Saturday, 9 December 2017
On a platform of change Duterte won the Presidency. More than one year into his term, change only came in the form of deeper poverty and corruption, betrayed hopes and political suppression.
From the promises of eliminating drug trafficking, crime, corruption, ending contractualization, demolitions, ending environmental destruction, oligarchy, and the decades old war with the CPP-NPA rebels, nothing has been fulfilled except the persecution of political opponents, destruction of democratic institutions, undermining of due process, fake news, twisted values and renewed war.
The House of Representatives has just voted to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked with recovering the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The vote is a devastating blow to the country’s pursuit of justice and compensation to the tens of thousands of victims of Marcos’ human rights atrocities.
Duterte’s war on drugs which continue to kill poor Filipinos is now being used to tag political activists and human rights defenders for assassination. The drug war is set to re-escalate with the return of the Philippine National Police to an active role. The assassination of Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez poses a grim warning that targets of EJKs now include so-called “suspected terrorists”.
Instead of pursuing the peace processes government is set to bulldoze Federalism on us, pushed by government sponsored mobilizations purportedly to call for its immediate enactment. The plot reeks of authoritarianism and a return of despotic martial rule.
As Duterte’s failed promises continue to unravel and his weak leadership is unmasked, he will exact harsher measures to preempt protests- in case the people have not yet been silenced by the “shock and awe” of the bloody drug war. As the economy worsens so will Duterte’s campaign for the elimination of any and all opposition, locally and internationally.
Now more than ever, human rights must be upheld and celebrated, if the people are to survive the onslaught of the Duterte government. If Philippine society must protect its democratic institutions, the Constitution, the truth and if it must simply do what’s right, it must defend human rights.
“If we do not struggle with all that we have and do all that we can to vindicate our rights, we not only condemn our rights to death; we also condemn our hopes and our dreams, our present, and our children’s future” (the late Senator Jose W. Diokno)