President Rodrigo Duterte gloating over the death of former UP student activist Jo Lapira who along with 14 others were killed in an ambush by military forces in Nasugbu, Batangas, took a swipe at leftist activism in a speech in Pampanga. Fighting for ideals, he said, is a waste of time: “Most of the left movement, mga bata, nagpakamatay for the belief, for the ideals, for the ideologues na wala naman talagang ma-contribute,” said Duterte who also added that “it’s too late in the day to introduce even the simplest form of socialism,” as “Filipinos will never be ready for it.”

In this mouthful of fentanyl-induced rambling, Duterte once more reveals his true colors as a defender of an old semicolonial and semifeudal order. Here we have an old guard who is ready to commit mass murder and state terrorism to defend a rotten ruling system. Indeed, his latest rant only reaffirms his blatantly fascist and reactionary character and completely belies the platform of change, promises of social reforms, and going against the old oligarchy with which he duped many during his electoral campaign.

As always, our hope lies in the idealism and activism of the youth who, open to new ideas and filled with optimism for a better future, are willing to serve the people and fight injustice even it means risking their very lives. While an aging, opiate-addicted Duterte is only bent on bringing everyone who does not agree with his authoritarian and murderous vision along with him to the grave. Nostalgic for Marcos-style absolute power, Duterte has nothing new or original to offer.

From being a self-proclaimed “socialist”, Duterte now wishes to turn the clock back to the Cold War era of anti-communist witch-hunts that equate all dissent with destabilization. But what is wrong with the leftist ideals that Duterte so vehemently renounces but many young Filipinos now embrace? First used during the French Revolution wherein those who sat on the right in the Estates General wished to bring back the old monarchy while those seated on the left wanted to push through with progressive changes. Simply put, to be a leftist is to stand for social change while the other side wishes to maintain an unjust status quo.

In the Philippine context, being a leftist means going against the domination by foreign powers like US and China and fighting for genuine democracy for the poor majority by instituting genuine land reform, national industrialization, and guaranteeing democratic rights and social welfare for all. Duterte fancies himself God, denigrating progressive ideals and peddling fear and anxiety among the populace to justify his conservative vision of mass murder as the one-size fits-all solution to all the country’s woes. But little does he know that our youthful ideals are powerful because they are true. For these very same ideals have caused many tyrants from the Spanish colonizers, the Japanese invaders, to the Marcos dictatorship to fall.

We offer our red salute to all young Filipinos like Jo Lapira, Glen Mark Aytona, Carl Espinosa Labajata, Julieto Pellazar Jr., Karla Bahasa, Henry delos Reyes, Joshua Hernandez, Evelyn Pagara Manalo, Roberto Dolendon, Alfred Cadag, Anthony Felix, Graciella Pocaldo, Miguel Himor, Jeramie Garcia, Paul Aringo, Alvin Soria, Carlo Laguito, John Paul Calica, Emmanuel Canlas, Vic Nagawang and Guiller Cadano who all courageously died fighting for the Filipino people rather than just bend their knees to the false idol of the genocidal cult of Duterte.

Duterte must be warned: those who sow the wind shall reap a whirlwind. He is mistaken if he thinks his tempter tantrums, threats of violence, and repression will cow us into submission. As long as there is oppression and exploitation, there will always be resistance. And Duterte’s repression will only compel more and more Filipino youth to join the Filipino people in struggling against his tyrannical and terrorist regime.


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