On this day, Duterte would be celebrating his fourth year since he was sworn into presidency, a seat won through promises of change, standing up to imperialist bullies, eliminating crime and corruption. A man who talked tough but banked on people’s hunger for change and appeal to the masses as he presented himself who knew their struggles, and postured himself as a potent force against the ruling class.
Just like his predecessors, however, through time upon sitting, he adorned his clothes with that of a blood-red hue – stained from the deaths of tens of thousands and the torment of many more millions of people punished under the weight of his treachery, corruption, brutality, and oppression. Four years on, the oppression and exploitation of Filipinos continue to intensify, as he and his cohorts daringly take advantage of the pandemic amid their ineptitude to address the crisis to forward their own selfish interests.
First, before and in the middle of the pandemic, Duterte has displayed a treacherous loyalty to China, shielding it from any accountability and showering it with praises, while being blind to its encroachment on our territory and national assets, being the primary protector of its offshore gaming operations while disallowing millions of people to work due to the lack of a clear program for mass testing. Recently, just like what happened to the sinking of the Gem-Ver, the recent sinking of the F/V Liberty Cinco which has left 12 fishermen and 2 others missing shows yet again the lack of condemnation on the accountability of Chinese vessels wrecking havoc on our seas and fishermen. Despite his more outspoken friendliness towards our Asian neighbor, he has proven that he still is an important asset for the advancement of imperialist interests of the United States, with the recent withdrawal of the suspension of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
Second, the P275 billion allotted for social amelioration and the funding of medical solutions have produced ineffective results, evidenced by the millions of people still suffering from the lack of aid and the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases, with the country having the fastest rising number of cases in the Western Pacific Region. The additional loans meant to augment efforts to resolve the crisis seem to have no significant effect in improving the current efforts being undertaken. The funds do not translate to better services for the people; corruption and theft is in full swing.
Third, In the middle of the crisis, Duterte puts salt in the wounds of the increasing number of Filipinos who experience hardship due to the misplaced priorities of putting primacy on police-military handling of the crisis instead of a health-based approach. The lack of socio-economic aid to millions, the insistence of a “new normal” which punishes the populace of which the majority is poverty-stricken, and the railroading of neoliberal and anti-people policies, with the recent jeepney phaseout being the latest manifestation.
Finally, Duterte and his allies seek to silence and force into submission all who try to expose his incompetence and dreams of authoritarian rule. Instead of focusing all its energies in resolving the pandemic, he jails people expressing their constitutional right to air grievances and just demands, attacks the press such as ABS-CBN and Maria Ressa by twisting the law against them, and lastly, by pursuing with urgency the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill with the full instruments of the state, legalizing state terror and paving the way for the death of democracy.
On these four bases, the youth is one with the Filipino people in uniting and calling for an end to the deplorable state of our nation, to hold Duterte and his regime accountable for all their lapses and crimes against the people, and to demand and seek better governance and government. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, Duterte rides his four horses of treachery, corruption, oppression, and brutality which seeks to bring the nation to its knees and send it to the ground. Only the people, united in its goal to reclaim the power emanating from them, can bring about true liberation and pass judgment on exploiters and oppressors alike.