ALTHOUGH surveys are not the end-all, be-all of political opinion, recent polls on Duterte’s leadership run consistent with swelling protests and clamor for an end to repressive and fascist policies. The Filipino people see through the government’s lies, fake news, deception, and repression, as evidenced by the unrelenting campaigns and struggles for justice of victims of State-sponsored violence, that even recent surveys have to reflect the people’s sentiments.
President Duterte’s net satisfaction and trust ratings have also plunged, according to its 3rd Quarter results of the survey released by the Social Weather Stations on Oct. 8, 2017. The President’s net satisfaction rating fell from +66 to +48, 18 points lower this quarter. Duterte’s net trust ratings also saw a decline of 15 points this quarter, from +75 to +60 points. This is reportedly the lowest net satisfaction and trust rating during Duterte’s term.
The mad scramble of Duterte’s sycophants to spread lies in international platforms on the non-existence of extrajudicial killings in the country, the recent launch of a group that is posing as a new paramilitary force in defense of the Duterte regime, and the unrelenting moves to suppress civil liberties and exercise of people’s rights are all desperate attempts by Duterte to project acceptability of its anti-people programs and to quell opposition to his fascist regime.
Government officials like Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano and Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, and the Philippine National Police are on defensive mode, employing the most laughable excuses, semantics and word plays denying the existence and prevalence of EJKs.
As of Sept. 30, 2017, Karapatan has recorded 98 victims of EJKs in line with the Duterte regime’s counter-insurgency program. Even with the government’s definition of EJKs as per Administrative Order 35, the PNP’s Task Force Usig data (or non-data) on EJKs is simply unbelievable. This government seems to think that playing with definitions would rid them of the reality facing the whole country. What is crystal clear is that Duterte and his State security forces have perpetrated and intensified scores of rights violations with impunity.
All recent administrations have denied the existence of State-sanctioned killings or have deliberately downplayed the extent of the problem on human and people’s rights. It is laughable that the PNP claimed only one EJK in the course of Duterte’s term, and even retracted their statement to insinuate that there are no such incidents of extrajudicial killing in the country. This continuous denial and deliberate propelling of blatant and preposterous lies are meant to justify the killings and violations it has systematically allowed through State policies such as the drug war campaign and counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.
The Citizen National Guard (CNG), lunched on Oct. 3, is meant to stand as a citizen organization composed of retired military men aimed at “defending the Republic and protecting the people.”
The CNG is a euphemism to legitimize a paramilitary force for the sole purpose of supporting and ensuring the survival of the now-struggling Duterte regime. Faced with increasing turmoil, it is instinctive for militarists and fascists to react with another mechanism to further suppress and undermine people’s struggles, fashioned under ornamented names and seemingly noble intentions. The CNG will be nothing but another organization out on a witch-hunt, branding and labelling everyone calling for justice as “enemies of the State” or threats to the Republic. It is a dangerous initiative, and very telling of the Duterte regime’s desperation to cling onto whatever legitimacy it has left.
(Cristina Palabay is secretary general of the human rights watchdog Karapatan.)