THE Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) joins the Filipino people in marking the 70th year when the US imperialists “granted Philippine independence” and ushered in an era of chronic crisis and worsening poverty under the semicolonial and semifeudal system.
For seven decades now, the US imperialists and its successive puppet regimes from Manuel Roxas to Benigno Aquino III have perpetuated the backward, agrarian, pre-industrial, import-dependent and export-oriented production system.
This has resulted in a permanent state of economic malaise. Fettered by feudal monopolies, the Philippine countryside is largely stuck in the previous century in terms of backward agrarian production. Basic mechanization is introduced only in export-oriented plantations owned by multinational corporations but which largely rely on manual labor of seasonal workers.
The local economy suffers from constantly high rates of unemployment. The sea of unemployed Filipino workers continue to rise, even as wage rates continue to fall. A disproportionately large number of Filipinos continue to seek work abroad doing menial work under invariably precarious conditions.
The past few decades under the semicolonial and semifeudal system have been the worst with the onslaught of neoliberal policies. Since the 1980s, state health and state education have been virtually abandoned leaving most public schools and hospitals in a state of decay. All-out trade and investment liberalization have caused widespread destruction of the manufacturing base.
Dumping of surplus agricultural produce has gravely affected local food production and destablized domestic food supply and prices. The clamor for land reform has been robbed of the spirit of social justice and reduced to a real estate transaction where land has ended up in the hands of old and new landlords, contract growers and big plantations. Privatization of water services, telecommunications, transportation infrastructure and other public utilities has resulted in spiralling costs and brought grave hardships on the people. Labor flexibilization and deregulation of labor policies have subjected workers to worst forms of exploitation and oppression.
For 70 years, the Philippines has served as one of the US’ major military outpost in the Asia-Pacific. Amid prolonged economic depression and efforts to contain the growth of China as a rival imperialist power, the US has heightened its efforts to establish its hegemony and military might in the region.
Since its 2012 “pivot to Asia,” the US military has strengthened its foothold in the Philippines and increased its naval presence in the South China Sea. It has secured the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) of 2014 under which the US military is allowed to setup military bases and facilities within camps of the Philippine armed forces.
Over several months and up to a few weeks ago, the US deployed two of its biggest aircraft carrier groups–the USS John Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan–in the Philippine Sea in grave violation of Philippine territorial sovereignty.
These are currently carrying out naval exercises in the South China Sea. The US military also recently docked its biggest naval hospital, the USNS Mercy in the Albay Gulf.
Clearly, the US military is establishing its superlarge presence in the Philippines with large aircraft carriers, thousands of US marines, nuclear-capable warships, jetfighters, drones and an endless assortment of war materiél.
It is quite propitious that the Filipino people marked 70 years of false independence at the heels of the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Philippine client-state who has long established himself as unbeholden to the imperialists.
He has spoken with animosity against the US CIA after one of its agents, Michael Meiring, accidentally blew the improvised bombs he was preparing inside a Davao City hotel room, and when he was later taken from police custody and whisked out of the country by US embassy agents. He has opposed earlier proposals by the US military to make use of Davao airport facilities as base for US drone operations. He has spoken critically of the Edca.
The Filipino people call on President Duterte to establish himself more firmly as a patriot and democrat and work in alliance with the progressive and revolutionary forces.
The Filipino people urges the Duterte regime to stand firmly for Philippine national freedom and put an end to the era of US neocolonialism. At the same time, they call on Duterte to assert Philippine sovereignty and deal with China on equal grounds in defending the country’s territorial seas.
By strengthening his stand for national freedom, Duterte can work with the Filipino people in pushing the Philippines to a new unprecedented chapter of economic progress, modernization, social justice and people empowerment.
Among others, the Duterte regime can give priority to establishing local industries, including building a domestic steel industry. He can push for the nationalization of local mining industry and ensuring that extraction of local mineral resources are geared primarily for local processing and production and imposing heavy levies against foreign companies who wish to extract local minerals. He can allow foreign investments with clear benefits for the Filipino people including explicit arrangements for the transfer of technology, domestic reinvestment and expansion of production and similar policies.
If the Duterte regime will stand more firmly on patriotic grounds, it can end such policies as tax exemption for foreign investments and state guaranteed profits for foreign capitalists and their local comprador partners. It can pursue such policies as nationalizing land and mineral resources (even in a limited way), prohibiting large foreign companies to exploit and export Philippine aquamarine resources and others.
If the Duterte regime carries out such rudimentary patriotic economic measures, it can easily generate enough resources to benefit the Filipino people in the form of free public hospitals, free education and other social needs.
Such are the potentials if the Duterte regime chooses to work in a patriotic and democratic alliance with the Filipino people and their progressive and revolutionary forces. –Communist Party of the Philippines