Duterte regime targets critics
THE Duterte regime has expanded its so-called “war on drugs” to now target – a la “Oplan Double Barrel” – its critics and specific institutions and individuals that can check its abuses of power. The move by Duterte’s allies in Congress to allocate a laughable P1,000 for the 2018 budget of the Commission on Human Rights is just part of what looks like a deliberate and strategic campaign to ensure impunity and absence of accountability for extrajudicial killings.
This campaign started with the harassment and incarceration of Senator Leila de Lima followed now by a campaign to discredit Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Risa Hontiveros, outspoken critics of the regime and its war on drugs. The regime has also targeted the media and human rights advocates, making them fair game to its death squads and abusive law enforcers.
The move to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno should also be viewed in light of this effort to undermine checks and balances in government. Once Sereno is impeached, Duterte will have thorough control of the Supreme Court; the implications of this is terrifying to even contemplate.
The postponement of the barangay elections gives the Duterte administration immense power to control grassroots politics in the Philippines and forces beholden barangay officials to toe the government’s line in its brutal “war on drugs.” They risk disfavor with the government or losing their positions if they refused. We should always keep in mind that local officials are the ones providing the names of those in the police’s drug watch list who are then targeted for elimination.
As the country lurches from one scandal to another, we should always be mindful of these developments that not only undermine checks and balances in government but also favor Duterte and his allies in terms of deflecting the serious allegations of human rights violations and corruption that they face. The Filipino people are up against not only a murderous regime but a cynical one as well.