Tyrant Duterte has surpassed Marcos in terms of terrorism and plunder

This article is available in Pilipino

We join the Filipino people in commemorating the 49th year of the declaration of martial law today. Indeed, we must never forget one of the worst periods of the country’s history in which Ferdinand Marcos grabbed absolute power, reigned as a dictator for 14 years and engaged in relentless plunder, corruption, and fascist suppression. He bankrupted the government, led the country to unprecedented ruin and buried the people under mountains of debt.

It is extremely important and urgent that we look back and draw lessons from the dark days of martial law as the country today is ruled over by the tyrant Duterte who has unabashedly declared admiration for Marcos and openly harbors ambitions of imposing a fascist dictatorship.

In a short span of five years, Duterte has surpassed Marcos’s 14-year rule in terms of the worst parameters. Since 2016, the number of people murdered by state forces under Duterte’s bogus “war on drugs” is estimated at more than 30,000, close to ten times more than the 3,000 people killed in the massacres and “salvagings” perpetrated by military and police forces under the Marcos dictatorship.

Today, the same military and police, now led by then young officers of the Marcos dictatorship, foment the same anticommunist hysteria as pretext for carrying out massacres and extrajudicial killings, abductions, torture, illegal arrests, filing of trumped up charges and prolonged detention against dissenters and critics of the corrupt and terrorist regime. Supported by US-supplied drones and fighter jets and military funding, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has stepped up its campaign of aerial bombardment and artillery shelling in the rural plains and mountainous areas endangering people’s lives in violation of the international laws of war.

Away from the cities, state terrorism is more brazen and cruel, with the AFP and the militarized bureaucracy under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) imposing open military rule over peasant and indigenous communities. The peasant masses suffer from rampant abuses and violations of human rights that come with the militarization and hamletting of their villages. Invoking counterinsurgency, the AFP has banned all forms of democratic and patriotic organizations to force the peasants and ethnic minority groups to “surrender” their rights and acquiesce to worsening forms of oppression and exploitation including the grabbing of their lands by big mining corporations and plantations, and energy and ecotourism projects.

Duterte and his cohorts are set to surpass the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in terms of corruption and plunder, especially in collaboration with Chinese big capitalists and criminal drug and smuggling syndicates. The tyrant railroads and bamboozles his way through to pocket fat commissions by diverting hundreds of billions of pesos to anomalous government contracts involving Chinese-funded infrastructure projects. Through his dummies, Duterte continues to amass large amounts of wealth. His generals and police officers are also having a heyday by plundering billions of pesos in counterinsurgency and AFP “modernization” funds. The diversion of billion of pesos of public funds to favored companies during the pandemic is among the worst and unforgivable acts of plunder.

Duterte has surpassed the Marcos regime for the rate of accumulating government debt. Philippine debt grew at around ₱65 billion a year ($1:₱50) for 20 years under Marcos. From ₱6.09 trillion at the start of Duterte’s term, government debt skyrocketed to ₱11 trillion and expected to reach ₱13.42 trillion by 2022, growing by ₱1.22 trillion annually, almost 20 times faster than the Marcos regime.

He has funneled more and more public funds to debt servicing, counterinsurgency and infrastructure projects. Like Marcos, education and health services remain the least of state priorities. Duterte has accelerated import liberalization of agricultural products, particularly rice and meat, leading to bankruptcy of palay farmers and livestock producers, rising prices of food and other daily commodities. Fuel prices continue to rise unabatedly. While people are burdened with consumer taxes, big corporations are being incentivized with tax reductions and exemptions resulting in wider gaps between the very rich and the poor comprising the majority of the Filipino people.

Behind the facade of the “war on drugs,” Duterte has gained the position of being the biggest drug lord by forcing every drug syndicate on their knees to pray for his protection. He has put a stop to the local production of “shabu” to compel local drug lords to source their illegal wares from China which has been exposed as going through the military-controlled gates of the Bureau of Customs. In exchange for billions of pesos in protection money, big Chinese drug syndicates have been allowed to continue their operations within the national penitentiary under the watch of Duterte’s trusted lieutenants.

In exchange for promises of Chinese money, vaccines and protection, Duterte has surrendered vast parts of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to the Chinese military and giant fishing industry. Under Duterte, China has fortified its military stronghold in the WPS by erecting at least seven military facilities in reclaimed lands. Giant sea vessels have engaged in swarming and overfishing in the area resulting in the depletion of marine resources to the detriment of Filipino fishermen.

At the same time, Duterte continues to extend extraterritorial rights to the US military through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and other lopsided military agreements. In exchange for the sale of new attack helicopters, rockets and bombs, as well as vaccines hoarded by the US, Duterte has bowed to the US demand to allow the expansion of its military facilities within AFP camps for stockpiling and forward deployment of drones, communication equipment and other war matériel.

Duterte has now equalled Marcos for international notoriety. The decision of the pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to push forward the investigation of crimes against humanity for the thousands of killed under Duterte’s sham “war on drugs” reinforces Duterte’s negative standing as an international pariah. The broad masses of Filipino people await the day that Duterte is formally charged before the ICC, tried and sentenced for his crimes.

In the eyes of the Filipino people and people across the world, Duterte is infamous for his fascism, misogyny, the worsening drug problem, aversion against human rights and contempt for the poor.

Duterte’s reign of terror, corruption and oppression of the broad masses of workers and peasants has exposed the rotten core of the ruling semicolonial and semifeudal system. His tyranny has drowned the country in darkness. However, it has made the light of the people’s democratic resistance shine more brightly, illuminating especially the path of revolutionary armed struggle towards national and social liberation.

Down with the US-Duterte regime!
Carry forward the people’s democratic revolution!
Long live the Filipino people!

Tyrant Duterte has surpassed Marcos in terms of terrorism and plunder