“The mass killings are meant for mass intimidation! Not just in the drug war, but in the war against authoritarianism, in the war against poverty, and in the war against political dynasties and perpetuation of this system of injustice.”
By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA— A broad array of groups and individuals expressed concern over the country’s “bleak situation under the Duterte administration.”
In a gathering at the St. Scholastica College’s Archive Museum, Saturday, Jan. 12, members of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) pointed out the worsening economic situation, the rising repression and the political crisis gripping the nation.
MAT members said that for 2019, Filipinos should brace themselves for the worse.
The alliance called on the Filipino people to join a series of protest actions scheduled this month until Feb. 12, the last day the Senate would have passed its decision on the proposed Charter Change.
Economist Emmanuel A. Leyco predicted that 2019 would be a very difficult year for the economy.
Leyco, who served as consultant for multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, said that the four main economic indicators (inflation, GDP, currency, and interest rate) did not perform well in 2018 and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law only worsened the situation.
Leyco said inflation was the foremost reason why the government is facing a major crisis.
Inflation rose to 5.2 percent during the implementation of TRAIN 1 last year. TRAIN 2 have been implemented at the start of the year, and is expected to result in higher electricity rates for consumers and impact the renewable energy sector, according to a consumer group.
Independent thinktank Ibon Foundation also warned last year that further inflationary surges are likely to happen in 2019 and 2020 when the next two rounds of additional taxes on oil products take effect. Ibon added that TRAIN-induced price increases are permanent even if inflation slows down.
The political situation is no better.
Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon and Karapatan Secretary General Crisitina Palabay both pointed out the rising tyranny under the Duterte administration.
Gascon compared the current authoritarian-model of leadership to the dictatorship of Marcos and said that only the “tools” they used were different.
If Marcos had used ‘force’ as his major tool for ruling, Duterte had used the promise of ‘national security’ as a blanket and a tool for securing the public’s support.
Independent human rights groups estimated that Duterte’s war on drugs killed more than 20,000.
Palabay said the rural folk victimized by militarization are the most affected.
As of November 2018, Karapatan has documented 216 extrajudicial killings, 378 victims of frustrated killings, 100 victims of torture, 2,000 victims of illegal arrests. Nearly 448,000 individuals were displaced from their communities due to bombings and military operations.
Palabay also denounced the tagging of human rights defenders as enemies of the state, saying this justifies the attacks on government critics.
Palabay also pointed out how authorities use the law to persecute political dissenters, such as the proscription case filed by the Department of Justice. “It’s open season for anyone to be arrested and charged criminally [under the anti-terrorism law],” she said.
As of November 2018, Karapatan said there have been 540 political prisoners, 203 of whom were arrested during Duterte’s term.
Cha-cha not the solution
Meanwhile, lawyer Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, said Duterte’s proposed Charter Change is heading to authoritarianism.
Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15, penned by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, removed the term limits for members of Congress and did away with the anti-political dynasty provisions.
Monsod said Duterte wants protection from accountability while in office and the transitory provisions in the proposed Charter Change aim to ensure a friendly or family successor.
“If the President insists on charter change and federalism, we have a fight in our hands for our rights and our freedoms,” Monsod said.
Monsod proposed to “moderate Duterte and to try and work with the good people in his government for the same goal.” To which journalist Inday Espina-Varona responded, “How do you moderate a person whose favorite word is ‘kill’?”
Espina-Varona added that what we can only do is to stand up and confront him every step of the way.
Call to action
Summing up, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Chairperson Carol Araullo said, “The situation is bleak for our people.”
She added that what needs to be seen is that the condition of crisis, whether it is economic, political, cultural, and moral is the basis by which the people will be awakened and motivated to fight.
“Ang kailangan, makibaka at huwag matakot. Kasi ang ‘sindak,’ that is part of the arsenal of this administration (We need to fight, and not be afraid. Instilling fear is part of the arsenal of this administration.)” said Araullo.
She also said mass intimidation has been the purpose of all the extrajudicial killings.
“The mass killings are meant for mass intimidation! Not just in the drug war, but in the war against authoritarianism, in the war against poverty, and in the war against political dynasties and perpetuation of this system of injustice,” she said.
MAT will join the Church people’s gathering dubbed as “One Faith. One Nation. One Voice.” on Jan. 25.
A series of human chains will also be held between Jan 25 to Feb. 12.
Women’s alliance Gabriela will also hold a protest on Jan. 18 while Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas will commemorate the 32nd year of the Mendiola Massacre, which killed 13 farmers. (With reports from Ronalyn V. Olea)