‘The one where we ousted a dictator’

Young activists now carry placards calling for the ouster of President Duterte – much like 34 years ago (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)


President Duterte may look like he is merely copying the atrocities of the Marcos dictatorship. But a deeper scrutiny shows the system that allowed the Marcos dictatorship to rise prevailed even after his ouster.


MANILA — Yesterday was the 34th year since the first EDSA uprising. But much like 34 years ago, the streets leading to the foot of Mendiola bridge was filled with the same placards – of calls ousting a dictator.

In this year’s commemoration, progressives laid two wreaths before a mural portraying the rotting faces of President Rodrigo Duterte and the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, kissing as they share the title, “fascist,” “puppet,” and “oppressive.”

First Quarter Storm activist and award-winning writer Bonifacio Ilagan said the first EDSA uprising victory was won by a united ranks of students, peasants, and workers through their newly-found meaning of the words democracy and patriotism.

More than three decades later, Ilagan said the system that enabled a dictator to rise remains. And it has, too, given rise to yet another one – President Duterte.

The lost copy of Marcos’ playbook

The martial law years under the Marcoses were marred with at least 3,200 documented killings, 34,000 victims of torture and 70,000 wrongly imprisoned according to Amnesty International.

READ: 47 years after Martial Law declaration, Marcoses ‘still have no shame’

Under the Duterte administration, the same dire human rights situation can be said. Human rights groups said over 20,000 have been killed in the name of his anti-illegal drug war. Scores of human rights violations have been documented as well during the two-year imposition of martial law in Mindanao.

Such dire human rights situation is coupled, said Ilagan, with Duterte’s failure to fulfill his promises to end contractualization, eradicate corruption, and resume the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

While Duterte may be playing hard to get and “angry towards the oligarchs,” Ilagan said he is just “transferring their resources to the oligarchs he favor.”

In the face of rampant human rights violations, Duterte, too, instead offered to exempt state security forces from accountability as they implement his anti-illegal drug campaign and counterinsurgency program.

READ: Salary increases for soldiers, police, but not for teachers, government employees

“He’s basically a demagogue,” said Bayan chairperson and a then student activist during the Marcos martial law Carol Araullo in a separate interview.

For Araullo, Duterte did not only curtail democracy but also believes that he will be able to get away with it.

Another people power?

Bayan chairperson Carol Araullo (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)

Much like Marcos, Duterte was never quiet for his distaste against critical media. He has repeatedly issued tirades against media outfits including Rappler and now ABS-CBN, whose franchise renewal remains hanging before the House of Representatives.

READ: Rights lawyers say shutdown plea vs. ABS-CBN reminiscent of Marcos era

Araullo said Duterte is not merely copying the atrocities of the Marcos dictatorship. After all, the system that allowed the Marcos dictatorship to rise prevailed even after his ouster.

“Impunity remains,” she lamented, as there remains no real reckoning for the sins and ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family.

As such, Araullo thinks another people power uprising may be in the offing.

She said, “it is only through organizing that we can sustain the rage that is strong enough to crush Duterte.” (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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