The Filipino people ask why thirty years after the hated Marcos dictatorship has been overthrown the country has not achieved the long-dreamt progress that could have emancipated the Filipino nation from stagnancy and underdevelopment. It has remained in the throes of economic and political crises and the masses are still in the quagmire of misery and abject poverty. What really ails the Filipino nation?
In his essay entitled “On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the EDSA uprising that overthrew the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines”, Jose Maria Sison succinctly summarized the significance and consequences of the historic event in the following words:
The successors of Marcos, from Corazon Aquino to her son Benigno Aquino III who is the current president of the Philippines, have proven to be fundamentally no different from Marcos as oligarchs of the comprador big bourgeoisie and the landlord class. Their only difference is that Marcos blatantly proclaimed martial law to oppress the people, whereas his successors employ pseudo-democratic embellishments on the chains of the people. The EDSA uprising succeeded in overthrowing an autocrat, but not the entire ruling system of big compradors and landlords who were beholden to U.S. imperialism.
Indeed, for as long as the same ruling classes of Philippine society are the ones running the State and government, nothing can be expected in terms of economic progress and development. It is to their interest that the Status Quo remained and the State be governed by the same oligarchs for ever and ever. If we peer through the pronouncements of Malacañang spewing praises for what PNoy calls economic growth of the country under his watch, we behold the faces of the top 10 wealthiest business tycoons of the Philippines. They are the big comprador-capitalists and big landlords in cahoots with the US monopoly-capitalists, equivalent to .0000001% of the population who enjoy super-profits and therefore “super-growth”—millionaires who have grown to be billionaires, and still growing to be multi-billionaires!
What exactly have been done to Philippine society after the Dictator Marcos was thrown out of Malacañang? Who were the principal players in the wake of the fall of Marcos? It’s good to refer to Jose Ma. Sison’s essay.
But from month to month in 1986 and 1987, the Aquino government exposed itself as the chief agent of U.S. imperialism and the anti-Marcos section of the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords to which Aquino herself belonged. She upheld as valid the anti-national decrees of Marcos favoring U.S. economic and security interests. She agreed to pay the odious foreign debts incurred by Marcos. She retained and applied the anti-labor decrees of Marcos and she gave the go signal to her military minions to massacre the peasants in front of the presidential palace. Thereafter, she unleashed the so-called low-intensity conflict strategy against the people and the revolutionary forces.
To the common Filipino citizen and consumer who has to contend with the day-to-day challenges of living, who does the marketing for the day’s meals, her mind goes back to those tension-filled days when Cory Aquino as plain housewife campaigning against the dictatorship and as presidential candidate against Marcos, swearing to bring down the price of a kilo of galunggong, and then she would sigh despairingly that the post-Marcos era is an utter disappointment. The price of the galunggong has been constantly rising along with other prime commodities until today.
More significantly, her promise to distribute to the farmers her family’s Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac became a bloodbath—she ordered to shoot down the farmers who were demanding the much awaited fulfillment of her promise. That incident has come down in history as the Mendiola Massacre, an unconscionable act of a chief executive who relied on her popularity to make a mockery of social justice that she vowed to institute upon her ascendancy.
The flight of the Marcoses from the country was to be highlighted by the triumphant come back of the Filipino economic elite who were disenfranchised during the dictator’s reign. And the turn-over of power was consummated in favor of the same ruling classes as in pre-martial law days. A season of euphoria prevailed in the early part of the Cory Aquino regime—a euphoric atmosphere owing to the blatant political repression obtaining in the preceding regime. But no sooner the reforms the masses dreamt of for so long were seen unavailing than intolerable developments came to the fore. Her unmasked obeisance to the US government made her pursue many anti-democratic, anti-people acts and deeds.
In pursuance of the LIC (low-intensity conflict) doctrine of the American military interventionist adventures around the globe, attacks against the progressive forces were enforced highlighting the existence of terrorist paramilitary forces. The peasant masses suffered a great deal from extrajudicial killings and other violations of human rights perpetrated by the paramilitary units under the direction of the AFP. The notorious Alsa Masa came to be dreaded gangster units operating in the urban centers in Mindanao, particularly in the city of Davao.
Meanwhile, no economic reform agenda was in place giving just and reasonable cause for protest mass actions to stir the political climate of the time. Crony capitalism remained with the old Marcos cronies replaced by new Aquino friends and relatives—the erewhile disenfranchised Kamag-anak Incorporated. The relatives and friends of the Aquinos returned, and their return could have been lyricised by the song “A time to be sowing, a time to be reaping….the green leaves of summer are calling me home…”
The legacy of the US-inspired “free enterprise” system is an unbroken chain of enslavement implemented and strategized by US imperialism in its hegemonic goals around the globe. From Cory Aquino to Fidel Ramos and down to her son Noynoy Aquino, the umbra of neoliberalism is the ideology that has guided the policies of government. These policies—liberalization, deregulation and privatization—were introduced and implemented openly by Fidel Ramos and constitute the economic mantra followed by succeeding regimes. The current Noynoy Aquino regime has unmasked itself as a willing tool for the advancement of neoliberal policies in the country. His role in the recent APEC conference is an ominous sign that Philippine society will undergo ever-deepening crises in the near future.
Neoliberalism is bound to drag the nation to further economic enslavement by foreign imperialism. It is not a strategy for progress, but a perpetual fetter of underdevelopment.