WITH the rejection of Rafael Mariano’s appointment as secretary of Agrarian Reform by the Duterte friendly Commission on Appointments, it is now crystal clear that this administration has no real agenda for reform and it is definitely not based on a broad pro-people’s coalition with the different colors of the political spectrum.
It now appears that President Rodrigo Duterte has out smarted the left and took many progressives for a ride.
It seems that the initial inclusion of well-intentioned activist like Gina Lopez, known leftists like Liza Maza, Judy Taguiwalo and Rafael Mariano to the cabinet was a showcase and meant to give the Duterte administration a breathing space, time to prepare its real agenda and to create an impression that its pro-people.
Now that everything appears to be in place, there is no more need for appearances of a left and right coalition hence the easy and seamless rejection by the CA of Lopez, Taguiwalo and Mariano. Fortunately for Maza her position as National Anti-Poverty Commission secretary does not need any CA nod, otherwise, she could have suffered the same fate as that of her other leftist colleagues. It is the Democratic Alliance* tragedy all over again.
“Change is coming,” Duterte promised, but far from changing the oligarch run system, he kept and strengthens it through the slowly accelerating implementation of his authoritarian agenda, which of course, now also includes the re-writing of the 1987 Constitution as recently proposed in Congress.
Duterte’s initial step towards having an authoritarian form of government was the rehabilitation of his role model, Ferdinand Marcos, by allowing him to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LnB) following the feeble protest of a few.
The tepid reaction of the people to Marcos’ rehabilitation and his successful burial to the LnB was Duterte’s green light to put into motion his grand plan of emulating his dear idol. It also marked Duterte’s passing of the proverbial “litmus test.”
Duterte obviously assumed that if he could have Marcos rehabilitated and buried at the LnB, something no one among the past presidents dared, he could do everything he wanted to fulfill his goal of running the government the way he pleases, with little or no opposition at all.
All steps that Duterte has been taking since he took office, including his manufactured war on illegal drugs, are directed seemingly towards this ultimate goal of establishing an undemocratic form of government, a one-man rule.
Marcos’ rehabilitation, the continuing assault on all democracy based institutions like the free press, the progressive church, the activists judiciary, congress, civil society, labor, student and community based organizations; and even the “toothless” Commission on Human Rights are indicative of Duterte’s real intent and color.
Duterte’s constant haranguing of the police and “concerned individuals” to kill in the name of the bogus drug war have led to the remorseless slaying of an estimated 13,000 suspected illegal drug dealers and users. It was a cruel deliberate distraction from his grand project.
The killings, which have become a daily occurrence nationwide, have been subconsciously transformed into a national “form of reality show” where the people, as main characters, were made to focus on the spectacle of blood letting with the help of the unsuspecting mainstream media. Except for those who are close to the corridors of power and filthy rich, nobody was exempted from the killings, not even the old, women, teenagers or even kids. It made us lose sight of Duterte’s real intention.
This tactic is similar to what the ancient Roman emperors did to calm their people. By holding murderous bloody gladiator contests in huge coliseums, the ordinary Roman people were kept at bay.
Marcos, during his dictatorship, employed the same tactics to keep the people docile, except that, being an intellectual, his methods are subtle as he employs non bloody but equally effective means.
For instance, Marcos extensively used broadcast and print media to air/print escapist programs and propaganda materials. He held international contests or events at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Philippine International Convention Center, Folk Arts Theater and the Manila Film Center just to keep the people content and entertained, which is the same goal of Duterte inspired killing spree.
Duterte was quick to take advantage of the Filipinos love for intrigue, drama, gossips, and green jokes by taking the role of an irreverent, rebellious anti-establishment kanto boy, who is ready to belt expletives anytime on anyone who caught his ire. It can be rightfully said therefore that he is the epitome of all that is bad in the Filipino.
It is not surprising therefore that a huge segment of our uneducated and mis-educated population are not only delighted by his anti-establishment postures and “balahura” statements but they also supported his antics with gusto.
Moreover, to further rile his critics and rally the Filipinos behind his authoritarian project, Duterte tapped our latent nationalism by shedding light to the dark side of our history which was kept from us by the traditional elite. He exposed the continuing abuses and atrocities against our nation by our American colonizers since the Filipino-American war at the turn of the last century.
By doing so, Duterte exposed the collaboration and subservience of his non-ally oligarchs to a foreign power. Even his pivot to China is part of a calculated move to wean away the Filipino masses from the traditional pro-American holders of power.
Duterte’s expose’ of the pro-Americanism of the oligarchs and his pivot to China are supposedly laudable moves except for the fact that he is hijacking a legitimate grievance of the Filipino and “giving away” our territory to serve his personal interest in establishing “Dutertismo” as an alternative narrative to the “neo- conservatism” being offered by the traditional oligarchs.
Duterte wants us to believe that he is a nationalist, that the anti-illegal drugs war is a necessary evil and that there is a need to do away with the CHR, the sitting chief justice, the current Commission on Elections chair and more importantly the 1987 Constitution.
Now it is up to us whether to still believe and follow Duterte or not. Take your pick.
* The Democratic Alliance was a Filipino leftist political party formed after the Second World War. They won six seats in Congress during the 1946 elections but were not allowed to take it because they were members of the old Marxist-Leninist inspired Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP). Their rejection by Congress precipitated the Huk rebellion.
* The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.
** This article also appeared at http://x.rappler.com/x/nelsonflores%20/1504795271045-It-is-up-to-us-to-believe