When Rodrigo Duterte ran for president of the Philippines in 2016, he promised that change would come for the Filipino people.
His 17 months in office, however, has been marked with a bloodbath surpassing even the record of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, for whom he has expressed his deep admiration. Over 13,000 people have been killed in Duterte’s brutal anti-drug war since he became president. From June 2016 until December 2017, 126 political activists have been killed by the military. Illegal arrests and detentions have also risen at an alarming rate under his term. Human rights and its defenders are constantly being attacked.
Critics are being demonized by the president and his lackeys in Congress as well as his troll army in social media. Duterte has repeatedly threatened to close down newspapers that are critical of his administration. In fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission has revoked the license of Rappler, an online news agency, effectively shutting down Rappler’s operations (the agency has defiantly continued operating despite its license being revoked). Duterte and his spokespersons continue to threaten and rant against the press while spreading fake news.
Despite professing an anti-imperialist stance, his recent dealings with the United States has shown that he is as subservient to the US as his predecessors. Add to that his recent actions regarding China, including backing down on the Philippine Sea and Benham Rise issues, and one cannot help but conclude that Duterte is out to sell the country to the highest foreign bidder.
His lackeys in Congress have passed a new tax law that promised to ease the economic burdens being carried by the common Filipino, but a few days after the law’s passage, the price of basic goods, commodities and services have already gone up. Filipinos are now finding it harder to buy food to put on their tables; in the midst of all this, Duterte’s own granddaughter spent hundreds of thousands of pesos (some say millions) to hold her 18th birthday party in the presidential palace itself.
Duterte also declared martial law in the southern island of Mindanao, supposedly to fight the ISIS-affiliated Maute terrorist group, who tried to take over Marawi City. But after defeating the terrorists in late 2017, he extended martial law in the island for another year and now threatens to expand martial law to cover the whole nation. He is even trying to change the constitution to extend his term and shift to a federal form of government, proposing to suspend elections in the process.
All this and more, in just under two years in office. With Duterte, change has, indeed, come–for the worse.
It seems we have been scammed.