Duterte’s recent threat to tag the NPA as terrorists and nothing more than criminals and to crackdown on the progressive movement, is a little too convenient, given his inclination to follow the AFP’s proposal to extend martial law beyond December 31. Mindanao martial law has long been running out of excuses, as the so-called Maute/ISIS threat has long disappeared, and he and his military warfreaks could not drumbeat enough noise of a “spillover.”
Duterte is nothing if not consistent in his fascist rants and acts, using even the tired excuse of the progressive left “conspiring” with the NPA, to constantly kowtow to the wishes of the higher echelons of the US-controlled armed forces. He has resorted to namecalling and threats so many times, in so many forms, that the people have grown weary of his constant harping. This time, he even invokes his US masters, in placing the NPA and CPP, “same as America,” as terrorists. Emboldened by the recent Trump approval of his strongman rule, he is bent on eliminating all opposition, legal and otherwise. The people recognize these threats against the revolutionary and progressive movement for what they are: to eliminate the strongest and most consistent opposition to his fascist rule, silence dissent against his anti-people and pro-imperialist policies and further perpetuate himself in power through a one-man rule.
The fact is, he does not even need to issue this threat. The reactionary state has long criminalized political dissent, charging both revolutionaries and progressives with trumped-up criminal charges and detaining them for long periods of time. Illegal arrests of civilians and activists continue, even more after the formation of Duterte’s IACLA, and almost 500 political prisoners continue to languish in various jails across the country despite promises of an amnesty. Moreover, the AFP has been carrying out an all-out war since February not only against the revolutionary movement but especially against civilian communities suspected of supporting the NPA, on Duterte’s orders himself. He followed this closely with an order for the AFP to “flatten the hills” of suspected NPA areas, and then proceeded to flatten Marawi City through his martial law declaration in Mindanao. He has, time and again, announced that he will unleash the AFP’s military might against the NPA as soon as he finishes with Marawi. Since coming into power, he has beefed up the AFP arsenal with more guns, bombs and warplanes.
His wars of death and destruction have spurred aerial bombings, shelling, strafing, political and extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and detention, resulting in thousands of people displaced, billions-worth of properties destroyed and massive human rights violations. These have roused an increasing number of people to join protests and pushed many activists into revolutionary struggle.
Duterte is wrong in thinking that the revolutionary movement will just roll over and surrender in the face of his rants. He is wrong in thinking that the progressive movement will be cowed with his threats of a crackdown and mass arrests. The people shall oppose as strongly as they opposed his previous plan of imposing martial law nationwide. The democratic mass movement will continue to strengthen itself by organizing, propaganda and militant mobilizations, while the revolutionary forces will continue advancing the people’s war comprehensively to achieve genuine democracy and national sovereignty.