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Philippines: Activist academic Walden Bello to runs as Laban ng Masa VP

 

 

By Laban ng Masa

October 31, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Laban ng Masa — Laban ng Masa Chairperson Walden Bello officially filed his papers to run for Vice President through an authorized representative in Manila today. Bello, a former member of the House of Representatives, is an internationally renowned expert in development and economics and a legendary activist against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

Running under Laban ng Masa and Partido Lakas ng Masa, he is substituting PLM Vice Presidential candidate Raquel Castillo. He is teaming up with presidential candidate Ka Leody de Guzman to forward a comprehensive agenda not just for regime change but also systemic change.

Bello’s tenure as the Chairperson of the Committee on Overseas Workers' Affairs from 2010 to 2015 was marked by his aggressive promotion of the welfare of OFWs that included his rescuing them from the civil war in Syria.

Renamed South China Sea West Philippine Sea 

Walden filed the original resolution which renamed the South China Sea "West Philippine Sea," and succeeded where Rodrigo Duterte shamefully retreated--leading a congressional mission and flag ceremony in the Spratlys in defiance of China.

He is also a firm critic of the military alliance imposed by the US on the Philippines and helped to forge Laban ng Masa’s stance of opposing all imperial incursions in the region in favor of a global commons-based approach.

Walden was a principal author of three landmark laws: the Reproductive Health Act of 2013, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension Act of 2009, and the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, which provided for the compensation of thousands of victims of the Marcos regime from the Marcos family’s wealth seized from Swiss banks by the government of Switzerland.

Bello describes the Marcos family as “leeches that sucked the blood of the Filipino people for 20 years and parked their ill-gotten gains outside the country.” He asserted that Bong-Bong Marcos’ candidacy for president is being “financed by this wealth extracted violently from the people.”

Confronting the Axis of Evil

“I have no other choice but to enter this fight against the greatest peril the country faces today, the Marcos-Duterte Axis of Evil,” said Walden upon filing his candidacy. He vows to vigorously pursue accountability against the Marcoses and the Dutertes for their crimes against the people, as well as put into effect his plan to take the country out of the neoliberal economic crisis it's been stuck in since the Marcos era owing to policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.

Walden has been characterized by the government’s Philippine News Agency as “one of the staunchest critics of the Duterte administration.”

Storied Activist

A storied activist during the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos, he organized a series of break-ins into the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC, to steal thousands of pages of classified documents. This led to the best-selling expose Development Debacle: The World Bank in the Philippines that played a key role in rallying popular support against the regime. Noam Chomsky, the world’s leading progressive thinker, described the book as providing “remarkable insights into the policies of the World Bank and…the social costs of their experiments with people’s lives.”

Arrested multiple times by US authorities for civil disobedience, Bello led the seizure of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco in 1978. This resulted in his conviction and imprisonment by the US government when he and his co-accused refused to recognize the authority of the court at their trial, cursed the judge, and defiantly walked out of the court room, an act for which they were immediately apprehended by US marshals. Prison officials, however, were forced to release Bello and his companions from the San Bruno County Jail after they went on a highly publicized hunger strike out of fear that their example could provoke the prison population to riot.

Bello also triggered a chaotic scene at Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center when he led a disruption of a concert by pianist Cecile Licad attended by Licad’s patroness, then First Lady Imelda Marcos, shouting “There’s a fascist in the house,” pointing to the startled Marcos who was then holding hands with American pianist Van Cliburn at the balcony. Walden often used comedy as a form of protest, as when he donned the costume of Sesame Street character Kermit the Frog and tried to enter the International Monetary Fund with the late Charito Planas, who was dressed up as Miss Piggy, the two telling a bewildered receptionist they were Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos and demanded to see the IMF Managing Director to ask for a billion dollar loan.

During the EDSA Revolution, on February 26, 1986, Walden led the takeover of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, expelling Marcos’ diplomats then turning over the building to representatives of the new government of Corazon Aquino.

Principled resignation

Walden made the only recorded resignation from Congress on a question of principle in March 2015 after serving in the House of Representatives for six years. Bello’s party Akbayan was then allied to the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III and he resigned because he could no longer support Aquino. The reasons for his resigning a year before the end of his third term was to protest Aquino’s double standards, where the president tolerated corruption among his allies but used it as a weapon against his enemies; his refusal to accept command responsibility for the Mamasapano tragedy which led to the death of 44 policemen; and his entering into the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States.

An academic with a global reputation, Bello obtained his doctorate in sociology from Princeton University in 1975 and his bachelor of arts from Ateneo de Manila University in 1966. He is the author or co-author of 25 books on topics ranging from the political economy of the Philippines to the rise of the Right globally to the brewing conflict between China and the United States. He received the Right Livelihood Award (aka the Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2003 for his work in exposing the negative side of corporate-driven globalization and was named Outstanding Public Scholar by the International Studies Association in 2008. He has been called “the world’s leading no-nonsense revolutionary” by renowned Canadian author Naomi Klein. He was also praised “as the world’s best guide to American exploitation of the globe’s poor and defenseless,” by the late Chalmers Johnson, the world’s leading authority on East Asia’s economic development.

Prolific academic

Bello’s books include Counterrevolution: The Global Rise of the Far Right (Nova Scotia: Fernwood, 2019), Paper Dragons: China and the Next Crash (London: Bloomsbury/Zed, 2019), Capitalism’s Last Stand (London: Bloomsbury/Zed, 2013), Food Wars (London: Verso, 2009), and Dilemmas of Domination: The Unmaking of the American Empire (New York: Henry Holt, 2005). Over the last 50 years, he has authored hundreds of studies and articles that have come out in many publications, including The New York Times, Guardian, Bangkok Post, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, Foreign Policy, Dissent, International Sociology, Foreign Policy in Focus, and The Nation. He is a regular commentator for Rappler, the online publication founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa.

A retired professor of the University of the Philippines, Walden Bello is the co-founder of Focus on the Global South, the leading progressive think tank in Southeast Asia based in Bangkok that is affiliated with Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University. He is currently the Adjunct Professor of Sociology at one of the leading progressive universities in the United States, the State University of New York at Binghamton. A widower, Walden lost his Thai wife, Suranuch Thongsila, to cancer in 2018.

No the Axis of Evil: Why I have decided to run for Vice President 

By Laban ng Masa Chairperson and VP Candidate Walden Bello

October 31, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Laban ng Masa — Summary: I have no choice but to run owing to the urgent threat posed by the Axis of Evil (Marcos/Duterte). Only Laban ng Masa presidential candidate Ka Leody offers a program that can overcome this force along with a well-thought-out progressive path to the future. Other candidates may promise the sun and the moon; Leody and I can promise only a hard struggle ahead. For our program for socialism, social justice, and true democracy demands the participation of the people to make it a reality since the rich and the powerful will resist it with all their might. We are engaged in an electoral insurgency that is meant to complete the national revolution that was begun by Gabriela Silang, Rizal, Bonifacio, and Mabini but which they left for our generation to complete.

--

Six years ago, I made the only recorded resignation on a question of principle in the history of Congress, owing to irreconcilable differences with the Aquino III administration that the party I then belonged to supported. I resigned in protest at the administration’s tolerating corruption in its ranks despite a promise to combat corruption, the president’s refusal to take command responsibility for the tragic loss of lives in the Mamasapano Tragedy, and Aquino’s entering a new military agreement with the United States.

In 2016, I placed a run for the Senate far behind the overwhelming priority of attending 24/7 to a wife dying from cancer. Though focused on trying, without success, to keep a beloved partner alive and retreating into academic life, I did not disengage politically in the next few years. I felt, however, that my time could best be spent being a civil society activist pushing government to adopt positive policies from outside the electoral arena. Even before Duterte came to power, I told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that “Duterte would be another Marcos.” In 2017, I helped bring together a coalition of organizations and individuals, Laban ng Masa, that would offer a truly progressive, socialist-oriented alternative to the current political system. Over the last five years, I have published extensively locally and globally, analyzing and documenting the atrocities perpetrated by the Duterte administration and its transgressions of democracy. I became an active participant in the Free Leila de Lima movement to bring justice to one of the most vilified victims of Duterte’s machinery of lies. Owing to these activities, Duterte’s Philippine News Agency branded me “one of the administration’s staunchest critics.” Meant to discredit me, I wear these words as a badge of honor.

As the 2022 elections neared, I was urged to run for president. I declined, however, owing to my desire to spend my remaining years in academic work and to my conviction that that role could be better fulfilled by someone much younger and more vigorous. My hopes were fulfilled when the distinguished labor leader Leody de Guzman decided to accede to popular pressure to run, to the enthusiastic endorsement of Laban ng Masa, labor, and other groups.

Preventing the triumph of the Axis of Evil

In the third week of September, I left the country to fulfill my yearly commitment to teach for two months at one of the US’s most progressive universities, the State University of New York at Binghamton. While teaching here, I watched with increasing alarm Bong-Bong Marcos’ filing his candidacy for president and Bong Go’s filing his for vice president. Since Bong Go is Duterte’s ever loyal slave, the dark design has become clearer: the Marcoses’ relentless ambition to reconquer the county is now joined to President Duterte’s determination to protect his dynasty and escape punishment for taking the lives of over 20,000 Filipinos. These developments have convinced me that the country is facing its most perilous moment of the last 36 years: the return of a Marcos autocracy backed by the entrenched power of Duterte in the police, military, and bureaucracy.

It is to prevent the electoral triumph of this axis of evil that I have given in to the draft to run as Leody de Guzman’s vice president under the banner of both Laban ng Masa and Partido Lakas ng Masa. When the country is in peril, one cannot confine oneself to teaching, writing books, or enjoying meals with a 20 per cent seniors’ discount.

The current candidates for president do not have the capability nor the will to defeat this axis of evil. Pacquiao, Lacson, and Isko Moreno are too tied up with their previous alliance and friendship with Duterte to have the moral authority or credibility to assume this task. Alam naman natin hindi sila tunay na oposisyon. They know only the politics of compromise, not the politics of resistance. While Leni Robredo’s personal integrity is above question and she is truly anti-Marcos and anti-Duterte, her trapo-filled Senate slate shows that she still has to break free of her cordon sanitaire of advisers who are enmeshed in the old discredited brand of transactional reform politics to which people have given the disdainful term dilawan.

The only ticket with a program

My alliance with Leody is not simply anchored in opposing the Marcos-Duterte axis of evil by appealing to the need to preserve democracy. For people will give up on democracy and support enemies of democracy like Marcos and Duterte if what they face in their daily life is a most undemocratic existence, where they exist powerless in a society where the top one percent controls most of the country’s land and resources, where poverty engulfs over 30 per cent of the people, where most farmers do not own the land they till, where the powerful and rich can get away with anything while the poor and powerless are left with nothing. Our people yearn to live with dignity, but the daily blows of poverty and the arrogance of the few rich and powerful deprive them of even that. Who can blame those who fall victim to the revisionist history that maliciously transforms the collective nightmare of the Marcos years to a “Golden Age”?

The Laban ng Masa ticket offers the only well-thought out comprehensive program of social transformation offered by any of the candidates. No one knows what Sotto, Moreno, Pacquiao, and Marcos have to offer except everything under the sun. In contrast, should Leody and I win the elections, we will immediately move to:

• dismiss all personnel of the incompetent and corrupt IATF and appoint genuine and clean medical professionals to win the battle against Covid 19;

• institute judicial proceedings against Duterte for crimes against humanity and fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s investigation of him;

• revitalize government efforts to regain the Marcos’s stolen wealth and initiate prosecution of Bong-Bong Marcos and other Marcos family members for their role in concealing that wealth;

• tax the rich to up to 3 per cent of their wealth and channel the proceeds to a program of investment and income redistribution to bring about a dynamic economy;

• Institute smart economic planning and end the neoliberal policies that have destroyed our agriculture and industry by repudiating our ill-advised commitments to the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank;

• eliminate the illegitimate debt foisted on us by oppressive foreign debtors and end the massive debt overhang that prevents the needed expenditures on health, education, and social welfare;

• massively expand the now-stalled agrarian reform program to redistribute all land to our farmers;

• end contractualization now, PERIOD!;

• eliminate all laws that restrict the enjoyment of equal rights by women, the LGBTQ community, and indigenous peoples, and wage a campaign to do away with the prejudices and customs that reproduce discriminatory beliefs and practices.

• initiate emergency measures to address the climate and environmental crises.

We will, in addition, reduce our diplomatic relations to China to a minimum if Beijing does not end its violations of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea and oppressing our fisherfolk. And, minutes after assuming office, we will notify Washington that we are ending the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, and the Mutual Defense Treaty.

Pacquiao, Moreno, Marcos, and Lacson will promise the moon and the sky and everything nice. Leody and I, in contrast, offer a tough program of real reform that cannot succeed unless most of our people rally behind it to defy the rich and the powerful that will lose by it. What we are saying is that if we are elected, the only way the rich and powerful can stop us from implementing this program is by killing us.

We are not preaching class war. But we are warning the rich and the powerful, “You can no longer continue oppressing our people.” We are telling the rich and the powerful, “You cannot rule in the same old way. If you do not get out of the way, the people will take you out of the way.”

Tama na ang pang-aapi niyo sa masang Pilipino.

Fighting for a socialist and democratic future

So, our fellow Filipinos, Leody and I are running not only to prevent a return to a sordid past that would be brought about by the triumph of the Marcos-Duterte axis of evil. We are running as well for a future where our people are truly free of poverty and inequality and are united by solidarity instead of being divided into the powerful and the powerless.

Tama na ang paghati nila ng lipunan sa mga may kapangyarihan at mga walang kapangyarihan!

Some people call what we are fighting for socialism. Some say it is social democracy. Call it what you will—but make no mistake: We are fighting for a fundamental transformation of our society, to finally end the chains of bondage, oppression, and shame that the rich and the powerful have placed on 90 per cent of our people. We are, in short, engaged in an electoral insurgency to complete the national revolution that Gabriela Silang, Rizal, Bonifacio, and Mabini began and died for and left for this generation to finish.

Sabi nila takot ang Pinoy sa tunay na pagbabago. Sabi nila hindi mo mapapakilos ang Pinoy kasi duwag siya. Sabi nila madaling bilhin ang boto ng Pilipino. Limang daang piso, sabi nila, ang presyo ng Pilipino. Ito ang tingin ng mga makapangyarihan sa atin. Ipakain natin sa kanila ang mga salita nila.

Mabuhay ang masang Pilipino!

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