The US-Duterte regime, a reprise

Today marks the 72nd year of the Philippine client-state. More than seven
decades after the US colonial regime granted nominal independence to the
Philippines on July 4, 1946 and handed over the reins of government to its
US-indoctrinated politicians and technocrats, the country remains under US
neocolonial stranglehold. Burdened primarily by US semicolonial yoke, the
Philippines remains economically dependent, politically subservient, culturally
subjugated and militarily bound to the US.

Rodrigo Duterte is the current chief of this neocolonial state. Over the past
two years, he has perpetuated US neocolonial rule in the country. Despite his
anti-American histrionics, dramatic declarations of an “independent foreign
policy,” and theatrics of “shifting to China and Russia” early in his term, he
has proved himself no different from previous puppet presidents since 1946 who
all have steadfastly defended US semicolonial rule.

The US-Duterte regime is the current expression of US neocolonial rule in the
Philippines and of the subservience of the ruling political elite. His cabinet
is composed of stalwarts of US hegemonism. His economic managers are IMF and
World Bank-trained experts and champions of the neoliberal policy regime. His
defense and security officials are pro-American zealots of US counter-insurgency

In the economic sphere, Duterte preserved all the policies which prevent
national economic development and aggravate the oppression and exploitation of
the broad toiling masses of workers and peasants, as well as middle-income
earners. His eight-point economic program is in line with the neoliberal policy
proposals long-pushed for by the IMF-WB. He perpetuated the general policy
against land reform in his drive to transform wide swathes of agricultural and
ancestral land to commercial plantations and mining sites. He continued the
policy of cheap labor as key incentive to attracting foreign investments. Labor
rights are wantonly violated especially in so-called “economic zones.”
Contractualization and various flexible employment schemes subject workers to
ever worse conditions of oppression and exploitation. He implemented the TRAIN
law taxes, specifically designed by American-funded lobby group Arangkada, which
have caused the skyrocketting of prices of commodities and further deterioration
of people’s living conditions.

Duterte’s subservience to the US imperialists is most starkly demonstrated by
extending the extraterritorial rights granted to the US military in the
Philippines under various one-sided treaties. He has refused to heed the
Filipino people’s demand to abrogate the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, the
Visiting Forces Agreement of 1998, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement of
2014 and other unequal military treaties with the US. He also made no formal
protestation against the presence of US military troops and advisers in the
country. Balikatan war exercises, which epitomize US military command and
control of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, have been held twice since
Duterte proclaimed he no longer wants them. The most recent war exercises last
April saw the participation of one of the biggest contingent of American troops
and displayed their prowess in invasion maneuvers.

This year alone, several nuclear-capable aircraft carriers and warships have
docked in Philippine waters, including the USS Carl Vinson and guided-missile
destroyer USS Michael Murphy, amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard and
the USS Ronald Reagan.

Due to the absence of economic and political sovereignty and lack of national
dignity, the Duterte regime can only exercise a policy of passivity in relation
to US and China saber-rattling and militarization of the South China Sea and
parts of the Philippine maritime territory. This is in contrast to an active
policy of peace which requires one to demand the imperialist powers to put an
end to the policy of war and their race to establish their military might
against one another.

Facing economic bankruptcy, Duterte seeks to attract Chinese investments by
establishing bureaucrat capitalist deals with corrupt state officials and giving
China full access and leeway in the South China Sea, including those within the
maritime claims of the Philippines. Rising imperialist China has constructed
airports and other military facilities to fortify its presence in the South
China Sea in the face of the US “pivot to Asia” since 2011. Beguiled by
Duterte’s dramatic anti-US tirades, China promised in October 2016 to extend
around $20 billion in loans and aid. No substantial portion of these promises
have yet to materialize, however, after it became apparent to the Chinese
imperialists that Duterte was not about to turn his back against the US
imperialists which he has declared an “indispensable partner” and which he
thanked profusely for the military aid extended to his regime’s wars against the
Filipino people.

The US foments Sinophobia in condemning China for building its military
facilities in the area, when in fact, it has long been constructing its military
facilities inside the Philippines itself, specifically inside AFP military bases
in Tarlac, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Palawan, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga,
Marawi and other places. The US-controlled media is hypocritically whipping-up
the hype of “China militarization” to obscure US militarization and power
projection in the South China Sea through “freedom of navigation” operations,
war exercises in the Philippines and other countries, building military
facilities under EDCA, having access to Philippine seaports and airports under
the VFA, and so on. Duterte paved the way for intensified US military
intervention in the nation’s affairs. In declaring martial law in Mindanao and
mounting the war of destruction against Marawi City, he allowed large-scale US
military intervention, where the US military combined with the AFP in relentless
aerial bombardment. Duterte and the AFP adapted the tactics applied by the US
against Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. The US military is set to gain access
to large areas of Marawi City where thousands of hectares of land are set to be
converted by Duterte into a large military reservation. Through its agents, the
US has pushed the Duterte regime to cancel peace talks with National Democratic
Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Under the “anti-terror” banner, it is actively
inciting the ruling regime to wage all-out war and vigorously crackdown on the
revolutionary forces.

On this day, we call on the Filipino people to expose and oppose the US-Duterte
regime’s relentless machinations aimed at maintaining the status of the
Philippines as a strong neocolonial foothold of US hegemonic power in the
Asia-Pacific. The Filipino people and their revolutionary forces reaffirm their
determination to advance the struggle for national and social liberation, seek
the overthrow of US imperialism and the puppet Duterte regime and establish a
fully independent people’s democratic state.

The US-Duterte regime, a reprise