Never Again to a Fascist Regime
Forty-nine years have passed since the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. Yet, the horrors of oppression, killing, and corruption by the Marcos regime still haunt us until this day. With Duterte’s five-year stint of violence in his fascist presidency, his administration continues to bring death to our doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte promised change to banner his campaign for presidency back in 2016. However, his de facto Martial Law only brought back the Marcos rule with widespread killings in his war on drugs and anti-people policies repressing our freedom and human rights. This further persisted in the pandemic, where Duterte did nothing but to implement a militaristic approach to further oppress the Filipino people.
Furthermore, the Duterte administration only viewed the pandemic as a window of opportunity to enable corruption and incompetence in the health sector. With COVID-19 cases hitting record-high numbers every day and the health system getting worn down, the 15-billion peso stolen funds in PhilHealth and 67-billion peso misused DOH funds remain unresolved. This is a blatant disservice to the masses and to every healthcare worker who puts their lives on the line. Worse, this administration aggravates the situation of our frontliners by not heeding to their calls.
Similar to the Martial Law period, Duterte has time and time again threatened our press freedom. He shut down ABS-CBN and, despite claiming neutrality, refused to let the media network operate even if the Congress granted them a franchise. While there was no total control of the Philippine media, Duterte’s term remained to be a perilous time for our journalists as even our campus publications are red-tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). And with 19 journalists slain under the Duterte administration from 2016 to 2020, the country remains to be one of the deadliest for the press.
The attacks by state forces do not end with the media as they continue to crack down progressive leaders and activists in an attempt to silence dissent. On top of the passing of the Anti-Terror Law last year, the Duterte government fuels the NTF-ELCAC in the rampant red-tagging of our student leaders and mass organizations. Moreover, instead of shelling out funds for COVID-19 relief, the Duterte administration increased the budget for the NTF-ELCAC which only served as the state’s machinery of misinformation. This is a clear manifestation of where the priority of the Duterte administration truly lies — capitalizing (on) the public health crisis to forward their personal interests and maintain the fascist rule.
As the election season approaches, the Duterte administration is now using its influence in the government to ensure that its cronies become household names and later assume electoral positions; hence, immortalizing its oppressive regime. In remembering the dead and the countless victims of abuses during the Martial Law, we must never enable the Duterte administration to further plummet us into an era of darkness. In commemorating the fight of our activists and progressive leaders for our human rights, we must put the Duterte administration’s seemingly endless network of oppression and lies into its rightful end.
Duterte, furthermore, has recently been using the incoming elections as a diversionary tactic to lure our attention out of the most pressing issues we face today. Bayan Muna representative Ferdinand Gaite said the bid for the 2022 elections seeks to be another distraction from the atrocities his corrupt regime commits, especially since several government agencies are under the scrutiny of the Commission on Audit. As early as now, many political allies of the president are also weaponizing social media to influence the public into electing Duterte again.
Along with the early campaigning for the elections, the Duterte administration is also a direct culprit in the whitewashing of the Marcos regime as something other than an era of rampant corruption and human rights violation. Duterte had no qualms in burying the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The Marcoses also thrived in revising history during his presidency, with their very recent attempt through platforms such as that of Toni Gonzaga, which continue to give fascists avenues to glorify an oppressive regime. Personalities like her are nothing but accomplices and enablers of the injustices infesting our country. They further perpetuate the system of lies that some of us may continue to believe, and the only way to make it stop is to never forget. We must never forget the activists who fought for our human rights. We must never forget the countless killings of both the Marcos and the Duterte regime; and we must never forget the Martial Law victims who survived and still live today, who lived long enough to witness the atrocities and corruption of the Martial Law era repeat under a different face of a dictator.
There was no declaration of a Martial Law from Duterte, but the same fascism, oppression, and corruption of the Marcos regime remains today, unfolding right before our very eyes. If we seek to never forget the horrors of the Martial Law, we must remain vigilant and always hold the current administration accountable for every death it caused while taking the pandemic as an opportunity to remain in power. Moreover, we must never tolerate the lies the Marcoses and their enablers craft to mask the truth about the Martial Law period. We must, therefore, strengthen our call for justice and actively spread the truth of what the Marcos regime really was: a corrupt and violent dictatorship.
Register to vote in the 2022 elections and never enable Duterte and his allies to take on electoral positions so may we never have a repeat of the Martial Law era. But ultimately, we must remain steadfast now and never let the Duterte administration exploit and oppress the Filipino people. To this, every day we never forget and say #NeverAgain to another fascist regime.