Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines, CPP, founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison issued a strong message against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war Sunday, dubbing the unpredictable president an opioid addict and “a coward through and through” just hours before a pre-dawn raid in Mindanao claimed the life of a mayor, his wife and 10 others.
“He is crazed by power and Fentanyl,” Sison said.
Reynaldo Parojinog, the mayor of Ozamiz city, was killed in a gun battle with police who arrived to serve a search warrant at his home, according to officials. Several high-powered firearms and an unspecified amount of methamphetamines — known locally as “shabu” were recovered, Timoteo Pacleb, chief of police of Northern Mindanao, told reporters. The Ozamiz mayor is the third mayor to be killed in the government's grisly narcotics crackdown.
"The Parojinogs, if you would recall, are included in President Duterte's list of personalities involved in the illegal drug trade," Ernesto Abella, the president's spokesperson, said in a statement.
Duterte has promised to intensify the war on drugs, rejecting criticisms from those he claims are "trivializing" his campaign with human rights concerns and unjustly blaming the authorities for the bloodshed.
Sison, 78, has lived in exile in the Netherlands following years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, which ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. A former college instructor to now-President Duterte, Sison excoriated his former student as a hypocrite and coward in statements sent to the press Sunday.
“As an addict user of the opioid Fentanyl, Duterte is the No. 1 drug addict in the Philippines and is the most fitting target of the police units that he has turned into death squads and corrupted with money and promotions,” Sison said.
Duterte has admitted to overusing the pain-killing drug Fentanyl — a powerfully addictive opiate — to treat a serious motorcycle injury he sustained when he was 68. Saying that he took more than the recommended dosage because it made him feel that he was “on cloud nine,” Duterte has also denied his dependency on the drug, explaining “that when there’s a monkey on your back, that’s addiction.” Late pop star Prince is believed to have died from overdosing on the drug.
“Many people, including his so-called die-hard supporters, are waking up to the fact that the illegal drug trade continues to thrive ... and that Duterte has been favoring certain drug lords by delivering the street market to them where the low-level pushers of other drug syndicates have been slaughtered,” Sison continued.
Critics say Duterte has turned a blind eye to thousands of deaths during police operations that bear all the hallmarks of executions. Police typically claim the killings were committed in self-defense, as was the case Sunday, yet many have faced summary killings at the hands of alleged vigilantes.
“(Duterte) has enjoyed the most the mass murder of suspected poor drug users and pushers in the urban slums by the thousands — estimated at 8,000 to 12,000 — and has openly assured the obvious murderers in authority that they have the license to kill with impunity,” Sison explained. "He has backed out from his previous public threats to kill his own compadre, the Cebu-based drug lord Peter Lim, and Governor Espino of Pangasinan and General Garbo whom he accused of protecting the biggest drug syndicates," Sison said.
"So far, he himself has insinuated publicly that he has been responsible for the highest level of cold blooded killing, that of only three mayors ... One of these mayors has been murdered in jail and the officers responsible have been let off the hook and slated for promotion by Duterte," he continued.
In November, the mayor of Albuera town in central Leyte whom Duterte asked to surrender over his alleged involvement in the drug trade, was killed during a shootout inside his detention cell. Another mayor suspected of involvement in illegal drugs in southern Mindanao and nine of his men were killed in a shootout at a police checkpoint in Cotabato in October.
“The cowardly Duterte regime kills the poor people extrajudicially by the thousands and even boasts about them, despite the growing outrage of the people in the Philippines and abroad ... (he) is overconfident that the poor victims, their families and even institutions cannot stand and fight against his presidential power,” Sison added.
Since Duterte called off peace negotiations with the country's leftist forces — represented by the CPP, National Democratic Front, and New People's Army — a war of words has raged between the president and the veteran revolutionary leader.
“Duterte is not only a coward but an utterly stupid one,” Sison said. “He seems not to realize that he himself has incited the people and revolutionary forces to resist his oppressive rule by unleashing against them an all-out war policy involving martial rule and the use of ... abduction and murder as well as indiscriminate bombings and artillery fire that victimize entire communities.”
Continuing, Sison blasted Duterte as “out of his mind and out of touch with reality,” deluded by the expectation that he can “finish off in five years an armed revolutionary movement deeply rooted among the toiling masses of workers and peasants who are fighting for national and social liberation against the big compradors and landlords represented now by him.”
Fighters in the communist New People's Army, NPA, have been waging an armed struggle against the government of the Republic of the Philippines since 1969 in one of the world's longest ongoing communist revolutions. For nearly half a century, successive administrations in the Southeast Asian nation have failed to snuff out the country's thriving communist movement, even with the significant logistical aid, training and firepower provided by the United States Armed Forces.
The CPP and NPA announced the resumption of tactical offensives on state security forces following Duterte's May 23 imposition of martial law in Mindanao, U.S.-backed siege on Marawi city, and subsequent termination of peace negotiations.
Duterte and state security officials have since threatened to turn their firepower against the red fighters following the end of counter-insurgency operations against the small group of remaining Islamists aligned with Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group, a self-styled Islamic State-style group.
“In the few months or years ahead, the Duterte regime is the one in danger of being overthrown by the people if it does not change its extremely brutal and malicious ways,” Sison said. “Duterte should start to shake in his boots the moment he sees a broad united front building up against his rule and fascist acts.”
“The rank and file of the revolutionary forces in the Philippines are highly principled and sharp enough to know the evil scheme of the U.S.-Duterte regime to combine martial rule and (extrajudicial) methods of mass murder, and are ready to fight these effectively.”