End of Year Report, 2007: Crisis in the Philippines

In contrast to the “life of kings” to which General Lim referred, life for many is “nasty, brutish and short” as Hobbes saw the state of nature. Sadly, what is happening in the Philippines has become, by modern democratic standards, quite unnatural under the GMA presidency. Today, if you are a human rights lawyer, trade union activist, journalist, peasant or fisherfolk leader, or a Church person working with others to resist the pernicious policies of the government, you have a good chance of being killed, abducted and tortured, or just “disappeared.” (To add insult to injury, the government, army and police, refuse to admit they are responsible, blaming these incidents on “domestic violence”, neighborhood disputes, or communist guerilla “discipline”). And if you are sacked from your job by Toyota or Nestle-making huge profits in special Export Zones – you will not be re-hired even if a court has directed that you are legally entitled to be re-hired. Private security goons, police, even army will ensure that you cannot assert such rights. If you are a peasant asserting your “right” to land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), you may be shot dead when peacefully demonstrating as happened to seven peasants at the Hacienda Luisita, the largest in the country. It is owned by the Cojuangco family, the family of former President Cory Aquino (and essentially specially exempted from CARP, unlike the land-holdings of Fidel Castro’s family after the Cuban revolution). The Cojuangcos are so filthy rich they have invested billions of dollars in Australian land and manufacturing, no doubt with an eye on an unstable future in their own country.

Prof. Francisco Nemenzo, former President of the University of the Philippines (UP) and a progressive activist, commented after his arrest at the Peninsula Hotel, “We have lost faith in the Senate and House of Representatives. Trillanes was elected Senator last May, despite all odds, but the government refuses to allow him to perform his duties”. And he noted, “The rebel soldiers share our goal of system change, not just a change of President as in previous ‘people’s power’ exercises” (referring to Aquino’s accession in 1986 and Arroyo’s in 2001). He hoped that “the revolt would have a catalytic effect on Filipino society.” In his judgment, there should be progressive support for the on-going struggle of Left, military and civil society forces fighting daily for social justice and renewal: “Just tell the world we are fighting a just cause. This is not a revolt of right-wing generals. This is a joint struggle of the progressive wing in the armed forces and the mass movement.” (Quoted in the Green Left Weekly, op cit).

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And note what Trillanes had to say at the time of the November revolt, “The military is bound to uphold its constitutional mandate as protector of the people and of the state. That’s the only principle that should be embraced by the military. That’s the essence of the military… It is not to defend a particular person or a particular institution but to protect the people.” Lim’s words in 2006 would be apposite here too, “Pursuant, therefore, to our constitutional duty as “protector of the people and the state”, we have today withdrawn our support from Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in order to end her unconstitutional and illegal occupancy of the Presidency.”

The revolt at the Peninsula Hotel, like those of 2006 and 2003, was crushed. But what is clear is that it was a significant anti-hegemonic demonstration by important sectors of the Filipino nation that the resistance to the corrupt authoritarian regime of Arroyo will continue. Contributed to (Bulatlat.com)

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