The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) condemns the passage of the Anti-Terror Law in the Philippines and the recent string of attacks against activists such as Gabriela Philippines National Vice Chairperson Jenelyn Nagrampa, Pastor Dan San Andres of Karapatan-Bicol and Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay. Gabriela, the biggest militant women’s alliance in the Philippines and Karapatan, the foremost human rights organization in the country are both member organizations of the ILPS.
Gabriela Philippines National Vice-Chairperson Jenelyn Nagrampa and Karapatan-Bicol Chairperson Dan San Andres were arrested for fabricated murder charges, while a moot warrant of arrest was served to Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay. The policemen who served the warrant did not follow the procedure of conducting proper arrests.
Peoples organizations have been vocal against the Anti-Terror Law because of its sinister provisions. The Anti-Terror Law’s ambiguous and expanded definitions of “terrorism” curtails freedom of expression, allows surveillance and wiretapping of suspected individuals, and warrantless arrests of up to 24 days without any charges. Mainstream organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch along with UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet have shared similar concerns.
The government’s critics are the Anti-Terror Law’s most convenient targets. By weaponizing the legal system against activists, farmers, trade union leaders, the urban poor and indigenous peoples and framing them as “terrorists”, Duterte justifies their arrests and the violations of their human rights.
The Anti-Terror Law is the last cog in Duterte’s machinery for state terror. In the four years of his term, Duterte militarized the bureaucracy by appointing former military and police officials to key government posts. He has been crippling his political opponents and used the Covid-19 health crisis to advance his fascist agenda. He imprisoned critics of his “war on drugs” such as Senator Leila de Lima and sanctioned the shutdown of the country’s biggest broadcasting station in the midst of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 health crisis further demonstrated the government’s utter neglect and disregard for the Filipino people’s welfare. The regime ignored the people’s clamor for free mass testing while its militarist response caused severe human rights violations. The distribution of financial assistance for cash-strapped families was snail-paced, rife with red tape and marred by allegations of corruption.
Before the Coronavirus, Philippine foreign debt had already ballooned to $83 billion USD as of 2019 with the government’s aggressive borrowing for the Build, Build, Build program, cash transfer programs, and salary increases for the police and military. The government has also used the health crisis as grounds to acquire additional loans from the US, China, and global financial institutions.
Duterte is serving two masters: the US and China, who are among the country’s largest foreign investors.
Under Duterte’s presidency, China has built and militarized artificial islands, explored and exploited oil and gas resources in the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. Duterte has consistently touted the idea of selling the country’s assets and has permitted relentless Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
US hegemony prevails in the Philippines despite Duterte’s claims of an independent foreign policy. Duterte has backpedaled on the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) after clinching a $2 billion arms deal with the US. Other military treaties remain, such as the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) of 2002 and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which attest to the historical influence of the US over the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Multilateral foreign investment laws and treaties and economic, trade and financial agreements between the US and the Philippines are facilitated by institutions such as the IMF-World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the Asian Development Bank.
The collaboration of Duterte and other bureaucrat capitalists with the landlord and comprador big bourgeoisie class guaranteed the ease with which imperialist countries such as the US and China exploit the Filipino people’s labor and the country’s natural resources.
Activists and peoples organizations in the Philippines have long been targets of the state because of their resistance to the government’s neoliberal agenda and imperialism. However, the real terrorists are US imperialism and its puppet dictator, Rodrigo Duterte. The US wars of aggression have claimed millions of lives and the toll of Duterte’s crusade against the poorest of Filipinos climbs higher by the day.
The ILPS supports the Filipino people’s opposition to the Anti-Terror Law and resistance to the US-Duterte’s state terror. The ILPS joins the demand to release Jenelyn Nagrampa and Pastor Dan San Andres, and all political prisoners. We salute the determination of patriotic and progressive Filipinos to oust the brutal and corrupt Duterte regime.
We call on all freedom-loving peoples to support the Filipino people’s struggle against state tyranny and fascism and their resolute fight against imperialism and all reaction. ##