Key economic and political prospects for 2019

Let us take stock of the key economic and political prospects for 2019 in order and firmly carry out our tasks to further strengthen the Party and advance the people’s revolutionary struggles. This year, the Party calls on the Filipino people to intensify with all energy the struggle to oust the puppet, fascist and corrupt Duterte regime.

We must broaden and strengthen even more the united front of all democratic forces and resist Duterte’s attacks against democratic rights and his scheme to establish an open fascist dictatorship either through open declaration of nationwide martial law or through “cha-cha.” The Party urges the people to wage all forms of struggle, especially armed resistance being waged by the New People’s Army (NPA) in order to carry forward the national democratic revolution.

1. Over the next few months, Duterte will carry out even more desperate acts to further monopolize power and impose dictatorial rule in the guise of “charter change” for a pseudo-federal system with centralized powers. Wielding “national emergency” powers, he will employ the AFP and PNP to intimidate the people and and his appointees in Comelec to hack the electronic counting system, he is set on manipulating the upcoming midterm elections to secure majority control of congress and local government (assuming Duterte does not find reason to cancel the elections altogether). Under Duterte’s reign of terror, the upcoming reactionary elections will likely be one of the worst in terms of violence and rotteness.

If Duterte succeeds in setting up a majority in congress, he will likely be able to install himself as a Marcos-type “constitutional” dictator before the end of his term. If he fails, he will likely continue with further broadening “emergency powers” towards open declaration and imposition of nationwide martial law. Either way, he will become even more politically isolated and more dependent on his military cabal to consolidate his power amid rising clamor for his ouster.

2. The convulsions of ruling political system under the Duterte regime arise from the deepening economic crisis. This year, the country is set to suffer from record trade and fiscal deficits in the face of slow exports growth amid global economic stagnation and rapid increases in importation of overproduced capital goods and consumer items. The regime is bent on borrowing excessive amounts of funds to cause temporary economic boosts and to feed the kickback-hungry horde of bureaucrat capitalists. The Duterte regime will act even more compliant to demands and policy-dictates of foreign financial institutions and governments to the further deteriment of the country’s economic sovereignty and patrimony.

3. Corruption this year will become even more rampant and undisguised as gargantuan amounts of people’s money are pocketed through Duterte’s dummies, cronies and political allies in the form of pork barrel, cuts in government contracts, bribe money and “finders fees.” Duterte’s anti-corruption pretenses will be further discredited.

The problem of rampant drug smuggling and use will grow even worse after Duterte’s criminal gang has taken direct full control of shabu smuggling. Duterte’s “drug war” will be further rejected by the people as the violent conflict involving the police force over “territories” continues to spiral. His promises to end the drug problem will be thoroughly exposed as a farce.

4. Duterte will display even more servility to the US, especially in military terms. US military advisers will be playing an increasingly key role in his regime’s counterinsurgency drive (Oplan Kapayapaan and NISP 2018) devised in accordance with US doctrine. Furthermore, amid heightening US-China trade war and rising tensions in the South China Sea, the US is set to secure its military foothold in the country through the Duterte regime to serve as staging point of its military operations and power projection against the rising Chinese economic and military challenge to US power.

5. In line with Duterte’s dictatorship scheme, he aims to suppress all opposition to his tyranny by carrying out a further crackdown against the legal democratic forces using both the legal offensive of arresting and slapping trumped-up charges and extrajudicial killings against activists and mass leaders. Attacks against democratic rights in both urban and rural areas will become even more brazen. Duterte and the AFP has stepped up its Red-tagging against various democratic mass organizations, alliances and party-list groups with the specific aim of preventing progressives from gaining seats in parliament and justifying wholesale suppression of rights. Duterte’s all-out war is set to become a total war against the rural population with Duterte’s proclaimed plan to bring back the gross practice of hamletting or population concentration and control in the name of “peace and development.”

6. The Filipino people will suffer even worse social and economic hardships this year as the Duterte regime imposes more taxes, wastes more public funds for increasingly large military expenses to the detriment of social spending and borrows more foreign loans for unproductive and antipeople infrastructure projects. Duterte’s policies will cause further skyrocketing prices, rising cost of living, worse mass unemployment, depressed wages and economic dislocations.

7. Worsening social conditions will stoke even bigger mass protests this year. There will be more factory protests and strikes against Duterte’s policy of wage depression and failed promise to end contractualization. An upsurge of protests can break out in the face of a sharp decline in the people’s standards of living as a result of Duterte’s more grievous economic policies as well as attacks against democratic rights.

Rural mass protests are bound to break out against military abuses and the regime’s AFP-led plan to drive away peasants and national minorities from their land to pave the way for infrastructure, tourism and energy projects as well as plantations for oil palm and other export crops. The nationwide movement for genuine land reform is set to further advance as the reactionary regime’s fake land reform program is thoroughly exposed and discredited.

8. Duterte’s scheme to impose an open dictatorship will cause the further broadening of the anti-fascist united front of all democratic forces. Widespread electoral fraud by the Duterte forces in favor of his mediocre political endoresees and further consolidation of Duterte’s political power will compel opposition political parties and groups to more actively pursue extra-parliamentary arena to oppose Duterte’s rule.

Whether or not Duterte is able to establish his dictatorship this year, his attempts to do so will make his political alliances increasingly untenable, especially with the Arroyo clique which has been actively demanding a greater share in the bureaucratic loot.
Furthermore, by becoming ever reliant on military officers, he is putting himself more squarely in the crosshairs of a coup or withdrawal of support either by his own loyalists in the AFP or those disgruntled by his favoritism.

9. There is growing disenchantment within the AFP especially among its foot soldiers and paramilitaries in the face of worsening corruption among military officials. Duterte’s military forces are being overstretched. More parts are being made vulnerable to NPA offensives. His troops are growing restive and tired for being overworked in successive combat operations in mostly fruitless non-stop military offensives. The AFP will suffer a political backlash for incessantly conducting costly artillery and aerial bombardments and military offensives which result in widespread violation of democratic rights and cause grave impact on the livelihood of the masses.

10. Duterte’s promise to crush the NPA by mid-year will be roundly frustrated. He has less than six months to go. This early, military and police officials are already downplaying their braggadocio declaring “more realistically” that they aim to “reduce the NPA strength” before the end of the year and again moving their “crushing” deadline to 2022.

This year, as the Filipino people look forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of their genuine army on March 29, the NPA must continue with its nationwide growth and advance of the revolutionary armed struggle. The momentum of NPA tactical offensives over the last months of 2018 is set to further gain ground in the coming months and deal even bigger blows against the AFP and the Duterte regime.