Duterte’s first year: a test of wills

June 30, 2017

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is marking his first year in office in Marawi City, the Islamic Center in Mindanao now ravaged by continuing military ground offensives and aerial bombardment. The past year has been a test of wills, between a people fighting for survival and a government desperately asserting power by military rule. The country is getting to be another Syria in a US war of intervention shifting its weight towards the Asia-Pacific region.

A US P-3 Orion surveillance plane flies over Marawi as well as a couple of Australian war planes. Tons of bombs have been dropped from Canadian-made helicopters and South Korean-made jets. Halfway through Duterte’s 60-day martial law, the battle rages. Duterte’s war is being sucked into the vortex of a US-patent terrorist ISIS threat and a long war.

The kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf group has long been a creation of the US since Afghanistan. The US has time and again fueled clan wars or “rido” in Mindanao to divide the Moro people. The Maute clan, as well as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), broke away from the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) perceived to have compromised the Moro struggle. The MILF has itself broken away from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) after the latter surrendered earlier to the government. The end of hostilities would never come as long as the US plays its dirty war and war merchants make a killing from war profits. Multinational corporations all have their eyes on resource-rich Mindanao and the rest of the country.

This is beyond the “war on drugs” where more than 7,000 individuals were summarily killed by the police and death squads over the year. This is beyond the Marcos burial where the US-supported fascist dictator is rehabilitated and history revised. This is “war on terror” presenting clear and present danger on the entire Filipino people including the Bangsamoro people and lumads of Mindanao.

The present Marawi siege, in its sixth week, has killed 397 including 27 civilians and displaced more than 300,000 people. Militarization of communities and schools continue. Martial law in Mindanao has also recently accosted and harassed four top peasant and human rights leaders in Davao City.

Accosted at a checkpoint by Task Force Davao last Wednesday were Pedro Arnado, national officer of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and chairperson of KMP-Southern Mindanao Region, Lito Lao of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Gerry Alborme of KMP-North Cotabato and Hanimay Suazo, secretary general of the human rights alliance KARAPATAN in Southern Mindanao.

The Philippines Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils) strongly condemns these actions and holds national security adviser Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., defense secretary Maj. Gen. Delfin Negrillo Lorenzana, and AFP Chief Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año accountable for abusing their martial law powers granted by Pres. Duterte.

These blatant rights violations are a direct assault against the Filipino people. Having failed to suppress the national democratic movement of the people by Marcos martial law and outright killings by successive reactionary regimes, the US is foolhardy using Duterte’s own martial law to crackdown on the most comprehensive and most consistent people’s democratic movement in the country.

Revolutionary forces represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has shown their resilience in fighting for people’s rights even as they continue to seek just and lasting peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict. The peoples of the world support this struggle.

The test of wills under Duterte is just beginning. The democratic movement can definitely outlast Duterte’s term. It is up to Duterte to check his generals but it is up to the people to thwart their devious plans. Marawi and the rest of the people can rebuild in peace if the country is rid of imperialist-fed parasites and jingoists.

The ILPS-Phils is one with the Filipino people in asserting their rights and fighting for peace and against all forms of terrorism. We stand in solidarity with the peoples of Asia and the world in resisting imperialist wars, militarism, state terror and local reaction.

Lift martial law, end the Marawi siege and military offensives, compensate civilians for their losses!
Continue peace talks, fight for people’s rights!
We demand freedom, democracy and social justice!