Stand for democratic and patriotic changes in the economy


Editorial
Ang Bayan
June 23, 2013

To the Filipino people, the US-Aquino regime's boastful claims of a "rapidly developing economy" are empty. To the toiling masses, the Philippine economy is incontrovertibly in deep crisis. This is a truth that could not be banished even by Aquino's repeated slogans on "inclusive growth" and "sound economic fundamentals."

The intense social crisis is marked by worsening landlessness and land concentration in the hands of big landlords and plantation owners, acute joblessness and massive labor migration.

The toiling people suffer from rock-bottom wages and high prices. Peasants who are landless or who lack land suffer acutely from  various forms of feudal and semifeudal exploitation. The masses of workers are subjected to various forms of "flexible labor policies" that ravage their job security, pull down their wages and deprive them of their democratic rights. Even those in the middle social strata are in dire straits because of severe unemployment, very inadequate incomes and the skyrocketing cost of living, education and health services.

The US-Aquino regime has unabashedly implemented the onerous policy dictates of the IMF-WB and its US imperialist master. It has imposed austerity measures by slashing budgets for public education and health services or refusing to allocate enough funds for them altogether. The prices of diesel and other petroleum products are relentlessly on the rise. Foreign mining and logging companies and vast plantations continue to penetrate the economy. Aquino has also been enforcing the "two-tier wage system" that further demolishes the minimum wage system and bleeds the workers even more.

The landlord Aquino regime is brazenly obstructing the distribution of the 6,500-hectare Hacienda Luisita. Using the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and its extension, landlords and big agribusiness companies have intensified landgrabbing. "Beneficiaries" are forced to surrender the papers to their land either as a result of failure to maintain the burdensome amortization payments or by being compelled to join agricultural production cooperatives under the control of big plantation owners for the production of crops for export.

In the face of the intense economic crisis, it has become even more important for the Filipino people to advance patriotic and democratic changes in the economy.

They must vigorously expose and condemn the backward and counter-progressive dogma of the IMF-trained technocrats. They must resist the Aquino regime for implementing policies and measures in accordance with liberalization, privatization, deregulation and denationalization.

We must strengthen the movement for genuine land reform. The clamor for genuine land reform is the main democratic economic demand of the Filipino people. The demand seeks to achieve the social liberation of the majority of the Filipino people from the worst forms of feudal and semifeudal exploitation. We must break up land monopolies and democratically distribute land to the tillers.

The Filipino people must resist the undemocratic austerity measures and cutbacks on social services. They must demand greater state subsidies for public education up to the tertiary level, higher spending for public health and a stop to the policy of commercialization and privatization of public hospitals.  They must determinedly resist the demolition of urban poor communities.

The demand for national industrialization is the foremost patriotic economic demand of the Filipino people. They must demand a self-reliant economy primarily geared towards providing for their needs. They want to see the Philippines not only as an assembler or supplier of raw materials. The Philippine econom‎y will advance with agriculture as its base, with heavy industries as the leading factor and with light industries as the bridge.
The Filipino people clamor for a stop to the system of semi-manufacturing that is import-dependent, export-oriented, controlled by foreign companies and divorced from the overall economy. They want an end to large-scale agricultural production and fishing controlled by foreign big agribusiness and geared towards the export market.

They must resist the cheap labor policy and the foreign plunder of the Philippines' natural resources. They must fight for the nationalization of the oil industry which involves centralized state procurement of crude oil and setting up state refineries and government price controls.

The grave crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal system has Aquino further sidling up to his imperialist masters for financial and military support. Aquino has terminated peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines which are supposed to enter the phase of discussing the crucial question of socio-economic reforms. Aquino has instead resorted to a brutal campaign of suppression which is set to be more vicious in the face of worsening poverty and the rising tide of defiance.

In the countryside, the land reform movement continues to gain big strides.

In the cities,  workers are gaining more success in building unions and other types of associations despite the severe suppression of their right to organize. They have launched strikes and other forms of struggle for higher wages and against contractualization.

Urban poor communities have vigorously opposed the demolition of their homes. Mass struggles are being launched against tuition fee hikes, rising oil prices, electricity and water rates and other hardships inflicted by Aquino on the masses.

The masses of workers and peasants and the middle classes known full well that they are bound to be pulled down deeper into crisis over the remaining three years under the puppet Aquino regime. In view of the Aquino regime's policies that serve the interests of foreign and local big business and big landlords, it is increasingly becoming clear that the Filipino people have no other recourse but to wage democratic mass struggles and armed resistance in order to assert their patriotic and democratic demands.