Marcos Jr’s First Year in Power: Intensified Corruption, Crises and State Terror

First published in Updates Philippines Volume V, Number 13 – July 15, 2023

The Filipino people have been subjected to worsening oppression and exploitation under the US-Marcos regime. All indications show that the next five years under Marcos Jr will see unprecedented corruption, state terrorism, foreign subservience, and anti-people policies.

Intensified corruption

Marcos Jr ascended to power through downright automated cheating during the 2022 elections. His presidency is widely considered illegitimate by broad segments of the Filipino people.

He has been busy recovering and securing his family’s hidden wealth accumulated during his father’s 14-year martial law dictatorship and refurbishing the image of his father.

Rifts are slowly coming to the foreground in the Marcos-Arroyo-Duterte alliance of corruption and tyranny amid early political posturing for 2028.

Marcos pet project, the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), will favor the businesses of his cronies and further expand his political patronage. The MIF is set to become the mother lode of the Marcos corrupt regime.

The Marcos regime is subservient to foreign powers, primarily to military, geopolitical and economic interests of US imperialism, and its financial agents such as the World Bank and other institutions. At the same time, it kowtows to superpower China even in the face of outright military and economic intrusions into Philippine territory.

While the US and other big capitalist centers are protecting their economies, Marcos continues to push for neoliberal policies that destroy local productive forces, dispossess the people of their means of production, and undermine the local economy.

Worsening socio-economic crises

The further liberalization of agricultural imports result in the precarious dependence on imports of domestic supply of rice, sugar, onions, vegetables, and other basic food commodities. Local agricultural producers, including small tillers, are being pushed to bankruptcy.

Like his father, Marcos Jr is closely working with big agribusiness corporations to promote the use of patented seeds, chemical fertilizers, and other inputs purportedly to raise the yield of rice land measures like those under Masagana 99 which buried the peasant masses deep into debt.

Marcos’ servility to US imperialism is blatantly demonstrated by his acquiescence to US plans to build at least four more military bases, in addition to five existing, under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The construction of these facilities is part of the US plan and strategy to contain China’s rising power by encircling it within the First-Island Chain, and threatening to undermine Chinese sovereignty in Taiwan.

The collusion of the Marcos regime with the US, is dragging the country into the maelstrom of the US-China conflict which can lead to open military confrontation and war, to the detriment of the country’s national interests.

Over the past 12 months, Marcos Jr indulged in lavish parties and frequent foreign trips instead of addressing the cost-of-living crisis, food and job insecurity, and the post-pandemic economic hardships. Since he fraudelently grabbed power a year ago, Marcos Jr has been to 11 trips abroad and even attended the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix.

The recent order to increase the daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region by ₱40 is a nasty insult to workers. It represents less than 7% of the difference between the family living wage of ₱1,160 a day and the current minimum wage of ₱570. In Marcos Jr.’s first year, he issued only one regional wage order increasing wages. Former presidents had issued several times more in their first year in office: Arroyo – 9, Aquino II – 17, and Duterte – 11, respectively. From January – May 2023, average inflation was at 7.5%.

As of June 2023, the average price of rice (staple food of Filipinos) was at Php44-45/kg (US$0.81-0.83/kg), double than Marcos Jr.’s promise of making rice available to Filipinos at Php20/kg (US$0.37/kg).

Marcos and his economic managers and statisticians try to conceal the gravity of the jobs crisis by inflating numbers and concealing unemployment data with rising numbers of informal, self-employed and part-time workers. As of April 2023, unemployment was at 4.5%, 2nd highest in Southeast Asia. There was a 4.4 million decrease in full-time workers, an increase of 5.5 million part-time workers, and only 1.5 million jobs created.

Marcos is vigorously pursuing the labor export policy as solution to domestic joblessness, deploying thousands of Filipinos every day in dangerous jobs overseas, at the same time, robbing them of their hard-earned money through an endless stream of dues, fees, and payments.

The Marcos regime turns a deaf ear to the clamor for genuine land reform and urgent economic aid amid widespread agricultural crisis. Instead, it has pushed for a new land use law (National Land Use Act) to facilitate the widespread land-use conversion which in turn will drive away peasants from their land.

Escalating attacks and state terror

The US-Marcos regime continues to unleash more vicious and widespread acts of state terrorism. The military establishment continues to tighten its control over the entire bureaucracy through the National Task Force – to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), where the AFP directs civilian agencies and civilian functions in the name of its “whole-of-nation approach.”

In the countryside, armed agents of the reactionary state carry out campaigns of repression against the people with even greater destructive force. Marcos’ military, police and paramilitary forces aim their guns, howitzers, jet fighters and helicopter gunships directly against entire civilian communities. De facto martial law reigns across the countryside. The AFP is carrying out a shameless war of deception to prevent the crimes perpetrated by state forces from being exposed in public. It floods the public with disinformation and false news, and issues threats against media and alternative media outfits which do not willingly comply with the military narrative. Human rights defenders are vilified and targeted for armed suppression.

The military and police target organizations which are active in advancing the struggle for land reform and defending the ancestral land of indigenous communities. Military operations characterized by large-scale mobilization of armed troops, hamleting of communities, aerial reconnaissance and combat operations continue to be stepped up in desperation, to conjure the illusion of “wiping out” the armed revolution. The AFP uses heavy bombs in aerial bombardment and artillery shelling in violation of the principle of proportionality under international humanitarian law.

Extrajudicial killings and massacres by military and police forces of civilians and non-combatants are on the rise, with at least 100 victims over the past year, or almost two victims every week, including five children. There are increasing reports of abductions, illegal and secret detention, torture, and constant harassment. The military and police carry out their campaign to force people to “surrender” on the vague accusation of “supporting the NPA” without being charged or brought to court, in violation of their basic civil and political rights.

In the cities, military and police operations target leaders and members of workers unions. Organizations in poor communities also face harassments. In schools, military and police personnel routinely conduct “seminars” in which they threaten students against joining national democratic or other progressive student organizations and alliances in outright violation of their basic rights and freedoms. Organizations of teachers and health workers are constantly threatened and maligned by the NTF-Elcac and its vile mouthpieces in social media.

The broad masses of workers, peasants and the rest of the hardworking people have no other option but to wage militant resistance to defend their rights and advance their aspirations for genuine national freedom and democracy. #