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Letters to Jose Maria Sison





By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
October 2, 2008

I have the honor to express warmest greetings of solidarity to AMA-SUGBO-KMU on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its founding. I congratulate all of you for all the victories that you have accumulated and I join you in celebrating these. I admire and commend the hard work, sacrifices and intense struggles that have made these victories possible.

It is fitting and proper that you are undertaking a cultural presentation to honor the martyrs and heroes of AMA-SUGBO and draw further inspiration from them, especially Fr. Rudy Romano CsR who selflessly dedicated his life to the just cause of the working class and entire people. I am glad that you are carrying out the education festival in order to consolidate the existing membership of AMA-SUGBO as well to expand your ranks to other unions.

Since its establishment on October 2, 1983, AMA-SUGBO has played a highly significant role in the history of the trade union movement in Cebu. It has stood and fought for an honest and militant type of trade unionism dedicated to the just cause and leadership of the working class and pursuing the general line of people's struggle for national liberation and democracy against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes.

Let me recall with you the principled and courageous beginnings of AMA-SUGBO. Sixty-five militants from seven workplaces under affiliates of the Associated Labor Union (ALU) came together to form the Alliance of Cebuano Workers or AMA-SUGBO as a province-wide labor alliance, with the aim of reforming the ALU from within and supporting the workers' struggles. They criticized, exposed and repudiated the yellow type of labor dealership and company unionism under Democrito Mendoza, subservience to the Marcos fascist regime through TUCP and unexplained subsidies from the AAFLI and other imperialist sources.

AMA-SUGBO was like a David challenging ALU as Goliath. ALU had dominated the labor movement in Cebu from 1955 to 1986. It had organized most of the strategic industries and unions in over 100 different firms. But AMA-SUGBO had the just cause to fight for and was confident of prevailing. ALU was rotten to the core because of the connivance of its leadership with capitalist employers. It became discredited by its servility to Marcos, especially when the mass movement mounted against the fascist dictatorship from 1983 onwards.

Taking advantage of its close collaboration with the Marcos fascist dictatorship and the military and police, the yellow dealers of ALU harassed, denounced as “communists” and threatened with death the leaders and members of AMA-SUGBO. AMA-SUGBO was not cowed by the Red-baiting attacks and fought back with intensified militancy. It stood as an independent alliance for several months and then it affiliated with KMU in 1984 in order to avail of additional support for fighting ALU.

We remember that by then AMA-SUGBO had 30 unions as members. Most of these unions had joined at least one industrial or geographical alliance covering the rattan, coal and transport industries, and geographical alliances in Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-lapu City. They affiliated with KMU federations as their collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) expired from 1984 to1986.

We recall with pride that the workers of Cebu became even more firm and more militant as their trade unions conjoined and cooperated with the labor federations and unions of KMU on a nationwide scale. The drivers’ alliance, NADSU, participated in nationwide strikes in September 1984, and in the following month carried out a Cebu-wide transport strike. In the first half of 1985, there were 18 strikes in Cebu City, as compared to three in the same period the year before, not to mention the four transportat strikes that hit certain areas of the city in 1985. On September 21-22, 1985, the 13th anniversary of the declaration of martial law and fascist dictatorship, AMA-SUGBO played a leading role in the people’s strike that swept Cebu and paralyzed the political and military minions of Marcos.

Let us cherish and relish from the memory of the first major struggle between AMA-SUGBO and ALU. This broke out over the issue which organization represented the workers at Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation in Lutopan, Toledo City. ALU received a stunning mortal blow when the mining workers selected SPFL-KMU to represent them in 1985. It was terribly shocked because it had regarded its union in the Atlas mines as its crown jewel for decades.

The withdrawal of AMA-SUGBO from ALU and affiliation with KMU had national significance in the trade union movement as well as in the anti-fascist struggle. ALU was the largest federation of TUCP and its main base was Cebu. But it was losing its trade union dominance here. KMU exerted all possible efforts to break completely ALU’s hold on trade unions in Cebu. Another important national dimension of the advances of AMA-SUGBO against ALU was that these encouraged and invigorated the people's resistance against the Marcos fascist dictatorship to spread and intensify in Cebu province until the downfall of Marcos.

By 1988 AMA-SUGBO had become unquestionably the strongest bulwark of the working class in Cebu. Under its auspices, seven KMU federations operated on the island. They were: ADLO, ANGLO, IBM, NAFLU, NFL, SPFL and ULGWP. They were all members of AMA-SUGBO. Previously, the only KMU federation on the island was NAFLU. AMA-SUGBO remained strong even as the ULGWP disaffiliated from the KMU in 1988. Six KMU federations stayed on with AMA-SUGBO. This had a great number of members under CBAs and a still greater number of active members, including the supporting members of the alliance.

Since then, AMA-SUGBO has laid a strong foundation among the workers of Cebu and has accumulated victories. But you must always learn on a periodic and timely basis what are the positive and negative lessons from your accumulation of experience. There are always advantages and disadvantages arising from the objective conditions and subjective factors which are always developing due to the dynamics of the class struggle. You must overcome errors and shortcomings and you must build on and surpass your achievements. We can always do our work better and wage more effective struggles. At every given period, we must clarify the tasks and methods for making further advances.

At the moment, the objective conditions are favorable for advancing the struggle of the working class and the broad masses of the people for national liberation and democracy. The crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system is worsening rapidly. The US-instigated policy of “neoliberal” globalization and the war of terror continue to unravel. The Filipino people and the people of the world are suffering from the crisis conditions. But they are driven to fight for their own national and social liberation from imperialism and all reaction.

Under the present circumstances, all the forces and the people in the national democratic movement must raise the level of their revolutionary consciousness and militancy. AMA-SUGBO is an important force of the movement. You must accelerate your growth and intensify the struggles to uphold, defend and advance the rights and interests of the working class and the rest of the people. The crisis challenges us all to resist the oppressors and exploiters, strive to oust the Arroyo regime that represents them and make great strides forward in the movement to replace the rotten ruling system with the people's democratic system in a new Philippines that is independent, free, prosperous, just, progressive and peaceful.

I wish you the utmost success in the years to come. I am confident that you will win ever greater victories from year to year for as long as you rely on and trust the masses of workers and you constantly strive to arouse, organize and mobilize them in line with a militant anti-imperialist type of trade unionism and in accordance with the general line of people's struggle for national liberation and democracy.

Mabuhay ang AMA-SUGBO-KMU!
Mabuhay ang uring manggagawa!
Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!###

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