Tomorrow, September 21, the Filipino people will mark the declaration of martial law and imposition of open fascist rule by the US-Marcos dictatorship in 1972, nearly fifty years ago. It will always be relevant to recall one of the darkest periods in Philippine history, when more than 70,000 were incarcerated as political dissidents, 34,000 tortured, 3,200 summarily executed and the rights and freedoms of millions curtailed and trampled upon.
For a decade and a half, the dictator Marcos and his family, his cronies and armed minions plundered the country, stole and stashed away billions of pesos in public money. Marcos presided over an economic crisis as the neoliberal policy regime began to define the impositions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank starting the mid-1970s. In exchange for IMF/WB loans, Marcos reduced social subsidies, imposed taxes, further liberalized trade, pressed down wages, gave foreign investors tax incentives and so on.
Under Marcos, the crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal system worsened. In accordance with the IMF/WB’s so-called “structural readjustment programs,” Marcos’ fiscal and economic policies made the Filipino people suffer from widespread unemployment, rural displacement, low wages, labor migration, ballooning foreign debt, peso devaluations, oil price increases, rising costs of living and overall deterioration of their social conditions.
The Marcoses were overthrown in 1986 in a mass uprising that served as culmination of 14 years of anti-dictatorship struggle in which millions of people took part in various forms of resistance. For years, activists carried out clandestine work of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the workers, students and other sectors, eventually shattering the martial law terror and mounting open forms of protests. The armed struggle waged by the New People’s Army, under the Party’s’ leadership, served as one of the most persevering and effective forms of resistance which dealt the most significant blows against the Marcos regime.
The commemoration of Marcos martial law this year is profoundly significant as the Filipino people confront the tyrant Duterte who unabashedly declares his admiration for Marcos and advocates the use of state violence to impose his will on the people. He gave Marcos a “hero’s burial” and allowed the complete rehabilitation of the Marcoses after successive regimes since 1986 all refused to punish the Marcoses in a show of class fealty. With their wealth plundered from the people largely intact, the Marcoses remain one of the most powerful ruling class families.
The CPP enjoins the Filipino people to draw inspiration from their own history of heroic struggle against the Marcos fascist regime in their resistance against the US-backed Duterte regime.
With his reign of terror, mass murder and rampant police and military abuses, Duterte has joined Marcos as among the most detested icons of fascism in Philippine history. He has openly expressed contempt for human rights which he considers an impediment to the interest of foreign big business. He respects no right nor freedom in his regime’s drive to subject the Filipino people to ever worsening forms of oppression and exploitation.
Duterte has incited the PNP and AFP to commit grave abuses against the people. Police and Duterte vigilante groups have gone berserk. More than 20,000 people have been killed in his so-called war against drugs which is nothing but a war among big drug syndicates, including those under his protection. Everyday, tens of thousands of peasants and minority peoples are subjected to military abuses, harassment, intimidation and coercion under its Oplan Kapayapaan war of suppression.
Military and paramilitary groups have perpetrated the killing of more than one hundred peasant activists. At least five hundred political prisoners remain in jail.
Much like Marcos’ binge of anomaly-ridden white elephant projects, Duterte is pushing hard with his Build, Build, Build program where government contracts for construction projects are awarded to his dummies and cronies as well as to favored big bourgeois compradors as a form of payment for support during the elections. Like the Marcoses, the Duterte family is amassing wealth through kickbacks, bribery and protection money by criminal syndicates. The Duterte regime is set on borrowing tens of billions of dollars in high-interest loans to finance these projects. These projects include dams and airports which threaten to drive away people from their ancestral domain, agricultural land, coastal areas and other places of residence and work.
To finance these loans, the Duterte regime has imposed a slew of burdensome taxes under the TRAIN law, long-espoused by credit rating agencies and IMF/WB-trained neoliberal technocrats. Since the start of the year, prices of rice, fish, other food items and basic commodities have skyrocketed. Inflation is at a decade-high. The Filipino people are suffering gravely from high prices, low wages and widespread unemployment. Pronouncements by Duterte’s economic managers that the Philippines is set on becoming an upper-middle income country by 2019 is utterly baseless.
Continuing the liberalization policies since the 1970s, the Duterte regime is bent on further pushing trade liberalization in line with the WTO/GATT policy regime. To justify the plan to remove trade barriers to importation of rice and other commodities, Duterte makes false claims that these will solve the problem of inflation, omitting the fact that domestic prices have risen incessantly even with the increased importation of rice and other agricultural commodities over the past decade. Duterte has instead perpetuated state neglect of domestic food production, with plans to further cut agricultural subsidies.
The economy is fast approaching a severe crisis as deficits in foreign trade and balance of payments are soaring to historic highs. Last week, the Philippine peso hit 54 to the US dollar, its lowest in almost one decade and a half. The Duterte government is increasingly bankrupt and will be increasingly dependent on borrowing money and imposing new taxes.
The Duterte regime’s economic policy is basically a continuation of the policies of the past forty years under Marcos and all post-Marcos pseudodemocratic regimes. The crisis of the backward, agrarian, import-dependent and export-oriented economy continues to worsen. The semicolonial and semifeudal system is rapidly decaying. The Filipino people are suffering from sharply deteriorating socio-economic conditions. The situation is ever favorable for waging armed struggle and all forms of resistance and accelerating the downfall of the fascist Duterte.
Workers are being driven to struggle for wage increases, demand job security and assert their democratic rights to form unions and collectively bargain.
The peasant masses and oppressed minority peoples are being compelled to rise up in their numbers to defend their land against the encroachment of mining companies, big plantations and dam projects, assert their right to cultivate idle public or hacienda lands for food production, demand just prices for their produce, state subsidy for production, funds for calamity relief, debt cancellation and so on.
The Filipino people are clamoring for a solution to the rising prices of food, costs of education, medicine and other commodities. They demand jobs and an end to the labor-export policy. They demand subsidies for free education, mass housing and support for public health. Moreoever, they demand justice for all victims of killings and abuses perpetrated by police and military forces and an end to Duterte’s Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Kapayapaan and its war against the Moro people.
The Duterte regime is beset by an increasingly intense political crisis. Its alliance with the Marcos and Arroyo cliques is further isolating it from the people. At the same time, it is weakening internally as various factions jostle for support and contend over pork barrel as the reactionary system gears for next year’s elections. Duterte’s drive to preempt the elections with his dictatorship project in the guise of charter change is being met with stiff resistance, even by some of his allies who are wary of Duterte plans to perpetuate himself in power.
His penchant to persecute his political rivals is rousing the various democratic forces to further unite and intensify their common struggle to oust Duterte from Malacañang. A broad united front has emerged opposing Duterte’s tyranny, resisting his dictatorship schemes and demanding his ouster.
His declaration last year of crushing the revolutionary armed struggle waged by the New People’s Army before the end of 2018 is set to fail. As the NPA continues to mount tactical offensives nationwide, Duterte was forced this early to take back his earlier proclamation and instead make another empty declaration of crushing the NPA by the middle of 2019. This declaration will likewise be frustrated as thousands are being pushed to take up arms to resist the state’s armed aggression to pave the way for mining companies, energy projects, tourist sites, plantations and other infrastructure and so-called development projects.
To consolidate his control and secure his power, Duterte seeks to extend martial law in Mindanao and impose it nationwide. However, the combination of the political and economic crisis is only fanning the flames of the people’s resistance as they wage various forms of struggle.
Much like during the period of intense crisis under Marcos, the Filipino people are increasingly driven to rise up in their millions and put an end to the fascist US-Duterte regime. Having learned their lessons from the struggle to overthrow the US-Marcos dictatorship, they are determined to unite and wage various forms of struggle to end the fascist, corrupt and puppet Duterte regime.