Ed’s Note: Mauro Gia Samonte was in his late-twenties when he enlisted into the national democratic movement began by Jose Maria Sison, eventually becoming full-fledged card-bearing member of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The sudden declaration of martial law on September 22, 1972 sowed chaos with the CPP causing him to be separated from his party unit. He continued on as a self-styled labor organizer but at some point, ending in violent disagreement with Sison’s strategy of protracted peoples war. Forced to surface from the underground, he turned to screenwriting, winning the 1977 best screenplay award in the Metro Manila Film Festival, and eventually becoming a movie director himself. Edsa One ended his revolutionary involvement. Ironically, it created a doldrum in his writing career. This is why he did not hesitate to accept an offer by Manila Times to write a regular column, a few years back. Today he still advocates for a revolution, this time with an ideology relevant to our history as a nation, one he describes as “a non-war, immediately practicable, self-help methods productive of envisioned people’s well-being.”
2.0 Constitutionalism eclipses a violent revolution
(Second of a Series of Four)
In 1986, the national democratic revolution under the leadership of Rodolfo Salas, alias Kumander Bilog, Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and of the Military Commission of the Party Central Committee, and New People’s Army Chief Rolando Kintanar, had attained a status of belligerence making it capable of overthrowing the continuing Marcos dictatorship: 25,000 NPA regulars all in company formation, a 500,000-strong people’s militia spread across five main regions of the archipelago, complemented still by undetermined number of armed propaganda units all over the countryside.
All told, the rebels numbered 6:10 vis-à-vis government forces. Already, this well surpassed the standard reckoning in guerilla warfare of 1:10 of rebels to the enemy for the rebellion to succeed.
But consistently fettered by the Jose Maria Sison line of protracted people’s war, the Rolando Kintanar formula of Nicaragua-type city insurrection-based uprising took time getting implemented, thus enabling Cory Aquino to steal the revolution away from the people.
The so-called EDSA People Power revolt actually forever nailed the coffin of people’s armed struggle in the Philippines, the continuing sporadic skirmishes between government forces and insurgents in their various colors notwithstanding.
But is constitutionalism any better?
The so-called First Philippine Republic – proclaimed by Emilio Aguinaldo on June 12, 1898 – never really got to prove its worth in answering the question. Though it was to function according to the provisions of a Constitution promulgated by a formal constitutional convention, which was the Malolos Congress of 1899, it never really took off the ground owing to the immediately-ensuing brute American military aggression of the country.
Nonetheless, with the surrender of Aguinaldo in 1901, it was that military conquest by the United States which formally signaled the Philippines’ entry into the world bourgeois constitutionalism.
Through a mere promulgation of a constitution, a rule of government is established whereby the welfare of the people is ostensibly the primordial aim, but the very concept of democracy as the guiding spirit of such a constitution makes the oppression and exploitation of the people open season for the bourgeoisie.
There can never be equal economic well-being for people with unequal political power. Where the distribution of social wealth is much heavily in favor of the rich, the distribution of democratic rule cannot be equally in favor of the poor.
As it is often cited, 99% of the wealth of the land is owned by 1% of the population. Necessarily, 99% of political power is controlled by that same 1% of the population.
Without a truly radical shakeup of the system of polity – free enterprise, press freedom, civil rights, human rights, democratic processes, etc. – rammed down the throats of the Filipino people by the American aggressors, the ideal of democratic elections can only be a farce.
No poor man can ever win in an election. So political power stays clutched tight in the hands of the rich.
Look at what happened to the Party-list concept. Theoretically, it was good for the marginalized sectors of society. But once put into practice, it became just one more powerful weapon for the rich for enriching themselves further in power. Today, the richest congressman is a representative of a party-list.
The unevenness of the distribution of the wealth of the land has over the past century become a most fertile ground for planting the seeds of rebellion across the land. It is true for both the Sisonite rebellion of the CPP/NPA/NDF triad and the Muslim insurgencies in Mindanao.
Experience teaches us that no amount of political negotiations can ever reach a peaceful settlement of armed conflicts. The Tripoli Agreement of 1976, reached by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with the Marcos government, got snagged in its implementation up until the downfall of Marcos in 1986 and all throughout the succeeding six years of Cory rule. No sooner had the MNLF finally reached agreement with the government under President Fidel V. Ramos than the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) launched its own revolt, culminating after decades of raging in the passage recently of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
But then even before the BOL can take off, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) suddenly springs into action, beginning its own terrorist attacks, evidently directed at forging with the government its own “peaceful settlement”. At the same time, leaders of the Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan Muslims already express their rejection of the agreement forged by the MILF with the government.
On the other hand, on the communist front, the Sison revolutionary clique, as indicated by its agenda of negotiations, have their eyes set mainly on the enjoyment of shared political power with the Duterte government. Failing to get that concession, they have now aligned themselves with the Oust-Duterte Movement of the Yellow Cult.
And where the Yellow Cult is, can the United States be far behind? The greatest myth in recent Philippine history has been that Cory Aquino brought down Marcos; it was the United States that did it.
The Oust-Duterte Movement, therefore, cannot but be taken in the context of the simmering China-US conflict for domination over the South China Sea. It has been the urging of the United States for the Philippines to push its deemed victory over China in the arbitration case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at the Hague.
Since China has from the very beginning declared its rejection of the PCA proceedings, a Philippine insistence on that body’s ruling can only meet with Chinese belligerence. This is the kind of situation the US wants the Philippines to be in to justify its military intervention in the South China Sea region.
The US must be foreseeing an advantage over China in this respect, but in any event, such US military intervention will be to the great cost of the Philippines. It will transform the country into a sad theater for a proxy war between the US and China, as Syria has been over the past seven years, rendered in shambles by the proxy war between the US and Russia.
Quite commendably, President Duterte has consistently stayed out of that strait, instead charting a friendly course toward China. There must be a determined effort to frustrate the intensifying movement to oust Duterte and thereby divert the nation from the warpath with China in the event another leader is put in his place.
Only the declaration of a people’s revolutionary government can prevent this eventuality.
President Duterte must take the bold step now. From the inception of the so-called independent Philippine republic in 1946 up to the present, the country’s electoral process has consistently suffered from its inherent infirmity of favoring only the rich for elective posts. Consequently, as it has now become a cliché, the rich get richer and the poor poorer.
At a time when the masses of the “common tao” are increasingly having a hard time procuring such staple poor man’s fare as rice and galunggong due to increasing prices, and the hordes of Filipino domestic helpers are increasingly migrating abroad, risking lives, limbs and human dignity, radical decisions need to be made.
It is high time President Duterte proved himself a President of, for and by the people. He cannot shirk from his responsibility to chart to fruition the long-cherished dream of the people for a truly just, humane and prosperous society as in the days of primordial social bliss. (ia/sovereignph.com)
(To be continued)