FOR leftists, American assistance in the Marawi battle shows that our freedom as a nation is compromised, subject to the pressures and policies of a global superpower.
For Marawi evacuees, their lives are upended, endangered, or ended by terrorists seeking to supplant the government at the instructions of a brutal foreign cabal.
For at least a million families, Filipinos are enslaved by narco-syndicates sucking wealth, wits and will out of sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters desperate for a sniff, a smoke, a pill, or a poke.
And for most Filipinos spared from geopolitical machinations, extremist assaults, and narco-slavery, the burdens of poverty, misgovernance and corruption shackle the lives and futures of millions.
Going over these very real and seemingly eternal chain of crime, drugs, rebellion, corruption, and foreign domination binding so many millions in the Philippines, one wonders what all the flag-raising was about on Monday.
Quite simply, we as a nation cannot really cheer or even speak of freedom when so many of us remain subjugated, if not imperiled by enormities and entities seeking to exploit, enslave, intimidate, exterminate, and otherwise impose their will and agenda on huge swathes of the nation.
Chained by extremism and drugs
For sure, the most brutal and headline-grabbing oppressors are the so-called Islamic State, which then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decried as neither Islamic, nor a state. IS has spurred and funded the hundreds of extremists still fighting the Armed Forces for one-fifth of Marawi City, according to the AFP’s update on Tuesday.
IS not only threw 200,000 mostly Muslim Maranao folk from their homes, but has ensnared the minds, hearts and bodies of many young Mindanaoans, who have given their lives and futures to IS’ false-Islam ideology.
One wonders who is more oppressed: the Marawi residents fleeing the demon of IS–funded and –inspired extremism, or the armed bands enraptured by it, thinking it is the way to heaven in this world or the next, when hell is the only thing it will bring.
Turning to the top headline-making enslaver until last month, narco-syndicates have by the nose, puff, pill or needle between 1 million and 5 million drug users, depending on who’s doing the counting.
Add five close family and friends per junkie, and that’s one in 20 or up to one in five Filipinos burdened by narcotics. And if addicts are driven to rob, steal, rape, assault, or kill by their habit, the narco-chain winds around even more people.
How many more? In the past Aquino administration, crime tripled from 324,083 incidents in 2010 to more than a million a year in 2013 and 2014, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
In that same period, smuggling trebled too, from $7.9 billion in 2009 to $26.6 billion in 2014, based on International Monetary Fund trade data. And as then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd decried, the torrent of contraband included guns and drugs.
Lots of the killer cargo gushed in during Aquino’s first full year in office, when more than 2,000 shipping containers disappeared uninspected and untaxed, with no investigation done on that biggest spate of smuggling in Philippine history.
Bottom line: With 3 million or more crimes committed under Aquino since 2013, that explosion of lawlessness victimized nearly 5 million Filipinos, assuming a low average of 1.5 victims per crime. And their close kith and kin, conservatively estimated at five per victim, bring the number of victims, family and friends to 30 million or so.
In sum, one-third of Filipinos suffered from drugs, crime or both. And the about same proportion of voters elected Rodrigo Roa Duterte to free the nation from the scourge of lawlessness and narcotics.
Insurgents and empire-builders
Next on our list of “freedom frighters” are empire builders on opposing ends of the ideological spectrum.
Communist rebels and Mindanao separatists fought the government for decades, and carved out areas of insurgency, where they fancy themselves as liberators of the poor and the oppressed.
Yet their violence and extortion have only driven away the development programs and business ventures needed to truly free communities from poverty and backwardness.
Thankfully, Muslim rebels have shaken off extremist leanings, and forged peace accords with the government. They now help in creating secure corridors for Marawi civilians caught in the crossfire to escape or at least receive relief goods.
By contrast, leftist insurgents continue to cling to the mad idea that their guerrilla attacks can somehow bring progress and liberation to the suffering Filipino masses. Thus, when Marawi erupted in jihadist terror, the communist leadership ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to escalate attacks.
And who suffers from the NPA depredations? The communities oppressed by Red rebels, and the fighters themselves, wasting their lives on a failed, pointless ideology.
Rounding out our list of oppressors are the power-wielders in governments here and abroad.
At home, corrupt officialdom, though a minority of elected and appointed officialdom, have wasted resources and gamed policies, projects and programs for the venal, well-connected rich.
Thus, the poor remain bereft of social services, infrastructure facilities, and economic opportunities, because the elite skirt taxes, skim contracts, and evade rules meant to help the needy and enforce fairness.
Turning abroad, rulers of powerful nations and their business and media cohorts seek to expand their global dominance. And like IS, they have their minions, who extol the virtues of alliance with one or the other country.
But in the end, all these big powers serve their own interests, and will use and abuse little nations, while seeming to serve the latter’s welfare and interests.
Amid this menagerie of extremists, criminals, rebels, grafters, and imperialists, plus their pawns in the country, how can Filipinos truly be free?
Let’s talk about that next week.