Karapatan on Duterte’s 5th SONA: Contagion of fascism can only be cured by solidarity and resistance

Despite efforts to “exploit and weaponize quarantine measures to sabotage the staging of mass mobilizations and demonstrations” as President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) today, July 27, 2020, hundreds and thousands joined protests actions both online and on-ground as well as inside and outside the country to register resistance to the Duterte administration’s “unbridled fascism” and to hold the regime accountable for its “criminal neglect and blatant disregard of people’s welfare” especially amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay reiterated that the efforts to ban protests and set up police checkpoints to prevent the public from joining the #SONAgKAISA mass actions “were signs of a tyrannical regime cowering before the people’s united and growing clamor to resist Duterte’s bloodthirsty rule as the COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the hollowness of his promise of social change, unleashing upon the people the contagion of undisguised State repression and terrorism.”

“For the past four years, we have seen this fascist disease spread throughout the country — claiming thousands of lives and facilitating more brutal, more gross, and more widespread violations of the people’s civil and political rights under the continued implementation of the Duterte government’s anti-people and murderous policies as well as his relentless attacks on press freedom even in the middle of a pandemic, and with the enactment of the draconian terror law. We won’t be surprised if Duterte parades these attacks on the people as achievements of his government — which has done nothing but protect and enrich his militarist minions and loyalist oligarchs as well as his imperialist masters like China and the United States — which only speaks of the state of a nation in crisis, a nation under de facto martial rule,” Palabay stated.

As Karapatan joined the #SONAgKAISA protests today, Palabay assailed the “worsening efforts to crack down on dissent” through the use of counterterrorism legislation and military operations: “The true terrorist here is the one delivering the SONA today — a true terrorist who has done nothing but sow fear and violence among the people through his trigger-happy, utak-pulbura uniformed men, who have been more than eager to follow the dictator’s kill-kill-kill orders while neglecting, if not utterly ignoring, the people’s just demands. This bloodthirsty regime is killing the people through worsening mass hunger, the further spread of COVID-19, or through bombs and bullets, all in an effort to consolidate its power and attempt to prolong it.” 

According to Karapatan, as of June 2020, it has documented 318 victims of extrajudicial killings in line with the Duterte regime’s counterinsurgency programs Oplan Kapayapaan and Kapanatagan, on top of the thousands reported in line with Duterte’s continuing sham and bloody drug war. The human rights watchdog also recorded 456 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 3,531 victims of illegal arrests, 214 tortured, 805 victims of illegal search and seizure, and 456,103 victims of forcible displacement. On top of the documented violations of civil and political rights, the Karapatan officer also asserted that the Duterte administration “has further entrenched the government’s long, ongoing, and systematic violations of people’s economic, social, and cultural rights through the enactment and implementation of bankrupt neoliberal policies, whose massive impact on people’s suffering and exploitation has only been unmasked in full by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The Duterte regime’s lapdogs are now shamelessly advancing their militarist, oligarchic, and fascist interests by calling on the president to tackle in his SONA the proposals for charter change, which are only set to introduce more neoliberal economic policies and push for the removal of term limits, among others. The people have suffered enough for the past four years under this anti-poor and anti-people regime — and more and more people are joining the thousands of voices fighting back against the Duterte regime’s efforts to consolidate dictatorial rule. We cannot let the people suffer for two more years, and this is the true state of the nation: a nation fighting back and standing up for people’s rights, democracy, and justice. The only way to cure and exterminate this contagion of fascism and militarism is through our solidarity and unified resistance. Tama na, sobra na, #SONAgKAISA na!,” she ended.