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When Duterte ran for the presidency in 2016. His winning campaign slogan would have been the simplest. Kill all drugs-pushers, users and corrupt politicians and rid the country of its decades-long illness which dubbed it as the sick man of Asia for many years.
True enough, when he won a landslide victory by more than 16 million votes. He then transformed the country reeling with rampant corruption and widening financial inequality to its even worse state comparable only to the dictatorial era of the Marcos regime.
He allowed many of his allies in the Congress to perpetuate themselves in their respective offices. He even shielded many erring public officials whom were suspected of bribery and corruption. Though at first, he attempted to fire them symbolically for propaganda purposes. Only to re-appoint them again to higher positions of power.
According to a Forbes article. The Philippines is the 113 least corrupt nations out of 180 countries, according to the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. That’s 14 notches below the 2018 ranking and 18 down from 2015 before Duterte becomes President!
Meanwhile, the Philippines slid down one notch in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index for 2019, to 54th place.
This could mean that the Philippines are not only getting more corrupt, but also appears to have a deteriorating democratic system wherein journalists and critical voices were being hunted down and silenced either through political shaming and slandering or legal lynching.
The world watched in horror as we gradually lose influence over how our officials make decisions. We couldn’t even barely criticize or hold them accountable as the government is making it difficult for the people to freely assemble and express themselves. Either by making it difficult for rallies and protests to be organized or through demeaning public speeches which cheapens freedom of speech as erroneously deemed as main destabilizer of the nation,
When Duterte launched a fiery war against drugs that led to one of the world’s most violent state-backed policy of genocide against its own citizens. Which resulted in around 27,000 and counting innocent civilians that have been arbitrarily hunted down and killed in their homes either through legitimate police operations under Oplan Tokhang or simply through masked-men in motorcycles.
We are at the darkest moments in our history and many chose to be silent in fear of being targeted, attacked or maligned by their colleagues or people in their circles. The grassroots of Philippine activism were seemingly frowned upon by many due to the constant red-tagging and threats by the military linking progressive human-rights groups to communist rebels.
Many of our countrymen were now in constant financial pressure as the government chose to increase taxes, which led an increase of prices compared to the pre 2016 years. Of course, it started when the government introduced a series of additional excise taxes on petroleum and diesel, which were heavily used in logistics and transportation, which ultimately tipped the dominoes causing higher prices of goods and services for retailers and businesses nationwide.
Adding to the already disadvantageous plight of the working class is the burgeoning Chinese labor presence in the country which strained the local labor market as these illegal immigrants compete with our jobs and even worsens the cost of living in many cities due to the high rent prices offered by POGO operators.
Many were so keen with the surprisingly submissive foreign policy of the Duterte administration towards China and its many onerous dealings, including high-interest loans which may not only be costly to the national treasury in the long run, but also may pose a serious risk to our patrimonial assets as China may be able to take them should we fail to pay up with our loan obligations.
In totality, the idea of strongman fascist politics yielded absolutely no positive results. It was even used to weaponized state-resources to silence dissenting voices and compel independent organizations under the heel of the Executive. Thus, worsening the very fabric of our democratic system — testing the limits and the patience of the Filipinos.
Hopefully – not too long now.