Karapatan on EDSA People Power Uprising’s 34th anniversary: Resist and end Duterte’s fascist dictatorship

Karapatan stands in solidarity with the Filipino people today in commemorating the 34th anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising. Today, we remember the thousands of victims of the brutal Marcos dictatorship under martial law along with the long struggle of the people's martyrs for national democracy, genuine justice, and social change. This momentous event in our history displayed the power of the unity of the Filipino people that ultimately led to the ouster of the fascist dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
 
The victory of the EDSA People Power uprising is not the victory of one family or specific personalities: the toppling of the Marcos dictatorship is a victory of the Filipino people, of the millions who marched to the streets in the four-day uprising and those who courageously defied state repression and fascism.
 
Today, 34 years later, the Filipino people are again confronted with another despicable tyrannical regime — that of the fascist Rodrigo Duterte.
 
Aside from coddling the Marcoses, supporting disinformation and historical revisionism, absolving their family and cronies of their brazen attacks and crimes against the Filipino people, and paving the way for the political rehabilitation of the Marcos and their return to power using the money they stole from the country's coffers, Duterte is ripping pages directly from the playbook of Marcosian fascist dictatorship.

Amid a worsening economic crisis of the nation brought about by Duterte's own subservience to neoliberal policies and anti-people interests, more and more people are taking the line of resistance against the regime. In a desperate bid to consolidate power, Duterte is unleashing in full the horrors of state fascism on anyone who stands in his way — a déjà vu of the events that transpired during the Marcos dictatorship.

The imposition of repressive executive issuances like Executive Order No. 70 and its "whole-of-nation" counterinsurgency campaign as well as Memorandum Order No. 32 has led to a de facto martial law crisis in the country with the intensified militarization of the entire civilian bureaucracy and the whole of society. The McCarthyite red scare brought about by the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) reveals the organized efforts of the Duterte regime's campaign of state terror and crackdown on all forms of dissent. 

The entire nation is now confronted with worse forms of violations and harassment and a string of repressive laws that curtail our basic rights and freedoms. Today, we are seeing an assault on judicial independence as Duterte increasingly weaponizes the law and legal processes for his political vendetta against critics and activists.
 
As part of the machinery of the NTF-ELCAC, baseless trumped-up charges are being filed against the government's critics, sparing no one from young human rights workers, elderly church people, and sick and ailing peace consultants, to sedition charges against the political opposition. Dubious search warrants are churned up in courts leading to Gestapo-like raids in offices of progressive organizations and residences of mass leaders in Negros, Manila, and Tacloban, with the planting of evidence such as guns and ammunition used as pretext for their arrests. The government is likewise mounting its machinery of lies and disinformation through the likes of frothing-in-the-mouth sycophants Antonio Parlade Jr. and Lorraine Badoy, whose pathetic efforts to red-tag critics and delegitimize them and their grievances have repeatedly failed.
 
Martial law in Mindanao may have ended after three extensions, but the climate of militarization and impunity continues with the threats against indigenous communities seeking refuge in Haran, and with Mindanao being turned into a factory mill of trumped-up charges against activists in the island and all over the country. Like Marcos before him, Duterte is utilizing legal offensives to keep critics like Senator Leila de Lima and hundreds of human rights defenders behind bars in an attempt to silence their dissent against Duterte's fascist pronouncements.
 
Solicitor General Jose Calida's quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN's franchise may be due to Duterte's petty and personal vendetta against the broadcast network, but it poses a serious implication on the already-deteriorating state of press freedom and the rapid narrowing of “democratic spaces” in the country. It sends a harrowing chilling effect to anyone who dares to expose and criticize the Duterte regime fascist underbelly. Thousands of workers are also set to lose their jobs with ABS-CBN's closure.
 
The threats against ABS-CBN is the latest in the fascist Duterte regime's assault on the press following the threats and harassment of journalists by government and security officials. These blatant attacks on Philippine media are notable revivals of Marcosian tactics that aimed to turn the media as mere lapdogs for State propaganda, owned by Duterte's own cronies and loyalists.
 
Militarists in the government like Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., to name a few, are also railroading the vague draconian amendments to measures to the Human Security Act, the revival of the Anti-Subversion Law and the militarization of schools through the restoration of mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps, as well as the reimposition of death penalty. The police are heightening efforts in profiling individuals, groups and communities at the expense of violating individuals' civil liberties. These policies aim to replicate the highly militarized atmosphere of Marcosian martial law without its formal declaration. The Filipino people are pushed further to the losing end, as we are all made to suffer attacks on our civil, political, economic, cultural, and social rights.
 
Our commemoration of the EDSA People Power uprising today is more relevant than ever. We now stand against a looming dictatorship under a delusional Marcos fanboy Duterte.
 
Karapatan, alongside martial law victims then and now, and the Filipino people, continues to stand firmly in demanding accountability for the plunder and atrocities of the Marcoses and in blocking their political ambitions. Moreover, we are called to task once more to unite in resisting another fascist and tyrannical regime, in frustrating its efforts to consolidate authoritarian rule. Abraham Sarmiento Jr., a fierce critic of the Marcos dictator posed this challenge then: ”Kung ‘di tayo kikibo, sino ang kikibo? Kung ‘di tayo kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?” This challenge is resoundingly relevant today more than ever.
 
The time to act is now. The time to put an end to this fascist dictatorship is now, as we persevere in our struggle for justice and accountability.