A bird's eye view of the vineyard
The Pentagon?s director of operational test & evaluation (OTE) assessment of the F-35 (amazing read!... Thu Jan 19, 2017 00:21 | The Saker
Friends, This is not Russian “propaganda”. This is an official US government document. And an amazing read. See for yourself: I would like to use this opportunity to wholeheartedly congratulate
Syrian-Iraqi War Report ? January 18, 2017: War Against ISIS Wed Jan 18, 2017 14:25 | The Saker
The Political Uses Of Russophobia Wed Jan 18, 2017 14:09 | The Saker
American spies, Primakov?s death, and Russian Pharma, by Scott Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:12 | Scott
This is my corner so I can rant on and on about what bothers me the most today. Take, for example, the recent revelation made by Russia’s Foreign Ministry that
The best armed forces on the planet? Wed Jan 18, 2017 01:48 | The Saker
In my recent article ?Risks and Opportunities for 2017? I made a statement which shocked many readers. I wrote: Russia is now the most powerful country on the planet. (?)
The Saker >>
Guest Post: Extension of the 14 day rule: potential implications for Irish embryos Thu Jan 12, 2017 18:05 | Eilionoir Flynn
Notes on Judge Harding-Clark?s Report on the Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme. Thu Nov 24, 2016 17:50 | Máiréad Enright
The Practical Implications of Miller v SSEEU for Brexit: Nine Reflections Thu Nov 03, 2016 16:30 | Fiona de Londras
Having Our Voices Heard ? the Official Languages Act foreshadowing the Recognition of Irish Sign Lan... Wed Nov 02, 2016 09:35 | admin
Benefit Sanctions and Coercion Within the Irish Welfare System Thu Sep 22, 2016 13:38 | Cliodhna Murphy
Human Rights in Ireland >>
For lefties too stubborn to quit
The UK and Europe. Size is relative 19:26 Wed Jan 18, 2017 | WorldbyStorm
A view from inside the government? 14:00 Wed Jan 18, 2017 | WorldbyStorm
SF and the unions? and what about unions more broadly? 11:22 Wed Jan 18, 2017 | WorldbyStorm
The DUP and Brexit 06:23 Wed Jan 18, 2017 | WorldbyStorm
What you want to say ? 18th January, Week 3, 2017 02:36 Wed Jan 18, 2017 | WorldbyStorm
Cedar Lounge >>
Life should be full of strangeness, like a rich painting
Notes for a Book on Money and the Irish State - The Marshall Aid Program 15:10 Sat Apr 02, 2016
The Financial Crisis:What Have We Learnt? 19:58 Sat Aug 29, 2015
Money in 35,000 Words or Less 21:34 Sat Aug 22, 2015
THE WRATH OF KANE: BANKING CRISES AND POLITICAL POWER 09:32 Fri Jan 30, 2015
ALWAYS THE ARTISTS: WEEK THREE OF THE BANK INQUIRY 23:11 Thu Jan 22, 2015
Dublin Opinion >>
Philippine Leftists launch election campaign to take on traditional politicians
Wednesday January 02, 2013 08:04 by Tony Iltis
At a one-day assembly of more than 500 delegates on November 28, the militant socialist Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM - Partido Lakas ng Masa) introduced its candidates for national elections scheduled for May 13 next year.
The PLM, which now holds positions in several Barangay (neighbourhood) councils, is running 20 candidates for municipal councillor, vice-mayor, mayor and Congress. They include candidates in Negros and Iligan, in the Philippine archipelago’s south. Most candidates, however, are in Metro Manila or the semi-urban provinces surrounding the capital: Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan and Laguna.
This area, home to more than a third of the country’s population, is where the party has its strongest base.
Along with the PLM candidates, the assembly was also addressed by Dick Penson, a businessperson running for the Senate.
A successful entrepreneur may seem an unlikely guest at an assembly of a radical left-wing party whose main base is in the urban poor. But as another guest speaker – Australian Socialist Alliance member and former Green Left Weekly Caracas correspondent Federico Fuentes – explained, a feature of neoliberal imperialism is that in many poor countries every aspect of the economy is monopolised by foreign multinationals.
Political power becomes concentrated in an ever-shrinking elite, marginalising national business in the process.
In the Philippines, this has reached the point of absurdity, with political power monopolised by 119 families, less than 0.0005% of the population. These dynasties use political office to enrich themselves, generally through legally suspect means such as awarding themselves land. As their wealth is dependent on holding office, they invest in getting family members elected.
Penson is running on the Krusada Kontra Dynasty (Anti-Dynasty Crusade) ticket, while the PLM is making tackling the political dynasties the focus of its campaign. There are plans for both to join on a “caravan against the dynasties” that will travel the country early next year.
PLM national chairperson Sonny Melencio, in his address to the assembly, explained the history of the dynasties. The most established can trace their power to their ancestors collaborating with the Spanish, who ruled the Philippines from the 1500s until 1898.
The Filipino revolution against the Spanish was crushed by the US who established their own rule. New collaborators came forward, creating new dynasties.
When Japan occupied the Philippines during World War II, most of this elite departed with the US occupation forces. This was an opportunity for others to collaborate with the Japanese and found their own dynasties.
The 119 families who rule the Philippines come from all these generations of collaborators. They also feature a few newer dynasties established through holding political office in the neocolonial independent republic established in 1946.
In a country with no social security and few opportunities for regular employment, one way the dynasties stay in office is through the distribution of meagre “gifts” to their electorates.
They also use more sinister means. Particularly in rural areas, political clans keep private armies. Elections in the Philippines can be violent affairs.
After the 1986 uprising that overthrew the US-backed Marcos dictatorship, some anti-dynasty measures were introduced. Article 2, Section 26 of the constitution states: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as defined by law.”
However, laws to make this constitutional provision reality are unlikely to come while legislators are themselves members of the dynasties.
Another measure is the reservation of 57 of the 287 seats in Congress to Party Lists representing marginalised constituencies. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is supposed to ensure that Party List candidates are from non-elite backgrounds.
This has not stopped the dynasties from establishing Party Lists with their family members as candidates. These are popularly known as “BoPals”, short for “bogus Party Lists”.
On October 25, the PLM Youth held an anti-BoPal protest at the Comelec offices, with street theatre featuring the “Trapo family” running various members for elected office, including the family dog. Trapo is a pejorative term for traditional politicians.
Fuentes’ presentation on the revolutions in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador generated much discussion, particularly as the working class in these countries is – like the Philippines – comprised mainly of people in the informal sector.
Before the Asian financial crisis in 1998, the PLM-aligned trade union federation, the BMP, was made up mainly of industrial workers. Since then, this sector has shrunk dramatically due to jobs being exported to Cambodia and China. The BMP’s work has increasingly been through its affiliates, KPML and PMT, organising the urban poor: motorcycle-taxi drivers, street vendors, contractualised call-centre workers, the underemployed and the unemployed.
As urban poor communities are often next to rivers and creeks and are flooded with increasing regularity, climate justice has become an important issue for the PLM.
The Philippines’ role in the globalised capitalist economy is predominantly as an exporter of labour. This has a devastating effect on society as families are torn apart. Filipino children are commonly brought up by grandparents. The abuse suffered by overseas Filipino workers, particularly female domestic workers, is infamous.
Apart from the issue of political dynasties, Penson has said that export of labour is the main issue on which he will campaign. He noted that from the glitzy buildings of Dubai to the mines of outback Australia and US hospitals, the world is kept running by Filipino labour while the Philippines stagnates.
PLM candidates include Uriel Jojo Borja, running for Congress in Iligan, Bong Sevilla, running for mayor of General Mariano Alvarez municipality, Cavite, where the PLM is running a full slate of eight councillor candidates, and Restituto Mendoza running for vice-mayor of San Pablo City.
Dominic Flores, running for councillor in Quezon City, is making history as an openly gay candidate. In Barangay Pansol, whose council he heads, he established a gender equality office and anti-discrimination ordinances. He has pledged to replicate this in the Quezon City municipal council if elected.
Tony Iltis, Manila
Tony Iltis as a member of the Australian Socialist Alliance who attended the PLM’s one-day assembly.