“The treachery of the cacique landed gentry and the modern-day carpetbaggers is represented today by the US-Aquino government which is wreaking havoc on the rich resources and exploiting the working masses of the Philippines.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Thousands of members, supporters and allies of various progressive groups, joined by actor Robin Padilla, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz and the 300-plus contingent of Lumad people from Mindanao, marked Andres Bonifacio’s 151st birth anniversary in Manila.
Amid colorful murals, banners and flags, protest shirts, the traditional attire and dances of various indigenous tribes of Mindanao, Robin Padilla’s star power, Juana Change’s cuss words against President Aquino’s pretenses, Archbishop Cruz’s “Pepino”spiel against the “aristocratic haciendero” who ordered the killing of protesting peasants, the Bonifacio Day was marked with daring words of protests and calls on Filipinos to continue Bonifacio’s “unfinished revolution.”
The progressive sector marked Bonifacio Day in simultaneous programs across the country against pork, EDCA, VFA and rights violations due to intensified militarization under President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. EDCA is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, a non-treaty document between the US and the Philippines signed this year, which is being criticized for allowing foreign military bases in the country despite the Constitutional ban on it. The VFA is the Visiting Forces Agreement, another agreement that allows ‘visiting forces’ in the country, despite these visitors staying the whole year round in facilities reportedly exclusively theirs.
Speakers from peoples’ organizations such as Bayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, ACT and HEAD, branded Aquino as a “traitor” to the ideals and revolutionary spirit of Andres Bonifacio. “Today, we are here not only to commemorate history but to affirm our commitment to carry on Bonifacio’s struggle for nationalism and democracy,” said Sol Pillas, spokesperson for Migrante International.
Throwback to KKK
Before the protesters converged at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila around noon for their major program, they congregated and conducted separate but simultaneous protest actions in various points of Metro Manila.
Students marched from the University of Sto. Tomas in España. Throughout the country, youth groups such as the League of Filipino Students (LFS), Anakbayan, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCM) and Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay Na Kalaayan (KARATULA) staged protests calling for the ouster of the Aquino regime. The LFS assailed Aquino’s “subservient foreign policies, systemic corruption and oppressive policies for education.”
Meanwhile, members of underground youth group Kabataang Makabayan (KM) held a lightning rally earlier in the morning. Before dispersing, they hanged at the sidewalk railing in Morayta a blood-red banner inviting people and the youth to join the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which is leading the 45-year old communist revolution, base-building and liberation movement in the Philippines.
The historic youth group Kabataang Makabayan is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year’s Bonifacio Day. Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairman of the CPP, once led Kabataang Makabayan. The League of Filipino Students (LFS) paid homage to Kabataang Makabayan and praised its fierce struggle against the Marcos dictatorship during the 1970s as well as its role in advancing the “new democratic struggle” of the Filipino people. This “new democratic struggle” is described as a modern version and a continuation of Bonifacio’s armed struggle against colonialism and domestic feudalism.
Workers with the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) also held a program at Plaza Hernandez Tondo, Manila (Bonifacio’s birthplace), before marching to Liwasang Bonifacio.
Anakpawis Party, meanwhile, held a brief program at the Liwasang Bonifacio as they awaited the arrival of other protesters. The group vowed to continue Andres Bonifacio’s struggle for national liberation and democratic change. They underscored the need to finally solve the country’s centuries-old land problem through genuine land reform.
“Other countries have fulfilled the bourgeois-democratic prerequisite of land reform as early as the 19th century which has subsequently made economic development possible, but our country has yet to satisfy such social requirement and has thus been inextricably caught in chronic political and economic crises,” Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap said at Liwasang Bonifacio.
Such kind of land reform that permitted industrialization under a capitalist system of development happened in other countries – but not in the Philippines where “Bonifacio’s revolutionary victory was severely undermined by the treachery of Emilio Aguinaldo’s ilustrado faction,” said Hicap.
Progressive activists blamed Aguinaldo’s elite faction “for capitulating to the direct interventionist aggression of the United States,” and later for becoming “active collaborators of US colonial rule.”
Because of this, succeeding Philippine presidents and administrations have always been derisively called by the progressive bloc in the Philippines as “puppet governments.” For all its promises about change, they said the Aquino government is no exception.
According to the Philippines Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils), “The Aquino-Cojuangco clan belongs to the elite which served the old colonialists against the masses. The treachery of the cacique landed gentry and the modern-day carpetbaggers is represented today by the US-Aquino government which is wreaking havoc on the rich resources and exploiting the working masses of the Philippines.”
The cases brought here by the Manilakbayan contingent are some of the biggest examples of the resulting havoc and exploitation.
“Andres Bonifacio’s struggle and the Lumad indigenous people’s struggle are both for genuine freedom,” said Datu Jomorito Guaynon, spokesman of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao. Goaynon said Lumads like him had been one in the struggle to liberate the country from Spanish colonialism to American period to that of the Aquino regime.
Under Aquino, 83 have been killed in Mindanao, and they are mostly people people opposed to destructive mining. Goaynon decried how some 500 farmers from Lumad communities have been slapped with “trumped up” charges, accusing them of being part of the NPAs who burned down equipment of destructive mining companies. Some 5000 are forcibly being evacuated due to combat operations of the military, Goaynon said.
Present in Mindanao are some of the world’s biggest mining companies, plantations and de-facto US military bases.
“If Bonifacio had the Spanish colonialists as his enemy, at present we are confronting US imperialism,” Hicap of Anakpawis said. Comparing then and now, he said, at the time of Bonifacio’s Katipunan, “there was the ilustrado class, now we have the Aquino regime.
Spanish colonial rule meant landlessness, land rent exaction, forced labor, massacre, murder, rape and others forms of exploitation and oppression that victimized our Filipino forebears, the same ruinous conditions pervade the 21st-century Philippine society.”