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Editorial

Resist Duterte’s terrorism

With his threats to crack down on activists, the return of police in drug operations, and the further extension of martial law in Mindanao, it is now more than clear that Duterte is setting the stage for a fascist dictatorship.

Cartoon by Jessica Lopez/TomasinoWeb

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Dissent and resistance are vital signs of a living democracy — but for President Rodrigo Duterte and his lapdogs, dissent is destabilization; resistance is terrorism.

It is now more than clear that Duterte is setting the stage for a fascist dictatorship: He had openly admitted to being fascist last month — all in the midst of bringing back the police in the killing fields of drug operations, extending martial law in Mindanao for another year, and even threatening to criminalize organized dissent by arresting activists for supposedly conspiring with so-called terrorists.

It is ironic, to say the least: If anything, Duterte’s mass murder of the poor in his brutal anti-drug campaign, his threats to bomb the schools and communities of indigenous peoples, and his suggestions of declaring a “revolutionary” government in order to quell justified rebellion against his tyrannical regime had left the people terrorized more than those he eagerly maligned and vilified as enemies of the state.

Duterte must have forgotten to admit that he is also the country’s leading terrorist — and, in fully unveiling the rotting core his fascist regime, his terror attacks on the people have only intensified.

Despite the success of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in conducting 2,161 anti-drug operations almost without blood and violence, Duterte is hellbent on satisfying his maniacal bloodlust by taking the operations from PDEA and giving it back to the police.

Lest it be forgotten, brutal police operations took the lives of youth like Kian Loyd Delos Santos and Carl Angelo Arnaiz, among other victims and “collateral damages” of summary executions.

At the start of his term, Duterte promised to end illegal drug trade in the country within his first six months in office— or else, he said he would resign.

Already long overdue on his false promise of change, Duterte is yet to step down and is now frantically clinging to his bloody throne, now that the popularity he once enjoyed is diminishing.

Rightfully expecting strong backlash, Duterte is now taking desperate measures to silence dissent — and his schemes are blatantly transparent.


Duterte must have forgotten to admit that he is also the country’s leading terrorist — and, in fully unveiling the rotting core his fascist regime, his terror attacks on the people have only intensified.


One must look no further than his continuing undermining of checks and balances: The impeachment proceedings of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno continue along with threats to impeach Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, his tirades on the Commission on Human Rights, and his online troll army’s discrediting of the media.

Even taking cues from the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Duterte had also resorted to declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorist organizations” — effectively reducing the long-standing communist insurgency in the country to mere terrorism — in a bid to legalize his crackdown on detractors and activists, including militant youth and student formations, by the way of trumped-up charges, illegal arrests, and spurious accusations of conspiracy and terrorism.

Just as his crackdown on illegal drugs saw the deaths of thousands of alleged drug users and pushers based on mere suspicion, Duterte is now emboldening state forces and his vigilante loyalists to arrest — or worse, kill —dissenters by conveniently labeling them as “rebels” and “terrorists.”

The declaration is already reaping fatal results: The past week saw the killings of clergymen such as activist-priest Marcelito Paez, who was gunned down by still-unidentified assailants in Jaen, Nueva Ecija last Dec. 4, right after facilitating the release of a peasant leader arrested by the army’s 56th infantry battalion for allegedly being a member of the NPA.

Paez’s death followed that of pastor Lovelito Quiñones, who was killed by forces of the police regional mobile group in an encounter in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro last Dec. 3, with the army’s 203rd brigade claiming that Quiñones was an NPA guerrilla.

The wheels even seem to have started turning long before: Merely a week after formally terminating the peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA, student-activists from the University of the Philippines and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines were killed in an encounter with the police and the Air Force 730th combat group in Nasugbu, Batangas last Nov. 28, where the military had been conducting aerial bombings and arrests of peasant leaders tagged as NPA members for the past months.

Unsurprisingly, the military insisted that all 15 casualties in the Nasugbu encounter — including the student-activists — were full-time NPA guerrillas.

School-based formations — and even campus publications — which were already reporting the harassment, intimidation, and red-tagging of their leaders and members by police and suspected military agents for the past months are now receiving anonymous death threats and targeted harassment in the midst of the crackdown on activist groups.

A member of the UST chapter of militant student group League of Filipino Students, for example, received death threats via phone call last Dec. 4; the same number also sent threats to a member of poetry collective KM64.

The madman Duterte, however, does not seem to be satisfied with his bloodbath and totalitarian reign of terror.

Like a true Marcos fanboy, Duterte is now using the excuse of “communist terrorism” to make his rubber stamp Congress approve his bid to further extend martial law in Mindanao for another year and strengthen counterinsurgency operations in the region.

Lumad communities — which had been the usual targets of aerial bombings and military harassment for actively defending their ancestral domains from the land-grabbing of mining companies and transnational corporations — have decried the further extension of martial law as an avenue for the military to tag them as rebels and forcibly drive them out of their lands.

The same day as Quiñones’s death, Karapatan reported that a composite team of the army’s 27th and 33rd infantry battalions and the Marines killed eight Lumad farmers in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, among other Lumad killings linked to counterinsurgency operations.

Lumad families in the area have reclaimed 300 hectares of their domains from the land-grabbing of David M. Consunji Inc.; the military immediately branded them as members of the NPA.

Checkpoints of the 75th infantry battalion have also continued to block the entry of food and relief goods being sent to Lumad families displaced by counterinsurgency operations in evacuation centers in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The military continues to deny the food blockade despite numerous reports from local media, non-government organizations and civil society groups.

Even more alarming, however, is that fact that the first extension of martial law in Mindanao is not even over and yet Duterte’s lapdogs in Congress are now pushing to put the entire country under martial law.

Coupled with his previous suggestions of declaring a “revolutionary” government, it does not seem far-fetched that the self-declared fascist will push through in declaring a nationwide martial law to finally seize and consolidate his power in a one-man rule.


Rightfully expecting strong backlash, Duterte is now taking desperate measures to silence dissent — and his schemes are blatantly transparent.


The country faces darker days ahead; the killings, violence, and the culture of impunity will only continue to worsen as the state paves the way for a fascist dictatorship — and no one is safe.

But if Duterte thinks the people’s struggle will be cowed by threats of arrests, abductions, torture — and even death — he is utterly mistaken: As if he had never read a history book, state oppression and violence only emboldens resistance, and their numbers are growing by the day.

The youth holds power in these trying times, and they must continue to stand and resist the imminent threat of another dictatorship and join the people’s struggle in their fight for genuine change — a change that will never come from the bloody fists of a self-declared fascist.

History has proven time and time again that the people’s struggle can topple down dictators — and Duterte and his reign of terror are not exceptions.

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Editorial

Not just mere collaterals, not a laughing matter

In the past three years of President Duterte’s administration, we have seen a lot of collaterals—be it a victim of his bloody war on drugs or his anti-poor policies—done just so that he could finally say that “change has come,” that he has succeeded. But what we have observed, so far, is a regression of what has been achieved, a degradation of democracy, a propagation of the culture of violence and impunity, and we are waiting for him to look us in the eye and convince us of what change has really been done, for better or worse, in his first three years.

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“We cannot drive the [Chinese] away because they insisted it’s theirs.”

Weeks after the Recto Bank incident, President Duterte has this to say about what the Palace deemed to call “a maritime incident” in which a Chinese vessel hit a Philippine boat carrying 22 fishermen and left them there to the “mercy of the elements.”

“Tanong sila, ‘Will you allow the Chinese to fish?’ Sabi ko, ‘Of course. ‘Yan ang pinag-usapan namin noon, kaya tayo nag-uusap eh. And that was [why] we were allowed to fish again,” Duterte said in his speech at the anniversary of the Presidential Security Group last Wednesday, June 26. “Ngayon, sabi nila, ‘You have to ban China. I-prohibit mo.’ Kung i-prohibit ko, how do I enforce my desire?”

Duterte is talking about a supposed ‘mutual agreement’ the Philippines made with China (which Panelo said “was more of an informal agreement” and by word) through a bilateral talk in which DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, and other cabinet members were said to have attended.

Meanwhile, Duterte, the Chief Executive who vowed to enforce the Laws of the Land and who himself proudly proliferates the doctrine that obedience to law will entail peace and order, continues to contradict himself by making a folly out of the Philippine Constitution.

Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

Further, the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 also bans foreign fishing vessels in Philippine waters. The Hague ruling declared that Recto Bank is part of Philippine waters, therefore Chinese vessels fishing in the area would be a violation of our exclusive rights.

But it seems that the President doesn’t find urgency in this; he surrendered our sovereignty the moment he agreed in the bilateral agreement with the superpower up until now that he remains complacent.

With an estimate of 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in our EEZ, it is no more obvious that the gas-rich West Philippine Sea is an investment paradise for imperialists since it is booming with natural resources. Recto Bank’s Sampaguita gas field alone has up to 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 115 million barrels of oil.

Further, China has already expressed its desire to fund Duterte’s Build, Build, Build fantasy. Infamous for its debt-trap policy, China interests itself with the West Philippine Sea.

Last March, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that there is nothing wrong with Recto Bank as collateral for a loan agreement with China. “For me [China seizing Reed Bank should there be a default in the repayment of the loan] is… not a possibility because we never reneged,” he told reporters. “We are known for paying our obligations.”

This is alarming, no more than how analysts were alarmed after Senate President Sotto’s “fish” remarks. Malacañang should be reminded that our sovereignty is non-negotiable.

In the past three years, we have seen a decline in the rule of democracy: a senator got jailed and another is being threatened with incarceration just for being a critic of the administration; a Supreme Court Chief Justice was ousted, backed by the Chief Executive himself; and a government agency that checks on executive power was threatened.

There is a culture of violence and impunity manifested by the rising death toll of Duterte’s War on Drugs, the recently recorded 209 dead farmers under this administration, the continuous crackdown on human rights defenders and activists, violent dispersals of striking workers across the country and union busting, and the ongoing Martial Law in Mindanao.

These—after attacking press freedom, making rape jokes and misogynistic and homophobic statements, disrespecting religion, and allying with known plunderers and tyrants—have all been done just so that Duterte could finally say “change has come.”

Just last Tuesday, July 2, a three-year-old girl has become the latest victim of Duterte’s drug war. Senate-elect Ronald Dela Rosa dismissed the incident by saying “Sh*t happens.”

It is high time to respond to these attacks and say enough is enough. The President must be reminded that we are not mere collaterals in his dreamscape and that we know it when actual sh*t happens: It is when tyrants get more power and the failure of democracy becomes a laughing matter.

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Editorial

Are you standing behind the right line?

Our heroes died fighting for our freedom. But Rodrigo Duterte kills our freedom by drowning out the critical voices of the media through its relentless attacks against the freedom of the press—and even going as far as weaponizing the law.

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Art by Jessica Lopez

Jose Rizal died fighting for our freedom. Andres Bonifacio died fighting for our freedom. Our heroes died fighting for our freedom. But Rodrigo Duterte kills our freedom by drowning out the critical voices of the media through its relentless attacks against the freedom of the press—and even going as far as weaponizing the law.

Ripping off from Marcos’ playbook, Duterte drowns the independent and critical voices who can destabilize his kingdom of bones and blood.

The online news site, Rappler, has been very critical of the administration, noting the brutal bloodshed in the name of  War on Drugs, the dominance of internet trolls, and his anti-poor projects such as the TRAIN Law to name of a few of his list of sins.

And just last week, an arrest warrant has been issued against Rappler’s CEO, Maria Ressa for cyber libel charges pertaining to an article they published way back in May 2012. The complainant, Wilfredo Keng, has been allegedly linked with the late Chief Justice Renato Corona who was undergoing an impeachment trial during that time. However, the cyber libel law was not yet in effect until October of that same year. And in addition to that, Keng had only filed the complaint on October 2017 which was five years too late. Yet despite the discrepancies of the case, an arrest warrant was given to Ressa, and was forced to post bail amounting to P100,000 the next day. At least eight charges has been filed against the online news site ever since last year, and was forced to bail for six times already.

With the State using the law to its advantage, they flaunt their powers to silence the critical. Their oppression trickled down to various university and college publications, who are now on the verge of shutdown due to censorship, and even alternative media who openly lambasts his bloody regime.

This is not just a battle between the warring factions of the DDS Army and the Dilawans, this is a battle under the banner of the three stars and the sun. The enemy does not lie with us, it sleeps inside the grand facade of the Palace. This regime knows that the people hold the true power—and it terrifies them greatly that they try to divide us by spreading distrust and false propaganda.

We are one in holding the line. And we will hold it until we taste the freedom our heroes have died for.

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Editorial

The Rape of Philippine Press

Senate President Vicente Sotto III is a rapist of the press, an oppressor; an ignorant Filipino of his own culture, and plagiarist. He, along with Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon and Richie Reyes, killed the innocent Pepsi Paloma, and, with Duterte’s ardent admirers on his side, is now killing the Philippine media.

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Artwork by Jessica Lopez.

After its continuous attacks on the Philippine media, the Duterte administration, an ever-growing faction of sycophantic allies of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos reincarnate, has nowhere left to hide its real objectives: to oppress and to suppress the Filipinos.

Earlier this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked online news site Rappler’s registration for allegedly violating constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership and control of mass media entities—a move which would have effectively ended Rappler’s operations. Not only that but, due to his “lack of trust” and “irritation,” President Duterte himself denied the entry of Rappler journalist and accredited Malacañang correspondent Pia Ranada on arrival at the Palace to cover an event. These, following the President’s blasts as well against news corporations ABS-CBN and Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), along with Rappler, on his second State of the Nation Address.

What the administration has shown, if it is not obvious enough, are mere fears on the potent ability of the media and blatant assaults on press freedom, a clear abuse of their (administration) power. Before the privileged and unapologetically despotic ones sitting in the Palace go berserk and deny such claims again, it is to note that the 2018 World Media Freedom Index released by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reported that the country has slid six spots down the rank, after being branded by the watchdog itself in its last year’s year-end report as one of the deadliest countries for journalists. RSF, meanwhile, also pointed out that the administration “developed several methods for pressuring and silencing journalists who criticize [Duterte’s] notorious war on drugs.” To add, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines have recorded killings of nine journalists in the first 23 months of Duterte in the office, with 85 more cases of attacks and threats.

It is clearly a sad time for Philippine journalism and will continue to be so under Duterte’s reign.

Just when people think the attacks are declining, if not absolutely over, one of the President’s lapdogs came scooting in on the throne of Senate presidency—tongue out and skin all muddy from the dirt he accumulated from stealing food-for-thoughts and drinks of ignorance—ordering Inquirer.net, the online counterpart of PDI, to take down its articles that were insinuating he whitewashed the rape case of late actress Pepsi Paloma in 1982. As of yesterday, the said articles, written by U.S.-based columnist Rodel Rodis and Totel de Jesus, can no longer be accessed by the public and are “under review.” The Senate President seemed pleased about it as he even “thanked” Inquirer, according to a Rappler report, on its apparent take-down of the written works.

This is, beyond question, censorship of the media, the bridge between the public and the government. Any effort to burn that connection and repress the press is an effort to oppress the people. We should not cave in but stand for and with the Filipino people in this fight for rights that gravely affect decision-making processes in life and will safeguard the people; and that the government is solely enjoying and denying the public. The administration is singling out the purveyors of truth—something of which they are obviously inhibiting the people they promised to serve, secure and protect in the first place—and we should not stand idly by. In these trying times wherein the true nature of the government is slowly being revealed, we should not be muffled. In this path gearing toward the death of democracy, we should remain unwavered with our pens and our unsilenced voices.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III is a rapist of the press, an oppressor; an ignorant Filipino of his own culture, and plagiarist. He, along with Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon and Richie Reyes, killed the innocent Pepsi Paloma, and, with Duterte’s ardent admirers on his side, is now killing the Philippine media.

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