Joma Sison: Rappler 'shutdown,' Cha-Cha show Duterte aping Marcos

MANILA, Philippines – The move of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to shut down Rappler and the bid for a shift to federalism showed that President Rodrigo Duterte is "hellbent" on imposing a dictatorship patterned after that of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison said.

Sison made the statement on Wednesday, January 17, after the SEC revoked Rappler's license to operate for allegedly violating the Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law, and as Congress tackled proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution. (READ Rappler's statement: Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom)

Sison, on exile in the Netherlands, said in a statement that President Rodrigo Duterte was following the “same strategy and tactics” that the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos had used to keep his grip on power.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) order to close down Rappler and the railroading of bicameral Resolution No. 8 of both houses of Congress to constitute themselves as the Constituent Assembly and to carry out charter change are part of the chain of events to impose the fascist dictatorship of Duterte on the Filipino people,” Sison said.

He said previous events that support his claim are the “frenzied extrajudicial killings,” the extension of martial law in Mindanao and the threat of its nationwide imposition, the termination of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front, and the government tag on the CPP-New People’s Army as a terrorist organization. 

“Duterte is hellbent on imposing fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people and is flagrantly using basically the same strategy and tactics of  mass murder, intimidation, corruption and charter change as the late fascist dictator Marcos used,” Sison said.

He likened Duterte’s bid to shift to a federal form of government to “Marcos’ pretense to shift to the parliamentary form of government.” 

“As in the case of Marcos, the real objective of Duterte is to concentrate powers in his hands as fascist dictator, to prolong his rule and serve his imperialist masters and fellow oligarchs and warlords through the transitional and regular provisions of a sham constitution,” Sison said.

He predicted that under an amended charter, “Duterte will assume the powers of both the President and the Prime Minister.”

“Elections next year will be canceled, with Duterte´s super majority in control of Congress and rewarding themselves with extended terms at higher salaries and bigger pork barrel benefits. He will be able to rule like an absolute monarch during the transition period, the end of which is not stipulated,” Sison said.

Duterte had said that he did not favor a suspension of elections in 2019, as floated by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, if charter change pushed through. –