Thursday, July 07, 2005

Stop U.S. Intervention In The Philippines

by: Philippines Cultural Studies Center
Friday, Jul. 01, 2005 at 5:14 AM

Signs of U.S. intervention in the political crisis in the Philippines are surfacing fast. Lessons need to be drawn from the mistakes and failures of People Power 1 and People Power 2. Systemic change is needed, not simply change in personnel. People Power 3 need not mimic the first two--otherwise, everything remains the same, even worse.


Incontrovertible signs from Washington and elsewhere indicate that theBush Administration and its reactionary cabal have already instructed their local agents in Manila to replace Arroyo with one of the elite factions, together with a bloc of traditional military-business groups. This is routine maneuver for the US State Department and Pentagon. As in the February 1986 overthrow of Marcos, their agents will use both normal and violent means to maintain its hegemony in its neocolony, particularly when its Mindanao military/political base is at stake.

The Philippines of course has historically been pivotal toUS. projection of its military power in Asia and the Middle East. Besides, Filipinos are famous worldwide for being 200% Americanized and martyrs for "Americanism" everywhere.

Washington is now plagued with the mounting disasters of the war inIraq and Afghanistan. Public resistance to the on going war is increasing, especially among military families and business sectors. Meanwhile, the challenges of Iran, North Korea, and of course China, not to mention Chavez's Venezuela and the insurgents in Colombia, Nepal, and elsewhere, are extremely worrisome to the corporate power elite.

To be sure, the Philippines is not comparable to oil-rich Indonesia ore ven touristy Thailand. Nonetheless, the U.S. hegemonic bloc is extremely fearful that a nationalist, nay a left-wing, alternative may take advantage of the chronic weakness of the Filipino oligarchy ridden with corruption, internal antagonisms, and sycophancy to corporate U.S. and foreign interests. Preparations to transfer the Okinawa operations to the Philippines are being expedited even as the militarization of Japan proceeds without let-up. The Philippines also provides about 10 million migrant contract workers to service corporate globalization around the planet (for example, building Guantanamo prison-cells and cleaning the barracks of the troops inIraq).

After September 11, 2001, the New People's Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines were promptly declared "terrorist organizations" by the U.S. State Department. This is meant to paralyze any international support for the nationalist insurgency. The millions of Filipinos abroad might be a support base for the NPA and the National Democratic Front—just as the Islamic nations supported the Moro National Liberation Front during the Marcos dictatorship. The systematic media exploitation of the Abu Sayaff as somehow comparable in scale to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, together with its linking of the Abu Sayaff with left-wing and nationalist dissent, has conditioned the U.S. public to recent military incursions ("exercises") in the Philippines. It has allowed Bush and his generals to refurbish the politically bankrupt Arroyo and the AFP as part of their united front against opponents of U.S. neocolonial encroachment wherever profits can be made.

Ever since IBON and other pollsters began documenting the decline of public support for Arroyo amid the jueteng scandals involving her family, the U.S. has begun to follow their tested modus operandi on"regime change." They have consulted with opposition politicians, the Catholic Church, the Judiciary, and of course their military operatives. Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo recently solicited the backing of key U.S. lawmakers for Arroyo such as Republican Senator Thad Cochran, chair of the US Senate Appropriations Committee; Republican Senators Robert Bennett of Utah and Jim Kolbe of Arizona, as well as Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein of California (where the majority of Filipino Americans reside). Romulo also got the support of World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, former adviser to President Bush, and one of the shrewd authors of the project to resuscitate the obsolescent American Empire in the post-Cold War epoch.

A revealing interview of US diplomat Karen Kelley, which appeared in the online Inquirer (reported by Agence France Press, June 29, 2005), suggests the duplicitous mode of preparing for "regime change" as seen from the US Embassy in Manila. While former lackeys of Arroyo are abandoning ship and jumping into the Susan Roces bandwagon, the U.S. poses to defend orderly transition, which means appearing to endorse transparency and accountability while engaged in cloak-and-dagger shenanigans to preserve business and military interests in their former "showcase of democracy" in Asia. The case of "Cold Warriors" Ramon Magsaysay, Benigno Aquino, and Col. Edward Lansdale of the notorious Phoenix program in Vietnam easily come to mind.

Given the pre-emptive and unconscionable means used by globalizing capital to prevent any real substantive change in the local power hierarchy, we shouldn't be deceived by all this legalese rhetoric about democracy and freedom. It is necessary for all progressive forces not to rely solely on bureaucratic or parliamentary means to get rid of Arroyo and her business network. The few wealthy families have never relied only on peaceful means to seize power and maintain supremacy. Nor have the bourgeoisie anywhere in the world. "Civil society" and State as presently constituted only serve to maintain the seemingly "normal" unequal division of power and wealth. We need to be critical of current institutions and practices, and also guard against sectarian dogmatism and opportunist vanguardism. Let the dead bury the dead.

As events in our history have proved, representatives of the ruling class can never represent the genuine long-term interests of the people. Neither Aquino nor Arroyo (who represent sections of the privileged minority) can solve the systemic evils of rampant poverty and unnecessary deaths caused by the unequal division of wealth (in particular, land and other means of production) and the chronic backwardness of the economy due to subservience to U.S. dictates (via World Bank and International Monetary Fund conditionalities). Nor can populist gimmicks tied to Estrada and assorted "social democrats" obsessed with capitalist globalization elsewhere except in thePhilippines, mobilize informed grass-roots support for a thorough going land-reform program, industrialization, a halt to OFW warm-body export policy, and the genocidal war against Moro and indigenous communities.

How can the owners of Hacienda Luisita and the plantations in Negros, Davao, and elsewhere support the loss of their property and class privileges? How can the classes represented by Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo really allow the break-up of feudal privileges and their monopoly of political power in their territories? Behind them stand the corrupt mendacious officers of the AFP and the PNP(notwithstanding the presence of some nationalist middle-level personnel in the ranks), as well as warlords and gangster-vigilante formations sponsored by the CIA.

This is not to exclude individual members of these conservative and reactionary groups from joining the anti-imperialist united front. What we need is adherence to and step-by-step implementation of a tactical and strategic program of nationalist development that will mobilize the masses of workers, peasants, women, youth, professionals, and indigenous communities. We do not need to repeat the mistakes of the past. What is needed? Not a mountain stronghold policy of imposing a party line in a sectarian manner, but a way of unleashing the energies, wit, cunning, and intelligence of the masses to destroy the old structures of oppression and exploitation that have victimized us since the days of Spanish colonialism, and particularly since the missionary agents of U.S. "Benevolent Assimilation" landed on our shores and civilized 1.4 million dead Filipinos.

We need to initiate and explore new radical means of emancipatory transformation. A transitional nationalist and popular-democratic government is needed to prevent the usual trick of using so-called legal procedures that have always reproduced the status quo to restore peace and "business as usual." If we want to avoid repeating the mistakes of People Power I and the delusions of People Power II, we need to rely on a united alliance of armed workers' and peasants' councils, community organizations, existing guerilla forces, and other grass-roots agencies to destroy the mechanisms of imperial domination through the institutions used by the landlords, compradors, bureaucrats and traditional politicians. Otherwise, we will prolong the injustice of the present set-up and the suffering of millions ofFilipinos now and in the future.

Only a massive mobilization of the majority of citizens, of all oppressed and exploited sectors, in particular the Moro people and the tribal communities, can rid us of the evils of the exploitation of labor, political tyranny of the U.S., WB/IMF, and WTO, foreign control of the economy, and the racialized inferiorization of our cultural heritage. We need to arm the masses to defend themselves against the counter-revolutionary violence of the U.S. and its local followers.

A thousand defeats and sacrifices litter the past; is history repeating itself?

But our countrymen who gave their lives fighting against Spanish, U.S. and Japanese colonialisms speak to us from the future, saying: "A new world is possible. It is there for us to win."Let us seize this crisis of the enemy—the oligarchic elite and U.S. imperialism—as an opportunity to advance the national democraticrevolution of the Filipino masses and liberate ourselves from the evils of neocolonialism, racial and gender oppression, commodification, and globalized misery.



No comments: