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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: International | Police State and Prisons
Philippines: Call for a National Conference Against Dictatorship
Since he assumed office, President Rodrigo Duterte has still failed to fulfill his promise to “provide for those who have little”: Workers still continue to receive low wages and experience job insecurity because he has failed to fulfill his vow to end contractualization.
Small farmers and peasants still suffer from landlessness and rural distress because he has refused to carry out land reform and prevent land grabs. Even middle-class professionals suffer from the high cost of living, inadequate and poor public services, and worsening pollution because he has refused to strengthen the regulation of the market and to pursue progressive taxation. Women and LGBTs, in particular, continue to suffer more as a result of his failure to significantly reduce poverty and improve people’s well-being.
Unable or unwilling to carry out the social reforms needed to keep the support of those who placed their hopes in him, Duterte has instead been laying the ground for a more repressive regime--for the restoration of dictatorship in the country.
After burying Ferdinand Marcos’ remains at the national heroes’ cemetery and helping Bongbong Marcos in his bid to become vice president, Duterte has now placed the entire Mindanao--and threatened to place the entire country--under martial law. Today, we may now be just one “security crisis” away from outright military rule.
If that happens, ordinary people like us--those who have never fully enjoyed “democracy” despite the end of the Marcos dictatorship--will be the first to suffer. Not only will our already limited freedoms be further restricted, our ability to defend our rights and to fight for more substantive social transformations will also be further curtailed. We may find it harder to march on the streets, to carry out strikes--or even just to hold meetings or talk to each other. We may be further vilified as “enemies” of the people. And worse, we might even be arrested, imprisoned, tortured, or “disappeared.”
And yet, opposition to dictatorship remains weak. Both of the dominant opposition forces in the country, the liberals and the national democrats, have so far refused or failed to provide the leadership needed to rally our people against the threat of our dictatorship.
Faced with the threat of dictatorship and with the inability or
refusal of the more powerful opposition forces to lead the opposition, we ordinary people--those of us who have suffered from neoliberalism and the elite democracy that paved the way for Duterte--need to come together. We urgently need to create an open, safe, mutually supportive, space to discuss how we can work together to prevent--or if need be, to resist--dictatorship. We need to build the broadest unity against despotism, and we need to establish more effective ways of organizing ourselves.
This is why we are calling for a National Conference against Dictatorship this July 20-21, at a venue to be announced later, to gather all those groups and individuals who oppose both dictatorship and the elite democracy that gave birth to it.
We are committed to helping build a broad but principled united front not just to block authoritarian rule, but also to fight for meaningful social transformation. We cannot “defend” an inauthentic--and therefore failed--democracy; we need to construct a real democracy on its ruins.
CONVENORS as of July 2017:
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
Coalition against Darkness and Dictatorship (CADD)
Democratic Alliance Movement of the Philippines - International (DAMPI)
Focus on the Global South
KAISA (Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan)
Ladies who Launch
Makata para sa Karapatang Pantao (MakaTAO)
Mindanao People’s Peace Movement (MPPM)
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK)
Solidarity of Unions in the Philippines for Empowerment and Reforms (SUPER)
Stop the War Coalition
Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD)
* Contact blockmarcos [at] protonmail.com if you want to be involved.
Solidarity greetings to the National Conference Against Dictatorship (NCAD)
By Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM)
The Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) extends its strongest solidarity to this historic and courageous event – the National Conference Against Dictatorship -- that comes on the heels of a Supreme Court decision affirming, and thereby supporting, the drift towards a fascistic dictatorship of the Duterte regime.
We are honored to be conveners of and to participate and speak at the Conference.
We especially acknowledge the new generation of young leaders who are responsible for taking the initiative to organize the Conference. We are now assured that the resistance will continue to grow and recruit more forces. We salute you all and are with you in this resolute campaign to thwart the dictatorial moves of the Duterte regime.
We agree with your assessment of the current political situation and the need for this Conference. The Duterte regime represents elite rule, albeit a certain faction of the elite, outside of the traditional national oligarchy. The only promises Duterte has fulfilled are the brutal drug war and the widely opposed hero’s burial of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The atmosphere of impunity and even terror, bolstered by Duterte’s anti-people drug war, continues to grip our communities devastating the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable sections, while the drug lords inside and outside government and the security forces are untouched. The declaration of martial law in Mindanao is a continuation of the regime’s authoritarian and war policies – a form of ‘state terrorism’. Meanwhile, workers, landless farmers, the urban poor, women, the LGBT community, the youth, and even the middle classes still suffer as the Duterte government fails or refuses to end contractualization, carry out comprehensive land reform, pursue progressive taxation, and put in place efficient public services.
And yet the organized resistance to Duterte’s authoritarianism remains weak and disunited. The liberal opposition or the ‘yellow’ forces, are unpopular and marginalized. Their politics of elite democracy and neoliberal economic onslaught on working people and the poor are responsible for paving the way for the rise of ‘Dutertismo’. They are responsible for the mess that the country is in and the situation that we face today.
The Philippine left can potentially put forward an alternative to get us out of this quagmire. However, it’s also compromised and has the dead hand of history weighing it down. We have serious limitations that we need to overcome to unlock the blockage and move forward. We need to be able to overcome our fragmentation, unite around the key issues of the day – resistance to the regime and defence of our democratic rights – and mobilize a broad and strong opposition to Duterte’s bloody, anti-people policies. This necessitates renewing the left -- breaking from the baggage and sectarianism of the past and being bold enough to learn from new ideas and ways of working.
Only then can we strengthen our ranks and build a mass-based political alternative to the old elite yellow forces. Only then can we bring about the system change that is needed to finally end dictatorship and elite rule in the country.
This conference, which has a big responsibility on its shoulders, will help us all in this endeavour.
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)