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Duterte SONA: Empty Gains, More Bloodshed

Expect the bloodshed to continue.

President Duterte has only confirmed what we already know to be true: that the drug war is relentless in its disregard for due process and rule of law, and chilling in the unprecedented level of violence and impunity. His campaign against drugs has failed to solve the drug problem as it has yet to jail big drug personalities and stop the flow of drugs into the country. What is clear is that the widespread terror caused is wielded as a weapon by Duterte to impose his own design of authoritarian rule.

As Duterte vowed no justice for more than 23,000 deaths, it becomes more urgent not only for the victims’ families but for all of us—potential future victims of extra judicial killings-- to pursue an international independent investigation into the war on drugs and the EJK cases before the International Criminal Court. Duterte has sanctioned the slaughter of lives figuratively and literally- from the bloody war against drugs to the economically disastrous TRAIN Law- to favour the interests of his oligarch friends. Now, two years into his term, the Philippines is in the midst of a death squad epidemic, the national police turned killing machine, an infestation of fake news, historical revisionism and distorted human rights concepts… breaking the moral fabric of society.

Yet Duterte’s SONA only raises more questions: what ‘decent dignified future’ is in store for a country bereft of competent leadership? Don’t his promises of ending contractualization aim to fulfil the right to decent jobs, to end mining the right to a healthy environment, to enact a genuine Bangsamoro Organic Law the right to self-determination? But how can Duterte make good on these promises when he has crippled the democratic processes and institutions needed for their effective implementation? These are all subverted by his desire to exercise absolute power above what has been accrued to him by the present Constitution.

The historic coming together of people outside the halls of Congress in a United Peoples’ SONA shows that regardless of political views and persuasions, all have agreed on the need to address the damage Duterte’s policies has wrought upon the nation. As we all know the power of any true democracy lies in the hand of its people. Their voices shall likewise be relentless and could only grow stronger. And as more people begin to see the truth, they will eventually reject Duterte’s lies. This should give him pause that the people won’t seek his removal as their final redress.