[OPINION] Revolutionary government, yes, Duterte-style, no

Duterte’s counter-revolution

To have a revolutionary government, you first need a revolution.

To be sure, Duterte aired his intention to form a revolutionary government as early as the 2016 presidential campaign, threatening to close down Congress and introduce reforms through extraconstitutional means. Knowing how sick the people had become of traditional politics, he became the anti-thesis of the mild-mannered, decent, elitist politician. He cursed in his speeches, flaunted his womanizing in public, threatened to kill people, wore lousy clothes, claimed to be poor, and repeatedly vowed to be the country’s first elected leftist and socialist president.

Upon winning, Duterte immediately resumed the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP, appointed 3 leftist leaders to his Cabinet, released key communist leaders from detention, denounced the US, and vowed to pursue an independent foreign policy. Thus, despite its reactionary character, the revolutionary movement led by the CPP-NPA-NDFP decided to constructively engage with the Duterte government. But it was a short-lived partnership.

At the heart of the collapse of President Duterte’s working relationship with the revolutionary movement was his failure to break free from his own reactionary politics and mindset. Any pretension of being a leftist and socialist quickly went out the door once he became President. What remained was the shrewd and cunning politico, the swashbuckling strongman from Davao, the corrupt and double-dealing public official.

Policy-wise, in came Oplan Tokhang and his failed war on drugs, Oplan Kapayapaan and its US-designed counterinsurgency program, martial law in Mindanao, his flip-flopping foreign policy, his free-trade neoliberal economic program, and the rise of the Davao Group. Out went the peace process, the progressives in the Cabinet, as well as the promises to end labor contractualization, reduce taxes, improve health care, crack down on corruption, and so on.

Under Duterte’s leadership, there is clearly no revolution. It’s actually more of the same, only worse. 

What Duterte ushered in was a rightist counter-revolution.

Today, when faced with growing criticism and resistance to his failed policies, Duterte resorts to imagining multi-colored conspiracies and calling off work and school to counter massive protests. He and his allies are desperately trying to undermine the system of checks and balances by attacking the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission on Human Rights, as well as the political opposition, the critical press, and social media.

Having failed to suppress or dampen public dissent, Duterte is now threatening to throw everything away and establish a military-backed revolutionary government. The immediate aim is to concentrate all power in Duterte for him to address the threats to his presidency. 

But after that, what?

Let me take a guess: Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded Part III. The granting of big government contracts to Duterte’s own set of oligarchs and cronies. The takeover of syndicated corruption and criminal operations by the Davao Group. The total sellout of our economy and national patrimony via the removal of constitutional limits on foreign ownership of lands and businesses. Greater Chinese activity in the West Philippine Sea. The granting of more basing rights for American troops in the fight against ISIS and the communists. A federal system favorable to warlords and political dynasties.  

So yes, we need a revolution. A revolution against a fascist government like Duterte’s. – Rappler.com