THIS is a follow of my last year’s article on the massive killings in the Philippines under the Duterte administration, which I opined to have parallelism with genocide in Indonesia during the time of President Sukarno in 1965-66 and the three decades that followed under the authoritarian and fascist rule of General Suharto.
The no let-up drive against illegal drugs has already cost thousands of lives, with victims mostly the poor as users and as their source of quick money.
The trend, however, quickly expanded in 2017 from illegal drugs-focused campaigns to killing spree of leftist leaders and their mass supporters, including non-leftist critics of the administration.
In Negros alone, 90 or so progressive leaders and critics were killed by death squads and assassins suspected to belong to state security apparatus. On nationwide scale, the number of victims have reached chilling level, and the warm bodies falling continue.
I couldn’t find closer parallelism in South East Asia other than the Indonesian experience. The rise of a president known for his strong nationalist stand and support for the PKI, the rise of military-led government, the patterns of mass killings and the growth and full development of authoritarian fascist rule have all parallels in the Duterte administration.
The former mayor known for his tough rule in Davao City backed by his death squads, and his support for the left; the appointments of dozens of retired military generals in the cabinet, including those known for their role in countless cases of extra judicial killings, kidnappings, tortures; the president’s termination of peace talks and shift to all-out war against the left, with deadly instructions to all state security forces to kill as many as they could -- are all close parallelisms.
The years 1965-1966 under President Sukarno, known as leftist President and a close ally of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), was a period of massive killings of known communist sympathizers, alleged leftists, progressive religious organizations, and ethnic Chinese.
It began with the conception and instigation of state security forces backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (US-CIA) of so-called communist plot to take over the government, with the backing of President Sukarno. Then it was followed by a massive purge of communists and other progressives.
The mass killings started in the capital of Jakarta and quickly spread to the entire archipelagic country. According to a number of reports, 500,000 to one million were killed, with some estimates reaching three million in just few years of Suharto.
President Sukarno tried to play a balancing act of promoting nationalism, religious freedom, and bias for communist movement, while playing games with the powerful US-backed Indonesian army. Without him knowing it, or just played around by his military generals, the mass killings were carried out, blaming it to so-called communist plot led by PKI to take over, worse to a concocted script of blood in-fighting in the communist movement.
After the military success in dealing death blows to PKI, their mass supporters and the politicized segments of the Islam, Sukarno’s two main pillars of support, Sukarno was stripped of his remaining powers in 1967 by the Indonesian provisional parliament and cabinet largely influenced by the Indonesian military, and paved the way for presidency of General Suharto.
In March 1968, Suharto was formally elected president in a national election controlled by military and the CIA. The three decades that followed witnessed the authoritarian fascist rule of Suharto, backed by US-CIA, as revealed in declassified US documents in 2017.
Suharto resigned in 1998. His reign was characterized by military rule; massive communist purge and killings of non-communist progressives and leftists, progressive Islam leaders and churches and ethnic Chinese; rule of terror and silence; a rubber stamp parliament; plunder of Indonesia resources by foreign corporations mostly US and Europeans; indebtedness to World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other trilateral funding institutions.
As in Indonesia in the early years of Suharto, in the Philippines today, contrary from official news and information -- life becomes cheap, streets too dangerous cross, most parts of the country are swarmed by military troops, police special units, and death squads, and anyone who dares to criticize the administration’s policies and actions easily put his or her life on the line of fire.
Even youth activism, a long honored tradition which brought freedom and democracy in this country, is now considered by state officials as an act of crime, terrorism.
Red tagging, attacks and mass killings continue with impunity.
The only difference perhaps from the Indonesian scenario is that these state-managed killings are done quietly in strategic islands of the archipelago, aided by advanced technologies and organized social media trolls, which make them appear as either fake when questioned by public or blame the communists to fan anti-communist hysteria.
These killings are fast shaping and becoming more open, unsparing, brutal and high in intensity – with military and police generals gloating over Duterte’s repeated order for more killings.
But will Duterte rule longer than Sukarno, or be forced to resign before 2022 by the pressures from the US-CIA and his top generals?
Or will Duterte intend and succeed in getting the support of China to neutralize the stronger influence of his “Amboy” generals?
Or will the House and Senate unite to oppose the growing influence of the military generals in governance and economics?
Or would the progressives be able to convert the present situation, or find a unifying issue or set of issues, to galvanize a real broad unity with capacity to launch huge protest movement like that in Hong Kong?
Nobody knows except perhaps Duterte and his Amboys on one hand, and also the leaders of the progressive movement themselves on the other hand.
In the meantime, mass killings will continue, and the political volatility in this country increases.