For the last six years, the Philippines has gone through a dark period under a despotic regime comparable to the Marcos era.
Duterte’s War on Drugs has claimed the lives of over 34,000 Filipinos – mostly poor people accused of being drug users, human rights defenders and members of militant groups tagged as communists. He is now facing investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
The spiral of violence continues since the breakdown of the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front. Lumad communities have been subjected to militarization and their schools shut down.
Over 3.68 million have been infected by COVID-19 and over 59,000 have died. The government failed to effectively address the pandemic crisis in spite the huge Bayanihan budget due to incompetence and corruption which involve the president and his friends as the finding of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee reported.
So far 60 percent has been fully vaccinated and the case infections and mortality rate has gone down. Restrictions have eased although one cannot really be certain that the pandemic crisis is over. There are rising cases in other countries especially like China. Another wave with new variants cannot be ruled out.
The pandemic has affected the economy severely with more Filipinos becoming poorer due to the militaristic approach, long community quarantine, unemployment and bankruptcy.
From PhP6.1 trillion six years ago, the government’s debt has reached PhP12 trillion. The Philippines faces great difficulty in coming out from the economic crisis and adapting to the rapidly changing global economic system based on the emergence of a new industrial revolution based on renewable energy and the digital information and communication technology.
The Russian invasion in Ukraine which threatens to involve the NATO and escalate into a wider war has triggered an economic crisis related to the energy crisis as well as food crisis considering that Ukraine and Russia are the main sources of gas, oil, grains and fertilizers. The global economy will continue to face recession in the years to come.
The ecological crisis is not being seriously addressed as the government continues policies that harm the environment and continuing dependence on fossil fuel. Unless the target of reduction of GHG emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050 are reached, humanity faces extinction. The Philippines is not doing something substantial to implement the international agreements to address climate change.
The press has been under attack while false news proliferate in social media carried out by trolls of the government.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, in a pastoral letter, denounced the lies, disinformation, and historical revisionism carried out by those in power and those who want to succeed Duterte especially Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Church leaders who came out against human rights violation (EJK) and corruption by those in power have been harassed and three priests have been killed and others hunted by the death squad.
As the elections draw near, we are at a critical juncture which will determine whether the reign of darkness will continue for the years to come or our country will finally see the light.
In the midst of the crises the country is facing, the country needs leaders who are competent, compassionate, self-less capable of inspiring everyone to work together for the common good and effectively address the crises we face.
As his term is about to end, President Duterte’s power and influence has waned. The administration party does not have any presidential candidate. The PDP-Laban has splintered. Other political figures and parties allied with him have gone their own way. He still has influence over the outcome of the elections.
The Commission on Elections is made up of his appointees – four from Davao, two fraternity brothers and one former lawyer of Marcos Jr. His friend Dennis Uy is the owner of F2 logistics, which is handling the delivery of ballots, SD cards, counting machines, etc.. He can use whatever influence he has left to ensure that the next president can protect him from accountability – especially from investigation of the International Criminal Court.
There are many who are running for president – four of them were Duterte allies and enablers who are vying for his support. (Isko Moreno, Ping Lacson, Manny Pacquiao and Marcos Jr) and one consistent opposition figure (Leni Robredo).
With less than a month left before the elections, the presidential race is becoming a two race between Marcos Jr and Vice-President Leni Robredo.
In this article, I would like to focus on both candidates – their character, qualities, the state of their campaign and the post-election scenarios if they win. I will also discuss a scenario that is being talked about which appear farfetched but cannot be ruled out.
(To be continued tomorrow)
Father Amado Picardal is a Redemptorist priest and human rights and peace advocate. He was executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Committee on Basic Ecclesial Communities. He also served as co-executive secretary of the Commission of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation of the Union of Superiors General in Rome.