It is through militant resolve and the masses’ yearning for democracy and justice that they were able to gallantly face the state’s intensified harassment and intimidation tactics, as people from all over the country flock the streets to remember the declaration of Marcos’ martial law 48 years ago today.
In the guise of a Covid-19 response, Duterte exploited the pandemic and the worsening condition of the Filipino people through total state abandonment and escalated fascism. He used the crisis to further attacks against the people and strengthen his dictatorial rule.
Rodrigo Duterte’s tactics are no different than Marcos’ before. The people remember how Marcos boasted of a “stellar” fiscal performance with a competitive peso rate and global economic influence, while caging in and veiling urban poor communities to hide the ever-exacerbating economic status of the Filipino people. His cronies continue to gloat about the beautiful infrastructure that the days of the martial law left the country with, but never fail to neglect mentioning how big of a debt the masses are burdened with now because of it.
In a disturbingly similar way, Duterte’s administration continues to stress how laudable the economic trajectory has been since Duterte took over, but have done nothing but pass more neoliberal policies that have only pushed the people into unparalleled poverty. Ever since the early stages of Duterte’s reign, he has done nothing but fill his pockets and those of his cohorts’. From his TRAIN law which sucked the masses’ pockets dry and left their tables emptier than before, his EO 51 and DO 174 that legitimized contractualization despite growing clamor from workers, to the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) that only promised drastic losses and greater struggle for Filipino farmers, Duterte has proved to be as Marcosian as he could get.
Now, Duterte is stepping up his game by playing exactly as Marcos did — use absurd infrastructure or rehabilitation projects, like that of Manila Bay, in the hopes of distracting the people from demanding accountability for the corruption, neglect, and fascism. No doubt, Duterte is swimming in the billions he and his allies have stolen in kickbacks.
An even more splitting image of the martial law of the past is the killings and state terrorism of today. Without an outright declaration of martial law in the entire nation, Duterte was able to kill, torture, intimidate, terrorize, and do damage as much as, if not way more than, Marcos did.
Even under a lockdown due to Covid-19, the Duterte regime did not miss a beat in trying to turn the country into a military state. From beefed up police and military presence all over the country to social media surveillance and monitoring against the youth, Duterte has appointed himself and his blood-thirsty goons as the kings of the land. Now through the Anti-Terror Act, these fascist men in uniform can only get more pompous — an omen for more human rights abuses and state terrorism in full swing.
Even at the early stage of the ATA, Duterte’s mercenaries were never once timid about revealing the true purpose of the new law. In a span of one week, two beloved activists were tortured and killed. Ka Randy Echanis was a 72-year old peace consultant who devoted his life to fighting for the democratic interests of peasants; Zara Alvarez was a dedicated human rights activist and community health worker. And they are just two among many in the growing list of victims of this murderous regime.
Meanwhile in the countryside, farmers and the national minority are growing ever more restless with relentless militarization, bombing, forced surrenders, psychological warfare, and bloody and destructive counterinsurgency operations.
The pictures of poverty, corruption, fascism, and state terrorism that the people see today are all too familiar. These are the same scenes from the dark days of martial law that have painted themselves as tableau’s in the nation’s collective memory.
Yet, with the intensifying state terrorism and dictatorship comes also the burgeoning struggle and resistance of the people. The masses’ unrest has reached boiling point and agitation is at an all-time high with different sectors eagerly joining in the growing call for Duterte’s ouster. The youth’s militancy matches that which was demonstrated during the First Quarter Storm that paved the way for the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship.
The crisis the pandemic brought forth worldwide is unseen in recent history, moving people from all over the globe to resist strengthening fascist and neoliberal attacks from their government. International solidarity is stronger than ever due to the shared struggle that is being felt not only in semi-colonial and semi-feudal third-world nations but also immensely by the working class population in imperialist countries.
No time will be as ripe as now. Amid the global crisis, the Duterte administration has proven that no response or solution can be expected of them. The masses have become immune to their lies and promises. No alleviation of the crisis will be felt so long as Duterte remains in power. The precedent for ouster is unparalleled.
Kabataang Makabayan calls on all democratic and patriotic youth to continue to persevere in revolutionary rage and agitation. The youth, alongside the basic masses, had been in the forefront of the fight against the Marcos dictatorship. In the face of a new martial law under Duterte’s dictatorship, the youth must again courageously take its place in history and strive for national democracy.
The streets and the countryside await the youth and masses. Advance the people’s war to attain true justice and democracy! Oust the dictatorship, resist the fascist!