The midterm elections come at very critical conjuncture. The series of articles posted by Focus on the Global South in the past week clearly show that over the last three years, Duterte has taken major steps towards entrenching neoliberalism and consolidating authoritarian rule.
On the one hand, the administration’s reinforcement of the same neoliberal development paradigm that was adopted by previous administrations has aggravated poverty by consolidating wealth in the hands of the elite while threatening job security; drastically inflating the prices of basic commodities; limiting the reach of basic services; restricting small-scale food providers’ access to water, land, and other natural resources; eroding the gains in realizing food sovereignty; and destroying the environment.
On the other hand, with the goal of consolidating authoritarian rule, the Duterte administration has demonized human rights, threatened human rights defenders, facilitated and perpetrated the systematic killing of thousands of people mostly from poor communities under the war on drugs campaign, attacked the media, smeared and criminalized the opposition—with a particularly aggressive assault on outspoken female critics—imposed martial law in Mindanao, politicized the military by granting top cabinet positions to former generals, and undermined democratic institutions.
Duterte is also advancing toward the attainment of absolute control over the three branches of government. By the end of 2019, he is poised to appoint five more Justices to the Supreme Court, which will then be dominated by Duterte appointees. When his term ends in 2022, he shall have appointed 13 out of 15 Justices. Duterte has also taken control of the House of Representatives by instituting a “super majority” pro-administration coalition and is now targeting greater control in the Senate in the upcoming midterm elections.
As Walden Bello had rightfully said, “One of the shortcomings of democracy is that it sometimes allows anti-democratic personalities to come to power owing to their momentary appeal to the masses. But one of the strengths of democracy is that it is also the most effective way of throwing out those who have betrayed the public trust. Duterte has betrayed the public trust; it is our duty to open the people’s eyes to that.”
We need an independent Senate with progressive Senators willing and able to resist the authoritarian agenda, and a strong system of checks and balances in government. it is imperative therefore that we reject candidates who run solely on the basis of their loyalty to the President without presenting reputable public service records as well as concrete platforms to address the key issues affecting many Filipinos
Rather, we must vote for candidates who stand for and uphold the people’s agenda, which is constituted by respect for democracy and human rights, protection of the poor and marginalized sectors, attainment of job security and upholding of just working conditions, realization of sustainable and inclusive peace and security, securing of society’s access to the commons, protection of the environment and attainment of climate justice, and establishment of a people-centered and environmentally sustainable development paradigm.
This is our indispensable duty to the future generations who will bear the consequences of our decisions, as well as to the farmers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, workers, women, and the environment whose yields and labor have contributed much to our sustenance and continuing existence, but whose rights have been disrespected and violated under the dominant oppressive economic and political systems.
Read and download the Focus Policy Review 2019: “Critical Junction: Derailing or Accelerating the Dictatorship Express” here: https://focusweb.org/