Duterte’s four years in power: an epidemic of State terrorism, blatant injustice, gross rights violations

With the looming enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, human rights watchdog Karapatan warned that “as President Rodrigo Duterte enters his twilight years in power, he and his militarist lapdogs are now gearing up to unleash in full the horrors of State repression in a desperate effort to consolidate power and secure his fascist dictatorship in the face of growing mass resistance.” The group decried Duterte’s four years in power as “a worsening epidemic of State terrorism, blatant injustice, and gross human rights violations.”

“Crisis after crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed the widening cracks just beneath the surface of Duterte’s desperate illusion of a strong state: a rapidly deteriorating state of poverty, mass hunger, and extreme socioeconomic inequality, the criminal neglect of basic social services in the name of pouring billions of pesos on militarization, debt service, and massive corruption from the lowest to the highest rungs of State bureaucracy — all on top of egregious displays of injustice and a brutal toll of human rights abuses growing bloodier by the day,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

As Karapatan joined various people’s organizations, human rights advocates, and other sectoral formations in a protest at the Liwasang Diokno in the Commission on Human Rights compound to assail Duterte’s “horrible and dismal” performance for the past four years in Malacañang, Palabay continued that “the Filipino people has never seen such explicit and shameless abuse of power, disregard of democratic checks and balances, and outright deception from the government’s mouthpieces.”

“The puzzle pieces of the regime’s maneuvers to impose de facto martial law are now all falling into place, revealing in full this perverse agenda to completely crush any façade of so-called popular democracy through the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Instead of addressing the people’s needs, the fascist and corrupt Duterte regime has exploited lockdown measures and emergency powers against the COVID-19 pandemic to suppress dissent through mass arrests and violent dispersals of protests and to intensify police and military presence in both urban and rural communities, all of which have resulted to grave human rights violations,” the Karapatan officer stated.

As of June 2020, Karapatan has documented at least 318 victims of extrajudicial killings in line with the Duterte regime’s counterinsurgency programs along with the thousands reportedly murdered in the sham drug war. The rights watchdog has also recorded at least 456 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 3,531 victims of illegal arrests on top of the thousands arrested in the enforcement of militarized lockdowns all over the country, 214 tortured, 805 victims of illegal search and seizure, and 456,103 victims of forcible evacuations. Instead of releasing political prisoners on humanitarian and just grounds, several more have been arrested and jailed with 635 political prisoners incarcerated in various facilities. At least 95 of them have various ailments, including life-threatening diseases; 53 are elderly and 100 are women. 

“Duterte can no longer hide behind the populist façade for he has already unveiled the rotting fascist, undemocratic, and anti-people underbelly of his presidency — and the people have had enough! The Duterte regime’s fascist attacks are only creating widespread discontent and social unrest, driving more and more people to frustrate Duterte’s schemes to secure his tyrannical rule. We’ve had enough of four years of lies, killings, and injustices, and the people cannot suffer more years under the fascist madman Duterte. Tama na! Sobra na!” she ended.