 years. These woes are attributed to Duterte’s TRAIN Law.
Since collections from his TRAIN will never suffice to deal with the budget deficit, by aggressively heaping a huge mountain of debt, the regime pats itself in the back with the assurance that it can always lay hold of the resources extracted from the dirt poor and the struggling middle class to serve as collaterals subsidizing the profit of the ruling elite.
The depletion of the country’s dollar reserves to a 6-year low is just one of the many manifestations of everything wrong in an export-oriented, import dependent and foreign-dominated economy. Pursuing Duterte’s Build, Build, Build lunacy, the widening budget deficit would mean another big blow to the poor since his economic mis-management team would resort to imposing severe austerity measures in social services to allocate a bigger chunk of the budget for debt servicing, while reserves are squandered in the importation of construction supplies from China. Meanwhile, the ruling 1% rejoices and is ever grateful to Duterte for his benevolence in securing their profit while the 99% are damned to pay unwanted debts for many generations to come.
To address the dilemma brought about by the massive debt and the plummeting currency reserves, the US-Duterte regime is expected to rely on OFWs as cash cows by intensifying its labour export program (LEP) so it can squeeze more dollar remittances and perpetuate modern-day slavery. One of its abhorrent money making schemes is the creation of the Overseas Filipino bank to salvage the dwindling dollar reserves. Instead of ending the LEP, the regime has institutionalized it further through the Overseas Filipino bank.
Duterte preoccupies himself with mastering the skills of a con-artist through propaganda offensives of pro-migrants posturing to cover-up the inherent and worsening vulnerability of Filipino migrants under the LEP. To this day, he has failed to address the mass layoffs of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East. Justice remains elusive on the cases of OFW deaths and Duterte continues to be apathetic to the plight of Mary Jane Veloso who is still on death row in Indonesia.
At the behest of Chinese private contractors and lenders, the country is set to bring in huge throngs of Chinese labourers to work on these debt-ridden megaprojects. Surely, it has become Duterte’s expertise to trigger resentment among our unemployed labour pool by articulating that colossal deceit that Build, Build, Build would generate jobs for Filipinos.
Cementing itself as the country with the highest unemployment and being among those with the worst poverty rate in the ASEAN region, these tribulations will stick around as long as the regime refuses to heed calls for a national minimum wage closer to the living wage and ending contractualization. Without national industrialization and genuine agrarian reform being pushed at the GRP-NDF peace talks, the illusion of growth prevails even if the constitution is changed a thousand times during Duterte’s term. Tragically, at the bidding of their US-imperialist masters, peace spoilers in AFP have blighted the GRP-NDF peace process.
Duterte’s charter change obsession does not have anything to do with improving the economy nor creating a strong civil society. Its motivation is to grant more boon to his favoured politico-economic elites as he seeks from them immunization from his imminent prosecution once his reign of terror is over. More treacherous neoliberal and neo-colonial provisions are expected to be enshrined dumping our sovereignty and opening the economy to more foreign control and imperialist interest.
Progressives and Duterte’s enemies have exposed him as the biggest patron of corrupt bureaucrats and drug personalities in the Philippines. Obviously, he has surrounded himself with veteran crooks like the Marcoses, Arroyo, pork-barrel queen Napoles, and the notorious drug –linked businessman Peter Lim. Not to mention the thick bond that ties him to his son Pulong who was the subject of a congressional inquiry on drug-smuggling and to his daughter Inday Sara whose husband, Mans Carpio, is known to serve as legal counsel for the landlord-land grabber Lorenzo-Lapanday.
Under the US-Duterte regime, the Philippines has become a killing field where the poor gets brutally killed for simply walking outside of the house. Thousands upon thousands have been killed in Duterte’s fake drug war where most of the victims are poor people while big wealthy drug lords and smugglers laugh their asses out. In Mindanao, the Lumads are persecuted for defending their ancestral rights against incursions of the military which protects the interests of big mining lords.
As puppets of US imperialist interests, the AFP upon the order of Duterte and CIA-Lorenzana reduced Marawi into ashes and placed the entire Mindanao under Martial Law. Maranaos are enraged that big swathes of land have been dedicated to the construction of another US-EDCA compliant military base while the rest are handed over to Chinese-led consortiums. The US-Military industrial complex, the World Bank, IMF and other foreign ODA sources are the main beneficiaries from the destruction of Marawi.
We have also seen how this bloodthirsty and misogynistic Duterte regime opens its welcoming arms to foreign bankers, development-aggressors and militarists but on the other hand, Duterte unleashes his lackeys to harass the likes of Sister Patricia Fox, an advocate for peasants’ rights whose deportation order was just issued. Recently, Methodist missionaries from the US and Africa were expelled and blacklisted after their release from detention. Their only crime was putting their faith into action by commissioning themselves to asserting justice for the poor and the oppressed. Under Katay Digong’s watch, more rights-advocates from civil society organizations and the religious sector have been either killed or arrested on trumped-up charges. A dreadful atmosphere of impunity has enveloped the country.
In response to the vicious neoliberal and fascist attacks of the US-Duterte regime, migrants and their families join hands with the Filipino people under one broad umbrella to oppose Duterte’s shameless plunder, emergent authoritarianism, wanton violation of human rights, and relentless attack on sovereignty. The US-Duterte regime should remind itself that there will always be an end to his fascist whoredom, for the power of the people is stronger than his delusions of omnipotence. In unison with workers, peasants and the rest of the exploited spheres, we will fight for justice, life, liberty and democracy.
Our rallying cries: End labour export, stop modern-day slavery! No to Charter Change! Enough of Duterte’s plunder and tyranny! Tama na! Sobra na! Wakasan na!