COURAGE Policy Guide on the 1998 Electoral Process
A Society in Perpetual Crisis:
The Philippine society remains semi-colonial and semi-feudal in character. It is a client state under the stronghold of foreign interests led by powerful countries such a s the US and Japan and a local ruling elite composed of compradors and landlords and their big bureaucrats agents. It is a system wrought by crisis that accelerates the oppression and exploitation of the vast majority of the people, mainly peasants and wo rkers and the middle section, while quenching the unsatiable thirst for wealth of the few.
The very crisis of foreign monopoly capitalism of overproduction of goods and surplus capital caused the shift towards neoliberalism prescribing the myth of free market competition. Thus, using the slogan of "globalization" client states like the Philippines is upon dictates to implement the policies of deregulation, liberalization, and privatization. A package that exacerbates the weak fundamentals, mainly agricult urally backward and un-industrialized, of the Philippine economy, which makes it export-oriented, import-dependent, debt-driven, and foreign investment-led.
Complete liberalization and deregulation of economies allow breathing space, though becoming shorter, for the accumulation of higher profits and re-concentration of capital to monopolies. It may be considered as a sign of desperation that privatization or the transfer of public assets and services to the private sector has form part of the system.
Thus, the destitution of the vast majority of the people is even deepening. Massive and systematic landgrabbing (i.e., land-use conversion, exemptions, leasehold contracts, etc.) is driving the peasant families and urban poor from their land and shelters. Millions join the ranks of unemployed as the workers suffer worsening work conditions and further pressing down of wages. Aggravated by spiraling prices of basic commodities and services and inaccessibility public services.
This setup precipitates sectoral concerns of government employees. The reorientation of the bureaucracy towards wider participation by the private sector and the reduction of governme nt subsidies are worsening the quality and hastening the scarcity of public services. Such is an immoral process where it is the government itself which, feed it own workers to the claws of exploitation by private big businesses. Thus, public sector work ers are being dismissed en masse or turned into contractual employees.
Indeed, the Philippine society is where the moneyed become richer and the poor become poorer. It is a system that is made possible and being perpetuated by its very government. A go vernment, both civilian and military bureaucracies, that has been controlled and operated by the agents and proteges of local ruling elite.
Electoral System and the 1998 Elections:
The electoral system in the Philippines operates within the frame and parameters of current socio-economic and political system. It is merely a means but an important component of perpetuating the ruling system under the auspices of the compradors and the landlords. While they dominate and even control its entirety it serves as a facade for a democratic process of changing hands in government.
At the core, the electoral system is anti-democratic and rotten. It is mainly participated in by coalitions, parties and candidates who make empty promises of benefits for the people while sponsoring the same anti-people policies and programs of government. As such, it gives no real choice to the electorate in terms of substantive differences in views and standpoint to address the crisis in order to deliver the mass from oppression and exploitation.
It is but a contest of getting the highest number of votes at whatever cost. Thus, aside from being a battle of personalities; normally employed are the use of "guns, goons, and gold". Treating the electorate as pawns who can be persuaded by vote buying and/or harassed by the threat or use of violence.
Fraud is usual than exception every election. It is assumed that the party or candidates of the administration has the advantage of using the resources of government including that of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Government personnel are expected to cooperate either by persuasion or harassment while government officials pay lip service to the non-partisanship of the bureaucracy.
Meanwhile, all of the coalitions, parties and can didates are in one way or the other supported by campaign funds drawn from foreign big businesses and local interest groups including illegal drug and gambling lords. This is of course, on top of the money that they have accumulated as kickbacks and pay-off in government contracts and favors.
The 1998 election, starting during the Aquino regime, is not fundamentally different during the Marcos fascist years. The only glaring difference under Martial rule was that it was so monopolized by the Marcos ruling clique and that the rest of the ruling elite did not have equal space of maneuver. The presence of multiplicity of parties is also a departure from the two-party system of pre 1972. However, this is not an indication of genuine democracy for the people.
Thus, it is not surprising that former agents and loyalists of the Marcos fascist regime are back as major players. It can also be noted that the practice of militarizing the government during the Martial rule was continued by the Aquino administration b y appointing more military officers and was tightly sealed upon Ramos' election as President in 1992. It is worth taking note then, that in 1998 elections two presidential bets are military Generals while almost all the parties and coalitions have one or more military officers in their national and local slates.
COURAGE's Position and Response:
The 1998 elections is another phase in the electoral system as a relatively peaceful means of the ruling class to change hands in the control of government, so as to continue the policies and programs for the furtherance of their interests. It is therefore, definite that the vast majority of the people including the government employees cannot look forward to the results of the forthcoming electoral process. Not as a means that will resolve the crisis of the Philippine society nor address their immediate concerns.
The government employees must therefore, stand by the strength of its mass movement and its firm unity with the struggle of the Filipino people to brea k their bondage of oppression and exploitation. It is through their continuing militant actions that palpable gain and specific issues are attained and resolved.
However, the public sector workers must actively take part in this electoral process within the frame, and with the end view of strengthening its militant, progressive, and nationalist public sector unionism (MPMU). Mainly, contributing in the propagation of nationalist and pro-people agenda; and set the criteria for a nationalist and progressive stand on specific issues, while exposing the ills of the electoral system. On these bases, we can consider candidates who can support the mass movement during and after the elections.
It is expected that all candidates for presidency and vice-presidency will fall short of the MPMU frame; because whoever is elected to such position automatically becomes the main protector of foreign interests and of the local ruling elite. It is however, possible that some elected legislators at both houses of Congress m a y adopt a progressive stance on specific issues. Meanwhile, we can be optimistic that there may be, however few, some candidates for local government units with track record on resisting human rights violation, and are pro-people and nationalist. In this entirety, we shall consider an over-riding concern for less reactionary candidates to win over the more reactionaries.
COURAGE and every union must take advantage of the situation to launch sectoral and local campaigns and struggles; and it will also hold activities related to electoral process such as for a, discussion groups, etc. These can be taken as opportunities to concretize the position and support of the candidates, as well as an opportunity to expose all election fraud and anomalies. ###