Duterte is obsessed with attacking the revolutionary movement rather than saving the people from Covid-19
Even as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage throughout the land, infecting tens of thousands and killing a thousand, it has become more evident that the reactionary US-Duterte regime is more obsessed with attacking the revolutionary forces and the Filipino people in a desperate and delusional attempt to defeat the revolutionary movement within its remaining two years in office. Though under attack by reactionary state armed forces, the New People’s Army (NPA), on the other hand, strictly adheres to instructions from the Central Committee of the CPP to give priority to mobilizing the people to collectively fight the deadly virus, even as it remains vigilant and prepared to fight back to defend itself and the people.
This misplaced priority of the reactionary regime is manifested in many ways.
This is reflected in the continued overall imbalance in AFP troop deployment. Despite Luzon being the epicenter of the pandemic, the AFP’s priority remains focused on Mindanao, where the pandemic is relatively less rampant. The overall distribution of troop deployment, as well as air assets, land vehicles, weaponry and war technology is as follows: around 60 percent in Mindanao, 26 percent in Luzon and 14 percent in the Visayas regions.
Since the start of community quarantines and military lockdowns up to present, the AFP has remained focused on nationwide counterrevolutionary military campaigns and operations in the countryside. In fact, even PNP mobile battalions and companies have also been utilized to augment AFP operating troops in the campaign to brutally attack suspected NPA mass base areas in order to deny the NPA of mass support, isolate them from the masses and viciously attack the NPA forces. Duterte’s braggadocio and hailing of his troops as “anti-COVID frontline heroes” is but an attempt at to deodorize the fascist and mercenary character of the AFP and PNP. Soldiers and police personnel are assigned to man checkpoints, not to observe the more civil LGU protocols for crisis management but to ensure strict military rule nationwide.
The bully Duterte has threatened to declare martial law nationwide on the pretense that NPA units are sabotaging anti-Covid-19 government efforts by allegedly attacking troops and confiscating food and relief goods that the latter are distributing to people in the countryside. Duterte, a lawyer, did not even bother to present incontrovertible evidence but has only resorted to his usual incoherent pronouncements. There is no need to use the NPA as a pretext to declare nationwide martial law because the whole nation is now under military supremacy, sans a formal declaration.
The government’s anti-Covid-19 campaign in the countryside is also being used to cover-up the military’s population and resource control operations through the hamletting of barangays and communities in the guise of enforcing community quarantines. They control the entry and exit of any local population, even in areas where there are no local Covid-19 transmission. They sabotage food productivity of local residents by denying them access to their farms. Duterte is starving entire populations as his token food aid fails to cover food requirement of all households in the barangays and communities in the duration of the imposed military lockdown. The truth is, the military is easing out local government officials and other civilian agencies by accusing them of corruption in the food aid distribution in the countrysides so that they can use these to cover up intensified military combat operations, and claim credit for themselves as “frontline heroes.” Controlling the spread of Covid-19 is the least concern of Duterte’s fascist troops. In some communities, for instance, residents complained of military sponsored cockfights and other gambling activities of fascist troops, in clear violation of social distancing and other anti-Covid-19 protocols.
Some Php500 billion from the annual military budget, including special intelligence and other indirect funds, remains untouched by the national realigned budget for the government’s anti-Covid-19 campaign. Had Duterte ordered the reallocation of the bloated military budget, a substantial fund could have been freed for the immediate purchase of personal protective equipment for frontliners, testing kits and setting-up of confirmatory laboratory testing centers, quarantine and other health facilities. Duterte and his trusted military men refused to heed the clamor for the temporary suspension of the procurement of war planes and helicopters, navy boats, howitzers and others, so that the funds can be used in the fight against the Covid-19. This is because to have done so would deny them the benefit of enjoying the huge payola from the weapons procurement of the AFP modernization program. Prioritizing the resources for the anti-Covid-19 fight is of least import to Duterte and his bootlickers. What matters most is filling up their purses and their obsession to acquire modern technology to annihilate the NPA.
The land, sea and air assets of the AFP and PNP could have been used to provide for the needs for the enforcement of community quarantines, for transporting civilians in need and other Covid-related purposes. Instead, the AFP and PNP continue to spend billions of pesos for the operations of their surveillance drones and spy planes, bomber planes, bomber helicopter, 155 howitzers and the costly transport of troops involved in offensive military campaigns and sustained focused military operations against the NPA.
Duterte has outrightly set aside the possibility of conducting mass testing nationwide. Mass testing is a necessity for a country that can ill-afford a second or succeeding waves of Covid-19 infections. Duterte has reasoned that the government cannot afford the highly-expensive mass testing, and to just wait for the availability of a vaccine. He would rather spend the country’s resources in the fight against the NPA rather than save the lives of the Filipino people.
Like thieves in the night, Duterte’s super majority in the Senate and Congress has railroaded the passing of the anti-people and repressive Anti-Terrorism Bill, taking advantage of the anti-Covid-19 protocols and restrictions on public protest rallies, while ganging up on opposition in both houses. Instead of prioritizing the urgent need for nationwide mass testing for Covid-19, Duterte has prioritized the immediate approval of the Anti-Terrorism Bill that allows warrantless arrests and incommunicado detention of any person from 16 to 24 days in order to silence the opposition and for purely counter-revolutionary purposes.
Despite all these, Duterte is still trying to make it appear that he is still busy with his election promise: the anti-illegal drugs and the anti-corruption campaigns.
It is, however, public knowledge that his eldest son Paolo and son-in-law Manases Carpio, together with ex-customs commissioner Faeldon and La Pena, are involved in the ignominious magnetic lifter drug smuggling through the Bureau of Customs – of which all of them have been miraculously absolved of any criminal liability. To keep the anti-drug campaign alive, there are still sporadic drug-related extrajudicial killings victimizing mostly suspected lowly drug addicts and drug pushers. There is also a heightened campaign of assassination of political activists and mass leaders and innocent civilians. Duterte’s family, his ex-military men, generals and the likes of his Compadre Peter Lim remain scot-free. Duterte himself is to be tried by the International Criminal Court for the mass murder of 30,000 people under his government’s anti-drug war. Duterte’s killing machine is a thousandfold more lethal than the Covid-19 virus, and only his ouster from office is the most effective way to save innocent lives.
Likewise, Duterte’s fake anti-corruption campaign has also been exposed. Lately, he has announced a P30,000 reward for those who can report of corruption in the Covid-19 food aid distribution, targeting lowly barangay officials. But he has also been quick to defend the Department of Health for corruption in the overpriced multi-billion acquisition of Covid-19 testing kits and other equipment and supplies.
It is clear that among the four campaigns that Duterte is presently waging, namely, his all-out war against revolutionary forces, the anti-Covid-19 campaign, the anti-illegal drugs campaign and the anti-corruption campaign, he is most obsessed with the counter-revolutionary campaign.
The anti-corruption and anti-illegal drug campaigns are matters Duterte cannot implement seriously because these will only implicate his family and close friends. All he has done thus far are token actions to make it appear that he remains true to his election campaign promises.
The Covid-19 crisis is far too complicated to address for the corrupt, bankrupt, tyrannical and militarist Duterte government. To seriously implement preventive community quarantines, for instance, Duterte has to ensure that the government can provide the needs of the unemployed and hungry populace. He cannot be expected to do this because his government funds are already programmed to prioritize military budget and corruption. On the other hand, he is still obliged to implement community quarantines to prevent the danger of a run-away breakout of Covid-19 infection. To evade accountability, he is now passing on the responsibility of providing food and other support to local government units, while earmarking the newly-approved $500 million loan to bailout and rehabilitate businesses and other private interests.
Duterte’s counterrevolutionary campaign is not just a personal choice, it is more importantly the dictate of the big bourgeoisie and big landlord classes. He is well aware that his US imperialist masters will only continue to protect and support him for as long as he continues to perpetuate the semifeudal and semicolonial order. Recently, his antiimperialist pretenses have been exposed as he suspended the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines has directed the NPA to continue to give priority to uphold and address the health and well-being of the masses in the countryside in the fight against Covid-19. As the NPA carries on this task it will not be distracted by Duterte’s obsession with attacking the revolutionary movement and the people first more than anything else. However, the NPA reserves the right to fight back to defend the welfare of the masses and the whole revolutionary forces. We are also duty-bound to punish the mercenary and fascist troops for their numerous crimes against the people.###