Message to the 5th National Congress of Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People´s Rights,
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International League of Peoples´ Struggle
August 20-21, 2018
Dear Fellow Advocates of Human Rights,
It is an honor and privilege for me as chairperson of the International League of Peoples´ Struggle to convey to you most heartfelt greetings of solidarity to the leadership and membership of KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People´s Rights) on the occasion of its 5th National Congress.
We congratulate you for all your achievements in the advocacy and defense of human rights and for your current success in convening the delegations from your chapters and member-organizations. We agree with you that your congress is being held at a critical juncture of the Filipino people’s struggle for national freedom and democracy against fascism and tyranny under the Duterte government.
You are absolutely correct in adopting as the theme of your Congress: “Fight the Fascist Attack on the People!” You must raise higher your unity, strength and fighting spirit by having a common understanding of the situation, your experience, your current level of strength and the tasks in advocating and fighting for human rights and people´s rights.
Fascist Dictatorship and Federalism Pretext
Duterte is obsessed with establishing a fascist dictatorship under the guise of federalism. His scheme of fascist dictatorship is well laid out and discernible from his speeches during and after the 2016 elections. He and his followers have packaged federalism as the solution to all major problems of the Filipino people and have tried in vain to conceal the evil purpose of fascist dictatorship behind the shibboleth of federalism.
In the name of decentralizing or devolving power and revenues from the center of a unitary form of government, he is scheming to concentrate absolute executive, legislative and judicial powers in his hands. Under his authoritarian rule, the regional and lower levels of the pseudo-federal system would be ruled by his hand-picked dynasties and warlords.
Having experienced and fought the Marcos fascist dictatorship, which Duterte is trying to emulate and copy, the Filipino people cannot accept the comeback of a fascist dictatorship under someone like Duterte who by his notorious psychology and track record is far more prone to brutality and corruption. As Duterte frenziedly lays the ground for fascist dictatorship, the people will intensify their struggle to stop him and to oust him.
It is to be expected that he will further run amok using the brute force of the official military and police and the unofficial death squads to quell the people´s resistance. Now and in the coming months, KARAPATAN has the noble and heroic duty to defend the human rights of the people, in terms of civil and political rights as well as in terms of social, economic and cultural rights of individuals, organizations and entire communities.
Problems of Pseudo-Federal Scheme
By all current indications, charter change for pseudo federalism will be carried out this year or next. But Duterte and his minions have problems to face in this regard. The biggest problem is the opposition of the people to chacha for federalism and for the shift to federalism as a pretext for fascist dictatorship and as an unnecessary overcostly and unaffordable scheme prone to the control of dynasties and warlords. Even Duterte´s own followers raise questions and disagreements.
Shall the overhaul or junking of the 1987 Constitution be done by a constitutional assembly? But Duterte has at the most only 17 votes in the Senate, one vote less than the required two-thirds majority. Shall there be elections in 2019 to increase the Duterte followers in the Senate? When the Con-Ass shall be convened, which of the three constitutional drafts shall be the working draft of the assembly?
Key members of the Duterte regime, including his economic managers, publicly declare that the Duterte federalism scheme is unaffordable. They say that if 50% of the national tax revenues are funneled to the regional or federal states the national government would not be able to pay the national debt. Also, for the first year alone of federalism, 120 to 151 billion pesos would be required to pay the costs of organizing , staffing, equipping and operating the regional states. The costs would generate inflation, high interest rates and mass layoffs.
Even defense secretary Lorenzana has publicly complained that federalism is confusing to him. There are also questions about the physical and mental health of Duterte and the growing possibility of his assassination or coup coming from his armed force upon the advance of the legal democratic mass movement and the armed revolutionary movement. But of course, the people have always to rely on their own strength and struggle and must not depend on the internal contradictions within the US-Duterte regime.
As Duterte faces obstacles for his federalism scheme from the people and from within his own regime, he can be driven by his own greed for power and plunder to proclaim martial law or a state of emergency in order to arrange his own process of making chacha for federalism. But then he would be facing an overwhelming and powerful opposition from the broad united front and broad masses of the people. Such an opposition is well manifested by the mass mobilization of 40,000 people in Quezon City and hundreds of thousands all over the country against the US-Duterte regime during his SONA last July 23.
Whichever way Duterte succeeds in pushing through the pseudo-federal constitution as pretext for fascist dictatorship, we can be sure that there would be provisions in said constitution to allow Duterte to remain a tyrant during the transition period and thereafter, facilitate the violations of civil and political rights, transgress the economic sovereignty, national patrimony and all vital parts of the economy previously reserved to the extent of 100% or majority ownership to Filipino citizens.
Duterte has long tried to present himself as a strongman and a power player who loves to employ brute force but who has no interest in corruption and self-enrichment. That cannot be true. In exploitative class society, the reactionary politicians seek the highest political office in order to amass wealth through bureaucratic corruption, even when they do not take the risk of becoming a dictator. Duterte´s admiration for his idol Marcos is complete. When absolute power is already in the hands of the dictator, unbridled corruption follows.
False Promises Regarding Illegal Drugs, Crime and Corruption
Duterte has touted himself as the leader who can fix problems quickly through sheer violence. He has promised to kill 100,000 people to fatten the fish in Manila Bay in order to solve the problem of illegal drugs together with crime and corruption in three to six months. He has already incited and caused the mass murder of 27,000 poor people tagged as drug suspects.
He has always sought to popularize and make acceptable the notion and line that mass murder and mass intimidation can solve problems. But even after two years in his presidential office the drug problem has become far more widespread and worse. According to the Drug Information Agency, there were 1.8 million drug addicts before Duterte became president. Now there are more than four million.
Duterte has failed to stop the spread of illegal drugs not because of incompetence but because of the most vicious kind of self-interest. He has deployed his death squads to abduct and murder poor people in the urban and rural poor communities under the perverse logic of destroying the demand for the drugs.
He has ordered the murder of only a few mayors who try to run their own independent kingdoms and backed out of going after drug protectors at the level of governors and generals. The truth is now completely out that Duterte has aggravated the problem of illegal drugs because his own compadre Peter Lim and his own son Paolo and son-in-law Manases Carpio are now the chief operatives of Duterte as the supremo of drug lords.
The mass murder of 27,000 poor people in the so-called war on drugs has three objectives: 1) for the drug empire of Duterte to prevail over rival drug lords; 2) to ensure the loyalty of police officers through complicity in the commission of mass murder and through the system of rewards in cash and promotions in rank; and 3) the most important, to use the mass murder to effect mass intimidation.
Duterte´s promise to solve criminality and corruption is as false as his promise to solve the drug problem. Criminality has worsened because Duterte has emboldened his police officers to arrest people without any judicial warrant and to kill people with impunity. The police officers share with Duterte contempt for due process and have extended the scope of their crimes, including murder for hire, extortion, robbery and kidnapping for ransom.
Duterte´s anti-corruption drive has been a farcical joke from the beginning because his election and rule are buttressed by his alliance with the most corrupt dynasties of Luzon like those of Marcos, Arroyo and Estrada. The Commission on Audit has exposed the fact that corruption runs rampant from the level of the president and his cabinet to all levels and agencies of the reactionary government.
All Out War against the Filipino People and the Armed Revolution
Since the beginning of his rule, Duterte has been in close collaboration with his pro-US and militarist security cluster and has agreed with them to carry out an all-out war policy against the revolutionary movement first in the name of Oplan Bayanihan until the end of 2016 and Oplan Kapayapaan from January 2017 onwards. The regime´s objective has been principally to intensify offensives against the revolutionary forces and secondarily to try converting the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations into surrender negotiations at the expense of the revolutionary forces and the people.
Failing to achieve the impossible, Duterte has found it convenient to terminate the peace negotiations with his Proclamation 360 and to designate the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations through Proclamation 374. He needs the termination of the peace negotiations to scapegoat the CPP and NPA and lay the ground for the declaration of a state of emergency or martial law nationwide. This is meant to ensure the suppression of dissent and opposition, the false ratification and enforcement of the pseudo-federal constitution.
Since the declaration of martial law over the entirety of Mindanao in May 2017, despite the fact that only Marawi City was affected by the uprising of hundreds of Maute and Abu Sayaff members and sympathizers, provoked by Duterte himself, it has become clear that he has declared martial law all over Mindanao mainly to open the way to atrocities and the bloody suppression of communities which are suspected as the mass base of the revolutionary movement, especially the Lumad communities, and clear the ground for the expansion of mining, logging and plantation operations of foreign and big comprador corporations.
Duterte and his military cohorts have calculated that the fascist dictatorship and the pseudo-federal constitution can be rammed through if in fact the CPP, NPA and the NDFP and all the legal forces of the democratic movement can be defeated or at least contained and the broad masses of the people can be intimidated and silenced through campaigns of mass murder and mass intimidation.
In the urban areas, Oplans Tokhang and Double Barrel, which are explicitly directed against low-level drug users and pushers, have been extended to Oplan Tambay, which is directed against loafers who stay on streets because they are jobless or because they seek relief from their humid shacks. It is obvious that Duterte is consistently engaged in mass intimidation and violations of human rights.
Oplan Kapayapaan is far worse than any of the previous strategic campaign plans for the suppression of the revolution. Barangay officials are used to draw up lists of alleged NPA supporters and encourage people to enlist in order supposedly to be cleared from punitive action of the military and police and to receive dole outs.
But the lists are also used as lists of surrender and as lists for fulfilling kill quotas. Right now, the military keep on claiming so many NPA fighters as having surrendered or having been killed. The number surpasses by several times what has been claimed by the same mendacious military officers as the number of NPA fighters of being only 2000 to 4000 Red fighters.
The so-called Human Security Act ( euphemism for anti-terror law) is now in the process of being amended to make it easier for the military and police to arrest and imprison people, whether martial law is declared or not. People can be placed under surveillance, arrest or detention on mere suspicion. Anyone can be detained for 30 days without any charges and the police officers have nothing to worry about being prosecuted and penalized for false arrest or illegal detention of a person.
A national ID system has been signed into law by Duterte not for facilitating government services, which are in fact paltry or absent for most people but for the purpose of population control by the military and police, political classification of the people, zone control and random checks of people in private homes and public places and the dissemination of fascist propaganda. People are required to spend time and money to get their IDs for facilitating their own subjugation, loss of privacy and control by a fascist dictatorship.
The People Have no Choice But to Resist
Under conditions of the most intolerable oppression and exploitation, the broad masses of the people have no choice but to resist. Like Marcos, Duterte is obliged by his own greed for power and plunder to escalate mass murder and mass intimidation in the face of the rising resistance of the people. Even while he is still in the process of pushing the pseudo-federal constitution, he is already engaged in gross and systematic violations of human rights.
It is necessary for KARAPATAN and the entire people to fight the fascist offensive of the Duterte regime. To do so is to avail of the chance to stop on its track an increasingly blood-thirsty regime and discover and develop the ways of fighting such a regime even when it succeeds to become a fascist dictatorship with a pseudo-federal constitution.
If you recall, the Marcos fascist dictatorship imprisoned, tortured and murdered so many people and forced entire organizations and thousands of individuals to go underground in order to escape the barbarities of the fascist regime. But the armed resistance of the people spread and grew in strength. Soon enough the people found various ways of exposing, opposing and isolating the dictatorship. Ultimately, even the US and the exploiting classes considered Marcos more of a liability than an asset of the ruling system.
What is most advantageous to the Filipino people is that the legal forces of the national democratic movement are far more experienced and developed than they were in 1972 when Marcos proclaimed martial law. Right now, there is a broad united front of patriotic and democratic forces capable of stopping the wannabe fascist dictator on his track, Furthermore, the NDFP has a comprehensive array of well-developed mass organizations tested and tempered in underground work and in people´s war.
It is foolish for Duterte to trifle with the already existing legal democratic forces and the armed revolutionary movement. Even at this moment, he is already isolated and hated by the people. He is personally more violent than Marcos but he is definitely too crude and vulgar to approach the wiliness of Marcos. And Duterte is now too old to go farther than four years in power to guarantee his minions their impunity for their bloody crimes and corruption.
Duterte himself is an easy target for a coup by his own adversaries within the ruling system and within the military. However, should there be a successor similar to or worse than him, he will likewise not last long because of the well-developed mass movement of the people.
What is most important for the Filipino people is to resist every monster that arises as the chief oppressor and exploiter and in the process build their revolutionary strength for changing the rotten and bankrupt ruling system. The reappearance of Marcos in the current crimes of Duterte is a sure sign of the moribund character of the semicolonial and semifeudal social system and the irrepressible rise of the people’s resistance under the banner of national and social liberation from US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
Long live KARAPATAN!
Fight against the fascist attack on the people!
Long live the Filipino people!