A war on all fronts, a war he cannot win

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Months have passed since Duterte first made the proposition that there is a concerted effort being made against him by the mainstream Left, the Liberal Party, international governments and even terrorist organizations intended to destabilize his government to serve as a prelude for his eventual overthrow.

His administration’s response has been comprehensive. On top of operating a host of online warriors ready to curb online opinion in major social media sites, government agencies have also supported pro-Duterte coalitions like the Citizen’s National Guard which have received the patronage of the Department of Justice and the Public Attorney’s Office in terms of resources and machinery. According to DOJ Secretary Aguirre, one of the lead conveners of the CNG, destabilization is by definition dissent, indicating that any opinion or position that is contrary to that of the administration is essentially made to throw the presidency off balance.

He broke down the pillars of the Liberal Party in every province to ensure a hegemony of political power for PDP-Laban, the party to which he is the national chairman and demonized the old guards of the Liberal Party to prevent any possibility of a political comeback. In fact, his effort to absorb the LP’s members into one supermajority in government has been so effective that he’s even been able to get the Romualdez’ and the Petilla’s, mortal enemies in the Eastern Visayas political scene to jump ship from their past allegiances and into the PDP-Laban pool, something that the Arroyo and Aquino administrations have miserably failed in.

In terms of controlling the media, steps have been taken to prevent live coverage of his public speeches so that he can go on with his incoherent tirade and personal rants without any fear of being quoted and have his statements sensationalized the following day. For those major media outfits that do cover his blunders, he’s made sure to publicly shame and attack- playing down their credibility or downright accusing them of conspiracy to drive a dent into Malacanang’s popular image.

But among his greatest thrusts, owing largely to the fact that their capacity for on-ground mobilization is of considerable strength, is Duterte’s falling out with the underground leftist movement in the Philippines. The ongoing war against the longest running Maoist rebellion in the world  has resulted into a piling number of defeats for the Armed Forces- news of successful tactical offensives being waged by the New Peoples Army is surfacing everyday in almost every region of the country.  The mounting defeats of a demoralized army has perhaps prompted his military advisers to lobby for the termination of peace talks with the National Democratic Front, who has been investigating abuses committed by the military under the framework of international humanitarian law, as a member of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the NDF and the GRP.  The administration’s exodus from the talks means that the military can finally consider itself free from the bondage of agreements made such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law which has been used as a basis for alleging crimes by the military. Although technically the GRP is still compelled to abide by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which protects key persons involved in the talks, even after the formal termination itself, the military is not bound by any moral code to uphold agreements it already considers null and void despite its post-termination validity. For the commanders of the AFP, it is sufficient that the possibility of an alliance between rebels and the incumbent regime has been brought to a close.

Duterte’s branding of Maoist rebels as terrorists is an added bonus to the AFP. This declaration opens all sorts of opportunities for the military in their pursuit of communists, employing methods of killing and torture which otherwise would have been frowned upon had they been hunting down rebels with a legitimate cause. As it so happens, there is no uproar on the manner with which terrorists are dealt with even from the most vigilant of international human right groups and benevolent states. And although the military has never really payed that much consideration to the rules of war in the past, they may now act with significantly less trepidation and caution.

Enemies on all fronts

By destroying the yellow opposition, discrediting the media, mobilizing government agencies to fund administration support groups and declaring an all-out war against the Left Duterte thinks he can overcome the impending tremors to his regime. But the fact of the matter is, he has declared war with so many people and groups that he essentially faces enemies on all fronts.

Unfortunately for Duterte, amid successfully dismantling the national machinery of the Liberal Party the remainder of the Aquino-led faction in government is also composed of some of the richest and most powerful people in politics: The Cojuanco-Aquinos of Tarlac, Roxas of Negros, Drilon of Panay and a unique alliance with Antonio Trillanes who apparently is part of a small-yet influential- clique inside the Armed Forces which may be the reason why he isn’t being subjected the full wrath of the administration unlike in the case of Leila Delima who was arrested earlier this year on drug wraps. Their unholy alliance with pseudo-progressive groups like Akbayan makes an available running point for politicians who may consider leaving PDP-Laban in case the tide of popular opinion turns sour for Duterte.

Discrediting national media outlets may have helped water down a number of his senseless remarks as nothing more than ”irresponsible journalism”, but information is information and while his communications team can filter what the media can catch him say when he goes off topic in his speeches, he can’t stop them from documenting the failure of his policies or the lack of it.

As for the Left, well based on the history of our country, no one has ever won against them since the time of their re-founding in the 1960s.

In other words, if Duterte manages not to get ousted in the next five years he can expect charges being filed left and right, maybe even in the International Criminal Court for his brutal drug war which has already claimed tens of thousands of lives. Surveys have indicated that his popularity is steadily decreasing and by the time his term ends, if government doesn’t resolve broad issues like traffic woes, extrajudicial killings and mining concessions, PDP-Laban will just be another Liberal Party come elections in 2021.

So Duterte has to prepare and in fairness to him, he’s doing a good job at it too.

Cementing the support of the ruling class and the military

He’s maximized his ASEAN Chairmanship by winning the favor of economic giants like China, Japan and the United States to augment the national budget and fund his mega infrastructures to make major construction companies’ mouths water with excitement. His emphasis on the service sector by asking congress to remove constitutional barriers on foreign investment means an influx in foreign capital for all sorts of ventures that brings the upper strata of the business class to heel. He’s secured donations from the United States (101 million dollars to be exact) last week to fund military exercises, and counter-insurgency operations to impress the ruling faction of the AFP. House Speaker Alvarez and his other puppets in Congress have even drafted a bill bloating the starting salary of police officers and soldiers from a measly 14,834.00 pesos all the way up to 29,668.00 pesos and potentially that of special police officers and generals on top off promising thousands of free housing units as benefits to combatants.

Checks and Balances?

Securing alliances also means removing constitutional checks and balances. The Supreme Court has the power to strike down policies and laws incoherent with the constitution via judicial review. The Ombudsman can investigate cases of graft, plunder and corruption among government officials, ranking employees and other public servants. The Commission on Human Rights can look into abuses committed by state agencies like the military or the police against unsuspecting civilians and communities in conflict zones. These three agencies are some of the most important constitutional safeguards built in to supposedly protect the Filipino people from the excesses of government power. But how are they faring against the Duterte regime? Are they able to temper the whims of a would-be fascist dictatorship?

While  Duterte has a Supreme Court that arguably has the same political inclinations as he does, interpreting the law rigidly and without respect to who that law is for, there are some of its members who have been fond of issuing dissenting opinions against the majority. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno who is one of the youngest magistrates in the Supreme Court has had a reputation for voting against Duterte’s support for the bail of Enrile, the factual basis for the declaration of martial law and even the legitimacy of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos’ burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, all of which have had a pivotal role in shaping the image of Duterte to the public. On top of voting against the aforementioned moves, the 57-year old chief justice still has more than a decade left before she is required to retire at the age of 70 which is problematic for a President so attuned to the idea of having no one question his decisions.

Today, the chief justice is on the process of being impeached by the House of Representatives. Looking into what we already know about the proceedings, its clear that the complainant Lorenzo Gadon has no personal knowledge with respect to the bases he cited for filing the case. However, with statements from the House Justice Committee threatening to order the arrest of the chief justice and the hand Malacanang plays in the charges themselves, its clear that the fishing expedition presently ongoing in the House committee is nothing but a plot to take down a powerful voice from inside the judiciary, a voice who has had also spoken out against President Duterte’s war on drugs.

In the middle of this year, Congress approved 1000.00 Php for the 2018 Budget of the Commission on Human Rights and Duterte himself called on Chair Chito Gascon to resign. Similar steps have also been taken on the Office of the Ombudsman after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the investigation of Duterte’s alleged ill-gotten wealth in the past.

It is very clear now that Duterte is intent to bring  these constitutional bodies to heel for their opposition to his programs.

Doomed to Fail

Realizing he cannot raise approval ratings without stopping his war on drugs, and because he relies so much on the PNP for support because of the Trillanes-led divide in the AFP, he is forced to resort to a last ditch effort in saving himself and quite possibly his family. Whether it takes its form in a revolutionary government or the declaration of nationwide martial law is still unclear, but whatever the case, we can expect something of that nature is bound to come up and it will be the driving force which will be his own undoing. Unlike Ferdinand Marcos, who sustained nationwide martial law decades due to unrivaled support from the military, Duterte cannot claim he has the same level of control as the late dictator. Even the AFP backed Magdalo party has reservations with how Duterte runs the country. And Cory Aquino kept her revolutionary government long enough to preserve her a six year term because she just won the support of millions of Filipinos. Duterte must realize he doesn’t have either of those key elements, and unless he doesn’t find a way to attain such he isn’t staying in power for long.

In their quest to monopolize power, fascists end up only having themselves. Had Duterte realized the key in staying in power is when you receive the approval of the people, no amount of international pressure or no number of coup d’etats would succeed against him. Had he stayed true to his socialist path, he would have found himself surrounded by the people ready to defend him had the real destabilization plot taken place.

 

 

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What would happen if the crackdown goes full swing?

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The moment President Duterte sets his crackdown against legal progressive organizations like BAYAN, he will have essentially declared an all-out war on unarmed civilians and innocent people working in good faith for fundamental economic reforms.

Behind the President is an unrepentant military resembling a rabid dog muzzled from a hunt, but with the kind of President we have under Rodrigo Duterte, who is unashamed to be referred to as a fascist and is public about his inclinations for dictatorship the higher echelons of the military will jump at the chance to set their battalions loose on a discontented people, beginning with militant and patriotic groups who have consistently been the greatest impediment to their abuses.

The people will not take this attack lightly. With the termination of peace talks between the GRP and the National Democratic Front and the way it was announced by Malacanang, all hope of restructuring our outdated and oppressive economic and political system is virtually gone. What will happen next if organizations who are practically the best at representing their sectors suddenly have their members abducted from their offices at night or arrested in broad daylight? What will happen if Gabriela, the vanguard to women’s rights and welfare in the country, were to suddenly be tagged as terrorists? Or if Piston, the only transport group in the country that has had any serious study of jeepney modernization programs, oil price hikes and other transport qualms, were to have members arrested in the middle of a national highway? What would the public then become?

In a word: Vulnerable.

The best way to prevent tyranny is organized resistance. In the absence of organized groups willing to fend off the military or call out its abuses, citizens will not be able to systematically resist or respond to cases like forced entries from the police into private homes, warrant-less searches, deregulation of public utilities like energy and water, demolitions of urban poor communities, land grabbing and the like. For a moment the public will be in complete disarray, countless human rights violations will take place without being documented and several people will die in the process. Many will fall silent in the hopes that the turmoil is nothing but a rough transition towards a better future. But things only get worse, more violations take place and more people testify the abuses they experience at the hands of state repression. As a matter of historical fact, the discontent will become so pervasive that Duterte himself will be fueling the revolutionary spirit of the Filipino people.

When that happens, the left-leaning organizations Duterte had thought he wiped out will suddenly resurface from the underground. They were never defeated in the first place. In fact, they’re numbers only grew at an unprecedented rate right under the military’s noses.  A political protest will take the national media by storm for its acute size and temerity. No longer will the people’s sentiment be passed along hushed tones, they will now be shouted at in front of the very gates of Malacanang and all the urban centers of the country. The international media will take note of these developments and openly, countries and democratic governments around the world will wave their flags in solidarity with ours as we call for an end to the dictatorship!

In the countrysides, Duterte’s presence will not be felt in the form of social services and government support. He will be represented there by his soldiers, the shining symbol of his iron-clad rule. But because criminal negligence and state sponsored violence make it easy for revolutionary workers to mobilize the peasantry, the military would have already been thinly spread out in the vastness of the countrysides making it impossible to secure any kind of foothold there. Successive protests overwhelm the police and the political unrest in the cities push the administration to recall the military back into prime districts and urban centers where they will quell protesters. By the time they arrive, the sight of armored vehicles, tanks and soldiers with long and high powered firearms will alert additional attention from the international media, the world now witnesses more rallies unfolding in the Philippines as they are covered wall to wall.

As more countries and world leaders frown on our government’s indifference to public clamor, the United States will begin to rethink its alliance with the Duterte regime. To preserve its image as a defender of democracy, the US government will begin issuing statements that call out specific policies from Duterte they disagree with until such a time where they are forced to condemn him and ask him to step down. The moment this happens, the military will lose confidence in their commander in chief. Splits will occur, those who read the political situation correctly begin to jump ship in order to win favor from progressive forces and the massive number of protesters. Those loyal to the administration will simply not be enough to discourage mounting opposition.

At this point, it is unclear what will happen next. There are two possibilities: Duterte can order a last ditch effort to silence his enemies by authorizing dispersals, more violent than before, which will leave dozens killed in order to shake off the less radical from the streets and back into the safety of their homes. Should this happen the number of protesters will be reduced but not at all significantly because by now so many people would have been hardened by their own experience of military intimidation, water cannoning and other innovations in the state’s fascist arsenal. The state is unsuccessful and as more people flood the streets, the gates of Malacanang are breached and the Duterte regime falls.

The second possibility is that the military split becomes so perilous to Duterte’s political stability that he is forced to resign before a full-blown coup detat can be mounted against him on top of fears that protesters tear down palace defenses and surround him with no room for escape. The fear is very real and with a cold sweat, he makes a televised announcement that he is peacefully stepping down from public office. He secretly makes his way into a presidential chopper with only his immediate family, staff and a thick force of his most trusted security personnel. He brings with him what he can and pre-arranges an exit plan to save him from persecution once the new government is established. Finally, the dictatorship crumbles.

In both circumstances, the people emerge victorious.

In a secluded house far away from the people’s immediate reach the Duterte family settles in. The fallen President watches the news. But he’s not really paying any attention to the commentaries or reports. He is in deep thought recounting what he could have done to avoid all that had happened.

He finds it hard to admit to himself that he was indeed his own downfall.

Communist Witch Hunt already happening in Eastern Visayas

Reports talk of statements from Malacanang showing a disgruntled Duterte lashing out, yet again, on Filipino leftists and those he alleges as involved in a major conspiracy to topple down his government. The difference from before is that today, he has essentially given marching orders for the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to arrest “communist fronts” in broad day light and launch a full-scale offensive against armed rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) upon the finalization of an administrative order declaring the CPP’s armed wing as a terrorist organization.

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But these statements come as a no brainer for the people of Eastern Visayas, his announcement predicating the persecution of legal activists and community organizers are reminiscent of harassment cases in recent weeks. Youth activists from the League of Filipino Students-Metro Tacloban Chapter have raised notice of suspicious men suddenly frequenting the entry portals to the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College particularly in times when they had activities held outside. Anakbayan officers also report of a man going about UP Tacloban grounds asking for their names and requesting some utility personnel to tip him off should they be holding meetings and where.

Last November 14 two men had broken in the office of People Surge, a national alliance for disaster survivors, in the middle of the night stealing a laptop, office documents and four flash drives. People Surge Secretary General, Marissa Cabaljao, has also seen a flurry of allegations hurled against her for her involvement in seditious and extortionist activities in Western Samar even if she’s been based in Tacloban City for the past four years. In November 13, Carlito James Badillo, a local peasant leader was illegally abducted by the 87th Infantry Battalion and tortured while detained.

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Carlito ”James” Badillo, local peasant leader from Tag-alag, Samar. Photo from Almond Del Rosario.

Even human right advocates from as far as Northern Samar are being openly defamed. Sargie Macallan, Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas’ provincial chairperson based in Catarman, tells of a certain DJ Whisper operating a small-time radio show sponsored by the military who singled him out for being an accomplice to the New People’s Army a day after he led a dialogue between a peasant community and army officials in the province.

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Sargie Macallan, Katungod-Catarman chairperson talks of DJ Whisper and 20th IB sponsored radio program

In Eastern Visayas, all provincial chapters and member-organizations of BAYAN have raised a red flag indicating that several areas and communities are experiencing multiple cases of militarization and public red-baiting. Much of this has to do with the mounting inclination President Duterte has in suppressing public dissent, as seen true enough in his crackdown on progressive organizations nationwide. These harassment cases are being done with so much temerity and confidence that its almost as if they were intended to serve as a ‘’head start’’ for military elements before a major witch hunt finally comes into full swing like during the time of Major General Jovito Palparan when he was assigned to the region and in the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos three decades ago.

What can be asked of us is simple, the first step in overcoming tyranny is protecting the space we have in exposing it. These spaces include the streets, the alleyways of urban poor communities, footbridges, highways, schools and universities, parks, factories, the airwaves and social media. If these spaces are taken from us we have essentially lost the right to assemble against abuses and call-out government policies and officials. Right now, these spaces are being taken from us piece by piece: KADAMAY protesters in front of the National Housing Authority were brutally dispersed today, as if they did not pay for the streets they stood in protest with. Earlier, fishermen from Navotas and Cavite launching a fluvial parade were halted by the Philippine coast guard simply because “they’ve not allowed to rally”, even the open seas have been made unavailable to voice out our grievances. Everything we do, from the things we say to the people we meet, are all being monitored closely by the state to assess their stability instead of assessing their policies. If there is a time to act, now would be it.

It is immoral for us to allow the Philippines to descend back into a dictatorship, unapologetic of its dying people and unashamed of its atrocities against them. Together, let us resist the crackdown!

6 reasons why we should fight the US-Duterte regime

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It seems to be a generally accepted fact that Duterte is indeed a fascist like all those who came before him. There isn’t any notable discussion or debate about whether or not Duterte’s government violates human rights or crosses the line between instilling a culture of discipline versus a blanket of terror. As a matter of fact, both the Social Whether Station and Pulse Asia surveys indicate a good amount of fear shared by the general public induced by Duterte’s war on drugs, corruption and patronage is still a widely accepted reality and there is no significant voice debunking the aerial bombings in Mindanao and other parts of the country.
So what’s the fuss all about?
What is central to the public discourse about Duterte is not whether he is a fascist dictator or just a misunderstood politician, everybody is acutely aware that he rules with an iron fist. Rather, Filipinos are divided on the issue of whether or not his fascism is justified. This uncertainty is the principle reason why Duterte still enjoys popular support, news from television and print media paint a national image of suffering and desperation that many are inclined to believe we need fascism to reign supreme if only to curb poverty, crime and other immediate concerns of national importance.
It is incumbent upon progressive opinion makers, thought leaders and mass organizers to help people understand why we should not let fear cloud our critical judgement and withdraw from properly discerning our political situation. We created this list of reasons that will prove the importance of moving against tyrannical dictatorship, the adverse universal impact of militarism as an instrument of national policy and the urgency behind exposing the ill-intentions of the present administration.
1. Bases in Marawi ground zero 
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Photo from Aljazeera
In a speech addressing the army made yesterday, Duterte admits he will build a military base in Marawi city, one that is close to the resettlement sites after the Maute-AFP led siege in order to mitigate a future resurgence of terrorism in that part of Mindanao.
In the same breath, Duterte called out the perversion of Islam to suit the agenda of terrorists and referred to acts of terror as something almost exclusively committed by Muslims who don’t understand their faith.
Of course, if you have a president that holds the absurd belief that terrorism is the product of poor theological discernment it should be reasonable to believe that the enforcement of terror-mitigating policies will not be free of a xenophobic culture intent on discriminating and even falsely accusing innocent Muslims to meet with security ends. In a recent statement, Duterte also supported soldiers who allegedly looted houses and business establishments after the AFP retook the city from Maute.
Essentially, Marawi refugees will wake up everyday to the site of soldiers surrounding their communities having forced to live with a cloud of fear and paranoia over their heads, the very same soldiers whom they blame for the ”overkill” in aerial bombings that laid waste to the ancient city and the looting of personal effects and private property from the country’s national Muslim minority.
2. Terror-tagging a revolutionary government
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Photo from Alfredo Mapano
Just a few days ago, Duterte declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist fronts. In addition, the country’s top executive threatens to crackdown Bayan, a legal group of activists that he alleged as conspirators of terrorism.
After having repeatedly dropped peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) ever since February, Duterte said he no longer wants to recognize the CPP’s objective as a political revolution and instead says they have descended into banditry and acts of terror. But Duterte cannot (and should not) casually drop the legitimacy of the national democratic revolution because it represents a mass base amounting to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who believe in the democratic reforms promised by communist rebels. Furthermore, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines has already immortalized their recognition of the revolutionary force’s belligerency when it signed the Hague declaration and other subsequent documents, meaning the whole point of having conceptualized a peace process to begin with is the admission that there are two existing governments in the Philippines: the mainstream government led by Duterte and the revolutionary government of the people.
If Duterte is intent in reducing the socio-economic agenda of the revolution and its instrument of armed struggle as nothing more than terrorism then he has come to a point where he considers any form of meaningful change an affront to the ruling order. In short, Duterte is no less than a true born reactionary hell bent in preserving the status quo. The mere fact that he has extended his threat to legal organizations like Bayan is evidence that he will target all that forwards a challenge to the monopoly of
political power- even if they are protected by the law itself. 11 human rights activists from Karapatan had already been illegally arrested on the day Duterte announces his crackdown of legal activists.
3. IACLA- A Ghost of the Past
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Photo from Philippine National Police
In line with his crackdown of progressive groups and mass activists, Duterte orders the constitution of IACLA or the Inter-agency committee on legal action which will spearhead the filing of charges against revolutionaries, and because its absurd to file charges against rebels who dont even make it to the courts if caught, the brunt of IACLA filed cases will be of legal mass activists (most probably from organizations under Bayan and Bayan itself) who are persecuted for their involvement in mass demonstrations that call out government abuses and community formations that teach the people how to systematically respond to social and economic woes.
Duterte is aware that the greatest checks and balances to his political hegemony is a united people so he brings back President Gloria Arroyo’s Inter-Agency Legal Action Group that indiscriminately files trumped up charges against anyone who so much as hints at political dissent.
 
4. AFP recommends the extension of Martial Law beyond December 31
Looks like we were right from the beginning. When Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao last May, Bayan was among the first to predict that this would be the first step Duterte would take in normalizing the idea of military rule and pave the way to institutionalizing its practice as nothing less than a go-to-mechanism for regimes losing public support.
After having seen for themselves the things to be gained in military rule: unrestricted access to communities, unfettered power and a sudden out pour of government resources for its implementation, the military is set to convince President Duterte to extend Martial Law in Mindanao beyond December 31. Of course this has something to do with numbers 1, 2 and 3. Mindanao has one of the strongest presence of revolutionary groups led by the CPP, if an extension in Martial Law is intended to pacify existing terrorist organizations and Duterte considers the CPP as terrorists then the focus of the military will be to persecute communist rebels immediately after they finished off Maute forces in Marawi late last October dimming further the possibility of the peace talks resuming. But they’ve been at it for decades now and they still can’t make Mindanao NPA-free, so to channel their frustration and drive a dent to the national democratic movement, the AFP will now focus on red-tagging (or in this case terror-tagging) alliances, institutions and organizations directly involved in organizing communities for massive protests and other patriotic initiatives but are actually independent from the CPP-NPA-NDFP.
 
5. Immediately after leaving the Philippines, US President Donald Trump invests more than 100 million dollars in the AFP
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As if on cue, President Donald Trump seemed rather enthusiastic after having sent more than a hundred million US dollars to the Philippines to support anti-terror initiatives by the AFP and Marawi rehabilitation (Which at this point may include the construction of the Marawi military base) when the ASEAN and East Asia Summits had concluded last November 14.
There is no doubting the direct hand the US is playing in not just influencing but specifically directing the position of the Duterte administration in important policies. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) permits the construction of foreign military bases and the positioning of foreign troops on Philippine soil. Is it possible that the new military base in Marawi will be foreign owned? After all, in the speech revealing his intent to construct one President Duterte referred to the fact that many years ago a military base did exist in Kilometer 0 found in the city. His historic justification points to a 1950s directive from the Philippine government declaring Marawi a foreign military reserve, so it may just be possible if not definitively so.
 
6. House moves to add special powers to the PNP-CIDG after Duterte admits that operating the drug war should be transferred back to the PNP.
House Bil 4863 or the “Strengthening The Philippine National Police – Criminal Investigation And Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) By Restoring Its Authority To Issue Subpoena Ad Testificandum Or Subpoena Duces Tecum” was recently approved by the House of Representatives yesterday in a bid to reduce criminality in the country. However, because of strengthening the CIDG the House of Representatives had effectively given a government agency with a bloody record of abusing its authority a leeway to harass innocent civilians in the process of conducting fishing expeditions against communists, rebels and other government targets.
A strengthened CIDG may also mean more extra-judicial killings and police sponsored violence, after all CIDG officials had also been responsible for the bloody slay of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa earlier this year.
WHAT IT MEANS TO US AND OUR POSTERITY
Despite downplaying its possibility, hints of Duterte declaring a revolutionary government has persisted and lingered with reports circulating that the matter has been casually discussed in cabinet meetings among other venues. Even Duterte had admitted of the gains he could get in declaring one. But while the President has repeatedly denied its possibility, after a thorough analysis of the political situation based on the above points,  we can’t help but arrive at the conclusion that somehow recent political developments are prepping the road towards a revolutionary government-Duterte style.
No doubt, a strengthened CIDG plays in favor of the possibility that Duterte will declare a revolutionary government and needs a police force fully equipped in curbing dissent in the urban centers, no different from when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who used the Philippine Constabulary to commit atrocities against human rights on a national scale.
The extension of Martial Law in Mindanao may be one of the most crucial steps towards a revolutionary government because it will give the administration the opportunity to hunt down NPA rebels without having to paint an international image that the Duterte government had changed government systems because of political turmoil. It is important for Duterte and his military clique to package the declaration of a revolutionary government as a way to expedite economic reforms and not as a method in ending a powerful rebellion especially after he had succeeded in presenting himself as a strong leader before his fellow ASEAN leaders and to President Donald Trump himself. Changing government systems from an elected-Presidential system to what can essentially be considered a dictatorship will damage his reputation as an uncontested ruler in the orient. So first things first, use a publicly ratified constitution with constitutional mechanisms in ending rebellions to add some sort of ”decency” in the crude act of exterminating peasants and workers in full revolt.
Crucial as it is, Martial Law however is not enough. History has taught modern autocrats that a single and generalist policy for laying a blanket of fear is not enough to convince the people not to protest and overthrow the incumbent administration. Measures must be undertaken to track and dispose of those who are not afraid to rally and protest amid military rule. So those who organize in the streets and launch public demonstrations will be hunted down and tagged, not as revolutionaries-who in times of Martial law earn a sense of affection from the people- but as cold blooded and inhumane terrorists. This is where the crackdown on Bayan and its member orgs will come in and the IACLA will smoothen the process of doing so.
But who will this dictatorship be for? Will it be for Duterte and his lapdogs in cabinet? Will it be for his friends in the higher echelons of the military? Well, yes. But ultimately the not-so revolutionary government that is forthcoming will serve the interest of the United States of America- The Philippines longest running imperialist plunderer.
The US support for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which lifts trade blockages and tariffs that are impediments to free trade, the recent edict from Malacanang to hasten the removal of Foreign Direct Investment barriers, the lifting of the open-pit mining ban nationwide and other neoliberal economic policies all have one thing in common: They serve the US.
In a world market dominated by US surplus capital, who stands to benefit from a Philippines with no trade barriers? Whoever invests the most in the Philippines, pump priming the economy has the greatest say in domestic economic policies. If the United States already has billions invested in the country to have the level of influence it has today, how much more will it be willing to invest in an investment-barrier free country just to gain the last few votes in government? And if 97 percent of all profit that comes from the national mining industry goes to the US and Canada, who’s in line to gain from Cimatu’s open-pit mining ban reversal?
The United States.
In the end it’s not just a battle among Filipinos. On a greater scale, our role in the determination of our world’s future is affirmed when we are met with the choice of rejecting US hegemony or wholeheartedly accepting it. The greatest threat to their success are the armed communist revolutionaries, who from the cold war have long fought imperialist aggression worldwide with their own armed advances, and a broad united people who believe in the patriotic ideals of national sovereignty, independence  and freedom from the yoke of foreign exploitation. The United States has seen what a united people can do, they have seen it in China when their invading forces were vomited out in the early 1900s, they saw it in Vietnam who gave the United States their most humiliating defeat in the past century, they saw it in Cuba when Havana had practically thrown out the US-installed Batista and they see it in the Philippines, in the national democratic movement that has persisted despite international terror-tagging, bombardment from foreign and local military forces, orchestrated subversion by global intelligence groups and widespread poverty in the span of nearly five decades.
Why should we fight the US-Duterte regime? Because we have been repeatedly told we cannot. Far be it for elected representatives and foreign powers to undermine the raw strength of a people who’s rich history of revolution and struggle has painted a global reputation against oppression that cannot be undone by anyone or anything. Being willing to fight is a sign that we are critically analyzing the concrete situation of the Philippines, it means we have arrived at a point of unity against our oppressors, a level of political consciousness that indicates selflessness and an appreciation for our posterity as a nation. Why fight? Because it is our responsibility to ourselves, to each other and to the world.
Fill the streets, fill the mountains. Be unafraid.
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Photo from Eastern Vista

Defend our national patrimony, dump Trump says Eastern Visayas activists

It is a conundrum why a President who claims to be against the exploits of the United States half a century ago is so eager to welcome their leader to the country in the present. If countries like the United Kingdom have voted to ban the visit of Donald Trump on the basis of racial slurs, elitist posturing and remarks against women then it should be easy for a country like ours to deny entry to a man who represents decades of human rights violations, war crimes and economic displacement to a people who have fought and won their independence with sweat and blood.

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Not only is Trump responsible for pressing difficulty on immigrants and worsening the wars with different countries in the East, Trump was also caught praising Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against drugs last April when he made a special call to Malacanang. By that time, more than 10,000 people had already been killed by the administrations drug war and international human rights groups had already called on other governments to compel the Philippines to end its tirade against the urban poor. This just goes to show that Trump is no less than a tyrant himself, a fascist replica of Duterte in the west.

In so far as the progressive alliances and mass organizations of our region are concerned, Trump is no friend of the East and neither that of the Philippines. The United States has been relentless in preserving the backwardness of our economy and the suffering of our peasants by nudging the landlord class towards land and crop conversion to serve the narrow interest of the foreign market. With agricultural lands being converted into residential spaces, tourist destinations, information and technology parks it is no wonder why the contribution of farmer-output to the regional gross domestic product back in 2013 has yet to be recovered even after four years of “rehabilitation”. The fact that there is no aid given to farm workers and peasants in Eastern Visayas is evidence that the Duterte administration has abandoned the majority of our people and condemned them into poverty. The poverty of the peasantry will push the able and young to join the service sector, a sector meant to serve as grounds for the circulation of imported goods in the context of a semi-colonial society, and solidify the United States’ hold over local production, whatever may be left of it, to serve the raw material demands of large American corporate magnates.

Under the Trump administration, the deregulation over the agriculture sector nationwide is all but sure. Trump has hinted on the forging of international free trade agreements that are more suited to the interest of its parties, and is short for saying that he will pursue the exact same thrust as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement but will use a different name for it, one that does not reverberate anything that has to do with the old Obama administration. So the policy of free trade remains the same, and just like Obama, it is impressed on the Filipino people under Trump. Behind the fragrant and simplistic appearance of ‘free trade’, agri-liberalization makes its way into all the frontiers of our country, into every farm and every province until the whole agriculture sector is nothing but an unconditional supplier of cheap raw materials to be processed into finished goods that will be jam packed into the Philippine economy once again, only that it is exponentially more expensive.

Trump will not come alone to the Philippines. He will bring with him the heat of war and all the suffering that comes with it. As the United States is further embroiled into a nuclear crisis with North Korea, it is obvious that his Asian trip is designed to win the support of Asian heads of state and governments in the hopes of solidifying the American hold over the East. But North Korea carries with it the confidence of a socialist economy and the industry that can support a nuclear weapon’s program enough to threaten the world’s strongest military force. The Philippines’ accommodation of Donald Trump will involve the country into an inevitable melt down between the two countries, for sure the Duterte administration will religiously enlist itself in a war the United States has made all because he is emphatic of pleasing his foreign masters.

For the sake of our economic sovereignty, for the sake of our peasantry and for the sake of our patrimony, the Duterte administration must reject the visit of Donald Trump and stand on behalf of an free nation ready to rescind all lopsided agreements we have with the United States and build a truly independent Philippines with an equally independent foreign policy.

#BlackFridayProtest | Martial Law, diri kabatunan para makab-ot an kamurayawan para ha katawhan han Mindanao – BAYAN SB

Pahayag han Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Sinirangan Bisayas ha Adlaw han Black Friday Protest

BAYANEV BlackFriday Protest
Mga alyado nga organisasyon han Bayan Sinirangan Bisayas naglansar hin rally kadugan han nasyunal nga #BlackFridayProtest. Photo (c) Kelvin Tonzon Facebook account

PRESS STATEMENT
MAY 26, 2017

MARTIAL LAW, DIRI KABATUNAN PARA MAKAB-OT AN KAMURAYAWAN PARA HA KATAWHAN HAN MINDANAO – BAYAN SINIRANGAN BISAYAS

Hugot nga ginkukundenar han Bayan Sinirangan Bisayas (BAYAN-SB) an pagdestroso, pagsunog ngan pag-okupar han mga pasilidad ha mga komunidad nga binuhatan han Maute group nga nagresulta hin kahibang han mga kinabuhi ngan pakabuhi, sugad man ha kadislokar han yinukot-yukot nga katawhan han Marawi.

Pero, hugot nga gintitipahan han BAYAN-SB an deklarasyon ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte nga Martial Law ha bug-os nga isla han Mindanao, kahuman han nagin enkwentro giutan han tropa han Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ngan Maute group ha siyudad han Marawi.

Dako an tahap nga an deklarasyon han Martial Law in pitad nga nahimugna tungod han kunsabuhay han imperyalismo nga US ngan an mga lokal nga mga niyutiyo hini sugad kan DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ngan an pira pa nga mga pasista nga elemento ha gabinete ni Duterte. Ha pagpatuman hin balaud militar, igin-abre hini an dako nga posibilidad ha pagsingabot han mga pasista nga elemento han estado ha ira gahum pampulitika-militar, nga nahitatabo bisan pa man hadton waray pa igdeklara an Martial Law.

Mahibabaruan nga sobra 8,000 na an pinanmatay tungod han “drug war” ngan mga insidente hin pagkaso, pagdakop han mga gintatahapan nga kaaway han gobyerno. Halaba na gihap an rekord han AFP ngan han Philippine National Police (PNP) ha pagtalapas han tawhanon nga katungod.

Ha pag-intindi ha kamutangan han kagubot ha Mindanao, diri angay hingalimtan han katawhan nga an imperyalista nga US asya an numero uno nga terorista ha bug-os nga kalibutan. Ginhimo ngan gin-armasan han US an mga IS groups ngan Abu Sayyaf para tagan hin rason an iya interbensiyon militar ha mga nasud kun diin mayda hiya dako nga interes ha karukayaknon han ekonomiya.

Sugadman han katatapos pala nga ika-33 nga Balikatan Exercises nganhi ha Sinirangan Bisayas, ini nga presente nga panhitabo ha Marawi City in usa nga perpekto nga oportunidad nga sisingabuton han imperyalista nga US ngan mersernaryo nga AFP para pakusgon ngan himuon nga lehitimo an ira mga opensiba kontra ha tanan nga pwersa ha Mindanao, ma-terorista man o diri.

Diri angay hingalimtan han katawhan nga an padayon nga gerra ha Mindanao in resulta han pira ka-dekada nga pananalumpigos han imperyalista nga mga nasud ha pangunguna han US ngan han mga lokal nga naghahadi nga klase. Padayon nga ginhihikawan an aton mga kabugtuan nga Moro han ira katungod nga magdesisyon para ha ira kalugaringon nga kagawasan hini nga mga pwersa.

#BlackFridayProtest in Tacloban City
Photo (c) Kelvin Tonzon Facebook account

Kinahanglan kitaon ni Duterte nga damo an mga armado nga grupo ha Mindanao sugad han New People’s Army, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ngan Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) nga kaistorya han gobyerno ha peace talks. Posible ini makaguba o mahingadto ha mas tikagrabe nga gerra ha Mindanao ngan ha bug-os nga Pilipinas.

Diri solusyon an pasista ngan militarista nga pagresolba han krisis panseguridad ha siyudad han Marawi. Sanglit, angay nga dagmit bulkason ni Duterte an iya deklarasyon han Martial Law. Diri angay hingalimtan han katawhan nga samtang diri nareresolba an ugat han gerra sibil, diri la ha Mindanao kundi ha bug-os nga nasud, diri makakab-ot an tinuod ngan panmaihaan nga kamurayawan.#

KATUNGOD PANTAWO, RESPETUHAN!
ATUHAN AN TERORISMO NGAN PASISMO KONTRA KATAWHAN!
MARTIAL LAW, DIRI SOLUSYON HA KAGUBOT HA MINDANAO!
NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!

#
StandWithMarawi

#JustPeace
#NeverAgain
#DownWithUSImperialism

Martial Law will not bring peace to the people of Mindanao – BAYAN EV

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PRESS STATEMENT
MAY 24, 2017

MARTIAL LAW WILL NOT BRING PEACE TO THE PEOPLE OF MINDANAO – BAYAN EASTERN VISAYAS

BAYAN Eastern Visayas declared opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law for the entire island of Mindanao in light of the siege involving troops of the Armed Forces of the Filipinos and the Maute group in the city of Marawi.

“The declaration of Martial Law is suspiciously an orchestrated response masterminded by US imperialism and its local running dogs such as DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and many fascist elements in the Duterte cabinet. Instead of restoring peace, Martial Law will open not only Marawi City but the entirety of Mindanao to state security forces notorious for human rights violations,” said Rey Miranda, Bayan Eastern Visayas (Bayan-EV) Secretary General.

Yesterday, President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement through Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. He is bound to return home today, cutting short his official trip in Russia.

“Let us not forget that US has crafted and armed IS groups and the Abu Sayyaf Group to justify its military intervention not just here in the Philippines but all throughout the world. Like the recently concluded 33rd Balikatan Exercises here in Eastern Visayas, the crisis situation in Marawi City is a ticket for US’ local war hawks and the mercenary AFP to legitimize and intensify their operations against all forces in Mindanao, “terrorist” or not,” added Miranda.

Meanwhile, Bayan EV has condemned the destruction and occupation of civilian facilities attributed to the Maute group.
“The various struggles in Mindanao are borne out of decades-old oppression and exploitation and the denial of the right to self-determination of the Moro peoples. Ekonomya pa rin ang usapin dito. Duterte must abandon the militarist response to the situation in Mindanao and instead redirect the government’s efforts to forge just and lasting peace by resolving the roots of all armed conflicts in the country,” ended Miranda.
Bayan EV is set to hold a mass action for peace today in Tacloban City.#

MARTIAL LAW, DIRI SOLUSYON HA KAGUBOT HA MINDANAO!
#StandWithMarawi #JustPeace #NeverAgain #DownWithUSImperialism

 

Reference:

REY MIRANDA
Secretary General
Bayan Sinirangan Bisayas
Contact info: 09295551343