For Immediate Release
June 12, 2016
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
Last “Independence” Day for Outgoing President B.S. Aquino, Struggle for Genuine Freedom Continues Under Incoming Duterte Administration
NEW YORK – President Benigno S. Aquino delivered his last “Independence” Day speech in Malacañang Palace this past weekend to a country that was never truly free. On the occasion of the 118th anniversary of the Philippines’s sham independence from Spain, BAYAN USA Northeast commemorates the ongoing struggle of the Filipino people for genuine democracy and freedom from imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. The alliance calls on all compatriots and allies to strengthen this struggle by holding the Aquino administration accountable for its outright failure and crimes against the people, and ensuring that the incoming administration of Rodrigo Duterte implements its promises of social and economic reforms.
In his “Independence” Day speech, Aquino said that he “kept all [his] promises” to the Filipino people who were his “Boss.” Aquino claimed that education access improved among young people during his administration and that “citizens who were once caught in the crossfire are now on the brink of peace.” He boasted that under his rule, the Philippine economy was transformed from the “Sick Man of Asia” to the “Darling of Asia.” But as Aquino’s track record shows, these statements are empty lies. In fact, the state of education in the Philippines worsened with the implementation of K to 12. The addition of two years to senior high school will increase joblessness and depress wages of young workers because the majority of senior high schools are private and most families cannot afford an extra two years of education, signaling an increase in dropouts. Militarization and counterinsurgency intensified under Aquino’s administration, which has fueled multiple massacres against peasant and indigenous peoples and displaced thousands of people especially on the island of Mindanao. The economic growth that Aquino boasts only benefited a small elite group of wealthy families while income inequality continues to widen and more people are impoverished.
Aquino’s false promises is built on more than a century’s worth of bourgeois treachery. Like his earliest predecessor Emilio Aguinaldo, who sold out the Philippine revolution to the Spanish colonizers for P400,000, Aquino is a traditional politician whose class interest in wealth and power will always win out over the interests of the people. Like Aguinaldo, Aquino is a puppet of foreign imperialists and has excelled at serving the interests of US imperialism by tightening its stranglehold on the Philippines militarily, economically, and politically. Aquino will be remembered as the Philippine president who further entrenched US military presence in the country by administering unequal military agreements like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and officially bringing the US bases back to the country after more than two decades since they were kicked out.
As the Philippines anticipates the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte on June 30, BAYAN USA Northeast is optimistic about the presumptive president’s willingness in resuming peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, as well as his promises to push various social and economic reforms. BAYAN USA Northeast commends the presumptive president’s declaration that the Philippines will “not be dependent on the United States,” signaling a shift from a historically unflinching adherence to US foreign policy. Towards this positive goal of an independent foreign policy, Duterte should also take steps to terminate all unequal military agreements with the US like EDCA and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), as well as halt the re-implementation of US military bases in the country.
In the same way that the Filipino people continued to fight despite the betrayal of Aguinaldo and the handing over of power from Spain to the United States, so too will the Filipino people continue to fight in the era of Duterte for self-determination and genuine independence. The alliance holds no illusion that the basic character of Philippine society as a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country beholden to US imperialist interests will change upon Duterte’s ascent to power. Only mass movement and collective action will ensure accountability from the US-Aquino regime, the full implementation of Duterte’s proposed reforms, and the assertion of national sovereignty through an independent pro-people foreign policy.
The masses of people who seated Duterte in Malacañang during the elections will be the determining force in accomplishing genuine democracy and liberation in the Philippines. History has proven this to be true time and time again. The people were responsible for expelling the Spanish from the Philippines, not Emilio Aguinaldo. The people were responsible for ending Martial Law, not the Aquino family. And on this 118th year of sham independence, the people will be decisive once again in ending dependence on foreign powers and forging the future of the Philippines.
JUNK VFA! JUNK EDCA!
DOWN WITH US IMPERIALISM!
FIGHT FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION!