Karapatan Monitor - July - September 2018

Overture to a rapid political and economic decay

The “Duterte magic” is gradually getting dimmer. Collapsing with the weight of his own failures, Duterte is not only fumbling through the cracks now evident in his government, but is becoming more and more delusional following the successive backlash he is now receiving.  This spiraling down has led the Duterte government to gravitate towards more repressive policies to tighten its grip on power.

A hellish orchestra, manned by a vindictive concertmaster, has directed a cacophonous opus to play an ominous, grim score. Indeed, Duterte has allowed disgorged criminals such as former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the wretched Marcos family to sneak back into power. His allies who have been relegated to political irrelevance are now out and about, singing their own tune but still careful to hum in chorus with Duterte. On July 23, 2018, the sneaky maneuvers paid off, and Gloria Arroyo was declared House Speaker of the House of Representatives. With elections coming up in 2019, the vultures have lined up, eager to receive Duterte’s blessings in anticipation that this will translate to public electoral support. 

Arrogating powers that only dictators have no shame doing, Duterte flexed his muscles when he jailed Senator Leila de Lima over alleged drug charges in 2016; when he allowed the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in the same year; when he declared martial law in Mindanao in 2017; when he ousted former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in 2018; and recently, when he scripted the arrest of critic Senator Antonio Trillanes III. 

Duterte, however, quickly curdled after learning that growing protests have centered around his persecution of the opposition and the forceful implementation of anti-people policies. He was altogether thrown off after knowing he did not entirely own the military, following the latter’s refusal to arrest one of their own kind, Senator Trillanes III, a retired navy officer. The entire debacle forced the devious Duterte to confront the reality that in spite of his offerings of salary increases, there is no strong and stable military support for his regime, thus widening the fissures to this erratic government.  

Meanwhile, resistance continues to brew amongst the people.