Uphold the lessons of “people power”

Bayan calls on the current generation to uphold the lessons of “people power” and continue the struggle for national freedom and democracy.

A press statement from Statement of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
February 24, 2017

BAYAN joins the nation in commemorating the 31st anniversary of the EDSA uprising that toppled the US-Marcos dictatorship. EDSA was the culmination of years of militant struggle by the people, highlighted by a determined revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside. The real heroes of EDSA are the people – not just one political color, nor one family, nor the generals and politicians.

This year’s EDSA commemoration comes amid intensifying fascist repression under the Duterte government. The AFP is waging all-out war against the people. Human rights violations are on the rise in the cities and countryside. More than 400 political prisoners remain incarcerated on trumped-up charges, most of them arrested during the previous Aquino regime. Meanwhile, the peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP are now in limbo.

The past few weeks saw heightened contradictions among factions of the ruling elite. The political crisis has seen accusations and counter-actions from the warring factions seeking to weaken each other. The arrest of Liberal Party Senator Leila de Lima should be seen in this context.

There is a very disturbing trend of political repression against critics of the Duterte regime. De Lima however will not be the first political prisoner under the current adminstration, contrary to her claims. Prior to de Lima, there were at least 30 political prisoners arrested and jailed under the current government, including activists from the legal democratic movement. The practice of filling trumped-up charges and legal shortcuts is also not an invention of the current regime since these were prevalent during the regimes of Gloria Arroyo and Noynoy Aquino.

With de Lima’s arrest, expect contradictions among political rivals to intensify in the coming days.

After EDSA

Despite the people’s victory at EDSA 31 years ago, the country remains beset by serious social problems. We remain mired in poverty, corruption, human rights violations, and the trampling of our sovereignty. The mere changing of presidents – from Marcos to Aquino – was not enough to change the rotten system.

What happened in EDSA in 1986 cannot be called a real revolution because it did not usher genuine change. The regime of landlords, big business and foreign interests remained. Bureaucrat capitalism remained.
Proof that there was no change is that the Marcoses are back in power and are planning their to return to Malacañang. The dictator’s remains now rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani as the Marcos rehabilitation continues under the Duterte government.

The bloody tradition of human rights violations by the police and military is still present and rampant in the PNP and AFP. From Oplan Tokhang to the military operations in the countrysides, human rights violations continue.
Rebellion continues because the roots of the armed conflict remain. All over the country, the people continue to wage armed struggle for national freedom and democracy. Each president from the time of Marcos has brought his or her own version of “all-out-war”, and all of these failed to crush the revolutionary movement. Intensifying fascist attacks will fail as long as poverty and injustice remain.

Change has come?

Rodrigo Duterte won the presidential elections based on a platform of change. After 7 months in power, the people are still waiting for Duterte’s promised reforms. Until now, ending contractualization remains an unfulfilled promise. The promise to free all political prisoners in the spirit of pursuing the peace talks has not happened. The promise to evict US troops, terminate EDCA, and assert national sovereignty has not materialized. Progressives are a minority in the cabinet and often face opposition from the more dominant reactionaries, militarists and neoliberals. The promise to end the rule of the oligarchs has likewise remained unfulfilled.

Worse, Duterte abruptly and unilaterally cancelled the peace negotiations with the NDFP, despite the positive achievements in the talks. Instead of peace talks, the AFP has unleashed all-out-war against the people. The number of human rights violations in the form of illegal arrests, killings and militarization of communities is on the rise. These are just a continuation of the AFP’s atrocities even during its sham “ceasefire”, a development that later forced the revolutionary forces to withdraw their own ceasefire.

Because social conditions are fundamentally unchanged, our calls remain the same: militant struggle for national freedom, democracy and just peace.

We must protest and demand that the Duterte government fulfill its promises to the people. We must struggle against the regime’s anti-people and anti-national policies and push government to resolve the outstanding issues of the people. We must also demand from Duterte to stop the all-out-war against the people and to continue the peace talks to address the roots of the armed conflict. We must resist intensifying state fascism.

We should continue to intensify our collective struggle because we cannot rely on government or any politician to achieve radical, thoroughgoing change.

Bayan salutes the Filipino people who joined the EDSA uprising. We call on the current generation to uphold the lessons of “people power” and continue the struggle for national freedom and democracy.