All together, the organized activists from Gabriela, BAYAN, Bayan Muna, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) are a vibrant force for accountability. They have made significant contributions to creating an informed and vigilant public amid abuses of power, which the Duterte regime preferred we did not know about.
Our campaigns for justice and peace have made our work more meaningful, our connections deeper and stronger. We owe it to each and every activist from the regions who dutifully documents each abuse committed to her fellow farmer or worker, neighbor, father, wife, son, daughter, relative, friend, and comrade.
We know exactly why things must change and why Duterte must go because of the valiant and committed activists, especially those who work in the Negros island. They have suffered the worst kind of state repression. They are consistent in their urgent task to inform us about this regime’s atrocities. They know that what is happening to them can also happen to us. They have exposed and opposed the Duterte regime despite relentless atrocities committed against them by this killing machine of a government.
Now more than ever, we need to defend activists who are being detained based on dubious warrants of arrest and fabricated charges. The combined force of police and army planted guns, bullets and bombs in their respective offices on October 31 and November 1. The warrants of arrest served in Manila and Bacolod are signed by only one judge: Atty. Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89.
The law is flagrantly used by judges, police and military to violate human rights. Organizations previously red tagged have endured painful outcomes such a the imprisonment, murder and massacre of their members. This is none other than full spectrum dominance. Let us not comfort ourselves by believing that extreme conditions of repression is a sign of a regime’s death. The worst pro-imperialist puppets and dictators like Marcos and Pinochet lasted for 20 and 25 years respectively. Duterte has been in office for only three years, yet has unleashed wanton social and ecomomic destruction whose impact remains incalculable.
Full spectrum dominance”* takes in the features of the so-called new world order. From which did this order arise? US Imperialism has succeeded in making us believe that the Cold War has ended. In reality, it has been in full force, only “under the radar.” This means that for thirty years (since 1989 when the “Cold War was over”), we have been forced to live with the “end of history” under capitalism. And for the semi-colonies and other client states in the global South, there is no alternative to capitalism, only reforms and interventions from NGOs and the active participation of civil society.
For 30 years, we have been brainwashed to believe that anything beyond non-profits, NGOs, civil society and parliamentarism is a serious threat to democracy. Such a pro-imperialist, pro-CIA framework is now commonsense, and for some, even an argument for democratic deliberation. It has definitely facilitated Duterte’s creation of an enemy who resides outside of our “democratic space.” The labeling of revolutionary ideas as obsolete and extreme alongside the demarcation of a space that privileges pro-imperialist and pro-CIA discourses has definitely facilitated Duterte’ s creation of outsiders–“the drug addict” and “the communist terrorist.” They are everywhere and nowhere therefore full spectrum dominance is in order.
In this case though, full spectrum dominance does not distinguish between those who continue the fight for democracy through a national liberation struggle toward socialism and those who have embraced the imperialist propaganda of “post-cold war democratic transition”. In the eyes of the repressive state, those who uphold freedom of opposition are targets, their freedom of movement must be constrained.
Those who have taught us well about this social order have been imprisoned. This time, 58 of them in one go. The point is to lock up their ideals and noble work for peace and justice, which can only happen with our full consent.
* For a comprehensive and excellent discussion of full spectrum dominance see Engdahl, W. F. 2009 Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order.
Sarah Raymundo is a full-time faculty at the University of the Philippines-Diliman Center for International Studies. She is engaged in activist work in BAYAN (The New Patriotic Alliance), the International League of Peoples’ Struggles, and Chair of the Philippines-Bolivarian Venezuela Friendship Association. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal for Labor and Society (LANDS) and Interface: Journal of/and for Social Movements.