By D. L. MONDELO
Claims are persistent that the Arroyo ruling clique is engineering a failure of elections and will remain in power after the 2010 elections. Do you believe such claims? Why?
JMS: I don’t believe such claims. Arroyo will not dare to stay in power beyond June 2010 without the consent of her imperialist master. I do not think that the US has any special interest in keeping her in power and offending all those presidential candidates who have spent money and effort in the current electoral campaign. Arroyo is not indispensable to the US.
She herself is smart enough to know that she does not have the advantages that Marcos had in 1972 to be able to declare martial law and that if she dared to stay in power beyond June 2010 a broad united front of opposition forces and military factions would sweep her away from power within a short period of time.
It would be greatly advantageous for the people and the revolutionary forces if Arroyo would make the foolish mistake of keeping herself in power beyond June 2010. Such a mistake would further inflame the broad masses of the people to rebel and boost the strategic plan of the revolutionary forces to advance from strategic defensive to strategic stalemate in the people’s war.
What is your general view of the character and conduct of the electoral contest in 2010, especially among the four major presidential candidates?
JMS: The general character of the electoral contest is determined by the overwhelming predominance of candidates who are themselves big compradors and landlords and who are political agents of the evil forces of foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
The debate among the four major presidential candidates is shallow and superficial. It has not dealt seriously with the basic problems that are the root causes of the oppression and exploitation of the Filipino people. It has trivialized the people’s clamor for change. All the four major candidates are oblivious of the crisis now wracking the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system due to the US policy dictates of neoliberal globalization and global war of terror.
The two frontrunners, Aquino and Villar, are very simplistic in presenting themselves as the best choice for the electorate. Aquino presents himself as the paragon of clean and honest government in contrast to the corrupt Arroyo regime. Villar presents himself as the example of a poor man who overcomes poverty through sheer personal diligence and perseverance.
Between Aquino and Villar, who is likely to win? What are the factors to consider in making estimates?
JMS: Aquino remains No. 1 in the latest polls by the Social Weather Station and Pulse Asia. And Villar has lost substantial points supposedly because of the effectiveness of the Villarroyo line against him. Now, he is trying hard to react by harping on the Gloriaquino line and pointing to the Aquino relatives occupying high positions in the Arroyo regime.
There are several important factors involved in winning the presidential post. These include the personal characteristics of the candidates, the money and political skills for using the media (especially the infomercials), street level propaganda and buying the support of those who deliver votes at the provincial, district and municipal levels.
In the few remaining weeks, all factors will be at play with full intensity. But the most important factor will be the distribution of money to the local leaders who deliver the votes. The source of money usually includes the big comprador-landlord interests and the US and other foreign interests through cutouts among the local big businessmen. The final-month push by Ramos in vote buying in 1992 is a classic example.
You seem to dismiss both Aquino and Villar as having the same class characteristics. But which one offers a relatively better program?
JMS: Manny Villar offers the relatively better program, which unfortunately has been underplayed during the campaign. He promises land reform and self-reliant food production, expansion of local manufacturing to generate employment, support for small and middle entrepreneurs, conservation of natural resources, ecological protection, peace negotiations, review of the Visiting Forces Agreement, respect for human rights, indemnification of the victims of human rights violations and independent foreign policy.
Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas are rabid exponents of the US-dictated policy of neoliberal globalization, which has put the Philippine economy in severe crisis and is inflicting terrible suffering on the people. In this regard, they are the economic policy soulmates and the real presidential and vice presidential candidates of the ”free marketeer” and ”Tax gouger” Arroyo in view of the weakness of the administration presidential candidate Gibo Teodoro.
Like his late mother, Aquino will pay lip service to land reform but will actually prevent it in so many clever ways. In the particular case of Hacienda Luisita, he will insist on the scam or swindle called the stock distribution option in order to prevent land reform. He promises a clean and honest government but the Kamag-Anak, Inc. and other vested interests are financing his campaign and are prepared to collect the spoils of bureaucrat capitalism and subservience to foreign economic interests.