Duterte’s fight is for the people

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

Duterte has just made his message clear to the Abu Sayaff.  He has commanded the military to fight and kill the bandits to the last man. He told the soldiers: “There will never be any peace negotiation. You have to destroy them. That is the order. Destroy them… I don’t need anything from you. I do not need your personal loyalty for me.  Just love your country.”

This President is not playing around. Time is of essence. Enough is enough! Duterte has given them a chance to lay their arms along with the New People’s Army but it seems that greed has just taken control over their spirits. They are terrorists and they will continue to hurt our people and our country.  In fact, as you read this column, 1,500 workers of Dole-Stanfilco (the multi-national banana company) have lost their job.  The company has shut down its operations because of the millions worth of losses linked to NPA attacks. After the company refused to pay revolutionary taxes incidents of the burning of delivery trucks have happened.  If the NPA is for the people and by the people, then, why do they continue to make life hard for the rural folk? Where will these farmers go now?  Duterte must persevere and stand his ground. Our countrymen deserve lasting peace.

* * *

The President has also begun his campaign to diminish the existence of oligarchs.  His message is clear: “I will destroy the oligarchs… The oligarchs have been making money at the expense of the poor…Kayong mga manloloko sa Pilipino ang mga oligarch. Kayong mga Pilipinong hindi nagbabayad ng buwis (oligarchs continue to fool the Filipinos by not paying taxes).”

For decades, oligarchy Philippine style has lured the seemingly naïve electorate in favoring a candidate who will serve their personal interests. Even the 1986 “People Power” revolution failed to reform the country as we hailed the reinstallation of freedom from the 21-year Marcos dictatorship. We must realize by now that, that was not a true revolution for democracy. The truth was, it laid the ground work for the return of the powerful families to once again dominate our lives. So, it’s the same old story.

The Filipinos were blinded by the promise of a new dawn only to wake up and see that yes, the oligarchs are back.  The Philippine economic growth that the past administration has been blabbering about only meant the expansion of the Filipino billionaires’ wealth. There is no truth to the government much flaunt about statistics on poverty. As a matter of fact, and as seen by the naked eye, poverty in the country has worsened since 2010.

Oligarchs get franchises, tax breaks, and loans from government. They provide funds for elections and enrich politicians. A president can make or unmake oligarchs. So can oligarchs make and unmake presidents. Cronies and other oligarchy allies have become the wealthiest families in the Philippines.

For decades past we have been chained to a rotten political system created by the oligarchs who have long corrupted our freedom as a people.  Yes, the oligarchs have continued to rule the land, by backing up presidents and other politicos. Inequality continues to prevail as the poor continue to suffer because government policies favor the rich who get richer.

Have we awakened from a deep slumber? In the words of National Artist F. Sionil Jose, “We are at the start of a revolution that is uniquely Filipino in the same way that EDSA 1 was. The past decades that were a slow drift to an implosion due to rampant corruption, weakened institutions and the apathy of Filipinos has finally been arrested – not by a man on a white horse, or a soldier atop a tank, but through the ballot by a foul-mouthed Indio, the first politician courageous enough to challenge the Catholic Church and the powerful, arrogant and, yes, unclean media. His ideology in its basic simplicity is love of country and people, and a willingness to sacrifice for it.”

F. Sionil Jose added, “The ramifications of Duterte’s assault on the rotten status quo, which has begun with the war on drugs, will go deeper into the matrix of our society and government as police, politicians and powerful Filipinos are subjected to the harsh scrutiny of the revolution. Eventually the highest enclaves of privilege will feel its impact for the simple reason that rampant corruption also afflicts our business and banking sectors… Many of our problems are due to the irresponsibility of the oligarchy; they are the number one culprit of our economic and moral decline. They argue and make decisions from comfortable positions. The revolution is happening, and they cannot see it. Perhaps, when it reaches them, they will be forced to be more socially involved and invest in enterprises that will “spread money like fertilizer.” They may even bring home the money they have stashed or invested abroad, and participate in the resurgence of ethics and patriotism… The first weeks of the Duterte administration have already given us hope in several sectors – in agriculture, in the welfare of our OFWs, in transportation, education, housing, telecommunications and services. And most of all, access to the very top for the aggrieved, and transparency of government transactions, long withheld by politicians and the powerful with secrets to hide.”

It’s about time a President takes strong steps to terminate all the ills of this society. No one in my lifetime has leveled up to this President. Such power, such energy, such vigor and determination has never been seen nor felt by our citizenry in the past decades. At the end of the day, he is teaching us the lesson about loving the country and fighting for it.

It’s not just about me or you, it’s about all of us. The Filipino word to describe our character in a nutshell is that we are makasarili (thinking only of ourselves), not makabayan (patriotic). The drug lords, the high rollers, the political dynasties, the oligarchs and Philippine rebels are all makasarili.  We need to change and think about the bigger spectrum our country deserves to attain.

Despite Digong’s unorthodox ways, he has continued to show us honor to this day. I hope and pray he marches forward to reach the dawn of a new day.  Let us march on with him in this fight, as he said in his own words, “I am here to correct and establish order in my beloved country. Many will stop me, many will try to kill me, because of my principle and dignity over how to fix this country. But if God bless me, and with the people’s help, I might change this country into one that you all will be proud of, and my legacy will extend far beyond the next Filipino generation.”

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