July 24, 2017
For the past week, President Duterte’s press and social media machinery have been trumpeting the “achievements” and “fulfilled promises” of the regime. But we dare say: genuine change for the people has not come and will not be forthcoming under Duterte’s watch until he changes the policies.
Pres. Duterte’s first year in office was marked by the thousands killed in his war on drugs, his mishandling of the peace talks with the NDFP, his military debacle in Marawi and the imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao.
Whatever promise he showed at the start of his term has been undermined by his government’s bloody human rights record, his economic team’s continued adherence to neoliberal economic policies that benefit the rich and hurt the poor, and his failure to pursue an independent foreign policy by backtracking on his promise to separate from the US.
Worse, President Duterte has unleashed the draconian powers of martial law in the entire Mindanao under the supervision of pro-US militarists in the persons of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año. This has resulted so far in the bombing and destruction of Marawi, the forced evacuation of almost half a million civilians, and increased militarization and human rights violations in communities far from Marawi, against people who have no relation at all to the Maute group.
Among martial law’s casualty is the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Duterte has almost torpedoed any chance for meaningful reforms to address the roots of the armed conflict. He is agitating for all-out war, seamingly oblivious that such an approach has already failed many times in our history.
One year into his term, Mr. Duterte has unfolded to become an instrument of imperialists and oligarchs. His mix of fascist and neoliberal policies and programs violate our people’s rights, make them poor, and bleed our nation’s wealth and resources. He has struck a modus vivendi with the US by allowing increased US intervention in the country in exchange for US support for Martial Law. The US-Duterte regime is poised to wreck havoc on the Filipino people by a deadly combination of Marital Law, a US-instigated counter-insurgency program, and US neoliberal economics.
Ultimately, it is the struggling Filipino people who will truly bring about change. Duterte can either heed their demands or continue down the path of fascism and puppetry. History and the worsening domestic and international crisis do not favor the Duterte regime. ###