Thousands of youth across the country took to the streets on February 1 to show their rage against the fascist and anti-people policies of the Duterte regime, saying that they will exert all efforts to thwart Duterte’s dictatorial ambitions and will not let the authoritarian leader stay in power.

In line with the National Day of Protest for Education, Freedom, and Democracy, students from various universities and colleges held mobilizations over numerous issues hounding the Filipino people, which include the anti-poor tax reform law, bogus free education law and impending tuition hikes, attacks on press freedom, unabated killings under the war on drugs and crackdown on progressives, and ultimately, Duterte’s maneuvers to install a full-blown fascist dictatorship through the charter change and martial law in Mindanao.

“Duterte has dragged the country to hell and caused unfathomable suffering to the Filipino people with policies serving himself, his fellow oligarchs, and his imperialist masters. Now more than ever, we are compelled to show our organized resistance and chart the eventual downfall of this authoritarian regime,” said Einstein Recedes, Anakbayan secretary general.

‘No to fascist dictatorship’

According to Recedes, proposals for charter change must be shelved as the measure legitimizes Duterte’s fascist dictatorship.

“The so-called shift to a federal form of government sugarcoats the real aim which is the centralization of power in the chief executive and his cohorts. Duterte’s rubberstamp Congress is all too happy to comply amidst promises of a no-election scenario, term extensions, bigger salaries and pork barrel privileges,” he said.

Recedes also slammed recent calibrated attacks of the Duterte regime against progressive groups in a bid to silence opposition, adding that it is part of his grand plan to consolidate political power.

On January 31, the government arrested National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rafael Baylosis. Meanwhile, progressive leaders, including Recedes and Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo, were slapped with charges just a few days before the walkout for allegedly inciting violence during the Nov. 13 anti-Trump protest in line with the ASEAN Summit held last year in the country.

On the other hand, human rights groups recorded a spate of politically-motivated killings and harassment in the past month, mostly targeting peasants and indigenous peoples communities in Mindanao.

“The despicable regime is desperately pulling out all its cards to quell public dissent. It uses its same old tactics of harassment and intimidation to scare off its critics, but for all they know, it is only fueling people’s rage against the corrupt leader,” Recedes quipped.

He also denounced the implementation of martial law in Mindanao and called for its end as it is “the concrete example of a fascist dictatorship that Duterte is trying to install on a nationwide scale.” The youth leader highlighted that 66 out of the 123 extrajudicial killings recorded in Mindanao were committed during the first seven months of Duterte’s martial law in the region.

‘Derail TRAIN,’ junk neoliberal economic policies

On top of Duterte’s fascist campaign, Recedes emphasized that majority of Filipinos are burdened by the regime’s pro-capitalist neoliberal policies which include the anti-poor Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

Citing government data and statistics from IBON Foundation research, he underscored that the TRAIN Law burdens the poor with incessant price hikes while their wage remains far from decent living standards, whereas the rich enjoy even higher take-home pays and other tax incentives.
He also noted that the TRAIN Law serves the interests of local oligarchs and foreign capitalists that will benefit from the Duterte regime’s ambitious billion-peso infrastructure projects under the “Build Build Build” scheme.
“President Duterte, stop distancing yourself from the TRAIN Law which burdened the people with prices hikes. Enough with your ramblings on petty and irrelevant issues, it’s high time you address pressing people’s issues. You only have yourself and your lackeys accountable for worsening the plight of every Filipino,” Recedes said.

“The Filipino people are completely disgusted with your corrupt ways, Duterte. We will not let another dictator plunge the country into the abyss of darkness. On February 23, we will again march on the streets in even bigger numbers as we intensify our fight to topple your fascist rule. Consider yourself warned, Duterte,” Recedes underscored.

The Nationwide Protest for Education, Freedom, and Democracy was joined by students from the University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, University of the East, and Far Eastern University, among other schools and universities in Metro Manila. Protests were also held in Tuguegarao City, Naga City, Davao City, Laguna and Iloilo. #

 

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