On the May 13, 2019 elections in the Philippines

Interview with Prof Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant

People crowd at a school entrance yard to vote -Photo: REUTERS

By Rio Mondelo, Editor, Pinoy Abrod
April 30, 2019

If the elections are clean and honest, the senatorial candidates of Duterte will surely lose.

Joma Sison

RM 1: The senatorial race in the May 13, 2019 elections in the Philippines is of crucial importance because if Duterte’s candidates in Hugpong ng Pagbabago and PDP-Laban win in an overwhelming way, Duterte will have complete control of the government and will have two-thirds vote in the Senate to push his federalism project.  What are the chances of Duterte’s candidates and the opposition candidates in Otso Deretso, Labor Win, Makabayan,  People’s Choice and Catholic Vote?

JMS: If the elections are clean and honest, the senatorial candidates of Duterte will surely lose because they are  discredited  by their own gross crimes as well as by those of the Duterte regime.

Many of the candidates are notorious plunderers like Marcos, Estrada, Revilla, Enrile and Bong Go and butchers like Enrile as martial law administrator of Marcos and Bato de la Rosa as the chief butcher in the infamous Oplan Tokhang.  The Duterte slate stinks because of the shady track record of the candidates. It is so bad in contrast to the clean and brilliant record  of the opposition candidates. 

The broad masses of the people detest the Duterte regime  for the soaring prices of basic commodities and the rise of mass unemployment and poverty. The Duterte candidates are seen as stooges of a tyrant,  puppet of China, mass murderer, supreme protector of drug lords,  plunderer, incorrigible liar, antagonist of the Christian churches and women and generator of inflation.  

RM 2:  Because he will surely lose in the senatorial race in the elections if these would be clean and honest, what do we expect from Duterte?  Will he rig the elections?  Why?

JMS:  Duterte has total control of the Commission on Elections and the military and police personnel who will be deputized for election duties, especially in Mindanao, which is under martial law, and in the other areas designated as trouble spots by the Comelec, the military and the police.

Duterte is well-known to have a sly criminal mind.  He will certainly use his power over the Comelec and the armed services to rig the elections, especially because he wants to increase his despotic powers and prolong his stay in power by railroading charter change to a bogus federalism.

He is mortally afraid that the moment he steps down from power, he is liable for criminal prosecution by the International Criminal Court and for punitive actions by the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces.  Thus, he is driven like crazy to prolong his stay in power and gain more powers to oppress and exploit the people.

Even  before the elections, the  rigging has started. The whole of Mindanao and the so-called trouble spots are already under martial rule, the public school teachers and people from various walks of life are being red-tagged for the purpose of mass intimidation and extrajudicial killings.  Opposition candidates are at a huge  disadvantage.

RM 3: In view of Duterte’s control of Comelec and the armed services to be deputized for the elections and his determination to rig the elections because of his fear of prosecution, why should the opposition candidates still run for the Senate? 

JMS:  They need to run in order to arouse, organize and mobilize the people for realizing the real majority vote and, when and if elections prove to be rigged, there will be clear ground for the people to take offense and rise up to oust Duterte in the same manner that they rose up after Marcos cheated in the 1986 elections.  

Remember that before the 1986 elections there were the huge electoral rallies of the Aquino slate and the mass protest actions of BAYAN.  These forces eventually conjoined with the mass following of the Catholic and other Christian churches and those military and police officers who turned against Marcos in order to oust him after he cheated in the elections.

RM 4:  Duterte has excelled at fabricating poll surveys and fake news, dominating the print and electronic media with paid ads and payola for broadcasters and columnists and most important of all Duterte has succeeded in causing mass intimidation through red-tagging and mass murders in Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Kapayapaan in the short span of three years. 

In the case of Marcos, he had stimulated and collected the people’s wrath for at least 14 years before he could be ousted.  Under these circumstances, are the opposition forces strengthening themselves and building a broad united front in order to make huge rallies before election day and then to oust Duterte after he cheats in May?

JMS:  I presume that the opposition forces are doing their best  in order to strengthen themselves and to build a broad united front. There are less than two weeks before May 13 for the opposition to show the huge electoral rallies of the opposition candidates as well as the protest rallies of the progressive organizations. We hope these will still arise before election day. 

But even if these do not materialize, it is still important for the opposition to do the best possible now so that in the long run when Duterte continues to abuse the people and violate their national and democratic rights, and to amass power and wealth, the people would be in a position to rise up with the intensity and magnitude of mass actions against Marcos in 1986.  

There are certain factors that can run counter to the building of the broad united front.  The climate of mass intimidation due to widespread red-tagging and actual murders of social activists might have a dampening effect on certain sections of the population.  

There are also anti-Duterte reactionaries who are at the same time more anticommunist and more pro-imperialist than they are anti-Duterte.  These are the same elements that would be vulnerable to Duterte’s false assurances that he would step down in 2022 or as soon as his bogus federalism is ratified.            

RM 5:  Of course, it is well-known that you do not depend entirely on elections and legal mass actions within the ruling system, especially because rascals like Duterte have overwhelming advantages in terms of power and control over the armed forces and most owners of mass media.  In the meantime, what can the people do to assert themselves against an imminent rise of outright fascist dictatorship?

JMS:  The people should never give up the legal mass struggles no matter how much are the mass intimidation, red-tagging  and actual murders committed by the Duterte regime against them. By asserting and exerting their democratic rights to speak out and assemble and to create the broadest possible united front, the people themselves make it counterproductive for Duterte to insist on his regime of tyranny, treason, mass murder and plunder.

In the meantime, while all efforts are being exerted to develop the legal democratic struggle against the Duterte regime, the revolutionary forces of the Filipino people are also developing and advancing the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war.  If Duterte rigs the elections, he will certainly use his fake electoral  victory to suppress the people further and try to go on a killing rampage against the national and democratic forces.

But the revolutionary forces of the people are invincible because their cause is just. They are deeply rooted among the toiling masses nationwide and can at will launch tactical offensives by surprise against the weakest points of the counterrevolutionary regime.  As Duterte brutally attacks the legal democratic forces, he unwittingly incites the mass activists to join the armed revolution as Marcos did previously in the 1970s and 1980s. The growth of the armed revolution is the surest guarantee that the  people’s resistance will continue and the Duterte regime will come to an end.###




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