Teachers Resist Marcos and Duterte Tyranny: Onward with the spirit of radical love through the struggle for liberating education and against historical revisionism

The Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) wishes to express its gratitude to the teachers, academic workers, and the rest of the Filipino people who stood for the truth, historical facts, education reforms, human rights, social justice, national liberation, and genuine democracy.

The 2022 national elections would go down in history as the dirtiest yet with the Marcos-Duterte ruling faction taking power by foul means of massive vote-buying, red-tagging, political repression, systemic disinformation, and blatant historical distortion. But we also witnessed the rallying of millions of Filipinos in a powerful people’s campaign that aimed to push back the restoration of the Marcoses and extension of Duterte rule.

The people’s campaign that gathered behind the presidential candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo drew the support of various sectors, labor unions, civil society groups — including the militant mass movement — and the hundreds of thousands of middle classes and masses of all walks of life who spontaneously joined her electrifying campaign rallies.

Exemplifying the spirit of volunteerism, this movement created art, music, and other publicity materials without expecting pay, conducted house to house campaigns, sacrificed time, and transcended comfort zones to reach out to communities on the ground. Indeed, the message of “radical love” that found momentum in the last leg of the campaign echoed Cuban freedom fighter Che Guevara’s insights on the struggle for fundamental social change: “The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.”

Guns, Goons, Gold, Trolls, and Fake News

Unfortunately, the momentum built during the campaign was not enough to surmount an electoral system long marked by political violence, imperialist intervention, political dynasties, warlordism, systemic manipulation, fraud, and deception.

Marcos, Duterte, Arroyo, and Estrada, the most despotic, corrupt, and incompetent wing of the ruling elites joined forces in an alliance of convenience to steal the elections. The people’s campaign went against the full force of a traditional political machinery embodied in the idiom “guns, goons, and gold” but with the added arsenal of trolls and fake news. The Commission on Elections, dominated by Duterte appointees, ruled in favor of Bongbong Marcos in his disqualification cases. Red-tagging not only targeted progressive parties under Makabayan but even Robredo’s mainstream opposition slate.

Even before the campaign started the Marcos-Duterte clique already saturated the internet and social media with a massive campaign of disinformation and historical distortion that sought to erase the evils of foreign subservience, plunder of public funds, and systemic human rights violations that characterized the Marcos dictatorship. The outgoing Rodrigo Duterte presidency further boosted this malevolent scheme by authorizing the late dictator’s hero’s burial and eventually partnering with the Marcoses to rig the elections.

Subservience to Chinese and US Imperialism

While the Marcos-Duterte campaign failed to present any coherent platform during the campaign, their families’ track record for servility to imperialism, gross abuse of human rights, corruption and incompetence tells us that the next six years will see more of the same social ills in furtherance of the tyrannical legacies of their fathers. This horizon only sets the stage for worsening crisis, poverty, and hunger and the intensification of fascism, disinformation, and historical distortion.

Already we see the shape of things to come in terms of the incoming regime’s continued subservience to both Chinese and US imperialism.

The Marcos regime will not take serious steps to demand Chinese recognition of Philippine sovereignty over Philippine waters amidst mounting Chinese military presence in the West Philippine Sea. The continuation of the “Build Build Build” program which led to the ballooning of foreign debt under the outgoing administration will likely see an even more vigorous push for implementing Chinese-funded infrastructure projects like the Kaliwa Dam at the expense of the environment and people’s rights.

Unequal treaties like the Mutual Defense Treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement, and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement as well as IMF-World Bank dictated neoliberal economic policies will continue to be implemented by the Marcos regime to appease US imperialism. This portends the continuation of US military aid and weapons contracts for a brutal counterinsurgency war that has been marked by red-tagging, fake surrenders, aerial bombings, and other forms of savage militarism.

Mounting Crisis and Resistance

We foresee the perpetuation of fascistic rule by the Marcos-Duterte ruling clique in the face of worsening crisis brought upon by its subservience to imperialism and neoliberal doctrine characterized by the pushing down of wage rates, budget cuts for education, health, and other social services, higher taxes, land-use conversion, and the perpetuation of an import-dependent and export-oriented economic system.

Yet the crisis that the pro-imperialist and anti-people measures of the Marcos regime is bent on pursuing will also prove to be its own undoing. The incoming administration will inherit a bankrupt government that had been saddled by Duterte in trillions of debts while it will not take long for the grand alliance of crooks and dynasties behind the Marcos candidacy to breakdown as they aim for each other’s throats over the spoils of bureaucrat capitalism.

The momentum gained in the people’s campaign also shows that even before the tainted victory of the Marcos-Duterte clique, millions of people have already risen up against corruption, incompetence, repression, and foreign subservience.

Progressive partylists led by ACT Teachers Partylist, Kabataan Partylist, and the Gabriela Women’s Party were able to retain their seats amidst relentless red-tagging and repression. Plans by the political opposition to transform their electoral machinery into an Angat Buhay network meanwhile points to a recognition that the fight for change transcends the electoral arena. The unities forged in the campaign must be renewed and consolidated to resist the anti-people and fascist onslaughts of the new regime.

A Continuing Commitment for Liberation

We progressive teachers and academics bear some responsibility for shortcomings in pushing back against the insidious disinformation campaign waged by the Marcoses to erase the historical crimes of the Marcos dictatorship. Now more than ever we need a stronger educational and cultural campaign to not just counter the lies and deception of the ruling clique but to nurture among the people critical thinking and the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal, and anti-fascist perspectives needed to overcome the dominant feudal, slave, and colonial mentality fostered by a moribund system.

We condemn the coming to power of the second Marcos regime on the back of systematic disinformation, manipulation, outright lies, and violence. We vow to resist Marcos and Duterte tyranny and stand up against any move to take away the basic rights, academic freedom, and democratic spaces that have been hard won through decades of heroic people’s struggles against the dictatorship and succeeding regimes.

This is our way of continuing the spirit of radical love, which in the words of Brazilian critical educator Paulo Freire “is an act of courage, not of fear, love is a commitment to others. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is commitment to their cause — the cause of liberation.”


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