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Tanong at Sagot sa Meralco Rate Hike: Bakit Tataas pa ang Singil sa Kuryente Ko?

Posted on 04 March 2014 by admin

Nakaamba ang pinakamataas na pagsirit ng singil sa kuryente sa kasaysayan ng bansa. Alamin ang dahilan nito at kung ano ang magagawa natin.

Magkaano ang itataas ng singil sa kuryente ng Meralco?

Sa orihinal na plano ng Meralco, minsanang pagtaas na  P3.44/kWh sa generation charge ang nais nilang ipataw sa mga konsyumer ng kuryente. Kung kasama ang VAT, aabot ng P4.14/kWh ang itataas ng singil sa kuryente. Ito raw ay para sa billing period ng Nobyembre 2013.

Dahil sa public pressure, ginawa ng Meralco na staggered o hulugan ang rate hike. Inaprubahan ng (Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) ang mungkahi ng Meralco pero hindi nagkaroon ng public hearing. Ayon sa Meralco at ERC automatic pass-on o pwedeng basta na lang ipasa ang increase na ito at hindi na kailangan pang dumaan sa public hearing.

Naghain ng petition ang mga party list na Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan at ACT Teachers  sa Supreme Court (SC) para hilingin ang Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) sa increase. Kasama sa demanda ang Meralco at ERC. Naghain din ng petisyon ang Nasecore. Naglabas ng 60-day TRO ang SC kontra sa rate hike bago mag-Pasko. Ipinatigil ang koleksyon ng dagdag singil. Pinalawig naman ang TRO na ito hanggang Abril 22, 2014.

Samantala, naghain ng panibagong petition para sa pagtaas ng singil ang Meralco sa ERC nitong Pebrero 2014. Ang hinihinging dagdag na singil sa generation charge ay P4.56/kWh para naman daw sa billing period ng Disyembre 2013. Katwiran ng Meralco, at ayon na din sa SC,  hindi saklaw ng TRO ang rate hike para sa Diysembre 2013. Kung susumahin, hindi bababa sa P8.70/kWh ang maaring itaas ng singil sa kuryente, particular sa generation charge.

Ano ang dahilan ng pagtaas ng generation charge?

Sinasabing ang naka-iskedyul na  Malampaya gas plant shutdown ang naging salik sa pagtaas ng generation charge. Ang Malampaya, na nagsu-supply ng gas para sa paglikha ng kuryente, ay dumaranas ng  naka-iskedyul na maintenance shutdown kada 3 taon. Ibig sabihin ay alam na ng gobyerno at industry na mangyayari ito kaya dapat paghandaan para mapunuan ang magiging kakulangan sa supply ng kuryente.

Nagpasya ang Meralco na i-dispatch ang mga planta ng First Gas (ibig sabihin gamitin ang kuryente galing sa Generation Company (GenCo) na First Gas), na may supply contract sa Meralco, gamit ang liquid fuel sa halip na natural gas. Mas mahal ang liquid fuel nang doble sa natural gas. Nagresulta ito ng P1.04/kWh na pagtaas ng presyo.

Nangontrata din sa iba pang GenCos ang Meralco ng kuryente. Kumuha din ang Meralco ng 11.5% ng kuryente nito sa tinatawag na Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

Pero dahil sa mga naganap na magkakasabay at di inaasahang shutdown ng iba pang planta ng kuryente, sumirit ang presyo sa WESM. Ang 11.5% na kinuha ng Meralco sa WESM ay katumbas ng 70% increase sa generation rates. Napakaliit ng bahagi ng WESM sa kabuuang supply na kuryente ng Meralco pero ito ang nagtatakda ng napakalaking pagtaas presyo. Ang P2.38/kWh increase mula sa kabuuang P4.14/kWh ay dulot ng presyo sa WESM.

*Mga independent power producers nag nagsu-supply ng kuryente sa Meralco ayon sa isang pangmatagalang kontrata.

Para naman sa buwan ng Disyembre 2013, ang presyo sa WESM pa rin ang pinakamalaking bahagi ng rate hike.

Bakit napakataas ng kuryente sa WESM?

Ang WESM ang pinakamalaking nag-ambag sa napakatarik na pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente mula Nobyembre hanggang Disyembre 2013. Bukod sa Malampaya shut down, ang sabay-sabay na mga di naka-iskedyul na shutdown ng iba pang mga planta ay nagdulot ng pansamantalang “paghigpit” sa supply ng kuryente. Sinamantala ang kundisyong ito ng mga GenCos na nagbebenta ng kuryente sa merkado. Nagagawa nilang presyuhan ng napakataas ang supply ng kuryente dahil nga sa artipisyal na kakulangan ng supply.

Ang WESM ang isang bahagi ng deregulasyon sa industriya ng kuryente. Obligadong lumahok ang lahat ng GenCos dito sa pamamagitan ng pagtatakda ng kanilang presyo alinsunod sa kailangang supply ng kuryente sa isang takdang panahon. Maaaring umabot sa P62k/Wh ang maximum na presyo sa WESM. Sa panahon ng Malampaya shutdown, umabot sa P33/kWh ang average na presyo ng kuryente sa WESM, kaya kahit 11.5% lang ito ng kabuuang supply ng Meralco, ito ang may pinakamalaking epekto sa presyo.

Sino-sino ang may kinalaman sa pagtaas ng presyo sa WESM?

Ang Therma Mobile ay isa sa 3 GenCos na sinasabing nagtakda ng mataas na presyo sa WESM sa panahon ng Malampaya shutdown. Ang Therma Mobile ay may kontrata para mag-supply ng 0.6% ng kailangang kuryente ng Meralco. Ang presyo nito para sa Nobyembre, ayon sa kontrata, ay P8.65/kWh.  Ayon sa rekord ng WESM, ang Therma Mobile ay ilang ulit na nag-bid sa WESM sa presyong P62/kWh noong Nobyembre at Disyembre, na syang naging “clearing price” o presyo sa WESM.

Kahit nakakontrata na ang Therma Mobile sa Meralco, obligado pa rin itong mag-bid sa WESM. (Ito ay naaayon sa regulasyon sa WESM.) Bilang may hawak ng supply contract, ang Meralco ang may kontrol sa bid ng Therma Mobile. Ang Meralco ang nag-utos na mag-bid ang Therma Mobile ng P62/kWh sa WESM, sa kabila ng kumukuha din ang Meralco ng kuryente sa WESM.

Sasabihin ng Meralco at Therma Mobile na kapwa sila hindi nakinabang sa mataas na presyo sa WESM. Ang babayaran lang ng Meralco sa Therma Mobile ay ang napagkasunudan presyo sa kontrata, anuman ang kalabasan ang presyo sa WESM.

Pero may ibang mga planta na nag-bid sa WESM ang nakinabang sa mataas na clearing price. Hindi malayo na may magkakaugnay na interes ang mga may-ari ng Meralco, Therma Mobile (Aboitiz) at iba pang generation plants na nagbebenta ng kuryente sa WESM.  Mula nang isulong ang pribatisasyon ng kuryente sa ilalim ng EPIRA, ang kabuuan ng generation sector ay kontrolado na lang ng iilang korporasyon na may negosyo rin sa distribution.

Ano ang tinatawag na automatic recovery?

Sa ilalim ng EPIRA at patakarang deregulasyon, ipinatupad ang tinatawag na automatic recovery ng generation rates. Kaya kahit sumirit ng P62/kWh ang presyo ng kuryente sa WESM, ipapasa lang ng Meralco ito sa konsyumer. Maaari nilang gawin ito nang walang pagdinig pampubliko (public hearing).

Ang automatic recovery ay bahagi ng deregulasyon ng indusriya ng kuryente, partikular sa generation. Dahil may ganitong pakataran, hindi nagiging problema ng Meralco kung masyadong mataas ang kinokontrata nitong kuryente, o artipisyal na mataas ang presyo ng kuryenteng nakukuha nila sa WESM.

Ano naman ang ginagawa ng gobyerno?

Inaprubahan ng ERC ang staggered rate hike nang walang hearing. At huli na nang imbestigahan nito ang mga kakaibang sirkumstansya sa artipisyal na pagtaas ng singil sa WESM. Nauna pa ay dinepensahan na ng Malakanyang ang rate increase ng Meralco.

Paano ba naman, makikinabang ang gobyerno sa P3.44/kWh increase dahil may dagdag pa itong 70 sentimos na VAT kada kWH. Ipagpalagay na ang Meralco ay nakakabenta ng 2.8 billion kWh sa isang buwan, ang kikitain ng gobyerno sa VAT sa rate hike ay aabot sa P1.96 bilyon sa loob ng isang buwan. Tila binigyan pa ng premyo ang gobyerno ang sarili sa pagiging inutil nito na kontrolin ang sirit ng presyo.

Sa katanuyan, ang rehimeng US-Aquino, katulad  ng naunang rehimeng US-Arroyo, ay tagapagtaguyod ng neoliberal na patakarang deregulasyon at pribatisasyon na kinakatawan ng batas na Electric Power Industry Reform Act o EPIRA. Ang batas na ito ay bahagi ng dikta ng mga malalaking dayuhang bangko tulad ng IMF-WB at ADB, kapalit ng mga pautang. Ginamit din ang proyektong AGILE na pinondohan ng USAID para impluwensyahan ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno, kasama ang Kongreso.

Kung dati ay gobyerno ang nagpapatakbo ng generation at transmission ng kuryente, at ang distribution ay dumadaan sa regulasyon, ngayon ay naisapribado na ang halos buong industriya ng kuryente, mula generation, transmission at distribution. Tubo na ang gumagabay na prinsipyo sa industriya. Tanging dayuhang monopoly kapitalista at kanilang mga lokal na partner lamang ang may kakayanang mamuhunan sa mga planta ng kuryente.

Ayon sa EPIRA, hindi na rin maaaring magtayo ng bagong planta ng kuryente ang gobyerno kahit may inaasahang shortage sa supply sa hinaharap. Pinaubaya na ng gobyerno sa pribadong sektor ang seguridad sa supply ng kuryente, gaano man ito kamahal.

Noong isinasabatas pa lang ang EPIRA taong 2001, nangako ang gobyerno na bababa ang singil sa kuryente dahil magiging mas episyente ang power sector at mawawala ang kurapsyon na matagal nang bumagabag sa Napocor. Matapos ang 10 taon, dumoble ang presyo ng kuryente ng Meralco, at ang industriya ay kontrolado na lamang ng iilang lokal at dayuhang dambuhalang kompanya na gumagalaw na bilang monopolyo. Ang WESM naman ay ginagamit para sa artipisyal na pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente.

EPIRA at ang mga neoliberal na patakarang pribatisasyon at deregulasyon ang ugat ng problema. Ang privatized at deregulated na industriya, kung saan walang pananagutan sa publiko ang mga pribadong negosyo, ay laging magpapahirap sa mga konsyumer.

Kailangang ibasura ang EPIRA at magbalangkas ng bagong patakaran sa industriya ng kuryente; isang patakaran na maglalagay ng interes ng mamamayan at pambansang pag-unlad sa unahan ng pribadong tubo.

Sa kagyat, kailangang ubos-kayang labanan ang nakaambang pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente ng Meralco, kasabay ng paglaban sa mga di makatarungang mga singil at bayaran, kabilang na ang VAT sa kuryente. Dapat suportahan ang pagtutol dito sa Korte Suprema at sa ERC.

Kinalaunan, ang pangmatagalang sagot sa problema sa kuryente ay ang pagsasabansa ng industriya ng kuryente at pagbabalangkas ng plano kung saan and  industriyang ito ay nakaugnay sa pangangailangan ng mamamayan at ng pambansang industriyalisasyon. ###

TUTULAN ANG PAGTAAS NG SINGIL SA KURYENTE!

IBASURA ANG EPIRA! IBASURA ANG PRIBATISASYON AT DEREGULASYON!

ISABANSA ANG INDUSTRIYA NG KURYENTE AT PAGLINGKURIN ITO SA PAMBANSANG PAG-UNLAD!

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Fight the Aquino regime’s Cybercrime Law! Defend our rights! Uphold free speech on the internet!

Posted on 01 October 2012 by admin

Press Statement

October 2, 2012

Reference: Renato M. Reyes, Jr. BAYAN secretary general

Today we join netizens and citizens in a Day of Action against the draconian Cybercrime Prevention Law. With its vague and overbreadth provisions that attack our constitutional rights and freedoms, it now becomes the duty of Filipinos to resolutely oppose this measure. While those who passed the law in Congress share responsibility for this repressive measure, the buck ultimately  stops with President Aquino, who signed the law last September 12.

Numerous provisions of this law infringes unconstitutionally and constitutes a sweeping intrusion into the people’s freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press, right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and right to privacy, and other fundamental freedoms.

Our opposition to the Cybercrime Law rests on the following:

  1. The law violates our right to privacy. The law allows the government to monitor and record real-time traffic data even without a court warrant and on the mere basis of “due cause”. We find no comfort in the provision of the law that states that only the origin, destination, size and not content and identity will be monitored and recorded without warrant. What is to prevent the authorities from actually prying into content and identity of traffic data when the opportunity presents itself? Furthermore, a law enforcement officer engaged in such collection or recording of traffic data can obtain information, in real-time, as to where anyone used a mobile phone or email, the destination of the call or text or message, the route, time, date, size, and duration thereof, or the type of underlying service that the user avails of. This is Big Brother watching our activities on the internet.
  2. The law increases the penalty for libel and other crimes when committed via the internet. The law is vague on how libel is actually committed over the internet. The law even allows a person to be charged with libel twice (one for internet and one for regular publication), based on the same article. One can even be charged with libel in any province of the country if the alleged libellous article was viewed there by the so-called offended party.
  3. The means of how a supposed crime is committed covers a whole range of devices. The supposed new offense of cybercrime of libel is  supposedly committed by means of “computer systems” which under this law includes cellphones and storage devices as well as “any other similar means which may be devised in the future”.  By not considering the complex, intricate and public interactive nature of cyberspace, the means employed by this provision makes ordinary conversations over mobile phones or the use of interactive functions of the internet (shares, comments, retweets) a target of imposition of the State’s immense powers.
  4. With the creation of a new offense called “cybercrime through data interference”, the law can be used to assault free speech.  The so-called unauthorized alteration of electronic photos used in internet memes  or posters–which is now a common way of expressing political criticism–  can be penalized under this law. In the complex and infinite universe of cyberspace,  the law does not state whether “authority” is based on “ownership” of a computer data (e.g. a person’s ownership over online photos or articles) or by  “mere interest” therein (e.g. a person’s interest over an online photo or article as that person is the one depicted on the said photo or article).
  5. The law violates our right to free speech and due process by allowing the DOJ to take down websites even without a court order. The DOJ becomes “The Great Firewall” as it is able to restrict access to or takedown websites on the mere determination by the DOJ that the website is prima facie in violation of the cybercrime law.
  6. The law violates due process when it penalizes one’s “failure to comply” with orders from law enforcement authorities, even if the non-compliance is valid. This non-compliance is penalized with imprisonment or a fine of P100,000, or both, for every act of non-compliance.

We shall take the fight online, on the streets, in the courts and in Congress. As the law takes effect on October 3, we call for continued public vigilance and sustained actions as our best defense against this blatant assault on our rights. In a time when our freedoms are threatened, we should all the more aggressively exercise those freedoms. Our people’s fight for freedom online is part of a larger struggle against all forms of  state-sponsored political repression that targets dissent and supports the preservation of the corrupt status quo.  ###

DOWNLOAD BAYAN ET AL SUPREME COURT PETITION HERE

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RISE AND FALL OF MARCOS FASCIST DICTATORSHIP: CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES UP TO THE PRESENT

Posted on 11 September 2012 by admin

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Chief Political Consultant, NDFP Negotiating Panel
September 11, 2012

(NOTE: This article originally appeared at www.josemariasison.org. We are reposting it as part of the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the US-Marcos dictatorship).

September 21, the formal date of the proclamation of martial law forty years ago, reminds us of the Marcos fascist dictatorship that the Filipino nation had to suffer for 14 long years until 1986. In our forthcoming commemoration, we honor the people and all the martyrs and heroes for their resolute and courageous struggle against the dictatorship. We reflect on the rise and fall of this dictatorship and on the causes and consequences up to the present, in order to know what we as a nation have achieved and how much more we need to do in order to complete the people´s struggle for national freedom and democracy.

It is highly important to undertake such reflection because the political heirs of Marcos and even quite a number of those who benefited politically from the assassination of Ninoy Aquino want to obfuscate the real and most important causes of the Marcos fascist dictatorship and shift the blame for the rise of the dictatorship to the revolutionary movement of the people. It is in the self-serving nature of the reactionaries to engage in deception and violence to preserve their ruling system and to blame the people for resisting oppression and exploitation.

The political operatives of the ruling classes of big compradors and landlords continue to pursue and carry out anti-national and anti-democratic policies against the people. They have consistently failed or refused to render justice to the victims of human rights violations under the Marcos fascist dictatorship as well as compensate them in accordance with the decision of the US court system in the human rights case against the Marcos estate. They have been deliberately blind to the millions of people who suffered deprivation, indignities and death as a result of military operations and forced evacuations and evictions.

I. Causes of the Rise of the Marcos Fascist Dictatorship

At the reestablishment of the Communist Party of Philippines (CPP) in 1968, we the proletarian revolutionaries recognized the worsening social crisis and the increasing inability of the ruling classes of big compradors and landlords to rule in the old way, the growing desire of the people for a change of system and the urgent need for a revolutionary party of the proletariat to lead the people.

In 1969 we became aware of the growing trend towards fascism in the pronouncements and actions of Marcos; and the book, Philippine Society and Revolution, dared to predict that he would impose a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people. We became more convinced that he was up to something terribly evil, the louder he talked of the social volcano about to explode, the greatness he was poised to achieve for the nation and the need for a bigger military force to protect the country.

The two biggest causes of the Marcos fascist dictatorship chronologically were firstly the objective conditions and chronic crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system and secondly the subjective factor, Marcos´ overweening ambition to perpetuate himself in power. Marcos estimated that he could use his presidential powers to manipulate the entire system to his personal advantage and invent the compelling reasons for using violence and deception to suppress the opposition and achieve his despotic purposes.

Marcos had a good estimate that the US imperialists would allow him to stay in power for so long as he served their economic, political, military and cultural interests; and so long as he acted to suppress the patriotic and progressive forces demanding national independence and democracy. After all, such forces did not yet have the strength to really threaten US dominance and the ruling system. Behind the scenes, he even encouraged the Supreme Court to issue certain decisions against US interests. But surreptitiously, he assured the US that he would undercut and reverse such decisions.

He also had a good measure of the mettle of his political rivals among his fellow reactionaries.
The latter loved to orate against Marcos but they had no more than platoons and companies as private armies. Many of them also fell for the illusion Marcos himself conjured that they could reform and improve on the system through a constitutional convention. Marcos´ ulterior motive was to have a new constitution to do away with the limit of two consecutive four-year terms for the presidency and to rewrite further the new constitution under conditions of martial rule and fascist dictatorship. He also anticipated that Cardinal Santos and the Catholic hierarchy would welcome the martial law proclamation and give him the chance to undertake reforms.

From 1969 to 1972, Marcos demonstrated his propensity for violence against the workers, peasants and youth. He viciously attacked the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and carried out a series of massacres in Tarlac (in the barrios of Culatingan, Paraiso, Sta. Lucia, etc). He and his ruling clique perpetrated the Plaza Miranda bombing of August 21, 1971 and yet within a few hours and without any investigation he immediately scapegoated his arch political rival Benigno Aquino and the New People´s Army (NPA) and declared the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in 1971. This suspension of the writ was the dress rehearsal for the premeditated proclamation of martial law in 1972.

The fake assassination attempt on Enrile on the eve of the martial law proclamation was just a little piece of drama, a sop to media sensationalism. The biggest lie in Marcos´ martial law proclamation was the exaggeration that the NPA had an armed strength of 10,000 rifles. There were no more than 400 rifles at that time. But Marcos excelled at conjuring the illusion of communists, separatists and anarchists threatening the ruling system and giving cause to his slogan of “save the republic and build a new society.”

II. Struggle Against Fascist Dictatorship

Even before Marcos proclaimed martial law in 1972, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People´s Army had been waging the new democratic revolution through people´s war against the US-directed Marcos regime. They integrated the revolutionary armed struggle with genuine land reform and mass base building by setting up organs of political power on the basis of the worker-peasant alliance and the mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth, children and cultural activists.

The legal movement of patriotic and progressive forces had developed since the early 1960s, much ahead of the revolutionary armed struggle which started in 1969. After the proclamation of martial rule in 1972, the aforesaid legal forces went underground, retained some of their activists aboveground and encouraged others to join the people’s war in the countryside. The Preparatory Commission of the National Democratic Front (NDF) continued in urban areas in order to develop new forces and new opportunities for continuing resistance.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the CPP, NPA, NDF and other revolutionary forces were the most outstanding in fighting the Marcos fascist dictatorship along the antifascist, anti-imperialist and anti-feudal line. They grew in strength and advanced in all regions of the country during the 14 years of dictatorship, even as they paid a heavy price for their victories with daily hard work, militant struggle and bitter sacrifices.

Among those who dared to fight the dictatorship and join the NPA were the best and brightest youth and students at the time. These included Edgar Jopson, Gregorio Rosal, Lorena Barros and Maita Gomez, to name a few among the thousands upon thousands of young men and women who took up arms against the dictatorship.

They were among those who suffered the most such criminal acts of the fascist regime as abductions, forced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings. But they inspired and assured the people that the overwhelming power of the dictatorship was being opposed effectively by the armed struggle in the countryside and the revolutionary urban underground.

The broad masses of the people waged heroic resistance, even as the dictatorship engaged in zonings in urban communities and bombardments to evict people from their homes and farms and grab their land in favor of plantations owned by foreign-owned agro-corporations and big comprador-landlords. Most of those who suffered illegal detention, torture, summary executions and massacres were workers and peasants.

Marcos imprisoned his fellow reactionary politicians in the opposition whom he regarded as most dangerous to the stability of his autocratic rule. But many of those whom he did not imprison or he would release from prison tended to wait for a change of US attitude towards Marcos and seek compromise by recommending to him new elections under the 1935 constitution or under the fascist constitution. They consistently refused the NDF offer of forming a broad united front and a government in exile.

The Marcos regime was also confronted by the armed Bangsa Moro secessionist movement led by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The AFP had to deploy in the early years of martial rule about half of its combat forces in the Moro areas, especially in Southwest Mindanao, where it suffered heavy losses. The armed struggles of the Filipino people and Bangsamoro against a common enemy objectively helped each other, even in the absence of a formal alliance. When the MNLF signed the Tripoli Agreement with the Manila government in 1976, the MILF arose to wage armed struggle.

After Cardinal Santos died and Cardinal Sin succeeded him, the Catholic hierarchy opened up to listen to the complaints of human rights violations and became more active in demanding that justice be rendered. It took some strenuous efforts by the Christians for National Liberation and the NDF to persuade the majority of bishops to stand up for human rights and publicly denounce the violations

The US government supported the Marcos fascist dictatorship for as long as it served US interests and remained more of an asset than a liability. The retention of US military bases in the Philippines, the enlargement of privileges for US investments and the prerogative of US corporations to hold land and exploit natural resources were reasons for the US to provide economic and military aid to the fascist regime. But ultimately in 1982, the US recognized that Marcos was hopelessly isolated and hated by the people for his extreme brutality and corruption; that he had become seriously ill, with the line of succession unclear and risky; and that the revolutionary movement could benefit from the tenuous situation. Thus, the US arranged the return of Aquino to the Philippines.

But Marcos and his closest cronies and generals decided to assassinate Aquino upon his return in 1983. They tried in vain to conjure the illusion that a “communist assassin” killed Aquino. The people understood that Galman was just a stage prop in a scene fully controlled by General Ver and other generals in various services of the AFP. The assassination sparked the upsurge of the anti-fascist mass movement from 1983 until Marcos fell from power in 1986. For three years, the armed revolutionary movement and the legal forces of the national democratic movement played a crucial role in the groundswell of the anti-fascist movement which led to the fall of Marcos.

III. Causes of the Fall of the Dictatorship

Even before the assassination of Aquino, the Washington top officials were already seriously concerned that the longer Marcos stayed in power, the armed revolutionary movement led by the CPP would become stronger and the US would face bigger problems in the future. US inter-agency meetings were being held as early as 1982 to study and draw up recommendations on how to preempt the further growth of the armed revolutionary movement in the Philippines and how to make a soft landing from the fascist dictatorship to sham democracy. Clearly, the continuing advance of the people´s war led by the CPP was a major cause of and compelling factor for the US decision to prepare for getting rid of Marcos.

After Aquino was assassinated in 1983, the US officials became even more worried by the persistence of Marcos in power and were angered that Aquino was assassinated despite assurances to Solarz and Wolfowitz by regime officials that he would not be harmed. The US State Department was the most offended and went gung-ho for the overthrow of Marcos. The Pentagon resisted for a while by arguing that the overthrow would entail a serious split in the reactionary armed forces in the Philippines. Eventually it accepted the “Armacost formula” which would indeed allow a calibrated split calculated to be repaired in due course. Thus, Reagan signed the national security directive for getting rid of Marcos.

As in the earlier overthrow of Duvalier in Haiti, the US devised the Laxalt proposal for a snap presidential election of 1986 to trick Marcos into calling for it (“make him a part of the solution” was the cynical US catchphrase) and then to accuse him of cheating in order to pave the way for his overthrow through a military mutiny and paralysis of the reactionary armed forces; and through mass actions of the people. As early as November 1985, the US instructed Cory Aquino to keep out of her campaign organization the leaders of the Left, not to touch the issue of US military bases and not to appoint anyone from the Left to her prospective cabinet. By his own Comelec count and pseudo-parliament proclamation, Marcos was the electoral winner but a predictable series of events would overthrow him and nullify his claim.

Immediately after the sham results of the snap presidential election, the CPP ran ahead of all forces in denouncing the results and calling for people´s uprisings, contrary to latter-day claims that the CPP was paralyzed by its boycott policy in the elections. Only subsequently, after several days, did Cory Aquino call for civil disobedience. The third powerful blow that fell on the head of Marcos came from the Catholic bishops who, in their pastoral letter, denounced the Marcos regime as immoral and illegitimate. Then, the Reform the AFP Movement (RAM) launched its failed coup attempt. But Cardinal Sin, Butch Aquino and BAYAN called on the people to go to EDSA highway to support the military mutineers and frustrate the anticipated military offensive of Marcos.

During the last few days of the life of the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the forces of the national democratic movement mobilized large masses of people to converge on EDSA and in front of Malacañang Palace and in so many other public places in the country, especially in provincial capitals and major cities. At least 20 per cent of the hundreds of thousands of people at EDSA were mobilized by BAYAN, with the rest being mobilized mainly by the calls of Cardinal Sin and broadcasts of Radio Veritas. But 85 per cent of the thousands upon thousands of people in front of Malacañang palace were mobilized by the KMU and LFS.

In the provinces, BAYAN was the dominant force in organizing the mass actions. Let us mention a few notable examples. BAYAN of Angeles city was outstanding for stopping the army tanks of General Palafox which came from Tarlac. In the Bicol region, the close friend of Ramos, General de Villa could appear big as an opponent of Marcos only because he was backed up by BAYAN, aside from his military followers. It is absurd for anyone to claim that because of the election boycott policy the forces of the Left kept themselves not only out of the farcical elections but also out of the people´s uprising that overthrew Marcos.

It can be concluded that in the long haul of 1969 to 1986 as well as in the short haul of 1983 to 1986 of the struggle to overthrow the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the armed revolutionary movement led by the CPP and the legal forces of the national democratic movement encompassed by BAYAN were the most consistent, most important and most effective in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people. The US and the most rabid pro-US reactionaries started to do their best to fight the dictatorship only in 1983, after the Aquino assassination. It can be said that in the short haul the contradictory forces of the national democratic movement, the US, the Catholic church hierarchy and the anti-Marcos reactionaries converged to overthrow Marcos.

It is true that so far the Aquino family and its associates (like Ramos and Macapagal-Arroyo) have benefited most from the overthrow of Marcos in terms of acquiring reactionary political power and accumulating wealth. But this does not give the hangers-on and propagandists of the Aquino regime the license to claim that the forces of the national democratic movement were nowhere in the struggle to overthrow Marcos. The revolutionary movement led by the CPP greatly benefited from the process of overthrowing the Marcos dictatorship but the gain it made was neither for getting a share of reactionary power nor jockeying for some posts in the reactionary government but for accumulating strength for the overthrow of the entire ruling system.

IV. Consequences Up to the Present

The people´s struggle to overthrow the Marcos fascist dictatorship was not strong enough to overthrow the entire ruling system of big compradors and landlords. Thus, the brazen fascist dictatorship has been succeeded by a series of anti-national and pseudo-democratic and anti-democratic regimes. They are essentially similar to the Marcos regime in terms of puppetry to the US, exploitative class character, corruption and brutality against the people. The only obvious difference of these post-Marcos regimes from the Marcos fascist regime is the fact that they have carried out state terrorism without having to proclaim martial law.

It is of crucial importance to the anti-Marcos reactionaries, especially the Cojuangco-Aquino big comprador-landlords, their allies and their propagandists, to deny the role of the revolutionary movement in the overthrow of the Marcos fascist dictatorship and to claim more than their share in the process in order to misrepresent themselves as the saviors of the people and as champions of democracy and continue the counterrevolutionary role of Marcos in trying to destroy the revolutionary movement of the people for national liberation and democracy.

When the Cory Aquino regime was still consolidating its power against the Marcos, Enrile and other reactionary cliques, it offered ceasefire negotiations to the CPP, NPA and NDF and signed a ceasefire agreement. But it cast away the ceasefire agreement and “unsheathed the sword of war” after the Mendiola massacre of peasants and their urban supporters in 1987. It followed the US-dictated neoliberal economic policy and prated much about trade liberalization. It carried out a series of strategic military campaign plans in a vain attempt to destroy the revolutionary movement. After some years, when it was faced with further coup threats in 1989, it offered to engage the revolutionary forces in peace negotiations.

The US skilfully prepared and made Ramos the president in order to realize the “Armacost formula” and patch up the splits that had occurred in the reactionary armed forces before and after the overthrow of Marcos. Ramos amnestied the anti-Aquino military mutineers and the political prisoners in a show of dealing evenly with the Right and the Left. In its full course the Ramos regime used the two-handed policy of military force and peace negotiations. It went full-blast in carrying out the neoliberal economic policy to the great detriment of the Filipino people.

The armed revolutionary movement slackened in the first half of the 1990s, not because of the peace negotiations or effectiveness of enemy military campaigns but because of major errors in the revolutionary movement since the 1980s and the need to rectify these and revitalize the CPP and other revolutionary forces through the Second Great Rectification Movement. In the second half of the 1990s, the NPA was carrying out and winning more tactical offensives on a nationwide scale. The neoliberal economic policy of Ramos was thoroughly discredited when the “Asian financial crisis” of 1998 struck the Philippines hard.

Estrada succeeded Ramos and continued the policy of repression, going to the extent of terminating the peace negotiations with the NDFP and waging a costly and disastrous “all-out war” against the MILF, with adverse effects on the economy. His regime was in the backwash of the global and domestic economic crisis wrought by neoliberal economic policy. Estrada could not conceal his direct culpability for corruption as he took cash from jueteng and raided the social security funds for shady deals. As in the overthrow of Marcos, the national democratic movement employed the broad united front to isolate Estrada, call for his ouster; and to actually oust him through a people´s uprising. His term of office was cut short as he was compelled to resign by tens of thousands of youth massing at the gates of the presidential palace at the decisive moment.

The US-Arroyo regime ran for 10 years, exceeding the ousted regime in puppetry, rapacity, corruption and brutality. The policy of the broad united front succeeded in isolating Arroyo but failed to oust her from power. Upon the prompting of the US and the Vatican, the reactionary classes, their major institutions (schools, churches and mass media) and the pro-Arroyo and anti-Arroyo reactionary politicians spread the line that the people had been stricken by protest fatigue and that the best way to achieve regime change was through elections.

In fact they were frightened that the revolutionary movement could further gain strength from the extra-constitutional process of ousting one regime after another thorough mass uprisings, even if unarmed. The forces of the national democratic movement was not able to exercise independence and initiative in order to enlarge their own protest mass actions aside from those with the participation of reactionary allies and did not overcome the repeated tactics of the anti-Arroyo reactionary allies to keep the focal mass protest actions in Ayala, Makati as well as the regime´s consistent tactics of harassing, delaying and disrupting lakbayans and intra-city marches. Arroyo was able to prevent sizeable rallies of students at the university belt and marches converging on and occupying the vicinity of the presidential palace.

The current Aquino regime is good at capitalizing on the ritualistic celebration of people power (like manpower or horse power, not people´s power) insofar as it brought down Marcos and brought to power the reactionary Aquino faction of the exploiting classes. In addition, the current Aquino regime is good at pretending to denounce the corruption and human rights violations under the Arroyo regime. But corruption remains rampant at all levels of the reactionary government. The Aquino regime has condoned and supported the gross and systematic human rights violations under the Arroyo regime. And it is now culpable for the escalation of such human rights violations.

Under the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan, Aquino deceptively calls military operations “peace and development operations” and emboldens the military, police and paramilitary forces to carry out forced disappearances, illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial killings and the forced eviction of entire communities for the benefit of mining, logging and plantation companies. He is obsessed with seeking to destroy the revolutionary movement by military force and has gone so far as to paralyze the peace negotiations between his government and the NDFP.

The exploitative and violent character of the post-Marcos regimes from Cory to Noynoy Aquino clearly shows that no social revolution occurred in 1986. The Marcos fascist dictatorship which arose in 1972 did not result in a new society different from the semicolonial and feudal system of big compradors and landlords. Neither did the fall of such dictatorship in 1986 result in the national and social liberation of the Filipino people. The perseverance of the revolutionary movement remains valid and just against the persistence of the reactionary ruling system under US hegemony.

The revolutionary struggle is bound to strengthen and grow as the Aquino regime shamelessly collaborates with the US and in return benefits from the recently announced US strategic balance shift to Asia-Pacific region. This is meant to tighten US hegemony over the region. It entails the increased military presence and interventionism of the US, aggravation of political and economic domination, and intensified exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people.

As the crisis of the world capitalist system and the ruling system worsens, the reactionaries continue to engage in a bitter struggle for power and bureaucratic loot among themselves. As the Filipino people suffer more exploitation and oppression, more poverty and misery, they are driven to intensify and advance their revolutionary struggle for national liberation, democracy, development through national industrialization and genuine land reform, social justice and world peace.###

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Private defense contractor helps US regain foothold in former PH base

Posted on 14 June 2012 by admin

Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

June 12, 2012

A private defense contractor has posted the first US Navy-related job opening in 20 years in Subic, Zambales, Philippines. From the job description, it appears that US warships will be frequenting the former US naval base. The position of project manager is open only to US citizens and requires a Secret-level security clearance and about 15 years experience in the US Navy.

Umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), who campaigned for the rejection of the US bases in 1991, says the private contractors are being used to circumvent the Philippine constitutional ban on US bases by making it appear that military operations are mere commercial transactions. US warships, including an advanced nuclear attack submarine, have had frequent port calls in the Philippines this year.

The job opening was issued by AMSEC, a subsidiary of private military contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries which is the biggest builder of nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the US Navy and Coast Guard. AMSEC is in partnership with Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines to provide maintenance, repair and logistics services to the U.S. Navy and other customers in the western Pacific region.

“For more than a century, HII has built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder,” HII’s website says.

“This is a part-time position with a focus on growing U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command maintenance work at a commercial ship construction ship yardWork hours are expected to grow as maintenance work increases, and occasional travel to the U.S. or Singapore may be required,” the AMSEC job placement says.

From this ad, it appears that the US is serious in using Subic for its warships. In a subtle way, the US is transforming a civilian facility back into a military hub through the use of private defense contractors. The use of these contractors to provide logistics and other support services for US warships may also be intended to circumvent the Constitutional ban on US bases absent a treaty ratified by the Senate. US bases were kicked out from the Philippines in 1991 and both the US and PH governments are careful not to indicate that they intend to bring back the bases now.

Instead of the US Navy itself that operates maintenance and logistics support services, they get a private contractor to do it so it won’t be so obvious that the US bases are back.

The US would make it appear that these are mere commercial transactions between the US Navy and private firms, but there is no mistaking the military character of the operations that will be conducted in Subic. The high-level security clearance and lengthy US navy experience required for the position of AMSEC project manager shows the sensitive nature of the job. The private contractor HII is the biggest producer of US nuclear and non-nuclear warships.

It won’t be long before full-blown logistics and servicing operations for US navy warships are conducted in Subic.

According to the job advertisement a successful candidate will have “a thorough knowledge of U.S. Navy readiness organizations, budgets, and leaders; a familiarity with surface ship maintenance industry competitors; and an in-depth knowledge of U.S. Navy contracts and programs. The candidate will participate in assessing shipyard repair capability, development of the strategy to grow this capability, and then drive the execution of the strategy”.

This is not the first time private military contractors have operated in the Philippines. DynCorp, a logistics provider for the US military has done work in the past for US military facilities in the Philippines, including the building of US forward bases in Mindanao. A DynCorp subsidiary recruited Filipino translator Gregan Cardeno, who later died under mysterious circumstances a day after he started work with US troops in Marawi province in Mindanao. The notorious Blackwater private military contractor was also reported by media to be operating out of Subic in the past. Private contractor Corporate Training Unit, an affiliate of Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR)-Haliburton meanwhile operated in the former Clark Airbase.

Privatize military/defense contractors make the US government a bit removed from any direct accountability to the Philippine government. They however remain part of the US military machinery and we may be seeing their increasing involvement in the Philippines as the US shifts most of its warships to Asia in the next ten years. ###

See links below

http://bamboobugle.blogspot.com/2012/06/first-us-navy-job-to-return-to-subic.html

http://bamboobugle.blogspot.com/2012/04/hanjin-subic-queued-up-to-be-us-navy.html

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ON PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY, US & CHINA

Posted on 20 April 2012 by admin

Reply to Questions from Renato Reyes, BAYAN  Secretary General

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

April 20, 2012

Renato Reyes (RR): I hope that you can answer briefly the following questions re China, Philippines and the assertion of national sovereignty. We have an all-leaders meeting this Saturday and we are trying to get views on how to deal with the issue of China’s incursions on Philippine  territory, the Aquino regime’s response and US intervention.

Jose Maria Sison (JMS):  First of all,  as a matter of principle, the Filipino people must assert their national sovereignty and Philippine territorial integrity over the issue of Spratlys (Kalayaan) and other islands, reefs and shoals which are well within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  According to the Philippine reactionary government, it  submitted on time to the UN the necessary scientific and technical grounds to define the Philippine 200-mile EEZ under UNCLOS.

The  UNCLOS is the strongest legal basis for the definition of the territorial sea and EEZ of the Philippine archipelago..  Also,  archaeological evidence shows that the islands, reefs  and shoals at issue have been  used by inhabitants of what is now the Philippines since prehistoric times. But the Philippine reactionary government muddles the issue and undermines its own position by making historical claims that date back only to a few decades ago when pseudo-admiral Cloma made formal claims to the Kalayaan group of islands.

Chinese historical claims since ancient times amount to an absurdity as this would be like Italy claiming as its sovereign possession all areas previously occupied by the Roman empire.  The name China Sea was invented by European cartographers and should not lead anyone to think that the entire sea belongs to China.  In the same vein, neither does the  entire Indian Ocean belong to India.

RR 1:  How do we view the incursions and aggressive behavior of China in territories claimed by the Philippines? Is this aggressiveness proof that China has imperialist ambitions and should be criticized as an imperialist power?  What is the relationship between China’s revisionist regime and its apparent desire to flex its muscles in the region?

JMS: The Filipino people and progressive forces must  oppose what may be deemed as incursions and what may appear as aggressive behavior of China with regard  to

the territories belonging to the Philippines.  But so far China’s actions and actuations manifest assertiveness rather than outright military aggression. The Philippine reactionary government should desist from self-fulfilling its claim of China’s aggression by engaging in an anti-China scare campaign.

The Filipino people and progressive forces must consciously differentiate their position from that of the Aquino regime, its military subalterns and its Akbayan special agents who pretend to be super patriots against China but are in fact servile to the interests of US imperialism and are using the anti-China scare campaign to justify the escalation of US military intervention in the Philippines and US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.

At any rate, China must not violate Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity,  the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Code of Conduct it agreed to with the ASEAN.  The apparently aggressive or assertive acts and words of China are in consonance with its own premise of national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as with the bourgeois character of the Chinese state that may indicate an imperialist tendency or ambitions.

The Chinese state is blatantly a capitalist state.  Only occasionally does it  claim to be socialist so as to cover up its capitalist character as the revisionists in power systematically did in the past.  Whatever is its character, the Chinese state must not infringe or threaten to infringe Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. When it does, it opens itself to criticism and opposition by political and diplomatic action.

RR 2:  On the other hand, would criticism of China serve the US ploy of increasing its military presence in the region by supporting the claim that China is indeed a major threat to Philippine sovereignty?  Would such criticism serve to support the claim that China is indeed a major threat while obfuscating the US continuous undermining and violation of Philippine sovereignty? How important is it that the Left join in the assertion of Philippine sovereignty against incursions by China?

JMS:  Criticism and opposition to any actual incursion by China is consistent with the assertion of national sovereignty and does not serve the US ploy so long as we expose at the same time why and how the Aquino regime’s posture against alleged incursions by China are meant to serve US goals in the region.

We must be alert to and oppose the malicious efforts of the US and the Aquino regime to hype China as an imperialist aggressor in order to allow the No. 1 imperialist to further entrench itself militarily in the Philippines and realize its strategy of encircling China and enhancing its hegemony over East Asia and entire Asia-Pacific region.  You should take critical notice of the fact that the agents of US imperialism like Aquino, his military sidekicks and his Akbayan hangers-on are presenting themselves as superpatriots against China while they allow the US to increase  to increase the  presence of military forces and activities under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Balikatan exercises and various other pretexts.

It is a matter of principle to invoke national sovereignty and territorial integrity against China’s claims on certain islands, reefs and shoals that belong to the Philippines.  But we should expose and oppose the US and the Aquino regime for actively undertaking what are obviously anti-China provocations and propaganda aimed at justifying the escalation of US military intervention and further entrenchment of US forces in the Philippines, as part of the strategic scheme of the US to preserve and strengthen its hegemony over  the Asia-Pacific region, particularly East Asia.

Further, the US imperialists are increasing their pressure on China to privatize its state-owned enterprises, to restrain its  bourgeois nationalist impulses, to yield further to US economic and security dictates and to further promote the pro-US or pro-West bourgeois forces within China.  In comparison to the Philippines, China is a far larger country for imperialist exploitation and oppression.  Having more economic and political interests in China than in the Philippines, the US is using the Philippines as a staging base for actions aimed at  pressuring and influencing China rather than protecting the Philippines from China.

The US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty does not contain an automatic retaliation provision.  The  US has used this treaty as the basis for the Visiting Forces Agreement and for the escalation of US military intervention in the Philippines.  But in case of attack from any foreign power, the Philippines has no basis for expecting  or demanding

automatic retaliation from the US.  The treaty allows the US to act strictly in its national interest and use its constitutional processes to bar the Philippines from demanding automatic retaliation against a third party that attacks the Philippines.

TheUS and China can always agree to cooperate in exploiting  the Philippines.  In fact, they have long been cooperating in exploiting the Philippines.  The  Chinese comprador big bourgeoisie in both the Philippines (Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and the like) and China (within the bureaucracy and outside) are trading and financial agents of the US and other imperialist powers.

RR 3:  The Aquino government has availed of diplomatic venues to resolve the dispute. Meanwhile, the Chinese incursions continue.  The Philippines is a weak country militarily and has no capability for securing its territory. What would be the requirements for the Philippines to be able to effectively assert its sovereignty (not limited of course to questions of territory)?  Briefly, how can the Philippines develop a credible external defense?

JMS: Rather than entertain hopes that the Aquino regime would defend Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Filipino people and progressive forces must resolutely and militantly  expose and oppose the puppetry,  shameless mendicancy  and  the hypocrisy of the regime in pretending to be for  national sovereignty and territorial integrity against China while inviting and welcoming increased US military intervention in the Philippines and using the country as a base for strengthening US hegemony in the Asia Pacific region.

Only the Filipino people and revolutionary forces can gain the capability to secure, control and defend their territory by  fighting for and achieving national and social liberation in the first place from US imperialist domination and from such reactionary regimes of the big compradors and landlords like the Aquino regime. Otherwise the US and their puppets will always be the bantay salakay at the expense of the people.

When the Filipino people and revolutionary forces come to power, they will certainly engage strongly among others in metal manufacturing, ship building and fishing in close connection with securing the Philippine territorial sea and exclusive economic zone.

They shall have internal political-military strength and socio-economic satisfaction. And they shall develop international solidarity and  use diplomatic action against any foreign power that violates Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.

At the moment, the US and Aquino regime are engaged in a calibrated anti-China propaganda campaign in order to  justify and allow the US to control the Philippines and East Asia militarily.  We are being subjected to an anti-China scare aimed at further strengthening the dominance of US imperialism and the domestic rule of its reactionary puppets like Aquino. Right now, we must give the highest priority to fighting these monsters.

The Filipino people and the progressive forces must complain to the entire world against any incursive act of China and at the same time against the maneuvers of the US and its Filipino puppets to use the anti-China campaign to further oppress and exploit the Filipino nation and people.  By the way, the Aquino regime blows hot and cold against China. In fact, it is vulnerable to China’s manipulation of Philippine exports to China like some semimanufactures and agricultural and mineral products.

When the Filipino people and revolutionary forces win, they shall be able to bring up through official  representatives  the issues concerning the UNCLOS to the UN General Assembly and the Hamburg-based International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.  They can encourage  the cooperation of  certain countries like Russia and Norway to avoid unwelcome impositions  from US, UK and Netherlands in the exploration and development of oil and gas in the areas of the Philippines.

Even at this time,  approaches  can be made to China to avoid confrontations and tensions over the territories that belong to the Philippines and to engage in  all-round cooperation for mutual benefit, especially for the  advance of national independence, the industrial development of the Philippines and the termination of the  extremely oppressive and exploitative US hegemony over East Asia, which victimizes both the Philippines and China.

RR 4: What approaches would you like the Philippines to make towards China? Were such approaches taken into account in the 2011 NDFP proposal to the Aquino regime for an alliance and truce? In this regard, what can the Left do in view of the rabid servility of the Aquino regime to the US.

JMS:  China has been known for its policy of dealing diplomatically solely with the state (rather than with the revolutionary forces) in any country  and  for its flexibility in considering the needs and demands of that state or country.  It is not as imposing and as aggressive as the US in diplomatic and economic relations with other countries.  It tries  to comply with what it professes, such as the principles of independence, non-interference, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit.

Thus, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has proposed to the Aquino regime strategic alliance and truce in the context of peace negotiations.  It has challenged the Aquino regime to make a general declaration of common intent with the NDFP to assert national independence and end unequal treaties and agreements; expand democracy through empowerment of the workers and peasants; carry out national industrialization and land reform; foster a patriotic, scientific and pro-people culture; and  adopt an independent  foreign policy for world peace and development.

A key part of the NDFP proposal is for the Philippines to approach China and other countries for cooperation in the establishment of key industrial projects for the national industrialization of the country.  Certainly, it would be greatly beneficial for the Filipino people that the Philippines is industrialized and ceases to be merely an exporter of raw materials, semi-manufactures and migrant workers, mostly women.

But the US agents in the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and in Akbayan and Aquino himself supplied information on the NDFP proposal to the US embassy and Washington.  They proceeded to cook up the anti-China scare campaign in order to undercut the proposal and serve US imperialist interests.  It would be absurd for BAYAN, Bayan Muna and MAKABAYAN to join  the rabidly pro-Aquino Akbayan or even compete with it in the anti-China scare campaign that draws away attention from US imperialism as well as justifies US military intervention and aggression in the Philippines and the whole of East Asia and the Asia-Pacific.

The people should know that the agents of US imperialism in the Aquino regime have used various malicious  and cruel tactics to block the road to a just peace.  The tactics  include the abduction, torture and extrajudicial killing of NDFP consultants in violation of JASIG and the continued imprisonment of hundreds of political prisoners in violation of CARHRIHL.

RR 5: How would you describe the contradictions between the US and China? On one hand, the US is wary of the rise of China as a military power and has sought to encircle China, yet on the other hand, the US economy is closely linked to China’s. and China is said to be the biggest creditor of the US.

JMS: There is unity and struggle between two capitalist powers in the relationship between the US and China. The US is not yet really worried about China having the military strength that can be projected outside its borders.  It is more worried about China’s military strength being able to defend China, fend off US imperialist dictates and threats and combat separatist forces in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang.

The US strategy of encirclement is calculated to keep China as a friendly partner in the exploitation of the Chinese and other peoples. The US and China have already more than three decades of being close partners in promoting and benefiting from the neoliberal policy of globalization.  The super-exploitation of the Chinese working people, China’s  trade surpluses and huge indebtedness of the US to China are matters well within the negotiable relations of two capitalist powers, which would rather go on taking

advantage of the working people rather than go to war against each other.

The efforts of China to find its own sources of energy and raw materials and markets and fields of investment can be at times irritating or even infuriating to the US (when the conflicts of interest occur as in Iran, Sudan, Libya and Syria).  But the capitalist powers can settle their relations with each other at the expense of the working people and underdeveloped countries, until the crisis of the world capitalist system further worsens to the point that a number of capitalist powers accelerate their aggressiveness and even become fascist in their home grounds. ###

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National industrialization as framework for an alternative mining program in the Philippines

Posted on 02 March 2012 by admin


Prepared by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) for the Northern Luzon Mining and Human Rights Summit

Baguio City, December 13-15, 2011

Introduction

In the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 of the Aquino administration, mining has been identified as one of the priority areas that have the “highest growth potentials and generate the most jobs.” It is widely believed that the potential of mining is immense in the Philippines, which is considered one of the most mineralized countries in the world. Almost one-third of the national land area is said to be geologically prospective for metallic minerals (mostly gold, copper, nickel, and chromite) with the total value, based on a 2004 estimate of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), reaching as much as P47 trillion.

Meanwhile, in its Mineral Action Plan (MAP), the Aquino administration supposedly intends to promote industrialization in the mining sector by promoting downstream processing and manufacturing; developing community-based supplier industries/services; improving government benefits; and controlling exports of unprocessed minerals.

But while the present MAP is using the language of industrialization and the PDP is envisioning a mining industry that is “producing manufactured goods and industrial products based on an industrialization framework,” the government’s medium-term objective is to double mining exports by 2016 through the “generation of more investments in mining and mineral processing and mineral based manufacturing industries. Investments include attracting more foreign direct investments (FDI), which the PDP named as one of the challenges facing its priority industries and services as “multinational companies not already present in the Philippines bypassed the country.”

Fundamental weakness

This underscores the fundamental weakness of local mining and other strategic domestic industries for that matter. Despite decades of maldevelopment, Philippine governments including the current US-Aquino regime have continued to implement the disastrous neocolonial model of export-oriented, foreign investment-led growth as outlined in the PDP and past medium-term development plans. The state of the local mining industry, in fact, best illustrates how puppet regimes have facilitated the imperialist plunder of the country’s natural wealth, in the process squeezing us dry of precious resources and depriving us of much-needed industrialization while displacing our indigenous and peasant communities and wreaking irreversible havoc to our environment.

At present, the neocolonial mining policy is embodied in the Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act (RA) 7942, which has allowed the intensified liberalization of the country’s mining industry. Since hurdling constitutional challenge in 2004, the Mining Act has facilitated the accelerated growth in mineral exports both in absolute value and as a percentage share to total Philippine exports.[i] Foreign equity in mining has also substantially increased in value and as a percentage share to total paid-up investments in the sector.[ii]

However, despite these supposed “developments”, mining continued to fail to contribute to industrialization. The contribution, for instance, of mining’s gross value added (GVA) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) even declined this decade compared to its long-term average from the 1960s to 1990s and did not show significant improvement even after the Supreme Court (SC) declared the Mining Act constitutional.[iii] Though exports of mostly raw minerals grew substantially, the Philippines continued to rely on the importation of processed mining-based products for our own industrial needs, resulting in a perennial mining trade deficit.[iv] Other much-hyped economic benefits like employment and government revenues, meanwhile, were also negligible especially when measured against the social and environmental costs of large-scale mining operations.[v]

Need for genuine, comprehensive industrialization

Clearly, there is a need to overhaul the basic economic framework with which we pursue the development of our mining industry in order to maximize its potential benefits while reducing, if not eliminating, the possible harmful effects to the environment. The current framework, one that has been imposed on us and molded by decades of colonial occupation and imperialist domination, has made the economy over-dependent on the export of low-value added raw materials and semi-processed goods that mostly end up in the industrial countries.

For the mining industry, this is illustrated by the growing export of semi-processed mining products and unprocessed mineral ores and the long-term declining share of mining GVA to the domestic economy. The industry has very little capacity at value addition because of the lack of adequate vertical and horizontal linkages with the domestic economy. A program for national industrialization should be able to address this by establishing and promoting vibrant downstream activities that will process and refine the country’s mineral ores to create finished products with high-value added (and along with it, greater local economic activities and additional employment). This is the first major point on genuine, comprehensive national industrialization.

Some may argue that this proposal is no longer new. Industrializing the local mining sector by encouraging downstream industries, in fact, had been and continues to be attempted, or at least planned, by Philippine governments. In the 1970s, for instance, the Marcos dictatorship instituted plans to vertically link mining extraction with metal-based manufacturing industries. A nickel refinery (Nonoc Surigao Nickel Refiner) and copper smelting plant (Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining or PASAR) were put up.

But the industrialization plan failed to take off because while the country has massive ore resources, we have limited domestic capital resource to finance the capital-intensive processing and manufacturing activities. Thus, the country has to rely on foreign capital through direct investment or foreign loans as well as through the importation of the necessary technology and equipment. Furthermore, the pre-industrial domestic market has a very limited capacity to absorb the processed and manufactured mineral products. Unless these structural issues are resolved, plans for industrialization such as those outlined in the MAP are bound to fail.

This brings us to the second major point on national industrialization. For it to be sustainable, industrialization must be self-reliant and anchored on internal growth sources. Among the biggest stumbling blocks to the country’s industrialization is the lack of domestic capital as the neocolonial economic setup has allowed foreign monopoly corporations and banks to squeeze enormous amounts of resources from the country through the repatriation of profits, dividends, royalties, and capital as well as through ever growing payments for imports and foreign debt’s interest and principal. These are potential resources that can be used to jumpstart industrialization projects such as domestic linkages with the mining industry but are drawn out from the country.

Thus, we need to have a policy that will strictly regulate the flows of these resources to ensure maximum benefits not only by imposing regulation on volume outflows but also by requiring the transfer of technology. Another is by collecting the maximum gains possible from mining operations such as through taxes and royalties, which government is not aggressively pursuing because its main objective is to create the most favorable environment for private and foreign investors, and not to raise resources for industrialization.[vi] In addition, to create the sustainable domestic market that will utilize mining-based products, national industrialization should intend to develop basic heavy and medium industries and, given the huge agricultural modernization needs of the country, to develop the industrial capacity to produce rural producers’ goods like farm equipment and light motors.

Serving the people

The third major point on national industrialization is that ultimately, it is about the people, especially the poor and toiling masses who have long been exploited and oppressed by the current semi-feudal and semi-colonial system. Industrialization’s ultimate objective should not be to inconsiderately accumulate massive profits for the few but to ensure that the basic needs of the people are met. This means not only the provision by government of adequate social services and the production of basic consumer needs – although these are absolutely necessary – but also, that industrialization projects promote and strengthen domestic productive forces. It should not destroy jobs and livelihood but create more economic opportunities.

A key component of this point is the empowerment of local communities to determine which industrial or development projects will best provide long-term gains to them. Communities must have a strong say in designing and implementing development plans in their areas as opposed to a nationally-imposed central policy that ignores local concerns like what big mining companies are pushing against local government units (LGUs) that enforced mining bans in their areas.[vii]

The shift in economic orientation and priorities to make national industrialization a reality can only be achieved if the country’s economic sovereignty and patrimony are upheld and promoted. The wanton plunder of our mineral and other natural resources will continue for as long as we do not assert our right as a country to determine by ourselves the sort of economy that we need and the programs and policies that will cater to the specific development needs of our people.

How much gold, copper, or chromite does our economy really need to produce without exerting undue pressure on our ecosystem? What type of technology should we use that takes into account particular conditions of local mining areas? How can a viable commercial mining operation be possible without displacing but even creating fresh economic opportunities for indigenous and peasant communities? These questions are not asked by policy makers since the driving motive behind mining operations is to meet the requirements of the world market, in particular the industrial countries.

For sovereignty and patrimony

Finally, we could not exercise rightful ownership over our natural wealth and how we intend to use them for our own development agenda without asserting our independence from the clutches of imperialist domination and the plunder, exploitation, and oppression perpetrated by their monopoly corporations and banks. This is the last major point on industrialization – in the Philippines, it could only be the product of conscious political struggle for national democracy and sovereignty. The creation of favorable conditions for long-term national industrialization is presently being waged by the democratic mass movement led by workers and peasants including in the parliamentary arena; through the agrarian revolution being waged in the countryside to implement genuine agrarian reform; as well as through the peace process.

The global financial and economic crisis, meanwhile, is providing us fresh opportunities to advance the agenda of national industrialization. The imperialist crisis has further exposed the bankruptcy of global monopoly capitalism and the backward, oppressive, and exploitative mode of production it has imposed on semi-colonies like the Philippines. It has affirmed the legitimacy and underscored the urgency of our long held stance that we must generate local growth drivers and not overly rely on foreign markets and capital to industrialize. At the same time, the crisis has created a more fertile ground for arousing, organizing, and mobilizing all democratic forces to rally behind national democratic aspirations and build a truly sovereign and industrialized country. We have the forces, the resources, and the conditions to achieve national industrialization. We must seize the moment.

Sources and references

  1. Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)
  2. Danilo C. Israel, “National industrialization in Philippine mining: Review and suggestions,” Discussion Paper Series No. 2010-35, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), December 2010
  3. “The NDFP perspective on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER),” A Paper read by NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee-CASER Member Randall B. Echanis at the Peace Forum initiated by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform in San Mateo, Rizal on February 26-27, 2009 and Iloilo City, March 3-5, 2009

[i] From negative annual growth in the 1980s (-1.27%) and 1990s (-0.38%), mineral exports grew by 25.52% in the 2000s, and by 57.9% in 2005-08. The annual growth rate in its share to total exports also drastically improved from negative growth in the 1970s (-0.77%), 1980s (-5.08%), and 1990s (-15.39%) to 19.13% in the 2000s and to 45.41% in 2005-08.

[ii] Although lower than its average in the 1990s (202.77%), the annual growth rate of foreign equity in mining remained robust in the 2000s (130.9%), especially in 2005-08 (146.04%). Meanwhile, the annual growth rate of foreign equity’s share to total paid-up investment in mining increased from 76.69% in the 1990s to 317.74% in the 2000s (and in 2005-08, to 237.12%). Also, the percentage share of foreign equity to total paid-up investment in mining improved to 14.25% in 2005-08 from 9.7% in 2001-04.

[iii] Mining GVA as a percentage of the GDP in 2000-08 averaged 1.08%, which is lower than its average of 1.42% in 1960-99. Average for 2005-08 (1.38%), meanwhile, does not have a significant difference with the long-term average for 1960-2004 (1.36%). Basic data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

[iv] Data from the BSP show that from 1990 to 2008, the balance between Philippine mineral exports and imports of mining-based products (i.e., metalliferous ores, non-metallic mineral manufactures, iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, and metal products) averaged $1.24 billion a year. Also, the mining trade deficit is higher in 2000s ($1.3 billion a year) than in 1990s ($1.19 billion).

[v] Employment in the mining and quarrying sector is growing by a small 1.17% annually in 1990-2008 as compared to the yearly growth in total employment in all industries of 2.53% during the same period. Employment growth in mining and quarrying, however, did accelerate in 2000s at 5.41%, and especially in 2005-08 with 7.65 percent. But as a percentage of total employment, mining and quarrying declined from 0.49% in the 1990s to 0.37% in 2000s. In 2005-08, its share total employment is still lower (0.42%) as compared to its 1990-2004 average (0.44%). In the past two decades, mining and quarrying employment has only contributed an average of 0.43% to total annual employment. Data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Meanwhile, data from the MGB and the Department of Finance (DOF) show that the share of revenues from fees, charges, and royalties collected by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-MGB; excise tax collected by Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR); taxes collected by national government agencies; and taxes and fees collected by local government units (LGUs) to total employment remained insignificant at just 0.5 percent.

[vi] Economist Winnie Monsod, for instance, noted in her Get Real column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (“Zero wealth in mining,” October 21, 2011), that the State, which supposedly owns all mineral resources in the country as stated in the 1987 Constitution, does not get any share in the profits of mining companies. The only government share is the 2% excise tax on metallic and non-metallic minerals (mandated under the Mining Act). Monsod quoted SC Justice Antonio Carpio, who in his dissenting opinion on the constitutionality of the Mining Act, argued that “The excise tax is not payment for the exploitation of the State’s natural resources, but payment for the ‘privilege of engaging in business’… the State must receive its fair share as owner of the mineral resources, separate from taxes, fees and duties paid by taxpayers.  The legislature may waive taxes, fees and duties, but it cannot waive the State’s share in mining operations.”

[vii] In its “Consolidated position paper on mineral resource development,” the Philippines Australia Business Council, Australia Philippines Business Council, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines told government to “act decisively” on its mining policy and bring an end to provincial ordinances that “defy” national law and “damage” international confidence in the country’s mineral investment policies. The paper was issued after South Cotabato and Zamboanga del Norte passed ordinances banning open pit mining. (Source: Riza T. Olchondra, “‘Decisive’ action on mining urged,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 7, 2011)

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Five crucial problems in the SC decision on Hacienda Luisita

Posted on 25 November 2011 by admin

by Renato Reyes, Jr.

While the nation welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court ordering the actual land distribution of Hacienda Luisita, the SC decision presents several problems and challenges for farmers and advocates of land reform. The decision highlights the limitations and problems with government’s land reform program CARPER.

  1. The SC decision ordered the compensation of the owners of Hacienda Luisita. By “owners”, we mean them Cojuangco-Aquino family. They will be compensated for the 4, 335 hectares that will be distributed to the farmers. If each hectare is valued at 1,000,000, the Cojuangco’s will receive P4.3 billion. The government will advance a certain amount, and the farmers will have to pay the entire amount through an amortization scheme. No less than President Benigno Aquino III stressed the importance of “just compensation” for the landowners. He also invoked CARPER as the basis for this “just compensation”. What is unjust in this scheme is that the vast estate was unjustly acquired by the Cojuangco’s through a government loan from the GSIS. In short, public funds were used to acquire the estate with the condition that land would eventually be distributed to the farmers. Furthermore, the farm workers have paid for the value of the land through their sweat and blood, working on the estate for several decades without receiving any of the supposed fruits of their labor. Over the years, the Cojuangco’s got richer and the farm workers were mired deeper in destitution. There is therefore nothing just in paying the Cojuangco’s P4.335 billion which will come from public funds and the pockets of the long-exploited farm workers. The farmers demand that the land be distributed for free.
  2. The SC decision did not rule that the Stock Distribution Option scheme was unconstitutional. Only Chief Justice Renato Corona supported this opinion. It would have been a landmark victory for thousands of other farmers nationwide if the SDO itself, this loophole in the agrarian reform program of the first Aquino regime, was altogether junked. The SDO has been abused by big landlords who wanted to evade land reform and actual land distribution. Instead of actual land distribution, farmers are swindled through shares of stock.
  3. The SC decision exempted the 500 hectare land purchased by RCBC. This is controversial because RCBC knew that the land in question was the subject of an agrarian dispute, yet it entered into a transaction with the Luisita management to acquire the land. They claimed that they were “innocent purchasers” but facts will reveal that RCBC , Luisita Industrial Park Corporation (a subsidiary of HLI) and Centennary Holdings had interlocking directors or officials. There is also the land conversion order which reclassified this supposedly agricultural land. The HLI management of course earned a hefty sum from this sale.
  4. The SC decision exempted more than 1,000 hectares of land from the coverage of land reform.  Farmers and their lawyers have challenged the basis of this exemption and have pushed that land reform cover at least 6,443 hectares.
  5. The P1.3 billion payment by management to the farmers from the earnings of land sale (RCBC, SCTEX) will still be subjected to a lot of accounting wizardry. This amount can still go down if HLI shows that it spent the money for legitimate corporate expenses and taxes.

This is not a victory for CARPER. Quite the opposite, what happens in the next few months will show that CARPER will make genuine land reform even more difficult, nay impossible.

It now lies with the collective struggle of the farmers to ensure that their legal victory will truly be beneficial for all farmer beneficiaries.

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REVISITING THE DAY WE SAID NO! TO UNCLE SAM

Posted on 17 September 2011 by admin

by
Roland G. Simbulan
University of the Philippines

Grande Island, Subic, Sept. 12 –  It is drizzling Monday afternoon, the ocean water in Subic Bay is choppy all around Grande Island which on the google map seems to guard the entrance of Subic Bay from South China Sea. At least 25 ships, mostly commercial and container vessels float on the waters inside the Bay. A large tanker, with the markings NYK Hinode, floats near the Hanjin Heavy Industries Shipyards. More than 20 years ago when Subic was still the United States’ largest naval base outside U.S. territory, such a scene was unthinkable. For Subic, and Subic Bay for that matter, was an exclusive enclave for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. 7th Fleet that operated in the Western Pacific. Commercial and civilian vessels were then not allowed inside Subic Bay.

Unthinkable before, because the very spot where I am standing at Grande Island used to be off limits to Filipinos. Grande Island back then was exclusively for the “Rest and Recreation” of U.S. military servicemen. Now, Grande Island is a Filipino resort with classy hotels seen clearly from the shorelines of the communities around the bay.  From Grande Island, one can see huge orange and white cranes and floating drydocks of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) ready to service visiting ships to unload their cargo and container vans or to repair commercial vessels from all countries of the world.

September 16, 2011 this year, marks the 20th anniversary of the historic rejection of the bases treaty, or to be accurate, the non-concurrence by the Philippine Senate of the proposed treaty that was to extend the U.S. bases for another 10 years after the expiration of the 1947 RP-U.S. Military Bases Agreement. That was a historical feat because it marked the shutting down and dismantling of the largest U.S. overseas military naval and air force bases that were located on Philippine soil since 1901. And the U.S. was still back then,  unquestionably the strongest economic and military superpower in the world. Filipino nationalists consider that day as historically significant because it marked the end of 470 years of foreign military base and troops’ presence on Philippine soil, which began during Spanish colonization and extended almost permanently during the American colonial period and beyond Philippine independence in 1946. It was a proud moment for the Philippines that many people in Japan, South Korea and in many places where there are still foreign military bases and foreign troops, want to learn from and replicate.

This is why Filipino nationalists and the nationalist movement in general have long considered foreign bases presence as antithetical to independence. They were the most visible physical symbols of continuing colonialism and farce independence: Immediately after our 1946 independence and under the 1947 US-RP Military Bases Agreement, an estimated 250,000  hectares of arable lands with rich agricultural and mineral potential in 23 bases in 13 provinces —prime real estate– were placed under the exclusive and absolute control of the U.S. government. The original agreement was for the rent-free use of our territory, for 99 years, later to be shortened in negotiations to expire in 1991. It was as if these lands were carved out and seceded from our sovereign control, making a travesty of our independence.

Arguments during the debates on the future of the U.S. bases in the Philippines inside and outside the Senate more than 20 years ago focused on the economic and security issues.

Economic Issues

When the U.S. military bases and facilities were pulled out from the Philippines 20 years ago, some people predicted economic ruin for the country and security fears for the nation.  I even remember the threat of then U.S. Ambassador Nicolas Platt when he said at the height of the bases debates that ” foreign investments would dry up and the economy would collapse if the U.S. bases pulled out.” Instead, the former U.S. base lands today have become linchpins of economic growth in the country. This is the “peace dividend” that has lured businesses to set up shop in the former bases, including the South Korean Hanjin Heavy Industries, which has made the former U.S. military facilities one of the fastest-growing employers in their respective regions. Today, the former U.S. military bases in the country are reported to employ almost more than four times the number of Filipino workers that the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force employed at their Vietnam War peak, and has brought in more than P17-19 billion in revenues into the national treasury.

The Gordon family who were once the most die hard defenders of the U.S.bases when they dominated politics in Olongapo (and still do) are now the first to admit that “the Philippines has one of the best experiences in bases conversion if not one of the most successful base conversion of a foreign military base”, as former Olongapo Mayor and former SBMA administrator Richard Gordon would state in a 1996 interview with a national daily.  In fact, the former U.S. bases have become symbols of economic resurgence for the country such that, during the Presidency of Fidel V. Ramos, Subic was chosen as the site to host the Asia Pacific Economic Council(APEC) meeting of heads of state.

Security Issues

As for the security issues, the Philippine dismantling of the U.S. military bases in the Western Pacific was actually our contribution to the ending of the Cold War in our part of the world. For the U.S. bases were in fact the most visible vestiges of the Cold War in the Asia Pacific, used by the Pentagon for its aggressive gunboat diplomacy in the Korean peninsula, as launching pads for military intervention during the Vietnam War and as springboards for intervention against countries like Iran and other countries in the Middle East.

The “peace dividend” that accompanied this decision was that after we removed the bases here, we could now secure better relations with ALL our neighbors and not be held hostage by being host to a superpower that dragged us into its military interventions and possibly, made us a magnet for attacks as during World War II, when the U.S. bases here were the first targets by the Japanese Imperial Army. But the country without the U.S. bases must also be able to develop its external defense capability both in terms of modernizing its national defense forces and multilateral diplomatic initiatives to defend national interests and sovereignty. This is to deserve its truly sovereign status like our smaller neighbors like Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam and Burma, especially in dealing with claimants to the Spratlys such as China. It must also learn to deal on its own with its internal armed conflicts and peace and order threats such as the Abu Sayaff, without relying on the almost-permanently-based covert operatives of the U.S. Special Operations Forces which we have invited here under the cover of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

And what was the role of the Mt. Pinatubo factor in the outcome of the issue of the bases?  Believe it or not as if it was a god sent act,  Mt. Pinatubo volcano erupted on June 12, 1991, the very day of Independence of the Philippines in the revolution against Spain. In reality, the Pinatubo factor made it more difficult for the anti-bases senators to argue against the immediate bases termination. It reduced the number of anti-bases Senators from 19 to 12 Senators because of the perceived hardships and dislocations in Central Luzon brought about by Pinatubo,  though 12 was still a safe number to reject the proposed new bases treaty.

Pentagon’s desperation to keep forward bases

The Pentagon, despite their temporary withdrawal of Clark Air Bases within three hours just before the Mt. Pinatubo eruption (they had claimed during the bases negotiations that it would take them at least 10 years to withdraw any large base), still wanted to keep their remaining forward-deployed bases in the country very badly.  Beyond 1991, they wanted desperately to keep 14,698 hectares: Clark Air Base, Subic Naval Base, John Hay Base in Baguio City, O’Donnel Transmitter Station in Tarlac, Wallace Air Station in Poro Point, La Union, the San Miguel Communications Station, and the Capas Naval Transmitter Station. But no amount of political pressure on the 12 Senators, now referred to as the “Magnificent 12″ could change their minds. For prior to this decision, the Senate had passed seven resolutions against U.S. bases and nuclear weapons with 19 Senators consistently signing these. Here, we must give credit to then presidentiables Senators Aquilino Pimentel and especially Senate President Jovito Salonga who sacrificed their presidential plans by taking a historic stand that clearly defied U.S. strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region. For Salonga’s Liberal Party, it was really a good chance to clear the party’s name of the stigma of being initially a pro-U.S. party, for it was the LP-dominated government of then Pres. Manuel Roxas that signed the U.S.-RP Military Bases Agreement in 1947.

Leadership Role of Senate

The Senate clearly took a leadership role in directing us towards a sovereign Philippine foreign policy in accordance to our 1987 Constitution when it made its Sept. 16 decision to close down the bases. This decision even defied mainstream public opinion 20 years ago, which generally favored the retention of the U.S. bases.The Senate decided that it was the right decision to make and in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution, and that the people would eventually realize that it was the right thing to do. Guiding the Senate’s vote to dismantle the bases were state policies such as “the State shall pursue an independent foreign policy…in its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination”. There was also the new constitutional policy that the Philippines, “consistent with the national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.” The latter Charter provision was consistent with at the seven UN-initiated treaties that the country had signed against ” the deployment of nuclear weapons and foreign military forces” in other regions of the world including those nuclear weapons and bases “deployed in outer space, the moon and other planets.”

Overall, public opinion today as expressed in leading opinion surveys is such that the Senate decision was the right but difficult decision. Except in the honky tonk community of barangay Barreto along the Olongapo national highway, which is frequented by American and Australian expats. This is where some bars with teasing names like “Wet Spot Bar”, “Corkscrew”, “Lips (Upper and Lower)”, etc. still welcome visiting U.S. troops on brief goodwill visits or during Balikatan exercises under the terms of the VFA . Critics claim that the latter  is a camouflage seeking to restore U.S. military presence in a new form. Many bars and nightclubs in Barreto are said to be owned by Australians and Americans who have long retired from the U.S. armed forces after being assigned to the Philippines. Barrio Barreto residents say that only last July, a visiting U.S. naval vessel docked at Subic and its crew of U.S. servicemen went to the bars to be entertained but with an early evening curfew. A nightclub in Barreto even still has a big streamer in front that says, U.S. TROOPS WELCOME!  At the Perimeter Road at Balibago, Angeles along the side of former Clark Air Base, the same mood still exists where aging foreign expats, now living in the country, can be seen walking in their slippers as if nothing had changed. But it has changed.

R.M. Magsaysay Avenue, once referred to by writers as “the Avenue of Broken Dreams”, which fronts the main gate of the former Subic Naval Base, now looks much different from the time when the whole avenue was saturated with seedy “ago go” bars, massage parlors and “rest and recreation” restaurants waiting to satisfy the sex-hundry U.S. Navy men leaving the base for their brief leave furlough. Now, the Olongapo City Mall stands tall right outside the former base gate, teeming with locals and students who patronize the fast food and appliance centers, as well as the vendors selling cheap China products and pirated DVDs.  The American Legion office and its pub in Magsaysay Avenue, now barely has any visitors, according to a cigarette vendor nearby that this author talked to.

While the level of military prostitution enhanced by the former U.S. bases’ presence has been diminished, prostitution and violation of children’s rights has not really been eradicated since the national economy to which the bases economy has been integrated, continues to be characterized by the unequal distribution of wealth where more than 65% of Filipinos live below poverty line. With the signing of the 1999 VFA and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement in 2001, units of U.S. military personnel are back to exploit and take advantage of the poverty of Filipina women and children.   Which gives us the lesson that political independence has to be sustained and consolidated by economic sovereignty.

Farmers and indigenous peoples are still disallowed from their claims for inclusion of the former base lands in agrarian reform, and in the ancestral domain as in the case of the Aeta people. The former bases have been blatantly excluded from the government’s agrarian reform program, allowing only the rich local and foreign investors to pour in money to develop the fertile baselands. Landless Filipino farmers continue to be denied the use of the former baselands for agriculture, thus preventing the bases’ transformation from “weapons” use into “ploughshares.”

I always like to tell my visiting Japanese and South Korean academic and activist friends who visit to learn about our bases conversion experience that in the Philippine experience, bases conversion, while initially open to local participation in the bases communities, later was tailored to the elite-based decision-making prevailing in the national economy. Thus, I say, there is the continuing clash between the people’s base conversion strategy and the elite-dominated national economic strategy and system.  Their potential for growth as commercial business enclaves today however, show potential under a neoliberal economic regime that continues to grow. Military buildings and ammunition storage had been transformed into factories,  commercial offices, recreational and sports facilities, schools including a branch of the University of the Philippines, Ateneo and other schools at both Clark and Subic. There are zoos such as the Zoobic Safari, civilian airports, aviaries, and so many hotels and restaurants. In short, I tell our Japanese and Korean foreign friends who are so awed by our feat of kicking out the bases that our lesson here is that, THERE IS LIFE AFTER THE U.S. BASES. But the continuing challenge is how to make it a pro-Filipino and pro-poor economic conversion and development.

Today, what used to be the command headquarters building of the Subic Base commander, is now used as the corporate offices of the SBMA, an authority that was created by law to spearhead the conversion of the former U.S. naval base into the commercial free port and special economic zone that it is today.  One of the largest Philippine flags that I have seen flies proudly over the flagpole in front of the SBMA corporate building. And just below the flagpole are the commemorative palm prints and names of the “MAGNIFICENT 12 SENATORS” who made Sept. 16 possible. But it was the Filipino people, in their long struggle and sacrifices with so many freedom fighters and martyrs, who made the Sept. 16 rebirth possible and the Senate action was really a reaffirmation of that aspiration that is now articulated in the 1987 Constitution.

As I walk barefoot and leave footprints on the sand along the beautiful coastlines of the Grande Island beach resort at Subic, I wonder what it was like then when only Filipino waiters and servants could enter these exclusive places to serve American military personnel and their families. I am just glad that that very gross travesty of Philippine independence had been ended 20 years ago.

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Lessons from September 16

Posted on 15 September 2011 by admin

Streetwise
By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

When I am asked here or abroad what are the two outstanding achievements of the Philippine mass movement in the 20th century, without thinking twice I declare it is the ouster of the dictator Marcos through a people’s uprising in 1986 and the booting out of US military bases through the Philippine Senate rejection of a new treaty in 1991.

Today marks the 20th year of the RP-US Bases Treaty rejection and it is worthwhile to celebrate and be proud of this shining accomplishment.

We Filipinos did it through consistent struggle, through the mass movement that spanned more than half a century (counting the anti-colonial struggles of the 30’s) and the forging of the broadest anti-bases formations that delivered the coup de grace to this glaring vestige of US colonialism in Asia.  Against the unrelenting efforts by the US and President Cory Aquino to simultaneously cajole and pressure the Senate, 12 senators stood up for national sovereignty and the larger national interest.

BAYAN convened a few days ago, September 14, a gathering of Filipino nationalists — young and not-so-young, street parliamentarians and activist legislators as well as veteran and budding progressive artists — for a forum to rededicate themselves to the cause of freedom from foreign, specifically, US military presence.

According to Prof. Roland Simbulan, “(T)he non-concurrence by the Philippine Senate of the proposed treaty that was to extend the U.S. bases for another 10 years after the expiration of the 1947 RP-U.S. Military Bases Agreement…was a historic feat because it marked the shutting down and dismantling of the largest U.S. overseas military naval and air force bases that were located on Philippine soil since 1901.”

Nathanael Santiago, BAYAN Deputy Secretary-General during this tumultuous period attributed the resounding victory to four major factors: 1) the persistent and painstaking efforts to awaken nationalist and anti-imperialist sentiments among the people; 2) the struggle to overthrow the US-backed Marcos dictatorship; 3) the unification and mobilization of the broadest array of anti-bases, anti-nukes and anti-treaty forces; and 4) the sustained political campaign that saw huge and militant demonstrations attesting to growing public opinion against the bases.

Senator Wigberto Tañada, staunchest of the 12 senators who voted down the bases treaty, recounted how they were derided by pro-bases quarters as the “Dirty Dozen”.  After the vote, they were toasted by the media and the general public as the “Magnificent 12” who took that fateful stand and struck the chord for national independence and sovereignty.

Mr. Tañada told the gathering of his proudest moment when his then ailing father, the venerable nationalist, Senator Lorenzo Tañada, sat in a wheelchair in the Senate gallery during the suspenseful vote to witness and take part in the victory of the lofty cause he had fought so hard to attain since the 1950s.

But he categorically concluded that the fight did not end twenty years ago. The Cold War vintage Mutual Defense Treaty and The RP-US Military Assistance Pact together with  the post-bases treaty Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Mutual Logistics and Support Arrangement (MLSA) remain and must be abrogated.

These provide the legal and political infrastructure to justify and pave the way for the permanent presence of hundreds of US troops; the prepositioning of US armaments, war vessels and aircraft and related equipment; year-round cooperation between US and Philippine Armed Forces ostensibly for training and joint exercises and civil military operations under the cover of humanitarian assistance and peace and development projects.

Current BAYAN Secretary General, Renato Reyes, titled his presentation “It’s like they never left”.  He expounded on how the US and all the post-bases regimes – Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo and now Benigno Aquino – conspired to ensure the virtual return of US military bases in a form more pernicious and more of an affront to Philippine sovereignty than ever before.

He cited the VFA and MLSA as legal instruments that allow the stationing of US troops and war materiel in Philippine territory with very little regulation and oversight.  He decried the fact that the VFA has an unspecified duration; does not specify or limit the number of troops allowed entry into the Philippines; does not specify or limit the areas in the Philippines that the “visiting” troops can access; and does not specify or limit the activities of the “visiting” troops.

The MLSA on the other hand allows the US Armed Force to access and utilize a wide-array of services for its civil-military operations from the Philippines as host country without having to set up the requisite physical and personnel infrastructure.

In short, “US troops are back and are digging in.”

The US has in fact established the US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) that is headquartered in the Western Mindanao Command’s Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.  The activities of the JSOTF-P are kept from the public eye and access to its headquarters is highly restricted even for Philippine military and civilian officials.  Moreover, the JSOTF-P is a ubiquitous presence especially in Western Mindanao where it partners with the USAID to spearhead civil-military operations under the auspices of the so-called Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) programs.

Recently Wikileaks released a US embassy cable dated April 2007 explicitly describing the Philippines as “currently the focal point of our counterterrorism fight in the region”.   It proposes five projects in Southwestern Mindanao for “dual-use” facilities, i.e. useful both for military and civilian purposes.   This revelation provides concrete examples and proof of continuing and permanent US military presence and activity in the Philippines twenty years after the Filipino people expelled the US bases from Philippine territory.

So far, the Aquino regime has not taken a single step, not even uttered a single word in the direction of reclaiming the victory marked by September 16, 1991.  In this regard President Benigno Aquino is following closely his mother’s subservient example.

Clearly, while the September 16 Senate vote was historic because it capped the victory of the decades-long struggle for sovereignty and against US bases, it was by no means the end of the struggle.

For so long as the country is ruled by a political elite beholden to the US, who cannot shake off the US economic shackles and who can only find security under the protection of a foreign military power that it calls an “ally”, the lessons of the anti-bases struggle retain their relevance and power to inspire a new generation of Filipino nationalists and anti-imperialists. #

Published in Business World
16-27 September 2011

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Mamamayan ang mapagpasya! Balik-tanaw sa pagpapatalsik sa US bases

Posted on 15 September 2011 by admin


(Ang papel na ito ay tinalakay ni Nathanael S. Santiago, pangkalahatang Kalihim ng Bayan Muna at Makabayan sa pagdiriwang sa ika-20 taong anibersaryo ng matagumpay na pagpapatalsik ng mga base militar ng US sa Pilipinas na inorganisa ng BAYAN sa UP Malcol Hall)

Mayroong kasabihan noon, “mapapatalsik ang pangulo ng Pilipinas ngunit hindi ang mga base militar ng US sa bansa”.  Nagmumula ito sa pagtingin na grabe ang kapangyarihan ng US. Nadidiktahan ng US ang gubyerno natin. Kontrolado ng US ang mahahalagang bahagi ng ating ekonomya. Namamayani ang kaisipang kolonyal.

Noong Setyembre 16, 1991, nangyari ang wari’y imposible. Nagapi ng makabayang kilusan ang pinagsamang pwersa ng US, gubyernong Cory Aquino, militar at malalaking negosyo. Walang nagawa ang panunuhol, presyur at pananakot. Sa lakas ng agos ng makabayang sentimyento, mga protesta at aksyong masa, itinakwil ng Senado sa botong 12-11, ang US-RP military bases agreement.

Nagtangka pa ang gubyernong US at Aquino na magmaniobra sa anyo ng panukalang referendum, 7-taong withdrawal, 3-5 taong phase out. Ayaw talaga nilang bitawan ang US bases laluna ang higanteng Clark Air Base at Subic Naval Base. Ngunit itinumba ang lahat ng ito ng higit na malakas na agos ng makabayang sentimyento matapos ang pagtatakwil ng Senado sa US bases treaty. Katapusan ng taong 1992, umalis ang huling tropang Amerikano lulan ng US warship Bettan Wood.

Ano ang saligang aral na mahahango natin sa laban sa base militar ng US? Makapangyarihan ang US. Superpower nga ang bansag sa US. Pero higit na makapangyarihan ang mamamayan. Kapag sila ay namulat at sama-samang lumaban, magagapi kahit ang kapangyarihan ng US.

Sa paggunita sa ika-20 taon ng makasaysayang araw na iyon, kinikilala natin ang makasaysayang pagtindig sa panig ng bayan ng tinawag na manificent 12 – Palakpakan natin sina Sen. Teofisto Guingona, Rene Saguisag, Victor Ziga, Sotero Laurel, Ernesto Maceda, Agapito Aquino,  Orlando Mercado, Aquilino Pimentel, Juan Ponce Enrile at Joseph Estrada. Mas malakas na palakpakan kina Senador Wigberto “Ka Bobby” Tanada at Senate President Jovito Salonga.

Walang isang tao o grupo ang pwedeng umangkin sa makasaysayang tagumpay laban sa US bases. Sa ultimo ang tagumpay ay tagumpay ng mamamayan nakipaglaban para sa pambansang kasarinlan.

Kinikilala natin kung gayon ang libu-libong mamamayan na nag-ambag ng lakas, talino at panahon para mangyari ang Setyembre 16. Bigyan natin ng palakpakan mga sumusunod – ang mga gerilya at makabayan ng Gitnang Luzon na lumaban sa pagbabalik ng mga Amerikano; gayundin sina Senador Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tanada at Jose Diokno; sina Satur Ocampo, Renato Constantino, Ambrosio Padilla; ang pinakamatalim na kalaban ng imperyalismong US, si Jose Maria Sison, ang Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army at National Democratic Front; ang mga lumahok sa Sigwa ng Unang Kwarto; ang mga nangahas lumaban at nagpabagsak sa diktadurang US-Marcos.

Palakpakan natin ang progresibong bloke ng Constitutional Commission sa pangunguna nina Atty. Senseng Suarez at Lino Brocka; sina Prof. Roland Simbulan, Capt. Danilo Vizmanos, RC Constantino at Cookie Diokno; sina Lean Alejandro, Felixberto at Rolando Olalia at Crispin Beltran; sina Sen. Nikki Coseteng, Nelia Sancho, Sr, Mary John Mananzan, Liza Maza; ang malalapad na kilusan, Nuclear Free Philippines Coalition, Anti-Bases Coalition, Anti-Baseng Kilusang Demokratiko at Anti-Treaty Movement; At syempre, ang pumagitna at nanguna sa pukpukang laban mula 1985 hanggang 1991, ang Bagong Alyansang Makabayan; at ang lahat ng kasaping organisasyon ng BAYAN.

Pinakamatunog na palakpakan sa mga martir at bayani ng kilusang makabayan.

Sa kabuuan, pinamunuan ng kilusang pambansa demokratikong ang matagumpay na laban sa base militar. Inilatag ng mga pambansang demokrata ang kumprehensibo at matalas na pagsusuri sa base militar at imperyalismong US bilang pangunahing kaaway ng sambayanan at ang ugnayan nito sa suliranin ng  pyudalismo, burukrata-kapitalismo at pasismo. Naging pinakamasugid at pinakapuspusang kaaway ng base militar at imperyalismong US ang kilusang pambansa demokratiko.

Ang tagumpay laban sa base militar ay hindi nakuha overnight. Hindi ito produkto ng ilang buwang kampanya. Ang tagumpay ay kumulatibong produkto ng kalahating siglong tuluy-tuloy na pagmumulat, pagbubuo ng pagkakaisa at pakikibaka laban sa base militar ng mga pambansang demokrata at mga alyado nito.

Ang tagumpay ay kumulatibong epekto ng apat na salik.

  1. Masikhay at makabayang pagmumulat sa mamamayan
  2. Pakikibaka at pagpapabagsak sa diktadurang US-Marcos
  3. Pagbubuo at pagkilos na malawak na hanay na anti-bases, anti-nukes at anti-treaty
  4. Sustinidong kampanya, mga militante at malalaking aksyong masa laban sa base militar

Masikhay na pagmumulat sa mamamayan

Susi sa tagumpay ng paglaban sa US bases ang pagmumulat sa mamamayan. Hindi madali ang pagmumulat dahil kontrolado ng US at maka-US ang sistema ng edukasyon, mas midya at malalaking grupong relihiyoso. Sa pasimula, pabor sa pananatili ng US bases ang malaking mayorya ng mamamayan, iilan pa lang ang mulat at tutol dito.

Mula tuwirang kolonyal na paghahari noong 1899, itinatag ng US ang malakolonyal na paghahari  sa bansa pagpasok ng taong 1946. Tiniyak ng US ang patuloy na kontrol sa ating ekonomya sa pamamagitan ng Bell Trade Act na naglalaman ng Parity Rights. Pinagtibay ito ng Kongreso noong Hulyo 2, 1946.

Noong Marso 4, 1947 nilagdaan ang US-RP Military Bases Agreement para sa US bases at facilities sa 23 lugar sa loob ng 99 taon.  Binigyan ng extraterritoriality ang US sa naturang mga base, ibig, sabihin teritoryo at nakapailalim soberenya at batas ng US ang mga ito. Pinakamalaki at pinakaestratehikong ang Clark Air Base sa Pampanga at Subic Naval Base sa Zambales.  Noong Agosto 30, 1951 pinirmahan ang Mutual Defense Treaty.

Kinailangang bakbakin ng mga progresibo ang mga kasinungalingan ng US at mga propagandista nito. Kailangang ipakita hindi lang higit ang pinsala sa soberenya, seguridad, kapayapaan, kababaihan at mga bata at kalikasan kaysa sa pakinabang  sa pananatli ng US bases; kahit ang pakinabang ay palamuti o panloloko lamang. Ano ang mga tampok na kasinungalingan?

  1. Magkapareho daw ang interes ng US at Pilipinas at pareho ang ating kalaban. Ang problema maraming inaapi at nagiging kalabang bansa ng US. Ang Pilipinas, wala!
  2. Sasakupin daw tayo ng Unyong Sobyet. Deterrent daw ang US bases sa pananalakay militar at nukleyar ng ibang bansa. Sa kabaliktaran, magnet sa atake ng mga kalaban ng US. Hindi ba’t unang inatake ng Japan ang US bases?
  3. Bagbagsak daw ang ekonomya ng Gitnang Luzon at Pilipinas kung aalisin ang US bases. May 20 taon ng napaalis ang base militar, nangyari ba ito?
  4. Kailangan daw ang US bases para sa modernization ng AFP. Ilang dekada na ang US bases,  namodernisa ba ang AFP? Mas importanteng punto, modernisasyon laban kanino – laban sa mga Pilipinong nakikibaka para sa kasarinlan at demokrasya?

Napakarami pang propaganda at kasinungalingan ang binakbak natin noon.

Nailantad natin ang totoo. Ang base militar ay kasangkapan ng US para protektahan ang kanyang pang-ekonomyang interes at pampulitikang dominasyon sa Pilipinas at daigdig at bilang lunsaran ng panghihimasok ng US sa Pilipinas, Tsina at iba pang bansa. Kailangan ng US ang base militar gaya ng kailangan ng magnanakaw ng baril na itututok sa kanyang biktima.

Dapat ipaglaban ng mamamayan ang pambansang kasarinlan at demokrasya kung nais nitong lumaya sa dayuhang mananakop. Kailangang makintal ang makabayang kamalayan at diwang palaban upang mapag-isa at mapakilos ang mamamayan.

Mamayagpag ang kaisipang kolonyal kung hindi babakbakin ang kasinungalingan at hindi ilalantad ang  malakolonyal na relasyon ng US at Pilipinas at ang salot na hatid ng US bases. Dapat ding ipakita na kayang tumindig at umunlad ng bansa kahit wala na ang US bases. Higit pa, kailangan mulatin ang malaking mayorya ng mamamayan sa mapagsamantala at mapang-aping katangian ng imperyalismo at sa pangangailangang wakasan ang dominasyon ng imperyalismong US sa bansa.

Maitatala sa kasaysayan na nag-ambag sa makabayang pagmumulat ang mga akda ni Jose Maria Sison laluna ang Struggle for National Democracy at Philippine Society and Revolution, ang mga talumpati at sulatin nina Senador Recto, Tanada. Diokno, Constantino, ang Bases of our Insecurity ni Prof. Roland Simbulan, ang mga pulyeto, praymer,  lathalain ng iba’t-ibang lihim at hayag na organisasyon, mga makabayang tula, pinta, awit, sayaw, stageplay, pelikula at iba pang likhang sining.

Nagbunga ang di mabilang na mga pagbabasa at pag-aaral, mga discussion groups, room-to-room, house-to-house, forum, symposium, pulong bayan, misang bayan, teatrong bayan, konsyerto, mga kulturang pagtatanghal. Kung walang pagmumulat sa pagiging makabayan, mamayagpag ang kaisipang kolonyal sa panahon ng makasaysayang araw ng Setyembre 16.

Lumaki at lumakas ang pwersa ng pagtutol at paglaban bunga ng mga inilantad na isyu laban sa base militar at ng pagkamulat ng mamamayan.

Sa katunayan, maraming rebisyon ang isinagawa sa US-RP MBA para pahupain ang mga pagtutol at protesta laban sa US at base militar nito.

Talaan ng rebisyon ng US-RP MBA sa gitna ng lumalakas na pagtutol ng mamamayan:

Dec. 5,1956 Naobliga ang US na pormal na kilalanin ang soberenya ng Pilipinas sa 23 base at instalasyong militar sa naganap na Garcia-Bendetsen conference
Oct. 28, 1959 Ginawa ang turn-over ng Olongapo bilang bahagi ng teritoryo ng Pilipinas.
Aug. 10, 1965 Pumayag ang US na irenounce exclusive jurisdiction nito sa mga krimen sa loob ng US bases at nagbuo ng joint criminal jurisdiction committee.
Sept. 16, 1966 Pinaiksi ng Ramos-Rusk agreement sa 25 taon termino ng bases treaty.
1979 Pormal na ipinailalim sa Filipino base commander ang Clark at Subic. Itinirik ang bandila ng Pilipinas. Rebyu tuwing 5 taon.
1983 Nabuo ang kasunduan na magbibigay ng $900 M best effort security assistance ang US sa Pilipinas
1988 Itinaas sa $482M kada taon hanggang 1991 ang security assistance sa ilalim ng Manglapus-Shultz Agreement.

Gayunman, pinanatili sa saligan ang walang patumanggang paggamit ng pwersang militar ng US sa mga base at instalasyon sa bansa. Dahil sa matalas na paglalantad at pagmumulat, nawalang bisa ang panlilinlang ng mga renegosasyon at rebisyon. Lalo pang dumami ang namulat at tumutol.

Pakikibaka at tagumpay laban sa diktadurang US-Marcos

Mahalagang salik ng tagumpay ang magiting at matagumpay na pakikibaka ng mamamayan laban sa pasistang diktadurang US-Marcos. Inugnay ng mga progresibo ang pakikibaka laban sa  diktadurang Marcos at pagsuporta ng US sa diktadura para panatiliin ang mga base militar nito.

Mulat at mahusay na naikawing ng kilusang pambansa demokratiko kapwa ang pakikibaka at pagbubuo ng nagkakaisang hanay laban sa pasismo sa pakikibaka laban sa imperyalismong US at sa pyudalismo bilang panlipunang base ng imperyalismo.

Ipinataw ni Marcos ang batas militar para ibayong  magkamal ng yaman at kapangyarihan para sa sarili, mga kroni at imperyalismong US. Todong inayudahan ng US ang diktadurang Marcos para mapanatili ang base militar at pang-ekonomyang kontrol sa Pilipinas.

Hindi lang masa at panggitnanng pwersa, marami-raming elemento ng naghaharing uri na anti-Marcos ang nagbukas ng isip o nakumbinsi na hindi lang diktadurang Marcos ang dapat patalsikin kundi pati ang US bases. Gayunman, mas maraming elemento pa rin ng naghaharing uri ang naghahabol na kunin ang suporta ng US para sila ang ihalili kay Marcos, kapalit ang pananatili ng mga base mlitar ng US.

Sa katunayan, si Cory Aquino ay pumirma noong 1984 sa kasunduan ng isang Convenors’ Group na ang isang panawagan ay paalisin ang mga base militar matapos ang Setyembre 1991. Ngunit binawi niya ito matapos magmaniobra ang US na gawin siyang manok panabong kay Marcos.

Nang mapatalsik ang diktadurang Marcos, nangampanya ang Bayan, Partido ng Bayan at Campaign for Sovereign Philippines na ipasok sa Saligang Batas ang prubisyon na hindi na ieextend ang bases treaty at aalisin na ang US bases sa taong 1991.

Sa dikta ng gubyernong US at Aquino, tinanggihan ng mayorya ng Constitutional Commission ang naturang panukala. Sa halip, inilagay sa Konstitusyon, Seksyon 24, Arikulo 18, ang prubisyong nagbubukas sa ekstensyon ng mga base militar pagkatapos ng 1991.

Gayunman, nagamit natin kinalaunan ang sekundaryong aspeto ng prubisyon, ang tuwirang pagbabawal sa armas nukleyar at ang pag-aalis sa mga base militar maliban magkaroon ng panibagong tratado na pagtitibayin ng Senado.

Pagbubuo ng mga alyansa laban sa base militar

Importanteng salik din sa tagumpay ang pagbubuo at pagkilos ng iba’t-ibang tipo at anyo ng alyansa laban sa base militar at imperyalismong US. Sa mga alyansa, pormal at di pormal, nagtutulungan ang   mga manggagawa, magsasaka, petiburgesyang lunsod, pambansang burgesya at hindi iilang elemento ng naghaharing uri na kontra-nukleyar o kontra sa base militar.

Hayaan niyong pasadahan ko ang ilang tampok na alyansang may pambansang katangian.

Taong 1946 nakapagpanalo ng anim na kongresista ang Democratic Alliance na binubuo ng lumang Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas at Nacionalista Party ni Sergio Osmena. Ngunit diniskwalipika at hinarangan ang pag-upo ng anim sa Kongreso para maipapasa ng gubyernong US at Roxas ang Bell Trade Act at Parity Rights.

Mula 1949, nanguna si Sen. Claro M. Recto, kumatawan sa mithiin ng pambansang burgesya, sa pag-atake sa US-RP MBA, Mutual Defense Treaty at Parity Rights. Naging katuwang niya si Sen. Lorenzo Tanada sa pagbubuo ng Nationalist Citizen’s Party na sumabak at natalo sa halalang panguluhan noong 1957.

Itinatag noong Pebrero 8, 1967 ang Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism na nanguna sa malawak na hanay laban sa base militar at imperyalismong US. Pinamunuan ang MAN ni Sen. Tanada bilang tagapangulo at ni Prof. Sison bilang pangkalahatang kalihim.

Disyembre 26, 1968 at Marso 21, 1969, muling itinatag ang PKP at ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan. Noong Abril 24, 1973, pinasinayaan ang National Democratic Front. Isinulong ng CPP-NPA-NDF ang armadong rebolusyon laban sa imperyalismong US at papet na estado nito.

Noong 26, 1981, pinanguluhan ni Sen. Tanada ang pagtatatag Nuclear Free Philippines Coalition.  Noong 1984, naganap ang kauna-unahang matagumpay na welgang bayan sa Bataan bilang protesta sa pagtatayo ng Bataan Nulear Power Plant sa prubinsya. Iniugnay ang protesta sa paglaban sa US bases.

Noong 1983, pinamunuan ni Sen. Jose Diokno at kasunod ng anak niyang si Cookie ang Anti-Bases Coalition. Sinamahan ito nina Sen. Tanada, JBL Reyes, Salvador Lopez at mga progresibo.

Matapos patayin si Sen. Ninoy Aquino noong Agosto 21, 1983, nagkaroon ng daluyong ang malalaking kilos-protesta. Naglitawan ang iba’t-ibang organisasyon ng batayang masa, panggitnang pwersa at reaksyunaryong anti-Marcos. Nagkaroon ng iba’t-ibang inisyatiba para buuin ang iba’t-ibang alyansa laban sa diktadurang Marcos at laban sa suporta ng US sa diktadura.

Naging aktibo ang mga progresibo sa pagbubuo at pagpapalakas ng Lakas ng Bayan. Nagsanib ang Pwersa ng Demokratikong Pilipino at Laban. Naglabas ang PDP-Laban ng pusisyon pabor sa pagpapaalis ng US bases.

Taong 1984 nang tipunin ang Convenors Group nina Tanada, Jaime Ongpin at Cory Aquino upang  magbalakangkas ng programa ng pagkilos at alternatibo laban sa diktadurang Marcos. Bahagi ng programa na pinagkaisahan ang pag-aalis ng US bases. Nireject ni Doy Laurel, isa sa nangungunang presidentiable, ang Convenors Group dahil sa pusisyong anti-bases. Umatras si Aquino sa pusisyong anti-bases nang kausapin ito ng US at magdeklara ng pagtakbo noong Dec. 1985 sa snap presidential election laban kay Marcos.

Binuo noong 1984 ng mga pambansang demokrata kasama ng mga demokratikong liberal ang National Alliance for Justice Freedom.

Noong Mayo 5, 1985, itinatag ang ngayo’s pinakamalakas at militanteng alyansa sa bansa, ang Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Binuo ng BAYAN, iba pang blokeng pulitikal at ni Sen Tanada at RC Constantino. noong 1988 ang Anti-Baseng Kilusang Demokratiko. Pinayungan nito ang paglaban sa panahon ng review ng US-RP Military Bases Agreement. Noong 1989, nagdeklara si Sen. Joseph Estrada na sasamahan niya sina Sen. Salonga at Tanada sa paglaban sa US bases. Nasurpresa ang di iilan, sa pagtindig ni Sen. Enrile laban sa panibagong US bases treaty.

Noong 1991 nabuo ang pinakamalawak na alyansa, anti-treaty movement, sa panahon na nagaganap ang negosasyon ng guybernong US at Pilipinas para sa panibagong US bases treaty. Tuwiran o di man tuwiran, naging bahagi ng anti-treaty movement ang lahat ng mga uri at sector na kritikal at kontra sa panibagong US bases treaty, pabor man sila o hindi sa base militar.

Noong Setyembre 12, nagdeklara ng national ceasefire ang NDF upang suportahan ang mga senador sa magiging pasya nila laban sa panibagong bases treaty.

Sustinidong kampanya, militante at malalaking aksyong masa sa huling 5 taon.

Mapagpasyang salik ang mga aksyong protesta sa tagumpay dahil ito ang nagtatampok ng pagtutol ng malawak na bilang ng mamamayan. Ginapi nito ang anumang tangka ng gubyernong US at Arroyo na palabasing sang-ayon ang mamamayan sa pananatili ng US bases. Nagsilbing pangumbinsi at presyur ito upang magpasya ang Senado laban sa panibagong tratado sa US bases.

Pinangunahan ng BAYAN, mga kasaping organisasyon at mga alyado nito ang sustindong kampanya, mga militante at malalaking aksyong protesta laban sa US bases. Mula 1985 hanggang 1991, nagpursigi na ang Bayan sa malaganap na edukasyong pampulitika, propaganda, pakikipag-alyansa at mga militanteng aksyon laban sa US bases.

Bukod sa  makasaysayang mga petsa, Enero 30, Marso 16, Hunyo 12, Hulyo 4, Nobyembre 30, sinasalubong at sinusundan ng protesta ang mga upisyal ng US at barkong bumibisita sa Pilipinas. Pinakatampok ang mga sakbayan at lakbayan na pinangunahan ng UP, ng LFS at ng BAYAN.

Ang LFS halos linggu-linggo may aksyon sa US embassy. May panahon na araw-araw may protesta bago ang mga importanteng petsa o kapag may bumibisitang upisyal at barkong pandigma ang US. Inspirado ng militansya ng FQS, hindi pumapayag at nag-aalma ang mga kabataa’t istudyante kapag humarang ang pulisya. Hindi alintana ang palo ng truncheon at teargas, gumigitgit ang mga kabataan hanggang makaalpas sa hanay ng pulis at makarating sa gate ng US embassy. Puntirya palagi ang zeal ng US embassy. Lahat na ginawa doon, binato ng bugok na itlog, ng pinturang pula. Nilagyan ng X. Nilagyan ng notice of eviction. Pinukpok ng martilyo, kaya lang di nabasag. Kaya sumunod na linggo, minaso, ayun nabasag. Hindi mabilang ang sinunog ng mga aktibista na American flag.

Tumindi ang mga protesta sa US embassy  at Malakanyang sa panahon ng review ng US bases noong 1988. Sinindihan nito ang malawak na debate sa midya at kahit saan, kung pananatiliin o paalisin ang US bases.

Mainam sa puntong ito na bigyang tuon natin sa pagtalakay ang taong 1991.

Nangingibabaw pa rin ang impluwensya ng US, alam nating hindi magiging madali ang laban para sa pagpapatalsik sa mga US bases sa pagpasok taong 1991.

  • Mayorya ng mamamayan ay pabor pa rin sa US bases, ayon sa survey, kahit pa pababa ang bilang ng mga pro-bases.
  • Tahasang maka-US si Pres. Aquino, ang AFP, PNP at matataas na upisyal at determinado sila na itulak ang pagpapanatili ng US bases.
  • May pagbasa tayo na pabor o malamang pumabor sa extensyon ng base militar ang malaking mayorya ng mga senador, mahirap makakuha ng 8 senador noon.
  • Hindi madaling makapagmobilisa ng malaking bilang laban sa base militar kahit pa maiingay ang mga militante. Abala ang mga tao sa pang-araw-araw na usapin ng kahirapan.

Plinano ng BAYAN na pagtuunan ang taktikal na laban sa ikalawang hati ng taon para ipresyur ang Senado na itakwil ang  panibagong tratado sa US bases. Pero nagpaplano rin tayo ng kagyat at malakihang welgang bayan sakaling pagtibayin ng Senado ang US bases.

Sa pagtakbo ng mga araw at ng labanan laluna nang maganap ang negosasyon, lumaki ng lumaki ang pusiblidad ng tagumpay dahil sa mga paborableng kalagayan at pagpupunyagi ng mga pwersang anti-bases at anti-treaty.

  1. Batbat ng krisis, nasa resesyon ang ekonomya ng US noong 1991. Tinalo ni Bill Clinton si Bush sa linyang “it’s the economy stupid” kahit pa namayagpag si George Bush, Sr. sa gera laban sa Iraq. Dahil sa krisis walang maibigay na malaking military economic aid ang US sa Pilipinas bilang suhol sa 10 taong extension ng US bases. Isa pa, nakita sa Iraq war ang moderno at mabilisang paraan ng deployment ng militar.
  2. Gumuho na ang Unyong Sobyet, inihudyat ng pagguho ng Berlin Wall noong 1989. Nagpapahina ito sa argumento laban sa inimbentong banta ng pananakop ng Unyong Sobyet.
  3. Malaganap na ang diskuntento sa rehimeng Aquino dahil sa patuloy na kahirapan,  korupsyon at mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Naglalaho na noon ang Cory magic na anumang bagay na basbasan ni Cory, susuportahan ng mayorya ng mga Pilipino. Sa katunayan, higit 80,000 ang namobilisa ng BAYAN at ng iba pang bloke sa martsa rali mula Liwasang Bonifacio noong Pebrero 26 pangunahin dahil sa isyu ng kahirapan. May nasisilip tayong momentum ng kilusang masa laban sa kahirapan at laban sa rehimeng Aquino.
  4. Sobrang pambabraso at pambabarat ang ginawa ng Armitage panel sa negosasyon. Pumosturang matigas sina Manglapuz para humingi ng upa – $825 milyon bawat taon. Pero brinaso sila ni Armitage at pinapayag sa $203 M annual military aid, hindi upa, best effort pa. Mas mababa pa ito sa naunang taunang $481M aid. Sumaling sa national pride ang pambabraso at iba pang pang-iinsulto nila Armitage. Hindi iilan ang pro-US bases ang nadisguto sa naging takbo at kinalabasan ng negosasyon.

Sa panahon ng negosasyon, sumikad ang kampanyang anti-US bases at anti-treaty. Isinagawa ng iba’t-ibang organisasyon ng BAYAN, ng ABAKADA, anti-treaty movement, mga kabataa’t istudyante, guro, kababaihan, mga manggagawa, magsasaka, taong simbahan at iba pang prupesyunal ang sunud-sunod at araw-araw na mga pagmuumlat, aksyong protesta, pamemresyur at lobbying sa Senado.

Naging higit na mainit, matalas at malaganap ang debateng pampubliko sa mas midya, mga radio, TV talkshow, mga forum at kahit saang talakayan at kwentuhan.

Kung hindi ako nagkakamali ng alala, ayon sa SWS survey, ilang araw bago ang Setyembre 16, halos hati ang mamamayan sa pagitan ng pabor at kontra sa US bases.

Nanawagan ng “people power rally” si Presidente Cory Aquino pabor sa US bases. Ginamit ang poder at rekurso ng estado para sa rali sa Agosto 10, pero wala pang 100,000 ang namobilisa ni Cory sa Luneta. Nalantad na hinakot at tinakot pa ang mga dumalo, karamihan ay mga empleyado ng gubyerno. Mabilis nalusaw ang rali nang bumuhos ang ulan.

Kahit kulang isang linggo ang nalalabi para maghanda, nagpasya ang BAYAN at ABAKADA na tapatan ang rali ni Aquino noong Agosto 10. Pasilip sa pag-agos ng sentimyentong makabayan at national pride, higit 45,000 ang namobilisa ng kilusang anti-base sa Liwasang Bonifacio. Nanatili ang bulto ng mga tao kahit umulan, mainit na naninindigan laban sa US bases.

Sa makasaysayang araw ng Setyembred 16, humugos ang higit 80,000 mga tao, mayorya ay mula sa BAYAN, patungong Senado, nananawagang itakwil ang US bases treaty. Nagmartsa, nagsaya at nagsayaw tayo sa panalo ng sambayanan laban sa panibagong tratado sa US bases. Sa botong 12 laban 11 senador, nanalo ang resolusyon laban sa panbiagong tratado sa base militar.

Bilang pagsusuma, narito ang mga aral sa matagumpay na laban sa US bases.

  1. Makapangyarihan ang imperyalismong US at papet na gubyerno nito. Pero higit na makapangyarihan ang soberanong mamamayan. Kapag sila ay namulat at sama-samang lumaban, magagapi nila kahit ang kapangyarihan ng US at ng reaksyunaryong papet nito.
  2. Susi ang pagmumulat sa mamamayan upang mapakilos sila para ipaglaban nila mismo ang kanilang pambansa at demokratikong interes. Kailangang bakbakin ang mga kasinungalingan, maging mapanuri kaninong interes nagsisilbi ang isang patakaran o kaasyusan at pukawin ang mamamayan na gamitin ang kapangyarihan ng sama-samang pagkilos.
  3. Kailangan ang mulat at mahusay na pag-uugnay ang mga isyu laban sa pasismo o burukrata-kapitalismo, imperyalismo at pyudalismo. Mahusay na naiugnay ng mga progresibo ang isyu ng US bases sa mapagsamantala at marahas na katangian ng imperyalismo at sa pag-ayuda sa diktadurang Marcos mapanatili lamang ang US bases at kontrol sa ekonomya.
  4. Mahalagang salik sa anumang tagumpay ang pagbubuo ng malawak na hanay laban sa US bases o anupamang napapanahong isyu at laban para sa interes ng mamamayan. Kailangang palakasin ang pwersa at alyansa ng uring mangagawa at magsasaka, kabigin ang suporta at paglahok ng panggitnang pwersa, kunin ang pinakamaraming pusibleng alyado sa hanay ng mga naghaharing uri upang gapiin ang punong papet ng imperyalismong US.
  5. Mapagpasya ang iba’t-ibang anyo ng protesta laluna ang malalaking militanteng aksyon dahil ito ang nagtatampok ng pagtutol ng malawak na bilang ng mamamayan. Ginapi nito ang anumang tangka ng gubyernong US at Arroyo na palabasing sang-ayon ang mamamayan sa pananatili ng US bases. Nagsilbing pangumbinsi at presyur ito upang magpasya ang Senado laban sa panibagong tratado sa US bases.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino! #

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