• The Pasig Review


Updated: Oct 25, 2020

Duterte’s fascism disguised as democracy

Bhenjar Toor, editor-in-chief

Recent events have proven that there is so much at stake given the turn our nation has taken ever since President Rodrigo Duterte has been elected.

We have seen how Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spokesperson Celine Pialago’s double standard show that sense of entitlement so prevalent now among government officials appointed or are allied with this administration. We have gone a long way since the mañanita episode of the police official to the red-tagging hobbies of many Duterte appointees and allies that has now seemed to be the favorite past-time of the incompetent lackeys of a leader that has led by example inasmuch as uselessness is concerned.

Each month, we are treated to surprisingly new treats that can rival those we watch in Ripley’s Believe it or not as a kid. Not that this generation has missed so much from the 80s and the 90s. From the way it looks, they might even set new records by the way they are going.

Seriously speaking, Pialago’s rant and insincere apology just adds to the insensitivity of this administration. Her lack of sympathy or at least empathy on a hapless woman, albeit accused terrorism as she was allegedly caught with a hand grenade and guns in her possession, should not have been treated as a convicted criminal considering that the trial is still ongoing and with the way policemen have been proven to have planted evidence in so many instances as in the case of Winston Ragos and Kian De Los Santos and if accounts presented in court hold true, the same can be said of Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo De Guzman, all of whom were victims of the police murderous tendencies. Obviously, myopic supporters of Rodrigo Duterte would be quick to defend these incidents and argue incessantly that these incidents come with the territory and the fight against criminality will always have collateral damages. This view does hold some truth to it, but one can only wonder why these individuals would readily forego of liability and not demand that our laws and that due processes be observed at all times yet they demand a high standard for those who criticize the government.

It makes many sick to the bone that a grieving mother cannot be given at least some space to mourn privately beside her three-month old child’s body given the number of policemen who are all armed surrounding her. Do they and Duterte’s supporters think that she has some uncanny ability that she can escape despite the pack of wolves ready to devour even with the slightest provocation? One can only wonder why their imagination has no limits when it comes to those who oppose the excesses of the regime yet find it difficult to even listen to factual information surrounding allegations of graft and corruption against the government when they are already face to face with irrefutable proof?

It does not help that actresses Liza Soberano, Angel Locsin, and her sister are also being red-tagged just because of their shared advocacies with women’s rights group Gabriela, which the military claims to be a front of the New People’s Army, the armed group of the Communist Party of the Philippines; but when we advocate women’s rights, children’s welfare, and human rights, do we even need to tag it as either communist, capitalist, or whatever you may wish to call it when it is among the most basic concerns we now have given the existence of a special law for women and children, which at times have also been abused and has created some inequality between men and women?

2022 feels like a century away with the kind of government we have and despite our ceaseless provocations to ask people to speak out and choose enlightenment, the people remain powerless against a totalitarian regime that has the wit to mask real intentions.

Even academics who are much respected but are now in the Duterte payroll have willingly rolled over like dogs starved in the streets of political irrelevance hoping to resurrect their careers in this last assault of corrupt political clans who saw a common cause and has united under a common goal – to keep the dynastic rule of each family preserved. Coincidentally, they left out one family from the group because they seem to be not so aligned with their objectives that the trolls of the current administration did everything to demonize them.

The truth is, it has become so clear that this administration is fascist in so many ways.

The Duterte administration’s authoritarian ultranationalism given the disdainful manipulations it has done to put into law the Anti-Terrorism bill, which is horrifyingly filled with loopholes that can lead to more abuses and disregard of human rights, has done so much even before it has formalized what it is now claiming as necessary steps in the fight against terrorism.

Instead of identifying the root causes of why people continue to flock to an already misplaced ideology, it chooses to red-tag personalities who are far from choosing to go underground or into the mountains and join an armed struggle when the current system has been so beneficial to them. If we see them go into philanthropic activities, could it be due to an overwhelming realization of how poverty has become too unbearable to see given recent circumstances made worse by government ineptitude?

The militaries obsession with national security could have been laudable, but why is it that when it comes to the Chinese, who are obviously a great threat not just to the Philippines but to every country that stands in its imperial designs, they become as meek as lambs with token resistance and welcoming arms so widely displayed?

It also talks about ending cronyism and corruption, but in reality, has made it more rampant and has in fact strengthened the new kid on the block despite so many red flags that are easily noticeable. Could it be that a fraudulent election is now in the works because if Duterte and his allies lose their hold of Malacañang, they know that if the winner is from the opposition, they will have to face charges left and right locally and internationally unless we elect someone again who will be more concerned with political expediency over the right dispensation of justice. It is no wonder that it is just so willing to release surveys that not even someone who flunked Mathematics in grade school would have a hard time believing.

With only a little less than two years before the end of the battle lines have yet to be drawn and the opposition have yet to choose a single leader that can unite them all and stand a chance against the leader of a homicidal horde.

It just feels like EDSA 1986 again except that this time, the villains have come out with a well – drawn plan run by a well-oiled political machine made stronger by ill-gotten wealth from an ally belonging to the family of the late dictator. Duterte confirmed it even when she has denied it and what the former claimed makes more sense since having a mass murderer buried in solemn ground does come with a cost given its effect to public relations. But there are truths that cannot be buried in the sands of time.

The red-tagging that has now been so common among government officials is just the icing on the cake. I can even bet on my last penny that even if they see old photos of Duterte spending so much happy memories with the cadres or even if Senator Bong Go is shown giving away branded rubber shoes to the leftist group, it would bother them because they can trust him just like when he claimed that he will be more than willing to take a jetski into the Spratly’s and plant the Philippine flag and tell China to its face to “get the hell out of here.”

No, these military officials have put their fortunes to wherever Duterte will take them, but there are still those who are willing to stand for truth and are willing to die for the country and for what is right and just. These are the people whose loyalty lies not to just any man but only to a leader who shares the same aspirations and who does exactly what he has promised to do for the nation. They are neither left or right. They remain deeply-rooted at the center knowing that democracy remains that most lofty idea where men can choose their fortune and run their lives based on the principles their forefathers died for; they hold beliefs that honor human rights and the dignity that makes one live it.

They call themselves true Filipinos. They are the people that knows that EDSA 1986 was not about the Aquinos because they were just among those who stood their ground against tyranny and fascism. EDSA 1986 is all about the indomitable spirit of the people that gave essence to the Spirit that is EDSA.

In 2022, let’s 1986 it and never again let our democratic way of life be trampled upon.

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