Marcos and Duterte stumble further towards international isolation

Last February 29, Australian Greens Senator Janet Rice boldly held a “Stop Human Rights Abuses” placard in front of Marcos during his address to the Australian Parliament. In her address to the Australian Senate, Rice stated “The action I took in the House today was deliberate, and it was powerful…I was appalled that President Marcos was given the opportunity to address our parliament today…it is appalling that a human rights abuser, of a government of human rights abuses, that the President of that government was able to address our Parliament today.”

Senator Rice’s call out against the reactionary Marcos Jr. regime’s human rights abuses, follows a string of international political blows against the Marcos and Duterte camps demonstrating their increasing isolation in the international community.

Earlier that same month, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan castigated the Marcos regime’s ‘counterterrorism’ strategy and recommended the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict). The NTF-ELCAC was created through Executive Order No. 70 signed by Duterte in 2018 and remains in effect under Marcos Jr.

Before Khan, Ian Fry, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, also recommended the dismantling of the notorious agency on November 2023, citing “private financial interests” as driving the NTF-ELCAC’s operations.

In a 19-page letter released on October 10, 2023, six UN special rapporteurs asked the Marcos administration to explain cases of “judicial harassment, office raids and targeted financial sanctions” and “seemingly unchecked powers” due to the Anti-Terror Act which was passed into law during Duterte’s time.

The UN experts expressed “serious concern about the seemingly broad and unchecked executive powers…particularly the discretion of the Anti-Terrorism Council to designate individuals and organizations as ‘terrorists’ and the Anti-Money Laundering Council to adopt targeted financial sanctions thereafter.”

The letter was signed by Fionnuala Ni Aolain, special rapporteur on human rights while countering terrorism; Irene Khan, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; José Francisco Cali Tzay, special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; and Nazila Ghanea, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

In July 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected an attempt by the Duterte camp to block an investigation into the thousands killed during Duterte’s so-called ‘war on drugs.’ Following the ICC’s announcement, Marcos Jr. stated that his regime will not cooperate with the ICC investigations claiming the international court has no jurisdiction in the Philippines. By refusing to cooperate with the ICC,  Marcos Jr. lays bare his culpability in shielding the Duterte regime’s reign of state terror that killed 30,000 people and victimized the Filipino toiling masses for six long years.

It can be recalled that this series of diplomatic incidents hounding the reactionary regime were preceded by a falling out between the Marcos and Duterte ruling factions. First triggered by conflict over the bureaucratic loot in the controversial ‘confidential funds’ of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) Sara Duterte (daughter of Rodrigo Duterte), the feud between the two ruling cliques has developed into expletive-laden exchanges. Earlier this year, Rodrigo Duterte called out Marcos Jr. for plotting to amend the constitution to lift the president’s term limits. He also accused Marcos Jr. of being a drug addict. In turn, Marcos Jr. responded by saying Duterte was fond of using fentanyl, a powerful opioid drug.

The worsening crisis of the semifeudal and semicolonial system in the Philippines has not only sharpened the contradictions between the Marcos and Duterte ruling cliques but has also intensified the people’s resistance versus neoliberal offensives and increasing fascism  by the current regime. The unprecedented level of crisis and repression unfolding is only bound to worsen Marcos and Duterte’s isolation from the Filipino masses and from the international community.#