Joma Sison: Duterte’s first year in office ‘vulnerable, mixed up’
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison has reviewed the performance of President Rodrigo Duterte, his former student, in his first year in office, calling it “mixed up” and “vulnerable.”
In an opinion piece published online, Sison said Duterte’s promise of eradicating corruption “has not yet materialized,” but noted that the former Davao mayor was most successful at projecting himself as a strong leader due to his widely criticized war on drugs.
“Where he has been most successful at, projecting himself as a strong leader by calling on the police and the public to kill drug addict-pushers, he has attracted the most severe and sustained condemnation by institutions, the mass organizations, the human rights formations, various churches, major mass media and respected personages in the Philippines and abroad,” Sison wrote.
Citing the victims of alleged extrajudicial killings and human rights violations in the antidrug campaign, Sison also noted the Duterte administration’s “vulnerability to charges of mass murder.” He said that the most threatening to the Duterte government was a “secret movement” among military and police officers complaining against “the system of giving cash rewards to police officers and vigilantes for accomplishing murder missions.”
“Aside from the vulnerability of the regime to charges of mass murder, the crisis of the Philippine ruling system and the world capitalist system is ever worsening to the detriment of the Filipino people. The deterioration of the economy is underway to undermine and isolate the regime in the forthcoming year. Foreign exchange remittances from overseas contract workers are slowing down. The export of raw material and semi-manufactures has plunged amidst the global depression,” Sison said.
“Credit from Western sources is tightening. The foreign exchange reserves are decreasing. The peso is being devalued in view of a large public debt. Portfolio investments have been flowing out since 2014. While the debt-driven and import-dependent service sector is growing, agriculture and manufacturing have declining shares in the gross domestic product. The prices of staple food and other basic commodities are rising, while regular employment and real wages are decreasing. Social services are becoming more expensive and the public utilities are breaking down,” he added.
But highlighting the President’s efforts in pursuing the peace talks with communist rebels and “mixing up” Cabinet members from various political and economic persuasions, Sison said Duterte “cannot be underestimated.”
“He is known for his political skills at talking or acting in the style of the Left, Center and Right, whichever serves him best from moment to moment. He has appointed some patriotic and progressive elements to his Cabinet while surrounding them with an overwhelming majority of Rightists and an increasing number of retired military officers,” he said.
“He has released political prisoners of high caliber, although he has held back from releasing all political prisoners who are being held in violation of the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). When patriotic and progressive mass organizations hold protests in front of the presidential palace, he invites the leaders for discussion and expresses support and sympathy. In a recent symbolic act, he went out of the palace to meet and mingle with the peasant protesters who demanded land reform. He denounced the landed oligarchs and expressed support to the protests,” Sison added.
The fifth round of formal talks between the government and the NDFP will be held in the Netherlands from May 27 to June 2. JE
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