Resisting The Second Coming of the Marcos Dictatorship

(from Pingkian: Journal for Emancipatory and Anti-imperialist Education, Volume 7, Number 1: Pandemic and Fascism (2022))


The Philippines appears to be in a state of never-ending crisis. From COVID-19 to Marcos Jr., our country is not lacking in viruses that affect the lives of millions of people. As of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic has infected 3,688,941 Filipinos and killed 60,455 people (Reuters, 2022). The government’s inept and militaristic response led to thousands of new COVID cases, with rates reaching as high as 21,819 new infections a day at the peak of the pandemic in January 2022 (Magsambol, 2022), even amidst the vaccine roll-out. Instead of mass testing and efficient contact tracing, we experienced brutal and ill-prepared lockdowns whose primary effect was preventing the working class from securing an income. Instead of health experts and doctors leading the COVID-19 response, we had generals and military men leading the pandemic task force. Instead of strengthening our healthcare infrastructure, we watched in horror the extent of corruption when the Senate probed billions of pesos in ghost deliveries by Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp (Romero, 2021). Jeepney drivers begged on the street for lack of livelihood and government support (Luna, 2021). Medical frontliners like Honeyleen Casumpang, a nurse from Negros Occidental, died buried in debt after being infected by COVID-19 twice (Espina-Varona, 2021). Healthcare workers receive a pittance, while Duterte’s response to nurses asking for higher pay was to encourage them to enlist in the Philippine National Police (Esguerra, 2020). Instead of being treated as a healthcare crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic was used as another means to clamp down on dissent.

With the majority of Filipinos trapped in their homes because of brutal lockdowns, the Duterte administration launched a series of attacks on freedom and democracy. It compelled its allies in Congress to deny ABS-CBN a franchise to operate, causing thousands to lose their jobs and repressing another critical voice of integrity in a substantially eroded public sphere (Madarang, 2022). It railroaded the passage of the Anti-Terror Law, emboldening state forces to continue targeting government critics and opposition figures (Amnesty International, 2020). It facilitated the removal of allegedly “subversive” books from the libraries of state universities and colleges in an offensive attack against academic freedom (de Vera, 2021).

Even with the Duterte administration’s total failure at handling the pandemic, Sara Duterte and her running mate, the late dictator’s son Ferdinand Marcos Jr., won as Vice-President and President in the 2022 elections. It was a bitter victory, borne of an elaborate and well-funded machinery of disinformation and outright lies, voter suppression and intimidation, and the decades-long failure of our nation to hold the Marcoses to account. Scroll through social media platforms like Facebook or TikTok and one enters another world, where the most outlandish lies are treated as infallible truths to justify the return of the Marcoses to Malacañang. There, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. is the proud recipient of gold from the Tallano royal family. Bongbong was prophesied by Nostradamus to lead the Philippines to a new golden age. And that President Cory Aquino secretly masterminded the assassination of her husband. One’s first reaction is to weep at the magnitude of deception and nonsense. Thirty-years of neoliberal education has failed to provide Filipinos with basic critical faculties but prioritized instead the production of submissive workers for export. The international market demands workers who do not question orders or the drastically unequal economic system which depends on their labor, and the Filipino educational system is more than happy to produce graduates who fit that criteria. This has also led to the gutting of courses which do not immediately fulfill the needs of global capitalism, such as Filipino and history. With the election of Marcos Jr., educators face an unprecedented challenge to protect the teaching of history and defend it from Marcosian attempts to erase the crimes of Martial Law.

The May 9, 2022 elections have enough irregularities to question the integrity of the results. There was rampant vote-buying, red- tagging, the presence of 1,800 malfunctioning vote-counting machines (Kontra Daya, 2022), intimidation from police and military forces, and well-documented cases of violence and killings (dela Peña, 2022). If we were a country like Venezuela or Bolivia, the United States would have already organized a coup d’etat and Western media would be running stories 24/7 about the beleaguered Filipino people. But because we’re the Third World ally of both American and Chinese imperialist powers, we experience nothing but congratulations from global superpowers for our “free and fair elections.” Truth and human rights are secondary to maintaining the hegemony of global capital and the cheap labor upon which it rests on.

The articles in this issue of PINGKIAN confront the twin catastrophes of the pandemic and the resurgence of a Marcosian fascism in the Philippines. During such times of intensity, one might ask: what is the purpose of academic work? Of research? Are we writing while the world around us crumbles? One is tempted to cite the perennially quoted Bertolt Brecht (2019) poem: “In the dark times/ Will there be singing?/ There will be singing./ Of the dark times” (p. 660). The lines provide us with alternative lens of understanding the world, and ways forward from the seemingly inescapable doom-and-gloom. In their essays, Caroline Hau and Neferti X. M. Tadiar compel us to reevaluate the value of reading, libraries, while Edel Garcellano teaches us to resist, at a time when state forces are hellbent on stamping out modes of knowledge deemed too radical or subversive. There are essays on E. San Juan Jr., the disinformation and propaganda network of the Marcoses, a critical perspective on the cholera pandemic of 1903, deeply humane poems on the deeply inhumane series of lockdowns. They’re not songs about dark times, but offerings of thought and scholarship, new perspectives on old problems because prevailing perspectives appear to have damned us to even worse problems than before.

The editors would like to thank the academics, independent scholars, and researchers for contributing to this issue of PINGKIAN. We thank readers for their continued patronage of this journal. And we hope that Pingkian will be part of our political education, and that while we continue singing and writing about dark times, we also continue organizing and mobilizing against the terror. See you in the streets!


Lakan Umali, Francisco Jayme Paolo A. Guiang



 Brecht, Bertolt. (2019). The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht

(T. Kuhn & D. Constantine, Translator). Liveright Publishing Corporation.

de Vera, Sherwin. (2021, November 14). Opposition mounts against removal of ‘subversive’ books in libraries. Rappler. against-removal-subversive-books-libraries/

dela Peña, Kurt. (2022, May 20). Int’l observers: May 9 PH vote falls short of free, fair election standards. Philippine Daily Inquirer. observers-may-9-ph-vote-falls-short-of-free-fair- election-standards

Esguerra, D.J. (2020, August 3). “Want higher pay? Join the police force, Duterte tells nurses. Philippine Daily Inquirer. join-police-force-duterte-tells-nurses.

Espina-Varona, I. (2021, September 20). A nurse’s story: Twice infected, P60,00 in debt, and no special risk pay. Rappler. infected-covid-19-in-debt-no-special-risk-pay/.

Luna, F. (2021, August 16). LTFRB aid and subsidies not reaching transport workers, jeepney drivers say. Philippine Star. headlines/2021/08/16/2120389/ltfrb-aid-and-subsidies- not-reaching-transport-workers-jeepney-drivers-say.

Madarang, C. (2022, May 5). ‘Kapamilya forever’: Tributes pour in on 2nd anniversary of ABS-CBN shutdown. Interaksyon. spotlights/2022/05/05/216558/tribute-abs-cbn-2nd- anniversary-shutdown/.

Magsambol, B. (2022, January 7). Philippines tallies 21,819

new COVID-19 cases, 40% positivity rate. Rappler. https:// january-7-2022/.

Philippines: (2020, July 3). Dangerous anti-terror law yet another setback for human rights. Amnesty International. https:// dangerous-antiterror-law-yet-another-setback-for- human-rights/.


Report: VCM breakdown in 2022 polls much worse compared to previous ones. (2022, May 9). Kontra Daya. https:// much-worse-compared-to-previous-ones/.

Reuters COVID-19 Tracker: Philippines (2022, May 23). Reuters. and-maps/countries-and-territories/philippines/.

Romero, P. (2021, December 4). Pharmally made P3 billion ghost deliveries – senators. Philippine Star. https://www.philstar. com/headlines/2021/12/04/2145556/pharmally-made- p3-billion-ghost-deliveries-senators.

Venzon, C. (2022, May 12). U.S. and China congratulate Marcos on Philippine election win. Nikkei Asia. https://asia. congratulate-Marcos-on-Philippine-election-win