49 years since ML declaration: “corruption, injustice, and underdevelopment persist”—CPDG

September 21, 2021

Photo from Rappler

“The Duterte administration is the ghost of the Marcos dictatorship trying to resurrect from the graveyard of history”, said Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) spokesperson Liza Maza in comparing the Marcos and Duterte regimes.

Today, September 21, 2021, marks the 49th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. People’s organizations, civil society, and various advocacy groups annually converge in different parts of the country to commemorate the struggle of the Filipino people for freedom and justice and say “never again!” altogether.

Recognized as one of the darkest pages of Philippine history, state forces perpetrated countless human rights violations ranging from illegal detention, torture, and enforced disappearances to extrajudicial killings and massacres under the guise of “curbing insurgency” and “peace-building” towards development. This reign of terror lasted for more than a decade. The US government supported the Marcos dictatorship as it did in many others across the Third World. In February 1986, the masses of the Filipino people—tired and weary of the long years of corruption, rights abuses, and poverty—joined activists, rights defenders, the critical church, and the religious to unseat the dictator who desperately tried to hold on to power with rigged election results.

However, even after almost 50 years, human rights violations persist and have escalated under Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s authoritarian governance sans a formal declaration of martial rule. Through legal machinations and tyranny, he is waging a bloody war against dissent and the people to advance his political ambition as well the interests of his oligarchs and foreign powers, the US and China. Like the Marcos regime, the current administration justifies discipline and repression as requisites for development. It attacks unarmed civilians and systematically silences critics.

“Dissent and criticism are maligned as destabilization. Those who stand up and speak out are red-tagged to deny them platforms for meaningful discourse. This is Marcosian to the core,” Maza said. She also cited the sharp similarities of how the Marcos and Duterte regimes view the now decades-old insurgency in the countryside.

“The persisting insurgency is not simply war or a plot to overthrow the government. It is a product of growing, seemingly endless inequalities felt among the poor, deprived, and marginalized. It is an expression of disgust to a ruling order that disregards the people. It is the language of those who cannot speak and those disillusioned with speech. It has old and complex roots that require critical perspectives to be addressed,” she continued.

CPDG also repudiates the impending 2022 national budget proposal which increases the spending for counterinsurgency as seen in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s fund allotment. It is “a brazen display of warmongering and neglect of the people’s needs”, Maza expounded.

Just like the late dictator who is known for amassing ill-gotten wealth, Duterte clearly follows suit. There are billions worth of funds that have been misappropriated and misused, even though the pandemic demands increasing spending on health and medical services. The national debt also keeps on increasing but the funds are not used for the urgent demands and interests of the people. Maza added that “burying the country in debt is a legacy where Duterte and Marcos are very much alike”. Thus, the indignation and protest of the people constantly increase over his consistently failing policies, especially in combating COVID-19.

“As we commemorate the lives of the martyrs who fought the past dictatorship, we must join hands, unite, and stand in solidarity against the current tyrannical attempts to reverse our hard-won rights and freedoms,” Maza emphasized.

The 2022 elections are a chance to end Duterte’s bad governance riddled with corruption, human rights violations, and misogyny. CPDG underscores that the country has reached a point where another day under the same type of administration will only worsen and complicate the crisis that we are in.

“A Duterte, Marcos, or any other loyalist winning the 2022 elections is history repeating itself. The shame to let this happen is unspeakable. Therefore, it is the task of all of us to prevent this in any way possible. This is the real essence of our cry: ‘never again!’” Maza added. #