By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
January 14-15, 2007
We are requested to make a brief statement on the Philippine situation and the US and international situation. We hope that this statement would help you in making your own assessment and evaluation of the same situations, in summing up and analyzing your experience and in planning your work.
1. The Philippine situation
The agrarian, pre-industrial and semifeudal character of the Philippine economy has been aggravated and deepened by “neoliberal globalization”. This has favored the US and other foreign multinational firms and banks and has worked against any prospect of development through genuine land reform and national industrialization.
It has pushed the de-nationalization of the Philippine economy, liberalization of investments and trade, privatization of state assets and deregulation against the working people, women, children and the environment. The Philippines has been reduced to producing raw materials and low-value added semi-manufactures for export. All of these are in oversupply in the global market and suffer from depressed prices.
To cover trade and budgetary deficits, the Arroyo regime has gone into an unprecedentedly heavy foreign and local borrowing. It has also used the foreign exchange remittances of Filipino migrant workers. Further it has raised the tax burden on the people despite the depressed condition of the economy. The financial resources have been used mainly for debt service, military expenditures and other nonproductive purposes.
The problems of unemployment, low incomes, breakdown of social services and mass poverty will worsen this year because of the expected fall in US demand for raw materials and consumer semi-manufactures. The socio-economic crisis in the Philippines will sharpen. It will generate ever greater social discontent among the broad masses of the people and will stimulate the advance of the people’s war. It will impel further violent contradictions among the reactionary factions of the ruling classes.
The Arroyo regime has tended to monopolize the decreasing amount available for bureaucratic loot and has tended to use violence against the broad range of opposition and the people. It is driven by its own greed for lucre and power and by the preemptive war of terror that Bush has been pushing. It is escalating the low-intensity warfare. This is characterized by the most vicious psywar campaigns of intrigue and slander and by the most brutal forms of human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings, abductions, torture and forced evacuations of entire communities.
Arroyo has usurped the presidential office through electoral fraud. She is deliberately using state terrorism to preempt the people and the legal opposition from rising to oust her. She has placed the most notorious rascals to do her bidding in the military chain of command. As a result, several anti-Arroyo groups of officers with sizeable following have developed within the reactionary armed forces.
Arroyo has become thoroughly discredited and isolated. The bishops of the dominant church and business organizations have joined the broad opposition to foil her charter-change scheme, which seeks to keep her in power under the guise of changing the form of government from presidential to parliamentary. At the same time, the armed revolutionary movement is growing and is exerting pressure on the ruling system.
The broad masses of the people and the broad united front are likely to oust the Arroyo regime in 2007. The regime is expected to arouse the people’s wrath either by cancelling the 2007 elections or holding these and stealing the votes as in 2004. But many other possible criminal acts of the regime can incite the people to rise up in the streets by the hundreds of thousands. The severity of the socio-economic and political crisis of the ruling system makes the Philippine situation very volatile.
2. The US and world situation
It is appropriate and necessary to start with the US in looking at the world situation. The US is supposed to be the main engine of global economic growth, the principal destination of financial flows and the market of last resort for the entire world capitalist system. It is the main beneficiary of “neoliberal globalization”, which the US and other imperialist powers have considered since 1980 as the permanent solution to the problem of stagflation.
Such a solution involves pushing down the wage level and cutting back on social benefits and accelerating the concentration of capital in the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie through tax cuts, gilded state contracts and attraction of foreign buyers of bonds and stocks. “Neoliberal globalization” has aggravated and deepened the crisis of the US and the world capitalist system by pressing down the incomes of the working people and thereby constricting the market.
In fact, the US has had a bad economic fall since 2000, following the bursting of the “high-tech bubble” and the decline of US industrial production due to the global crisis of overproduction in all type of goods. It appeared to recover in 2004 only because of the heavy flow of finance capital into military production, overseas military force deployment and the “housing bubble” which served to back consumer spending.
The US has started to take another downturn. Financing US consumerism with foreign borrowings is unsustainable because the US has to pay the interest on the treasury bonds in foreign hands. Also, for the consumers, there are limits to depending on housing overvaluation to support their consumption,
The high-tech military production favored by the Bush regime can conjure economic growth on paper for a while but is unable to increase regular employment. At the same time, the US is incurring bigger and bigger losses in Iraq as it fails to subdue the Iraqi people’s resistance. It cannot draw profits from the Iraqi oil wells as the resistance often blows up the oil pipelines and other facilities.
Ever more afflicted by economic and financial crisis, the US is increasingly in contradiction with its imperialist allies. The WTO has been shaken by the failure of the Doha conference to settle the differences between the US and Europe. The US economic slowdown and reduction of consumer demand will have adverse effects on Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan and the rest of East Asia.
By getting itself into a quagmire in Iraq, the US has been substantially distracted even in the Middle East and Central Asia. Independently of the US, France, Germany, Russia and China make their own deals with Iran. Russia, China and other border countries in Central Asia have made the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to counter US and European or NATO penetrations.
The East Asian economies are tending to make their own trade and economic agreements without the US. The DPRK has successfully defied the US on the issue of nuclear bomb testing. Some Latin American countries have mocked at the US-initiated multilateral trade agreements and have undertaken the nationalization of oil and gas companies.
The US is exposing its weaknesses and vulnerability due to its imperial overreach. The American electorate has given Bush a drubbing in the US mid-term elections by giving the Democrats a majority of the seats in both houses of Congress. The neoconservatives that pushed the Project for a New American Century and the strategic line of using the high-tech military power to attack “rogue states” and potential rivals are increasingly being discredited.
The American people have seen the folly of spending USD 350 billion on the war of aggression in Iraq and tardily appropriating only a few billions for the victims of hurricane Katrina. For the people, the human and financial cost for US is intolerable. The US military recruiters are faced with big shortfalls in their recruitment drives and are resorting to overseas recruitment of non-US citizens. After trying to criminalize the undocumented immigrants, the Bush regime is planning to turn them into military mercenaries with offers of green cards and a fast track to US citizenship.
The investigation of Bush, Cheney and the rest for impeachable crimes is now a distinct possibility. The crimes include lying for the purpose of aggression, corrupt practices in the making of war contracts, the use of torture and other gross human rights violations. There are now greater chances of undertaking actions to reverse the fascistic legislation (USA PATRIOT ACT and Military Commissions Act of 2006) and practices that the Bushites have pushed in the name of anti-terrorism in the US and on a global scale.
But the military-industrial complex and the big oil companies are trying to make compromises between the Republicans and Democrats and to fix the mass media for steering public opinion away from demands of criminal investigation and impeachment. The Bush regime is still frantically looking for ways to pursue its policies of plunder, repression and war. The broad masses of the American people and the progressive forces need to be vigilant and militant against the rapacious and aggressive character of US imperialism.
We hope that BAYAN-USA can arouse, organize and mobilize the Filipinos in the US in order to support the struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation and democracy, conjoin with the American people and other migrant communities in fighting for their rights and welfare in the US and contribute to the struggle of the people of the world for greater freedom, democracy, social justice, development and peace against US imperialism and its cohorts.. ###