Lower House passes budget for Duterte’s war chest, witch hunt tools against Filipino people

“The House of Representatives’ approval of the proposed 2018 budget shows that it is complicit in the executive branch’s design to strengthen its kill, kill, kill program and build up the Duterte regime’s war chest against the Filipino people. The proposed budget includes PhP313 billion for Duterte’s implementation of counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and its bloody war on drugs. Both programs are designed to inflict further State terror and violence on the poor, while public funding for social programs on housing, education, and health services have been cut or are practically rendered non-existent,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, as the HoR approved on third and final reading the proposed PhP3.767 trillion national budget for 2018 yesterday, September 26. 
Karapatan said this includes the PhP3.4 billion that have been allocated for paramilitary groups, that have been responsible for the killings of Lumad and peasants, under the direct command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Intelligence and confidential funds of the Office of the President and national security institutions have been increased more than 300%, as compared to 2016 budget allocations. 

“The whole proposed budget for Oplan Kapayapaan is meant to promote and possibly expand martial law and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ dirty war against poor peasants, Moro and indigenous communities, human rights defenders, progressive organizations, and revolutionary movements,” Palabay stated. 

The Karapatan leader also emphasized that the PhP1.4 billion proposed budget for the war on drugs includes funds for the Oplan Double Barrel and the program Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw sa Iligal na Droga (MASA-MASID), which puts into motion the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG’s) Community Mobilization Program. Through CMP, volunteers will be enlisted by local government units to become government spies in the war on crimes, drugs and criminality. 

The MASA-MASID program, with its revised guidelines dated August 29, 2017, has included “threats to peace and security” as among those that will be addressed by the program. Also included in the said program is the dropbox system of anonymous reporting of alleged drug users and dealers. “It is designed to support the Duterte administration’s witch hunt and killing spree of small-time suspected drug users/peddlers, innocents and perceived enemies of the State. Undoubtedly, these programs will result in more human rights violations by police and local officials,” Palabay said.   

Karapatan said that this program also rolls out repressive local government issuances such as Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal’s order no. 36-2017, issued last August 22, restricting the freedom of movement and violating citizens’ rights to abode, travel and privacy. “Such local government measures will virtually legitimize hamletting and zoning, akin to the the widespread violations during the administrations of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and Corazon Aquino. This complements the Duterte administration’s repressive and brutal schemes, which we should vigorously resist,” Palabay concluded.