As expected, Duterte is now pushing for the extension of martial law in Mindanao which is a key component of his scheme to manipulate the outcome of the 2019 midterm elections in order to control congress and the local government units with military agents and pro-AFP politicians, suppress all opposition through armed intimidation and coercion in the vain hope of crushing the revolutionary armed movement and the legal democratic forces.
Extending martial law in Mindanao by another year is part of the plan to expand and consolidate his de facto nationwide martial law rule and rule by military force in perpetuity. Having issued Memorandum Order # 32 which ordered the deployment of additional military units to the Bicol region, Negros island, and Samar province, Duterte has already effectively put close to half the country under military rule under the pretext of suppressing “lawless violence.”
After a year and a half under martial law, Mindanao is bleeding from a thousand wounds inflicted by widespread military and police abuses. Under Duterte’s orders, his armed minions have put hundreds of rural communities under military siege where they carry out extrajudicial killings, massacres, abductions, illegal arrests and detention, torture and other crimes with utter impunity. Peasant communities are subjected to AFP zoning, curfew, food and economic blockade, reminiscent of hamleting tactics of US during the Fil-Am war, in Vietnam and under Marcos’ martial law. People in besieged communities suffer from grave hardship and suffering.
Wielding martial law powers, Duterte has deployed thousands of soldiers and police in areas which he aim to grab for mining operations and expansion of plantations of foreign big companies. Tens of thousands of peasants and national minorities are being displaced from their lands.
The AFP and PNP are brazenly trampling on democratic rights, spouting patent lies and flouting laws of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). They exhibit barefaced fascist intimidation and outright contempt for human rights such as in the case of the recent arrest and detention in Talaingod, Davao del Norte of a group of humanitarian workers who came to provide aid to children whose community school was locked down by soldiers.
Having martial law powers, military and police officials are having a heyday lining their pockets with billions of pesos of operational and unaudited intelligence funds. Corruption in the military is rampant and worsening as Duterte pours funds to the Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood and Integration Program, the PAMANA and other programs under the military’s so-called “peace and development” operations, which are, in fact, gargantuan milking cow of AFP officers. There is widespread practice of delaying salary releases of rank-and-file soldiers and paramilitaries by officers who use these funds to run their loanshark operations. Military officials plunder large amounts of funds with their padded and recycled lists of so-called “NPA surrenderees” and “balik-baril” exhibits.
While Duterte appears a powerful savage, his de facto nationwide martial law actually show his increasing inability to impose his reign through political persuasion without resorting to the direct use of coercive powers to earn public support for his regime. In his drive to monopolize power and corruption, Duterte can reign only by terrorizing the people with mass killings.
Duterte has roused the people’s widespread hatred for his regime having imposed additional tax burdens resulting in skyrocketing prices and worsening socio-economic conditions, for his refusal to raise wages to just levels, demolition of urban poor housing for big business, excessive foreign borrowing, corruption-laden infrastructure projects, sellout of the country’s patrimony and other anti-people policies. The people detest him for becoming overlord of shabu smuggling and trafficking in the country while hiding behind the veil of the “war against drugs.”
In his push to overwhelm the people with military superiority, Duterte is wasting public funds to buy more guns, bullets, cannons, mortars, bombs, rockets, helicopters and drones to the detriment of productive and social spending. He has also raised the basic pay of soldiers as payment for their loyalty. However, with foot soldiers being used as cannon-fodder in one fruitless military offensive after another, the number of disgruntled, war-weary and homesick troops are quickly rising. Duterte has not enough funds, and cannot recruit enough troops to impose superior military presence at all places at all times. Duterte’s order for soldiers to commit suicide, instead of getting themselves captured, reveal his utter contempt for his own troops.
Duterte has done away with accommodation among the political elite. He wants to monopolize corruption. He has forged alliances with the worst of the corrupt and fascist clique, but wants everyone to bow to his authority. He has more than doubled his discretionary funds. He has promoted favoritism in the AFP and PNP in the hope of using the military and police as his private army, although in doing so, he has actually deepened conflicts among the military and police factions. Disenchantment among key officials of the AFP and PNP is bound to break out in open conflict.
Under Duterte, the façade of democracy of the ruling reactionary state is quickly being eroded, exposing its rotten core. The rise of the Duterte fascist regime is symptomatic of and aggravates the deep crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal system. Duterte’s tyranny and terrorism incite the Filipino people to wage national democratic revolution.
The Party calls on the Filipino people and all their revolutionary forces to heighten resistance against the Duterte regime’s plan to extend martial law in Mindanao and consolidate his de facto nationwide martial law.
Further broaden the unity of all democratic forces against Duterte’s tyranny and mount ever bigger protests to assert legal democratic rights against the regime’s fascist onslaught. At the same time, the broad democratic movement must also strengthen their underground backbone. Draw lessons from the years of resistance against Marcos martial law in the 1970s.
The New People’s Army must mount more and more tactical offensives against the worst of the fascist units of the AFP and PNP, especially those notorious for grave abuses, gross violations of human rights and involvement in criminal activities, as well as big destructive corporations and capitalist operations which plunder and ravage the environment and people’s livelihood.
The NPA can most effectively fight Duterte’s martial law extension in Mindanao and de facto nationwide military rule by mounting tactical offensives across the country. They must continue to wage extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare with ever-widening and deepening support of the people in order to advance the people’s war to even higher levels.