Duterte’s 3rd SONA paints a bleaker future for Filipinos
President Rodrigo Duterte mostly stuck to his worn-out theme during his last State of the Nation Address. We’ve heard it before, sans the swearing and digressing. But what cuss words he refrained from blurting out were replaced with threats and a foreshadowing of a darker and bleaker future for the Filipino people under his regime.
1. A more brutal and unapologetic policy of mass murder of his opponents and critics and poor Filipinos in the pretext of anti-drugs, anti-corruption, anti-cartel campaigns.
As he said, Duterte’s policy of mass murder is far from over. He has long lifted the deadline of ending the drug problem within six months of his rule and has practically declared a perpetual war on drugs despite local and international censure. He scoffed at his critics, human rights advocates and the church, while defending his iron fist policy that targets poor Filipinos.
In two years, Duterte has no success in prosecuting or punishing big drug lords. Instead, through his drug war and “narco-list,” he enabled their monopoly of the drug trade and ensured his position as “The Godfather” in the local drug mafia. Even Duterte’s campaign to go after rice cartels and “clean up” Boracay are aimed mainly to forcefully re-arrange current monopolies and bequeath these to his cronies in the rice and tourism industries.
He spoke of “friendships” in government that he says he is loathe to throw away in the name of his anti-corruption campaign. This is a thinly-veiled threat directed not only at his opponents but even at his allies.
Duterte failed to mention the “friendships” he had so far held dear, most controversial are his alliances with the Marcoses and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Marcoses are at the brink of re-acquiring dominant power in government through Bongbong’s ongoing electoral protest . Macapagal-Arroyo has successfully reclaimed a ruling seat in government through a coup d’etat that installed her as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.
2. His one-man rule and fascist dictatorship through pseudo-federalism
Duterte is hell-bent on enacting a shift to a federal form of government by railroading charter change (cha-cha). He claims federalism would benefit majority of Filipinos and not only those in “imperial Manila.”
To deflect criticism against a self-serving term extension, he rehashed his lie that he no plans to stay on as president beyond his term as soon as the federal constitution is ratified. He did not mention, however, that all proposed drafts would bestow executive, legislative and judicial powers to whoever may be elected during the transition period.
In truth, Duterte’s fake federalism is meant to further consolidate and monopolize his political power over the entire bureaucracy and allow for the perpetuation of his iron fist reign of terror and wars against the people. All these intend to provide a favorable climate for maximum profit and plunder for Duterte, his ilk and their foreign capital partners.
Cha-cha will mainly serve the interests of foreign monopoly capitalists salivating for 100 percent ownership of local lands, resources and enterprises, the current local ruling elite of big landlords and bureaucrat capitalists, and Duterte’s political dynasty and cronies who will further enjoy the exploits of wealth, profit and power at the expense of the people. Even the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, also incumbent of amendments to the constitution, is meant to further gain control over the resource-rich Bangsamoro land.
3. Continued subservience to US and the sell-out of sovereignty to China in exchange for loans and investments
Duterte continues to deceive the Filipino people in claiming to pursue a so-called independent foreign policy. Since he assumed office, he has done nothing but keep the country under US domination by retaining all one-sided treaties, agreements and arrangements with the Trump administration. He further expanded US troops’ extraterritorial rights and allowed for US direct intervention in national security affairs through Trump’s Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines, in exchange for US military aid and assistance.
He readily adopted the US-instigated war of destruction on Marawi that paved the way for heightened US military intervention and participation in psywar, intelligence and combat military operations and aerial bombardments up to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. US troops are now expected to be given unhampered access to thousands of hectares of land in Marawi, which is in the process of being converted into a large military facility.
He has turned a blind eye to China’s incursions in the country’s exclusive economic zones in the West Philippine Sea and Panatag Shoal and militarization and bullying in the Spratlys. In exchange for a few billion dollars of high-interest loans and aid for his “build, build, build” infrastructure projects, Duterte has practically granted China exclusive rights to plunder trillions of dollars worth of the country’s oil, mineral and natural resources.
4. Relentless price hikes, economic crisis and anti-poor policies under his neoliberal regime.
Duterte made no mention of the record-high 5.6% inflation rate and the drastic and unabated rise in prices of basic goods and services that are presently burdening the Filipino masses, all attributed his TRAIN Law.
He promised to give the Filipino masses comfortable lives but has not lifted a finger to increase wages, end contractualization, carry out genuine agrarian reform, provide affordable basic services and utilities and spare majority of Filipinos from rising prices and taxation.
Instead, his regime has continued to implement in full force neoliberal economic policies of raising tax revenues, corporatization, deregulation and denationalization at the expense of the Filipino people in order to fund local and foreign debt-servicing, high government spending, infrastructure projects and military expenditures.
He urged Congress to certify as urgent the passage of TRAIN 2, and expressed his wish to unveil all five packages of this tax reform program by the year end. This could only mean heavier tax burdens on the broad masses of consumers while enacting tax cuts and concessions on corporations and big businesses to encourage more investments.
5. Non-mention of GRP-NDFP peace talks paves way for more intensified all-out war against the Filipino people.
Duterte showed complete disinterest to peace talks to address the basic social, political and economic problems besetting the Filipino people which are the root causes of the armed conflict. Duterte is dead set on employing militarist measures aimed at forcing the NDFP to surrender and “crushing the New People’s Army before the year ends.”
The real state of the nation is characterized by an ever-worsening and unprecedented economic and political crisis under the Duterte regime and, in reaction, the growing mass movement calling for Duterte’s ouster. It is marked by steadily increasing number of mass protests and actions against unemployment, low wages, contractualization, poverty, rising prices, poor social services, corruption, the sell-out of national sovereignty and rampant human rights violations.
In the countryside, New People’s Army (NPA) units continue to launch successful tactical offensives, simultaneously and in various parts of the country, causing growing demoralization and resentment among the rank-and-file of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
The real state of the nation is that Duterte is in danger of being ousted by a broad united front of democratic and patriotic forces and the broad masses of the Filipino people who have been roused to call an end to his evil reign of tyranny and terror.