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Philippines: The May 10 elections and the left

By Sonny Melencio, Manila

May 17, 2010 – The May 10, 2010, election has been bandied about as the cleanest and the most peaceful since the restoration of this exercise after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. This is attributed to the computerised election which ensured the quick counting of votes so that there would not be sufficient time for any of the trapo (traditional politician) to cheat.

However, there have been many reported election irregularities according to independent organisations that observed the elections. These include the distribution of “faulty” compact flash (CF) cards, which delayed the voting and transmission of results; the failure of several Board of Election inspectors to use ultraviolet lamps to verify the authenticity of the ballots; the actual number of disenfranchised voters (from 2.5 million to 5 million mostly first-time voters according to the watchdog Kontra Daya); and the many reports of malfunctioning precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

Philippines faces election failure

By Reihana Mohideen

May 9, 2010 -- The country faces a possible failure of elections on May 10 due to the inability of the Philippines' elite to ensure a resolution to the political crisis through elections, and the general incompetence of a corruption ridden, elite-controlled, weak state to conduct credible elections, above all one based on a fully automated voting system.

Only five days before the elections a major test run of the equipment failed. In several precincts around the country, for example, votes cast for the opposition Liberal Party candidate Noynoy Aquino were counted as votes for the candidate backed by the government party Lakas Kampi CMD’s (Christian Muslim Democrats), Gilbert Teodoro.

In one important aspect, i.e. the public trust in the electoral commission to conduct credible elections, the elections have already failed. People are extremely distrustful of the electoral commission and its credibility is virtually in tatters. The commission is suspected of being manipulated by the president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (known as GMA in the Philippines) to serve her personal political interests, and several commissioners are known to be in the pay of GMA.

Philippines left and the 2010 elections: Military rebels in the elections

Francisco Nemenzo.

By Reihana Mohideen, based on an interview with well-known Marxist Francisco Nemenzo

May 6, 2010 -- An important political development in recent years, a result of the widespread opposition to the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [known in the Philippines as GMA], is the radicalisation of junior officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which has drawn a new generation into progressive politics.

Philippines: Ric Reyes for Pasig mayor -- a model electoral campaign for the left

By Reihana Mohideen

April 7, 2010 -- Socialist Feminist -- Ric Reyes' campaign for mayor of the city Pasig was formally launched at a 5000-strong local rally on March 26. The march, the biggest to be held in that city for many years, snaked its way on a "long march" through the working-class sections of Pasig. Ric Reyes' campaign is a model campaign for the left – an example of how to conduct a united, principled and effective electoral intervention.

The campaign unites local mass leaders and activists of Akbayan and the Partido Lakas ng Masa, in a tactical alliance with the local "yellow forces" of the Liberal Party, whose national presidential candidate is Noynoy Aquino. The local chapter of the Magdalo, one of the political formations formed by military rebels who attempted to lead a military mutiny against President Gloria Macapagal Aorroyo, is also supporting the campaign.

The electoral debacle of the Philippines left

By Reihana Mohideen

[The first two in a series of commentaries in the lead-up to the May 10, 2010 elections in the Philippines.]

March 12, 2010 -- Socialist Feminist -- While Latin America has opened up a new socialist front for the 21st century and we have the most recent victory of the united left coalition in Uruguay, the Frente Amplio (FA – Broad Front), led by a former leader of the Tupamaros Jose "Pepe" Mujica, winning thep residency in November 2009, the Philippines left, by contrast, is a tragic and even horrible spectacle going into the May 2010 elections.

While the left is undeniably present in the electoral arena, the main tactic pursued is to vie for positions in the Senate tickets of pro-capitalist trapo (traditional politicians) presidential candidates who are the frontrunners in the polls, i.e. the tickets of Noynoy Aquino, the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party (which is carrying an Akbayan Senate candidate), Manny Villar, the presidential candidate of the Nacionalista Party (which is carrying two senators for the Bayan bloc), and the previously ousted former president Joseph Estrada of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (which is running a Sanlakas Senate candidate).

IWD in the Philippines: `For a government of the women masses and a socialist feminist society'

Women dying from the Asian `miracle': System change a must to save women’s lives

By Reihana Mohideen

March 8, 2010 -- Despite the fanfare about Asia’s "miracle" economies, the problem of "missing women and girls" is actually growing, according to the United Nations Development Program-sponsored 2010 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report.

These "missing" girls and women are a result of the abortion of girl fetuses and women dying through sheer neglect – underfed and starved and not receiving adequate health care. The birth gender disparity is the highest in East Asia, home of the Asian "miracle" economies, where 119 boys are born for every 100 girls. China and India, much touted for their economic success, account for 85 million of these 100 million "missing" women. 

Philippines: Justice for murdered journalists and human rights heroes! End trapo politics now!

Medical workers cover the bodies of massacre victims, November 25, 2009.

By Sonny Melencio, Partido Lakas ng Masa

November 25, 2009 -- The Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) condemns in the strongest possible terms the massacre in Maguindanao. We assert that this is not only a problem confined to Mindanao, but that it’s a symptom of a festering and rotten political system. We predict that this violence will be the feature of the coming elections, as the political elite struggle with increasing desperation and ferocity for a share of the ever-dwindling national wealth and power.

[On November 23, 57 people were massacred by the ruling Ampatuan clan that governs the province -- see news report below.]

The Philippine elections are a veritable killing fields and the killings have begun!

Philippines socialists: `Moratorium on foreign debt to pay for a modern weather forecasting service'

Scenes from Manila in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy. Photos: Vitamin OC.

By Partido Lakas ng Masa

Moratorium on foreign debt servicing to pay for essential and basic services! Upgrade Pagasa’s equipment now!

Philippines: Flood relief appeal from Partido Lakas ng Masa

By Reihana Mohideen, international desk, Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses)

September, 28, 2009 -- Typhoon Ondoy swept through the Philippines on September 26, displacing some 250,000 people and, according to the most recent reports, has left some 86 people dead. Urban centres, such as Metro Manila, were also badly affected with more than 80% of the city under water. In some areas the water was around 4'-5' deep. Apparently one month’s rainfall poured down in a matter of a few hours.

We are conducting relief operations through our own networks and we are appealing for funds to support our relief work. The typhoon has now cleared and today we will be assessing the situation based on reports from our organisers on the ground. This will also include getting information on the state of the government's disaster management response. Reports are coming in about the inadequacy of the government's response -- in some areas people are still waiting for rescue operations to get to them and in other cases people are still waiting for food assistance.

The Philippines left and Corazon Aquino

Corazon Aquino (far right) in 1986.

By Reihana Mohideen

August 14, 2009 – Former president of the Philippines Corazon Aquino died on August 1. Following the 1983 assassination of Benigno Aquino, her husband, Cory Aquino became the Philippine’s leading bourgeois opposition figure to the US-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She stood against Marcos in the 1986 presidential election. After Marcos was proclaimed the winner of the blatantly rigged election, a mass uprising – dubbed the ``people power revolution’’ -- overthrew Marcos and Aquino became president. She was in office from 1986 to 1992.

The Philippines left’s reaction to the death of Corazon Aquino has been intriguing. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) did a complete about-turn, recanting its previous position that Cory Aquino was a representative of the reactionary classes.

Philippines: `Let us now begin the Revolution for Change'

Opening talk by Sonny Melencio to the “Pagbabago! No More Trapos in 2010!” forum

June 1, 2009 -- On behalf of Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses), I would like to extend our thanks to our two guests here who will be speaking together with me in this forum.

One has already symbolised the struggle against the trapo [elite politicians], and I refer to Among Ed. Among Ed has in fact defeated not only the three Gs that have come to symbolise the ``guns, goons and gold'' wielded by the trapos. In Pampanga, Among Ed has beaten the five Gs – which includes two more Gs representing Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the gambling lords.

The other one symbolised the call for change, in fact the call for the ouster of the Arroyo regime, during the Manila Peninsula rebellion on November 29, 2007. He is not with us today, because he’s still in detention, but he is represented by his lawyer Attorney Trixie Cruz-Angeles, who’s going to give us the message from Brigadier General Danilo Lim. [See following article.]

May Day, 2009: `Advance the socialist alternative!', `Together we shall restore humanity'

May Day 2009 in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo by Farooq Tariq.

May 1, 2009 -- Below are a number of messages to mark International Workers' Day -- May Day -- from revolutionary organisations around the world. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal will post others as they become available. Please check back.

* * *

Economic crisis: Skyrocketing unemployment in Asia hits women and young people hardest

Unemployed workers in China at a train station, waiting to return to their rural areas. 

By Reihana Mohideen

[Reihana Mohideen will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

February 23, 2009 -- Recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports on global and regional employment trends paint a stark picture of rapidly increasing unemployment in 2008; the situation is expected to worsen in 2009 with the prediction of massive job losses. The message is clear: workers and the poor are already paying heavily for the capitalist economic crisis. Especially hard hit are working-class and poor women and young people.

Philippines: 'We need system change', says military rebel

Major Jason Aquino (left) and Peter Boyle in Camp Aguinaldo detention centre.

By Peter Boyle

February 19, 2009 -- Major Jason Aquino is one of the 28 officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines charged with allegedly attempting a mutiny in February 2006. Aquino was detained on February 22 that year and held incommunicado in a windowless cell for five months.

I met Major Aquino and several other detained rebel officers in Camp Aguinaldo in early February 2009. They were all outspoken against the grossly corrupt government of Philippines President Gloria Arroyo, and their years of incarceration (as yet without being convicted of a single crime) have only deepened their politicisation. But Major Aquino -- who has studied the speeches and writings of Fidel Castro and read everything he can get his hands on about the revolution in Venezuela led by Hugo Chavez -- wanted to make it clear a that he was “not a reformist”.

Philippines: Urban poor strongly represented in new socialist party

 


`We are the bat people' -- Voices of resistance by the urban poor of Manila. Photos by Peter Boyle.

[Reihana Mohideen, a representative of the Power of the Masses Party (Partido Lakas ng Masa), will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets. For more information about the Partido Lakas ng Masa, click HERE.]

By Peter Boyle

New left party -- Power of the Masses Party -- formed in Philippines


Part 1: Interview with Sonny Melencio, chairperson of Partido Lakas ng Masa of the Philippines. Conducted by Peter Boyle for Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewalin Manila on February 1, 2009. (Parts 2 and 3 below).
 
[Reihana Mohideen, a representative of Partido Lakas ng Masa, will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

By Peter Boyle

World economic crisis: No room for band-aid solutions in the Third World

By Reihana Mohideen

December 29, 2008 -- According to recent Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) figures, another 40 million people have been pushed into poverty and hunger so far this year as a result of spiralling food prices, and the total number of people suffering hunger and malnutrition has reached 963 million worldwide.

While the prices of major cereals have fallen by more than 50per cent of their peak in 2008, they still remain high compared to previous years.[1] Nearly two-thirds of the world's hungry live in Asia (583 million in 2007). In sub-Saharan Africa, one in three people -- or 236 million (2007) -- are chronically hungry. Most of the increase in the number of hungry occurred in a single country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a result of widespread and persistent conflict. The FAO predicts that the impact of the economic crisis, on the heels of the food price crisis and oil price increases, could further exacerbate malnutrition and hunger levels.

Philippines: Militant workers demand `big-time rollback' of labour export policy

By Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party Philippines)

October 27, 2008 -- The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for a historic reversal of the strategy of labour export as the government-sponsored Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) opened its first day.

"A one-time, big-time rollback of the failed policy of labour export is just as urgent and necessary as the bloated prices of oil. It is time to think out of the box and shift to domestic full employment instead of promoting overseas employment", declared Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson at a big rally led by Solidarity Action of labour Against GFMD (SALAG).

PM opposes the GFMD since it alleges that the main problem it is trying to solve is how to profit from remittances not how to protect migrants. "It would have been funny if it were not tragic that the GFMD is steadfastly fascinated with the neoliberal agenda even though the bankruptcy of globalisation has been exposed by the financial meltdown and economic recession in the US and the world", Magtubo asserted.

The global financial crisis: implications for Asia

By Reihana Mohideen

The Wall Street crisis seems light years away from the side streets of Manila’s urban poor slums. For the labouring masses in the Philippines the capitalist system has been in crisis for some time now, unable to deliver life’s basic necessities: jobs and a living wage; affordable quality healthcare and education; and food security.

According to official National Statistics Office data poverty levels have increased between 2003 and 2006, and 2008 is expected to be the worst year since the 1998 Asian economic crisis. Between April 2007 and April 2008 the labour force grew by only 81,000, while the number of unemployed rose by 249,000, i.e. triple the increase in the labour force. In 2008 the number of employed persons fell by 168,000 and there was no employment generation in April of this year. Jobs were being lost at a time when prices and inflation were skyrocketing.

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