|Subject:||Lessons from the Philippine Elections|
|Date:||Thu, 26 May 2022 13:00:13 +0800|
|From:||Romeo Jara <email@example.com>|
Weeks after the May 2022 Presidential Elections in the Philippines, activists, people-led political parties, communities, and people’s organizations have gathered lessons from their victories and the battles that are yet to be won. For Indigenous Peoples (IP), in the Philippines, the elections were a venue for them to forward their agenda, and amplify their calls against fascism, plunder, and the right to self-determination.
Various groups including organizations and communities of IP have backed the Robredo-Pangilinan campaign, including progressive senators like labor leader Elmer Labog, human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares and other progressive parties in the Philippines.
Through the unity of various coalitions, parties, and organizations, the peoples’ movement in the Philippines has gathered fruitful lessons. For Indigenous Peoples, this solidarity between communities was forged through 1SAMBUBUNGAN (loosely translated as “under one roof”), a broad coalition of IP organizations, advocates, and formations that represent different IP communities around the country.
“The need for IP to unite and consolidate their strength, and link with other sectors against a common foe has been highlighted by the fact that the evilest sections of Philippine society have also done the same– the Marcos-Arroyo-Duterte alliance along with their friends from the richest and greediest oligarchies in the country,” says Beverly Longid, an indigenous Bontok-Kankanaey from Cordillera, and part of the 1SAMBUBUNGAN.
Longid adds that the successful unification of a broad IP alliance is already a victory in itself. “No IP formation as broad as this has been forged in Philippine history, not even during Marcos Sr.’s dictatorship. This just goes to show how important of a battle 1SAMBUBUNGAN is waging”
Through the efforts of 1Sambubungan and its allied organizations, Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines were able to present their united IP agenda, which was also supported by leading opposition candidates Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan through a covenant signing.
New challenges as son of dictator crawls back to power
Last May 9, 2022, the Philippines held its Presidential Elections. Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines face greater challenges as Ferdinand Marcos Jr., namesake of ousted dictator and kleptocrat, is poised to become the country’s new president. Also, Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of current president Rodrigo Duterte, is set to be the next vice-president. This new regime poses new threats against IP rights, ancestral lands, and the environment.
IP and environmental defenders oppose the incoming Marcos-Duterte regime, defenders fear that the children of the murderous leaders in Philippine history will continue the legacy of environmental crimes and crimes against Indigenous Peoples committed by their fathers. Under the rule of Marcos Sr anti-environment projects were left and right, such as the Bataan Nuclear Plan, Calaca Coal-fired Powerplant, and the Chico River Dam project, among others. The Kaliwa Dam project in the Southern Tagalog Region of the Philippines was kickstarted by Marcos Sr and was passed on and continued by succeeding regimes, under Duterte the project was rapidly fast-tracked.
In a unity statement signed by 221 environmental advocates, they say “Filipinos have faced the deadliest and most disastrous years of their lives under the Marcos and Duterte dynasties.
No one wants to suffer the same disaster over and over again.”
The erasure of Filipino Indigenous History
In an interview, presumptive president Marcos Jr says that one of his first orders of business is to revise textbooks saying “We are teaching our children lies”, an alarming statement given the fact that the Marcos camp, through the years, has been forcibly establishing their own version of history that they force into the Filipino people’s consciousness. The sanitation of the Marcos name can be traced back to the moment that the Cory Aquino regime allowed for the remains of Ferdinand Sr. to be brought back to the country. Since then the family has launched a steady and massive campaign to cleanse their family name, all for the ultimate pursuit of returning to power.
The presidency of another Marcos is a threat to erase the stories of martyrs and heroes who fought the dictatorship, the history and struggle of figures like Macliing Dulag, Petra Macliing, the Dumagat and Remontado people, the Lumads, and other IP heroes and communities who lived through Martial Law.
Although alarming, statements like these come as no surprise given the fact that his whole candidacy was built on years of spreading lies, disinformation against the people and deception which included the demonization of the anti-Marcos opposition.
Lessons and ways forward
With the Marcos-Duterte tandem poised to assume power, Filipino IP must expose the tandem’s victory manufactured by their cohorts within the bureaucracy through fraud, disinformation, and deceit. The broad alliances forged during the elections must be consolidated as a force to fight the new regime, as it is a regime expected to continue the bloodshed and war waged by their fathers Rodrigo Duterte and Marcos Sr.
The broad opposition movement was able to mobilize millions during the election season, these numbers should serve as a warning to the incoming regime while serving as an inspiration of the possibility to activate large numbers for a common goal.
Indigenous Peoples and other oppressed sectors around the world can learn from the peoples movement in the Philippines. The elections, as a mechanism for democratic governance and exercise of democratic rights, provide a space for progressive candidates and platforms. But the dominance of entrenched elite and powerful dynasties with vested economic and political interests limits democracy’s full realization. Still, the electoral arena, amid its limitations, remains vital in registering people’s aspirations, democratic expressions, struggles and issues.
Historically, the people’s movement through painstaking organizing remains the most potent force to uproot dictators and corrupt bureaucrats, and bring forth genuine pro-people leaders and programs within or outside election season.
People of the world support the Filipino people’s struggle against fascism and tyranny
Days after the elections and amid his looming victory, Marcos Jr was contacted by US President Joe Biden, in a statement released by the White House, Biden says he hopes for greater cooperation with the incoming President. Indigenous Peoples and the Filipino people cannot take this lightly especially when the US is pouring billions of dollars to fund the Philippine Governments war against progressives, in the guise of counter-terrorism. Just recently, Biden is on his visit to the Asia-Pacific region in efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Japanese imperialist control in the region raising political and military tensions.
Imperialist powers seem to be cementing its foothold in the Philippines as the United States and China already made its move post-election. With “no official foreign-policy statements,” Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and no stand of the imperialist intervention of China and the US, the further opening up the Philippines to plunder, fascism, militarization, and exploitation.
The lessons and challenges as the new regime ushers in echoes the relentless resistance against policies that further push the people into poverty and marginalization.
Under the continuing climate of human rights violations and imperialist-sponsored violence, the task to arouse, mobilize and organize to intensify their fight and solidarity of Indigenous People, its networks of supporters and advocates, and the broader people’s movements becomes most urgent and potent.#
Beverly L. Longid, Global Coordinator
FOR SPANISH AND FRENCH: https://www.ipmsdl.org/statement/lessons-from-the-philippine-elections/