Monday, 12 June 2017

Still Struggling for National and Social Liberation

Still Struggling for National and Social Liberation

(Or "for a Labour Filipinism": Notes after Independence day)

How can the struggle for the emancipation of the working class be incompatible with the liberation of one's country? Of Social awareness and Patriotism? If to depend on so-called mainstream views, these ideas seemed to be unusual if not unnecessary to include anything social the way so-called "nationalists" bluntly telling economic/or social issues be left in the hands of business and church people instead.

However, in the hears of the common people, there can't be no national emancipation without social liberation. In third world countries, anything patriotic has to be for the masses and not for the few no matter how the system tends to use the same patriotic appeal in order to divide these masses and tends to "create sentiments of solidarity" between the bourgeois and the workers in the name of "nationalism" with "social concord" as its alibi.

In observing past and present events like the Hacienda Luisita, Lapanday, the debates on affordable tuition fees and clamours for wage increases, these can be interpreted as isolated issues that "can be resolved by mere dialogues and plain and simple hard work", but knowing that these involves actions brought about by an order subservient by vested interests (local and multi/transnational alike), these issues aren't really isolated at all but interconnected with each other, with the bottomline showing that in every oppressed sectors lies a common program to unite against the oppressors: of peace, land, bread, and justice against an order synonymous with injustice, repression, and disenfranchisement.

Worse, there are those who bastardise the thought that "workers have no country" by using the idea of "free borders, free trade, means free people." From allowing an unbridled flow of foreign investments and having the right for foreigners to gain properties and right to control various assets meant for the people, the idea of "free borders" and "free trade" has been a catchphrase thinking about a necessity of a world without borders where everyone live in "fraternity", a love that is "boundless", and where all national and ethnic conflicts would disappear like magic the way replacing the polis with those of the markets! Sorry to say but such nonsense isn't even driven by international solidarity but of a globalist agenda rooted on retention of interests. It tries to replace the nation or even the community with those of an "individual" and nothing else.

But then, in spite of the subjective thoughts and exaggerations, a rational and thoughtful patriotism does not prevent international and internationalist solidarity. And since there are those who afforded to babble about "free borders" and "free markets", it obviously shows that capitalism, as what the union leader Michel Chartrand said so well, is a system without a country as it tries to replace every country with an entity tied to the market. As they're trying to reduce countries and nations to mere cultural entities, it promotes brutal and merciless ultraliberal globalization, in which tramples different cultures and national identities as much as the rights and social benefits strenuously struggled if not won by the masses.

As what happened in Lapanday wherein big companies tramples the rights of the cooperatives and the farmer's right to claim their lands in the name of agrarian reform, of Multinational companies trampling the rights of indigenous peoples and its communities in pursuit of exploiting resources underneath mountains, what more of using both the police and the military to destroy mass-based opposition in the name of national security, the bullshit brought about by a system that afforded to speak of "change" is but trying to consolidate their interests the way they do everything lower working and living conditions through destructive standardization, of contractualisation, and subservience to socio-economic policies brought about by multinational entities like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

And to think that there are those who babble much about patriotism, the ones on high are not particularity attached to patriotic sentiments and the defense of its own homeland, though they sometimes use it as if in order to give themselves a facade of respectability to the masses, especially during patriotic holidays and issues like those of China's intrusion to the disputed isles. But reality shows that they aren't even patriotic given that they are subservient to multinational entities and overlords like the United States; what more that they often do it in order to tear sacrifices from the producers of wealth, by affirming in a totally deceiving and demagogic manner that “the national interest” requires concessions in order to “save” the economy of the country against its competitors. "Social Concord" from Ferdinand Marcos is one example of that kind of illusion, masked as an idea trying to appeal to the people particularly the labouring poor.

Recognising but still denying

But in spite of all the realities that involves structural conflicts, why to deny it as if in the name of "patriotism"? Class struggle will always happen in one country. As development progresses, so is the contradictions between classes. And although true that everyone yearns for unity, but that unity cannot be realised without a common program, and perhaps contradictions prevail no matter what everyone insist unity. Unity amongst oppressed sectors yes, but with despotic oppressors? Sounds unlikely.

The idea may sound divisive knowing that class struggle may have meant disintegrating a society that is meant to be united at all costs, but, history has shown that class struggle has been part of it; it's just that one disagrees if not doesn't care about that truth.
How? For sure everyone heard about peasant struggles around provinces, and incidents like Mendiola, Hacienda Luisita massacre were examples of that matter. Ironically, the system tried to lessen tensions only to end as scraps of paper while at the same time blood flows over the muddy fields and of asphalt roads, so is this not class struggle but mere chaos?

Perhaps it is the time to recognize the reality how Philippine history also includes class struggles such as what this writeup expressed. Unity will always be the call, but that unity is not merely because of blood alone, but of a common aspiration, a desire to break the shackles of interest such as under this present order and to create a nation enough to stand on its own with all its dignity.

Sounds both radical and rhetorical isn't it? Yes, it opposes the ruling order and its supporting classes as it appeals much to the laboring masses both in the cities and in the provinces. National pride has made refreshed by the consciousness of every Filipino as part of the working class, willing to redeem the soil so as to liberate the city from the shackles of interest such as that semifeudal-semicolonial order the way they desire to invigourate their blood with new ones whose love for country means more than just cherishing their cultural idenitity. For sure everyone hates oligarchs, but how come others be like they hate them while insisting an unbridled capitalism in the name of free trade or using safe words like personal initiative? The Filipino wanted is to redeem the soil and the city so as to unshackle their chains of repression and dependency. Call it socialism as others may describe of, but, that redemption also means the social liberation that has to push through besides national liberation.

Admittingly speaking, in observing the reality and its struggles, one would ask if there will be true economic emancipation, political liberation, and social solidarity? Speaking of that three latter words are quite Marcosian as his so-called "Filipinism", but, that Filipinism has nothing to do with liberation, not even humanism nor even the Filipino itself who yearns for those three: knowing that the country whose city of man has its numerous projects the system afforded to brag and laws meant to impress the world, is the same country whose peasants still bound by the soil with its unjust contracts, and workers in its unfair working conditions, shantytowns, and its unliving wage. 
The rising costs of goods and services, the weak purchasing power of the national currency, and policies tailored to accommodate neoliberal interests, is this economic emancipation? The extrajudicial killings, unfair laws and unbridled corruption, is this political emancipation? The oligarchs, landlords, and corrupt bureaucrats who disenfranchise the masses, is this what they call social solidarity? 

The bullshit that hath ever overheard even in this decade still makes same demands relevant be it "liberty, equality, fraternity" or "peace, land, and bread". The reality brought about by a semifeudal-semicolonial order creates numerous marches and various forms of actions pointing against the oppressors, disenfranchisers, and exploiters who afforded to babble nationalism, democracy, or even social justice.

"Still, the redemption of the soil from feudalism is the issue"

It is truly undeniable that the Philippines, in spite of enjoying its service-oriented modernity is still tied to its ages-old feudal uncertainty.  And all because of that, people would admit that the ages-old "peasant question" is an example of class struggle in the countryside or in the entire country itself.

With the majority that is, bound to the soil, it shows that feudalism continues to prevail amidst present-day "development", of hectares and hectares of land tainted with blood, of deaths; of lost lives; of sun-roasted farmers with their wrinkled skin and hunger pangs; of power emanating from landlords; of a president supported by those who include owners of large estates "joyriding" in the theme called "populism".
And because of it no wonder why Professor Michael Tan of the University of the Philippines College of Social Sciences and Philosophy said:

“The reason I’m pessimistic is that I believe—and this is one of the biggest problems we have—we are still held by the throat by a feudal system.”

Held by the throat for decades if not centuries as landlords dominating over the arable fields, what more of the economy as businessmen and yielding political power as politicians, and as they continue persist then it is true that redemption from the soil will always be on paper, that development has nothing to do with emancipation, for it deals much with retention of interests as these landlord-compradores does. Remember: the Philippines is an overcrowded island is expanding far more rapidly than the means of feeding it. But with arable land being threatened by landlords-turned-developers in the name of globalisation and so-called "developmentalism".

But the irony is this: these landlords who afforded to joyride in the "populist" carousel afforded to say that "Without food there can be no life" and "Without adequate and wholesome food there can be no health." True indeed knowing that as millions of Filipinos wanted cheap and affordable foodstuffs it is necessary to produce more food, but reality goes something like "Without agrarian reform there is no food sufficiency nor genuine food quality" as these landlords and compradores are trying not to provide Filipinos with cheap food and instead trying to transform arable land into commercio-residential purpose with a populace dependent on imports. Also to think that in spite of having an assuming "good Government" promising to ensure sufficient wholesome food for the health of the people, without agrarian reform and genuine rural development, of what is the idea of ensuring the well-being of the people?

Anyway, it is simple common sense to make the fullest possible use of all the country's agricultural resources to feed millions of people. But with globalisation, it reduces the idea of a community-oriented sufficiency into a mere rhetoric. This plain fact has been criminally ignored by every politicians who usually promises voters to "redeem the peasant from its bondage" and "transform their communities" if not acting like their own adversaries.
But again, with that globalisation it has nothing to do with redemption no matter how apologists is trying to justify the so-called "wonders of globalisation" and benefits under "free trade capitalism". As in the past, every peasant are still told that they must “Export or Die” like those from Lapanday in Davao or Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. Landlords (who also happened to be CEOs and Politicos) are trying to retain their interests by circumventing provisions meant to uplift the peasant from their standing, and justifying that being paid farmworkers are "better" with promises of "good working conditions" and "benefits"; even cooperatives are becoming "vassals" as big agrobusinessses are acting like overseers (through contracts) in making cooperatives producing "export-quality" foodstuffs only to gain a quarter of their profits or almost none at all as big businesses carried the biggest chunk! Is this agrarian reform? Is this self-sufficiency? Is this food security the people wanted about under semifeudal-semicolonial settings? The country's very existence is threatened if the country continues to depend upon that export drive and other unjust policies led by these landlords who wished to have a country still subservient to interests!

The statement has becoming hardcoringly radical no matter one tries to moderate it in topics such as redemption from the soil. Right is Prof. Tan in expressing that the country still held by the throat by interests whose brand of feudalism has prevailed even in this so-called "liberal democratic setting." Imagine: they adapted "capitalist-style" efficiency while stubbornly depending on the soil with pretentious messages like "improving farmers, communities, and agriculture." Sorry to say this, but as long as the land does not belong to the tillers and even modernising agriculture to boost productivity and meeting domestic demands, what more of still seeing neglected communities despite extracting them of their produces by absentee landlords, then sorry but it makes democracy, freedom, nationalism which is all rooted in social justice a farce.

"So are the labourers"

So are the labourers. Like the peasants, they struggled for decent wages, just working standards, better infrastructures and services brought about by their taxes only to found out that they are being financially restrained, socially alienated, politically repressed by the system who afforded to speak words like freedom, democracy, even justice.

With realities like long hours for low wages, almost-sweatshop like conditions, increasing prices of commodities and services, and putting down rights to express grievances and form unions, these labourers, white or blue collared, will always find means to express their grievances and continue their struggles, in spite of attempts to divide and evade them by the so-called "authorities" from an inconvenient truth they hath faced.

Worse, policies like contractualisation prevailed no matter how the system promised to "put an end" to it. Months ago, the Labour and Employment Department created a "Memorandum Order" whose purpose is to "regulate" contractualisation rather than abolishing it, and in "regulating" means "legalising"; which is contrary to its earlier promise during the election period. If so, then schemes like "Labour-only contracting" or "Job contracting" means schemes meant for the employer to circumvent labour laws, and aggravates the unemployment problem.

In an article from Davao Today several months ago, the Labour union "Kilusang Mayo Uno" steadfastly opposes the "department order" knowing that it is far from the original promise if not describing it as a paraphrasing of earlier "department order" such as DO 18-A:

“As long as the DOLE’s DO 174 is in place, Duterte’s promise to end contractualization cannot be fulfilled. DOLE’s guidelines only serve to legitimize the massive hiring of contractual workers through manpower agencies which would only result in a massacre of regular jobs in the country,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said.
As the labor department is bent on keeping the controversial order, KMU feared that DO 174 “would even result in the massacre of regular jobs in the country.”

Worse, to have a Labour and Employment Secretary justifying it instead of fulfilling its earlier promise to put an end to contractualisation. His DO 174 hath adopted contractualisation as the government’s employment policy and taught employers how to circumvent labor laws to make their gross violation of workers’ rights and dignity legal. Imagine: low wages, less benefits, then this? Expect a sudden radicalism no matter how the system tries to justify their agendas favourable to their interests.
And contractualisation, like low wages, and dismantling unions, is one of the policies meant to make labour subservient to the interests of the few. And obviously, those errors can draw full warnings out of a country's past against the errors which Southeast Asia and even the Third World is now committing. It is not a matter of theory but of fact that the country has no basic industries to resolve the problem, as well as the exploitation of cheap labour in undercutting competition, not only in the demands of the world market but by import of their goods to the country, as well as the policies favourable to the few through its multinational organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Worse, that situation aggravates further even in this so-called "populist" kind of administration. Is this what they call change by keeping neoliberalism prevail over nationalism? Like the farmers who still tied to the soil, workers felt the pressure, pain, and fear as the system insist the so-called justness of paying them with "starvation wages", working under sweatshop conditions, of unjust labour contracts and employee-employer relations? What more of seeing attack dogs trying to put down those who stood "against its way" as in the past! Such bullshits would make everyone come to think that the issue on labour has been beyond labour alone but a national matter: for as elements of the Philippine Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion last May 26, 2017 hath forcibly occupied and camped inside the Shin Sun packing plant and barged in the picket line of striking Shin Sun workers outside, threatened to kill them if they would not end their almost 2-month strike against the Korean-owned banana company’s practice of contractualisation and union busting! Is this a populist kind of administering labor disputes?

No wonder Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general Jerome Adonis said about this hell of a kind situation, as the attack dogs are threatening those who justly calling to put an end to repression:

“We strongly condemn these atrocities against workers. Instead of fighting terrorism, Duterte’s martial law is being used to sow state-terror to suppress Filipino workers’ and people’s legitimate and just demands, (and it) could serve as a prelude to further suppression of other workers’ strikes in Mindanao and sends a chilling effect on workers asserting their legitimate demands against contractualisation and for a significant wage hike”.

But again, that bullshit brought about by the system does not create change at all but instead affirms the fact that the independence of a nation is not complete without emancipating the labouring masses from its repressive condition.


This note may've been longer as much as possible, there are other sectors affected so badly that they are willing to take part in an endless struggle for national and social liberation; but the situation of the Peasant and of the Worker will always haunt the country no matter how it tries to present as "progressive" in the eyes of the world. These problems has unveiled the still centuries-old setting with landlords and compradores dominating the political, economic, and social spheres; distorting the ideals and turning it into illusions.
And in it they even afforded to babble words people desire as such as if these words can save them from their wrath after repressing them. Did the present "liberal democratic" setting has emancipated the people from the bondage of the soil and by the sweatshop-like conditions of the city? What everyone hears is subservience to the policies of the few than of fulfilling the duties as mandated by the law. Issues like contractualisation, land reform, low wages, price hikes, countless repressions, numerous killings, policies subservient to multinational interests, is this what made a nation great and free?

Anyway, such profound words are likely to fell on deaf ears if not making the speaker endure the trials of pain and pressure. Words like Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity cannot be realise without heeding the statements of Bread and Land what more of Peace which is based on Justice. The spirit of 1896 will always resonate as the peasants continue fighting for land and labourers for living wage, and with their patriotism it asserted their calls to reclaim national dignities as their homeland hath been tied by the bondage of both local and foreign interests who preferred having a nation weak and incapable of standing up as a genuinely independent country. Will a country defend its sacred shores if a system such as semifeudal-semicolonial one chose to be a vassal of superpowers? That's Bullshit.

Personally, the Philippines would have saved from the full consequences of these errors, against which the concerned warned at the time, not just by the wisdom of statesmanship but by a common program that includes redemption from the soil, the setting of industries, and the genius of science that can emancipate man and its community from its backwardness, and to move forward further than its current "slow" pace.
Its learned scientists and capable technicians are singularly gifted so as the hardworking peasant and of the worker wanting to create foundations of a promising future; and with them the Philippines must rely upon them enough to be, and to keep in the forefront of the nations instead of treating them so badly that that made drive them abroad if not making them forced to content as exploited beings profited by the few; but everyone cannot be sure that every time and in every sphere their talents will provide at exactly at the right moment a life-raft for the system, drowning in the sea of their own follies.