Political Landscape Towards 2010
(Article for the December 2006 issue of i Report, the online publication of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism)
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
November 30, 2006
The ruling system in the Philippines is semicolonial and semifeudal. It is dominated
by foreign monopoly capitalist countries headed by the US and Japan. It is ruled
by the comprador big bourgeoisie and the landlord class and managed by their
political representatives. The foreign and local exploiters collaborate against the
national and democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people.
The ruling system has its inherent weaknesses due to the backward, agrarian,
pre-industrial and semifeudal character of its social economy and is subject to
the policy impositions of the US and other imperialist powers. These powers
keep the Philippines as a reliable source of cheap raw materials and labor, a
lucrative market for surplus goods, a field of investments for surplus capital
and a source of superprofits. The illusion of development conjured by low
value-added semi-manufacturing for re-export and the boom in private construction
has been shattered since the 1997 financial crisis.
The ruling system is in a chronic and ever worsening economic and social crisis.
It is prevented from accumulating the capital for national industrial development
because the surplus product of the country is appropriated by the imperialist
super-profiteers, the local exploiting classes and the corrupt government officials.
The toiling masses of workers and peasants and the middle social strata are
subjected to an ever rising level of exploitation. The entire nation is made to
suffer ever bigger budgetary and trade deficits and ever mounting levels of
debt and tax burden.
The socio-economic crisis has been aggravated and deepened by the US-imposed
policy of "neoliberal globalization". The gravity of the socio-economic crisis has
resulted in an unprecedentedly serious political crisis, involving far sharper contradictions
among political factions of the exploiting classes within the civil bureaucracy and
within the military and police apparatuses of the state.
The ruling faction of Gloria M. Arroyo is detested not only by rival factions within
the reactionary classes but by the broad masses of the people because of its
illegitimacy based on electoral fraud, rampant corruption and gross human rights
violations. It has taken advantage of the US-dictated war of terror in order to
take the initiative of using military force and against the entire range of opposition
forces and broad masses of the people. Thus, the growing conditions of violence
and instability in the country.
I. Prospects of Reform up to 2010
The sharpening socio-economic and political crisis generates popular demands for
reforms as well as for revolution. The basic reforms most in demand are meant
to uphold, defend and promote national sovereignty and independence, economic
sovereignty and the national patrimony, genuine land reform and industrial development,
a patriotic, scientific and democratic system of culture and education and independent
foreign policy. These are demanded by the patriotic and progressive reformers within
the ruling system as well as by the revolutionary forces.
But the Arroyo regime is deaf to the demands. It continues to raise funds for all its
counterproductive and corrupt purposes by seeking foreign loans at commercial rates,
by increasing the local public debt and making heavier the tax burden of the people.
Such financial irresponsibility has clear limits. The Philippine economy has actually been
depressed since 1997. A bigger wave of economic disaster is currently on the way
from the direction of the US economy. The unsustainability of high consumption
based on borrowed funds, the bursting of the housing bubble and the limits of high
military spending as economic stimulus are moving towards an unprecedented US
recession and drastic drop in US consumer demand for goods from China, the whole
of Asia and the rest of the world.
The Arroyo regime has always construed as the needed reforms what are the dictates
of US imperialism under the rubric of "neoliberal globalization." It has also misrepresented
as "political reforms" the changes it wants to make on the 1987 constitution. At the
maximum, it wants to imitate Marcos by pretending to shift from the presidential to
a parliamentary form of government in order to concentrate powers on Arroyo as a
transitory president and to get the support of the US by according national treatment
to all kinds of foreign monopoly investments and by allowing the return of US military
bases. At the minimum, the regime has hyped the campaign for "charter change"
in a futile attempt to distract the attention of the opposition and the people from
seeking to oust Arroyo. Up to now, Speaker Jose de Venecia is pushing a "constituent
assembly" without the approval of the Senate as a distinct body. Such unconstitutional
assembly will either be foiled by the Supreme Court or if somehow pushed through it
will generate political turmoil.
Because of the extremely reactionary and violent policies and actions of the Arroyo
regime, the honest reformers who are patriotic and progressive find themselves
completely frustrated in seeking reforms within the reactionary system. Thus, they
increasingly appreciate and welcome the revolutionary movement as a pressure on
the ruling system. Even the reformists, who denounce the revolutionary movement
and wish to use reforms for counterrevolution, find themselves totally discredited.
They are best exemplified and embarrassed by the clerico-fascist Norberto Gonzales,
the national security adviser, who long misrepresented himself as a social-democratic
Revolutionaries are necessarily reformers even as they are definitely not reformists.
They seek reforms in being open to peace negotiations with the reactionary government.
They also wish the better elements in the reactionary government to prevail over the
bad ones on the matter of reforms. The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 clearly states
the basic economic, social and political reforms that the National Democratic Front of
the Philippines (NDFP) seek in order to address the roots of the armed conflict in
negotiations with the reactionary government (GRP).
The NDFP has already demonstrated that it is capable of arriving at a comprehensive
agreement on respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. And it
has demanded that the economic, social and political reforms be negotiated and
agreed upon. But the Arroyo regime has treacherously sabotaged the peace
negotiations by collaborating with the US in putting the Communist Party of the
Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army (NPA) and the NDFP chief political consultant
in the so-called terrorist list and in launching Oplan Bantay Laya in order to carry the
extrajudicial killings, abductions, torture, massacres and so many gross human rights
II. Prospects of Revolution and Outcome of Armed Struggle
The Arroyo regime has repeatedly declared that it has no interest in peace negotiations
with the NDFP and that it is determined to destroy before 2010 the revolutionary mass
movement led by the CPP. In view of the intransigent position of the regime, the
revolutionary forces and people cannot pursue the peace negotiations and have no
choice but to defend themselves and defeat the all-out war policy of the regime.
It is out of a narrow-minded kind of self-interest that the Arroyo regime wants the
civil war to continue and rage in the country. Arroyo herself has publicly admitted
several times that the all-out war policy is intended to rally and unite the military
and police forces under her baton and in order to gain economic and military support
from the US in line with its policy of "war on terror". She has deliberately pushed
higher the level of US intervention from year to year.
There are yet no clear indications that she wants to resume the formal talks in the
peace negotiations. She seems to be unaffected by the fact that the Bush war of
terror (wars of aggression and global promotion of fascism) has been repudiated by
the American electorate. It is very likely that the regime will continue to escalate
the military and police campaigns against the people in suspected guerrilla fronts and
the cowardly extrajudicial killings and abductions of unarmed progressive party list
leaders, workers, peasants, women, youth, journalists, lawyers, religious and human
Because of its fear of impeachment and conviction by Congress, the Arroyo regime
is hell bent on either pushing the unconstitutional "constituent assembly" in order
to cancel the 2007 elections of congressmen and senators or cheating in these
elections in order to control Congress. Either way there will be political turbulence.
Arroyo is determined to use violence against the opposition and the people in order
to keep herself in power.
In response to the all-out war policy and Oplan Bantay Laya of the regime, the CPP,
NPA, NDFP and the broad masses of the people have resolutely and militantly fought
back. They have issued publications (see www.philippinerevolution.net) informing us
that they have been able to frustrate the military and police campaigns of the regime
and to launch various forms of tactical offensives within the strategy of defense. They
are successfully waging an intensive and extensive guerrilla warfare based on an ever
widening and deepening mass base. They have seized more arms from their enemy,
often without firing a single shot. They are therefore increasing the number of their
fighting units and are forming more guerrilla fronts, organs of political power and mass
They are becoming stronger from year to year. They can contribute significantly to
the ouster of the Arroyo regime before 2010 or they can at least help ensure that
the Arroyo regime is finished in 2010. They expect to deliver the hardest blows on
the worst rascals of the regime as these become more brutal and vicious but are
fast weakening or about to exit from political power. They look forward to resume
the formal talks in the peace negotiations with a new regime, especially because this
will be a product of the struggle against the Arroyo regime by a broad united front
of patriotic forces and by the broad masses of the people.
III. Direction of the Filipino People in 2010
The Filipino people will demand more strongly than ever before that reforms be made
to advance national independence, democracy, social justice, all-round development
and peace. By then, the socio-economic and political crisis of the ruling system shall
have become worse, despite the loss of power by the Arroyo ruling clique. The
reforms can be arrived at and implemented through peace negotiations between
the revolutionary movement and a government that is more enlightened and more
reasonable than the present one. Otherwise oppression and exploitation will persist
at intolerable levels. Thus, the revolutionary forces and people will continue to wage
armed revolution for national liberation and democracy against US imperialism and its
local lackeys. ###