Monday, August 31, 2020

‘Bomb-blasts brains stuck in Patikul’

From the Manila Standard (Aug 31, 2020): ‘Bomb-blasts brains stuck in Patikul’ (By Rey E. Requejo and PNA)

President Rodrigo Duterte said would visit victims of the twin blasts that rocked Jolo, Sulu, on Sunday as the military said the mastermind of the bomb attacks was pinned down in the town of Patikul.

BOMBING BRAINS? Abu Sayyaf militant Mundi Sawadjaan, accused of masterminding the twin blasts in Jolo that killed at least 15 people mostly soldiers, is believed to be holding out in Patikul, Sulu, according to the Western Mindanao Command chief Major Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. Westmincom photo

On Saturday, members of the 3rd and 5th Scout Ranger Battalion traded fire with Abu Sayyaf gunmen, including the suspected mastermind of the bomb attacks, Mundi Sawadjaan.

Western Mindanao Command chief Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said two Abu Sayyaf members and one soldier died in the clash, while seven other soldiers from the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion were injured.

“Yes, he's there,” Vinluan said in Filipino. But he could not say if Sawadjaan was wounded in the exchange of fire.

“He's still in Patikul and he can't leave because we have a lot of troops there,” he added.

Vinluan said the hunt for Sawadjaan and his group would be sustained until the alleged Jolo bombing mastermind is captured.

Days after suggesting that it would be prudent to place Sulu under martial law following the deadly twin blasts in Jolo on Aug. 24, Philippine Army commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana on Sunday said he is withdrawing his recommendation as there might be better options.

The Army commander earlier said it would be best to place Sulu under martial law so that normalcy would return to the province and control the movement of terrorists behind the attack that killed 15 people and wounded 74 others.

But Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said there are other options to contain the terrorists in Sulu.

This, he said, includes using Presidential Proclamation 55 where President Rodrigo R. Duterte placed Mindanao under a state of national emergency due to lawless violence after the bomb attack in Davao City that killed 14 people and wounded over 60 others on Sept. 2, 2016 and the newly-enacted Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The Department of Justice, meanwhile, said the Bureau of Immigration is checking the travel history of the two suspected Indonesian terrorists believed to members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and who were allegedly involved in the twin bombings in Jolo, Sulu on Aug. 24.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said that as part of the standard operating procedure of the BI, they would check on the travel records of foreigners to find out the frequency of their travels into the country.

Also on Sunday, an official of the 11th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army denied any lapses in the response to intelligence reports related to the twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu last week.

The spokesman for the 11th Infantry Division’s General Staff for Civil Military Operations spokesman Lt. Col. Ronald Mateo said security in Sulu is actually strict.

“A terrorist is difficult to predict, especially suicide bombers,” Mateo said.

Mateo made the statement when asked about the possible lapses in security considering that authorities already received intelligence reports on the threats in Jolo before the attack.

The bomb attacks on Aug. 24 left 15 people dead and 74 others wounded.

Duterte himself made this announcement of his Jolo visit in a short video call with singer Jimmy Bondoc and writer-director and singer-songwriter Njel de Mesa during the “Singing for the President” virtual concert.

Bondoc, a staunch supporter of the President, is also vice president for corporate social responsibility of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

“I’m going to Jolo. I’m going straight to Jolo, there in the blast site. I want to honor the deaths of our soldiers and police,” Duterte said.

Duterte also said he was about to leave for Jolo, Sulu to fulfill his duties as commander-in-chief.

Philippines urged to beware of potential suicide attacks by foreign juveniles

From the Daily Express (Aug 30, 2020): Philippines urged to beware of potential suicide attacks by foreign juveniles (By: Zam Yusa)

KOTA KINABALU: An Indonesian couple linked to Sabah who Daily Express reported might have been accomplices in last Monday's suicide bombings in Sulu are now wanted by Philippine authorities for those and last year's attacks.

The Zamboanga City government on Saturday offered 3 million Philippine pesos for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Andi Baso (aged 17-35), his wife Resky Fantasya, also known by her alias Cici (aged 17-22) and also Abu Sayyaf sub-leader and bombaker Mundi Sawadjaan, a Filipino tagged as the planner of the attacks.

“The community is advised to be vigilant and immediately report any suspicious person or local terrorist,” urged Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco on her Facebook.

The Philippine military said two Abu Sayyaf militants’ widows carried out the twin bombings that killed at least 15 people and wounded 75 others near a church, which was suicide-bombed by Cici’s Indonesian parents in January last year.

In the Daily Express report on Friday, Indonesian terrorism researcher Ulta Levenia Nababan urged Philippine authorities to be cautious against Andi and Cici, who she said had got married in Sabah before they were smuggled to southern Philippines.

Ulta said Andi, who is recruiting Indonesians back home to join him with the Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines, and Cici had possible roles in the latest bombings.

Daily Express also reported an Indonesian counter-terrorism official as saying that Andi, Cici, her 11-year-old sister and brother, 12, are being coddled by the group of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the acting leader of the Islamic State terror group in the Philippines and Mundi’s uncle.

When asked to respond to the reward and public alert issued by the city, Ulta urged the Philippine authorities and public to beware of the Abu Sayyaf using children as suicide bombers, a development that has not taken place in the Philippines but was a common occurrence during the Islamic State’s heyday in Syria and Iraq.

“There are not only the Indonesian kids but also a 14-year-old Moroccan child. There is a possibility that these kids also will be used for Abu Sayyaf activities,” Ulta told Daily Express on Saturday.

“The Indonesian children will be dictated by Andi and Cici and will not be able to take action unless indoctrinated, initiated, equipped and dispatched by their supervisors like the 2018 Surabaya bombers.

“So the Philippine authorities should really be looking out for the adults, the main source of terror, not the ‘tools’ like those kids.”

Two families linked to the the pro-Islamic State Jamaah Ansharud Dawlah terror network blew themselves up at churches and a police station, killing more than a dozen people in the 2018 Surabaya incidents.

Gov’t forces nab 5 Aeta-NPAs, rescue 4 minors in Zambales

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 31, 2020): Gov’t forces nab 5 Aeta-NPAs, rescue 4 minors in Zambales (By Freddie Lazaro)

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija – Five Aeta members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were nabbed, while four minors were rescued, by joint elements of the military and police from the site of a recent encounter in Sitio Lomibao, Barangay Buhawen in San Marcelino, Zambales.

This was disclosed by 703rd Infantry Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Andrew Costelo, who said that the operation was undertaken by the Army’s Third Mechanized Infantry Battalion and police operatives from Zambales on August 21.

He said that the rescued minors were immediately given a medical check-up by Dr. Nida Pabunal, the Municipal Health Officer (MHO) of San Marcelino District Hospital, before they were turned over to the San Marcelino Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Sarah Soria, for an interview and proper disposition.

According to Costelo, the five captured NPAs tried to mingle with the rescued minors, but were later identified as NPA members.

“The captured NPA rebels are now under the custody of PNP Zambales for proper disposition. Like the minors rescued, they were checked-up by MHO San Marcelino, and they were all in good health, Costelo said.

“At the height of the exchange of gunfire, we always prioritize the safety of the civilians. Our soldiers are fighting for the protection of our country; and we are ready to sacrifice our life for the safety and security of the civilians,” said Costelo.

During the clearing operation after the encounter, the troops were able to recover eight backpacks of personal belongings, subversive documents, some personal documents, and dozens on ammunition rounds for different weapons.

Maj. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr., commander of the army’s 7th Infantry Division, said the capture of the five NPA members of the Aeta tribe was a manifestation of the exploitation being done by NPA rebels on the members of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs).

“Instead of protecting the Indigenous People, these NPA-terrorists are blatantly exploiting them for their own interest. They lure these innocent people to join the armed struggle and transform them into violent individuals,” said Rosario.

66 NPAs, mass supporters yield to gov’t in Misamis Oriental

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 31, 2020): 66 NPAs, mass supporters yield to gov’t in Misamis Oriental (By Mike Crismundo)

Despite the threat posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 66 members of the Militia ng Bayan (MB) and mass supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) yielded to the government in a mass surrender in Barangay Mindulao, Magsaysay town, Misamis oriental province, military officials reported on Monday.

After their officials surrendered, the former rebels (FRs) immediately took their oath of allegiance to the government during ceremony held in Barangay Mindulao on Friday, August 28.

The mass surrender activity was conducted through the convergence of efforts of the joint Community Support Program (CSP) team of the Army’s 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion (23rd IB) and Community Action (ComAct) team of the Philippine National Police (PNP), members of the barangay council of Mindulao and the local government unit (LGU) of Magsaysay.

The NPA members and mass supporters also renounced the Communist Party of the Philippine (CPP) and its armed wing, the NPA, and its political front the National Democratic Front (NDF) and their terroristic activities that have adversely affected the lives of the residents and communities in Misamis Oriental.

The activity was graced by Magsaysay Mayor Rey B. Buhisan, Vice Mayor Charlie Buhisan, 23rd IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, Magsaysay Police Chief Capt. Steohen Benbian F. Latar and the representatives from different line agencies of the government.

Alias “Ka Ken-Ken”, a Militia ng Bayan Member (MB) made a testimony during the activity particularly on how he was convinced to join the CNT movement, their hardship and lack of foods and logistical support, sleepless nights and keep on running in the mountains that made them misserable avoiding government troops,” 23rd IB Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer Firstt Lt. Roel T. Maglalang told The Manila Bulletin on Monday.

Politics Of Ethnicity And Party System In Bangsamoro: Issues And Challenges – Analysis

From the Eurasian Review (Aug 31, 2020): Politics Of Ethnicity And Party System In Bangsamoro: Issues And Challenges – Analysis (By Rizal G. Buendia)


The ratification of Republic Act (RA) No. 11054, otherwise known as the “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” (OLBARMM) or simply the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in the 21 January and 6 February 2019 plebiscites signifies the cessation of armed conflict between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and armed forces of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

It took 22 years of on-and-off peace negotiations between the MILF and GRP, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and displacing millions of people in Muslim-dominated areas of Mindanao, before the GRP forged a final peace agreement, also known as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), in 2014 with the MILF under then President Benigno Aquino III.

After more than four (4) decades of engagement in war and peace with the state, negotiating with six (6) presidents, the MILF now has the opportunity to govern an expanded Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) initially through the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

As a transition government, the BTA governs the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for three (3) years until the members of the BARMM’s parliamentary government are elected in May 2022. Headed by MILF’s Chair, Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim, as Interim Chief Minister, the BTA shall have 80 members.

In as much as the issue of participation is one of the key elements in good governance, the BTA faces a huge challenge to enjoining the maximum participation of the key actors in the Bangsamoro movement especially the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and other splintered groups which advanced the political autonomy movement in different forms. Aside from the major Muslim organizations, the BTA has the task to unite and draw the involvement of the 13 ethnolinguistic Muslim communities in the region.

The innate tribal divisions and rivalries among the Bangsamoros need to be substantially reduced, hence transforming conflict into a cooperative arrangement that will eventually build the Bangsa Moro (Moro Nation). Given the diversity of the region, the BTA has to be prepared in addressing the multi-faceted issues, concerns, and problems not only of the Muslim population but also of the non-Muslim, non-Christian indigenous groups (commonly referred to as the Lumads), as well as Christian communities in the region.

Bangsamoro identity

The term “Bangsamoro” translates to “Moro Nation.” “Bangsa” or “bansa” is a Malay word that usually denotes nations, castes, descent groups or lines, races or estates, while “moro” was originally applied to the Moors that ruled the Iberian Peninsula and the northern coast of the African continent in 711 A.D. When the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, they encountered ferocious resistance from Muslims. This reminded them of their ancient enemy, the Moors.

Article 2, sec. 1 of the BOL states that Bangsamoro people refers to:

Those who, at the advent of the Spanish colonization, were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, whether of mixed or full blood, shall have the right identity themselves, their spouses and descendants, as Bangsamoro.

The collective term, “Bangsamoro” as defined by the BOL applies to at least 13 Islamized ethnolinguistic groups as well as non-Muslim (Moro) indigenous peoples, estimated to be more than 25 distinct ethnic groups, and Christians who have identified themselves as Bangsamoro living in Mindanao, parts of Palawan, Sulu archipelago, and other geographical areas as defined in Article 3 of the BOL. Table 1 below shows the estimated population of Bangsamoros’ ethnolinguistic groups inhabiting in the Moroland.

Bangsamoro Ethnolinguistic Groups and Estimated Population

Major Ethnic       Estimated       Estimated Population        Percentage share            
Group                  Population*    at 1.7% growth rate**       to Total  
                            2010                2015

Maranao            872,194               887,021                                  25.2
Tausug               854,347               868,871                                  24.7
Maguindanao    768,630               781,697                                   22.2
Sama/Samal      250,095               254,347                                   7.2
Iranon/Iraynon  211,838               215,439                                   6.1
Yakan                153,486               156,095                                   4.4
Teduray              81,782                 83,172                                    2.4
Bisaya                65,510                 66,624                                    1.9
Hiligaynon        152,183                154,770                                  4.4
Cebuano            47,571                  48,380                                    1.4
Other                 152,183                154,770                                  4.4
Total                3,457,636             3,516,416                                 100.0

*Philippine Statistics Authority 2010 Census of Population and Housing.
**Annualised population growth rate between the years 2010–2015 was 1.7% as estimated by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The diversity of the region nevertheless is not squarely divided between ethnic groups. It is dominated by three (3) major ethnic groups – Maranao, Tausug, and Maguindanao. Together, they comprise over 70% of the Bangsamoros. The Moro armed independence movement likewise had been historically divided by two (2) major groups, the MNLF and MILF, which have been generally composed of the Tausugs and Sama/Samal on the one hand, and Maguindanaoan and Maranao on the other hand, respectively. Collectively, they constitute nearly 80% of all Bangsamoros.

Governing a multi-ethnic society as a nation

Moros’ sense of oneness and belongingness as a people have to be intensified and heightened by the regional government as the inalienable right to rule as self-governing political entity in a piece of land which they claim as their homeland irrespective of ethnic affinities and cultural differences, and ideologies embodied with the right to self-determination. The quest of Bangsamoros to exercise their right to self-rule is hinged on the continued definition and re-definition of their identity as a people by virtue of history, culture, religion, and way-of-life.

Tackling issues of poverty, inequalities and injustices, socio-cultural conflicts, and whole range of development concerns in the region necessitates a broad and systematic functioning of governmental and non-governmental organizations and institutions. The transformation of poverty-stricken and violence-ridden environment to a prosperous and peaceful society is not the sole responsibility of the regional government but also of civil society and non-governmental organizations (CSOs/NGOs), private sector, academe, and other stakeholders. It is a collective responsibility.

Governance needs to be interactive. Collaborative patterns that emerge from governing socio-economic, political and administrative activities with non-state actors are sine qua non in safeguarding civil society’s sovereignty, peoples’ power, and authority of the governed over their elected officials. This co-operating and shared process does not only broaden institutional pluralism but also strengthen the centrifugal forces of social pluralism.

Moreover, interactive governance maintains a constant balancing system between the governing needs on the one hand and governing capacities on the other hand. In as much as no single actor, whether private or public, has the monopoly of knowledge and information required to solve complex, dynamic, and diversified problems, it is imperative that BARRM’s and society’s responsibilities be fused at the regional level and at the same time diffused at the local level.

Toffler (1990) recognized that diversity and heterogeneity in society will lead toward mosaic democracy, replacing mass democracy, as states had been confronted by sporadic communal violence caused by ethnic and cultural conflicts whose struggles were fought under the banner of nationalism, religion, and civil and political rights. Huntington (1996) argued that post-Cold War nations are to be distinguished not politically, ideologically, or economically, but culturally.

As a policy, governing a multi-ethnic society demands a systematic and comprehensive response to cultural and ethnic diversity. It is a democratic policy to cope with cultural and social diversity in society. It requires governments and institutions not only to encourage diversity and pluralism but also entails the management of peoples’ differences through adoption and implementation of laws, formulation of legislative or administrative measures, and rules that address the idiosyncrasies of peoples having divergent cultures, ethnicity, and religions. Governance has to promote unity, racial harmony, cross-cultural understanding, hence resolve conflict arising from diverse interest.

Party system and parliamentary democracy: issues and challenges

Compared to the national government’s presidential form of government, the BARMM adopts a parliamentary form, yet remains under the unitary state. Unlike the former where there is a clear division of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, in the latter, there is a fusion of powers between the executive and the legislative (parliament) branches. Executive powers are democratically and legitimately derived from the parliament, thus executive officials are accountable to the parliament. Article 7 of the BOL defines broadly the powers, functions, and responsibilities of the Bangsamoro Government – Parliament, Executive Officers, and Administrative Organizations.

Under a parliamentary system of regional government, the party system becomes a paramount vehicle in articulating the fundamental interests, aspirations, and hopes of the constituents. Political parties are expected to be defined by their platform of government and policy agenda rather than bank simply on candidates’ personalities. Likewise, Art. 7, sec. 7 of the BOL stipulates the systems of election. For regional party representatives, it shall be through the proportional representation (PR) system which tend to lead to the proliferation of smaller parties and consequently improve the representation of minority groups. On the other hand, district representatives shall be elected by plurality which tend to lead to the creation of fewer parties. How these different systems of election would be operationalized in the region and how will such combination of system of election would enhance democratic rule remain to be tested in the 2022 election.

The politics of ethnicity and new form of parliamentary government in the region is faced with daunting but surmountable challenges toward the fulfilment of the Bangsamoros’ aspiration to self-governance.

One, the effectiveness of the combined PR and plurality electoral systems at the regional and district levels respectively is contingent primarily, among others, on how the BTA creates the legislative districts and the criteria adopted for such creation. Currently, the process in the “redistricting, merging, or creation of parliamentary districts” as provided in Sec. 10, Art. 7 of the BOL is in progress.

Moreover, the hybrid electoral system needs to satiate the requisites of ethnic autonomy of major ethnic groups which have some relatively well-defined physical jurisdiction on the one hand, and self-governance interest of other minority ethnic and indigenous peoples (IPs) which have smaller “homelands.” Whether or not such rudiments are satisfied would depend on the identification or representativeness of the political party to its constituents, a form of social identity, and voting behaviour of the district’s electorates.

In as much as the PR system encourages the participation of more electoral parties representing ethnic or sectoral interest while the plurality system fosters cross-ethnic conciliation and limits political parties, the determination of the balance between the two (2) electoral systems is significant in adapting it to the changing demographic and ethnic profile of the region and in inhibiting dominant groups from unduly tilting the balance power towards their favour.

Two, given that ethnic groups are territorially defined, the three (3) major ones – Maranao (Lanao del Sur), Maguindanaoans (Maguindanao), and Tausug (Sulu and Basilan) – may likely be the foremost regional contenders in BARMM politics while other non-Islamized IPs and Christian communities may be perpetually marginalized as they will never become the majority. Apparently, this threatens plural democracy and may instead tend to institutionalize the so-called “tyranny of the majority.”

Third, the standards that need to be met for regional party registration have yet to be defined. In addition, the mode of electing local government officials (LGOs) whether using the PR or plurality system has to be determined by the BTA. Given the peculiarities of the region in terms of ethnicity, culture, religion, and voting behaviour, political parties have to be politically astute in advancing parliamentary democracy. On a similar vein, the mode of electing LGOs has to conform with the idiosyncrasies of the local population.


The challenges of nation-building and national unity through the BOL is difficult to surmise at this point, although the socio-economic and political initiatives in re-constructing the war-ravaged region have been moving in the right direction through its parliamentary government.

Definitely, there will be no quick fixes and no shortcuts. Wounds that have festered for a long time cannot be healed overnight, nor can confidence be built or dialogue developed while fresh wounds are being inflicted. It is a process that requires special and extra effort on the part of the state to guarantee human rights and uphold the rights of people to their own development.

Hopes are high that the Bangsamoro succeeds in its endeavour to re-build its Bangsa as a nation, and Bangsamoro as a proud people within the Philippine nation-state.

[About the author: Rizal G. Buendia, PhD, Independent political analyst and consultant in Southeast Asian Politics and International Development based England and Wales, United Kingdom. He is the former Chair and Associate Professor of the Political Science Department, De La Salle University-Manila and Teaching Fellow in Politics at the Department of Politics and International Studies and Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.]

  1. Initially known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III (June 2010-June 2016). The law failed to pass in Aquino’s 16th Congress over questions on its constitutionality and the Mamasapano incident which resulted in the death of around 70 people (44 members of the Philippine National Police [PNP] elite Special Action Force [SAF], 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters, 5 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and some other civilians) on 25 January 2015. The BBL was not passed into law until Congress went into recess in February 2016.
  2. The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed on 25 January 2014. The CAB was preceded by the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB), a preliminary peace agreement signed on 15 October 2012.
  3. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) region was first created on August 1, 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734. It was officially inaugurated on November 6, 1990. The region includes the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. In 2001, Marawi City (situated in Lanao del Sur province), and Basilan province opted to be part of ARMM after a plebiscite was conducted on 14 August 2001. ARMM through Republic Act No. 9054 governs the region until the enactment of RA 11054, also known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law in 2019.
  4. Established in 1971 and chaired by Nur Misuari, the MNLF led the Bangsamoro armed independence movement until then President Fidel Ramos succeeded in bringing the MNLF into the fold of the state through the signing of the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement (GRP-MNLF FPA) in 1996. This eventually resulted in the integration of MNLF into the government’s national structure of governance after an uncontested election of Nur Misuari as third Governor (1996-2001) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), one of the two autonomous regions created under the 1987 Constitution (Art 10, Sec. 18). In a concurrent capacity, Misuari chaired the Southern Philippine Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) and its Consultative Assembly aside from being the ARMM Governor. Misuari thus assumed three (3) powerful positions in the region.
  5. The figures are approximating of the actual number as some groups are isolated and cannot be accurately tracked apart from the inconsistency of Philippine census and other official data.
  6. Proportional representation is the idea that seats in parliament should be allocated so that they are in proportion to the votes cast.
  7. Plurality system, electoral process in which the candidate who polls more votes than any other candidate is elected.
  • Philippine National Police (2015). Board of Inquiry: The Mamapasano Report. March.
  • Republic Act No. 9054, “An Act To Strengthen And Expand The Organic Act For The Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao, Amending For The Purpose Republic Act No. 6734, Entitled “An Act Providing For The Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao, As Amended,” March 31, 2001.
  • Republic of the Philippines (2014). Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
  • Toffler, A. (1990). Powershift: knowledge, wealth, and violence at the edge of the 21st century. New York, NY. Bantam Books.

MNLF division could threaten Mindanao security

Posted to the Daily Express (Aug 30): MNLF division could threaten Mindanao security (By: Ulta Levenia and Alban Sciascia)

MNLF founder and chairman Nur Misuari (File photo: AFP)

Threat to southern Philippine security has been apparent in the past few weeks. Several Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sub-leaders have surrendered along with their followers to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) factions in Sulu.

While the apparent disengagement of these ASG members and the role played by the MNLF could be seen as progress in the Mindanao region, it is worth noting that such a move might actually lead to a dangerous shift in the current security environment.

Amongst the surrenders were Indang Susukan and Twan Annuh, who were responsible for the kidnapping-for-ransom of foreigners, including Indonesian, Malaysian and Chinese nationals. Susukan, who was just arrested by Philippines authorities with the help of Nur Misuari on Aug 14, 2020, had actually been hiding around Misuari’s camp in Sulu for almost two two months.

Twan Annuh – who is known for his role in the kidnapping of five Indonesians, including a young boy, in Sabah, decided to surrender to the Yusop Jikiri-led MNLF faction. While the hostages are still held by ASG sub-leader Apo Mike’s group, Annuh has joined a reintegration programme led by Jikiri in Indanan, Sulu.

Although the surrender and arrest have been seen as a way to eliminate ASG’s cells in Sulu, the involvement of MNLF leaders such as Misuari and Jikiri is raising concerns. The MNLF has been separated into two groups which are Misuari’s and Jikiri’s factions.

These two factions mostly control the areas in Sulu, except those with the presence of ASG factions focusing on criminal activities namely Radhullah Sahiron, Apo Mike and Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan’s factions. Both MNLF factions’ relations are tainted by political competition: indeed, each of them is trying to appear as the legitimate heir to the original MNLF and to be the group who represents the Moro tribes politically and symbolically.

In this perspective, both factions are competing to be the legitimate reintegration actor for former ASG members and to gain political support from Manila. However, as of today, neither the Jikiri nor the Misuari factions managed to stop criminal and terrorist activities of ASG.

For a while, some observers argue that the existence of MNLF armed groups in Sulu could be used to reduce criminal activities in the southern Philippines, as, in theory, the MNLF stands against ASG activities.

Nevertheless, the reality on the ground shows that until now, kidnappings for ransom are still going on and the ASG branch led by Sawadjaan, which pledged allegiance to ISIS, is still active. It is fair to say the MNLF-Jikiri faction may have been prolific to counter kidnapping for ransom activities conducted by the ASG factions.

For example, Jikiri’s forces successfully rescued a Sulu physician, Dr. Daniel Moreno, who was kidnapped by the ASG-Sawadjaan faction in March. However, as dazzling as this operation was, the reality on the ground tends to show that both MNLF factions are turning a blind eye on ASG presence in the area.

Indeed, locals often complain that many ASG members are hiding in the MNLF-Misuari vicinity of Indanan, Sulu, a territory supposed to be under the control of the MNLF-Misuari faction. According to local sources, neither the government nor the MNLF-Jikiri faction could operate in the area to tackle ASG hideouts. Indeed, despite the fact that Jikiri’s own son is the mayor of Indanan, any operation might lead to an armed conflict between both MNLF factions.

It is worth noting that recent developments led to tensions between both MNLF factions. In March, Misuari decided to set up a meeting between the MNLF and ASG groups, including Indang Susukan and Raden Abuh, another ASG leader. In parallel, Jikiri’s faction shows some concern as the MNLF-Misuari faction is said by local sources to provide a safe haven for ASG members, while MNLF-Jikiri seems motivated to fight the ASG in Sulu.

The current situation has worsened with the involvement of Misuari’s wife, Tarhata, as a third party in hostage liberation negotiations. In other words, the MNLF-Jikiri faction is raising doubt on the commitment of the Misuari faction to fighting the ASG.

What was considered as a virtuous circle – the involvement of the MNLF to secure the Sulu archipelago - might actually backfire. As a matter of fact, the more ASG members surrender, the more both factions will compete to be the legitimate actor for the securitisation of Sulu.

Neither MNLF-Misuari nor MNLF-Jikiri agrees on a security and political agenda to fight the ASG and criminal activities in the region. It is also worth noting that while Misuari has often been seen discussing with President Rodrigo Duterte, his faction is still considered as a rebel group and its political legitimacy is said to be fading.

As a matter of fact, the competition might escalate and trigger an active conflict between the two factions. It is equally important to keep in mind that each faction consists of hundreds of armed militants.

The Sulu Sea has become the traditional hotspot for ASG kidnapping-for-ransom activities. In order to tackle this threat, all security actors involved will need to display a clear and integrated cooperation. This objective can only be achieved if both MNLF factions develop an integrated roadmap to peace with a clear mandate.

About the authors

Ulta Levenia is a lead terrorism researcher for Jakarta-based think Galatea and a consultant for Semar Sentinel Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based risk consulting firm.

Alban Sciascia, PhD is director at Semar Sentinel and a writer for Galatea.

CPP/Ang Bayan-Jose Maria Sison Interview: On the current character of Philippine society

Jose Maria Sison Ang Byan propaganda interview posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Aug 31, 2020): On the current character of Philippine society

On the current character of Philippine society

Interview with Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairperson, Communist Party of the Philippines and
Author, Philippine Society and Revolution

Introduction: The question of the character of Philippine society is a key ideological question for the Party and the revolutionary movement. In recent months, there is marked increase in intellectual and political discourse on the matter especially among the Filipino youth.

Such interest is the natural outcome of the rising demand for fundamental solutions to the increasingly conspicuous crisis of the ruling system. At the same time, anti-Party elements including Trotskyites, social democrats and others have began stepping up their anti-Party discourse to question the basic social analysis of the CPP with the aim of stemming the rising tide of new Party adherents.

The people’s socioeconomic conditions continue to worsen brought about by more than three decades of neoliberal policies. These have further sharpened recently by the mas­sive destruction of productive forces due to the lockdowns related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To discuss this matter, we have decided to interview Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, the Party’s founding chair, and who as Amado Guerrero, authored “Philippine Society and Revolution.” In this special issue, Ang Bayan puts forward some critical questions surrounding the Party’s analysis of the semicolonial and semifeudal social system in the Philippines.

We hope that this interview will help our members in further sharpening their grasp of the issues and help in study and research efforts to deepen our understanding of the mode of production. We invite our readers to send their feedback. Additional questions, as well as information, can also be submitted as these may help in future interviews and articles.

Ang Bayan (AB): When you wrote Philippine Society and Revolution in 1969, you described Philippine society as semicolonial and semifeudal. What did you mean then?

Jose Maria Sison (JMS): By semicolonialism, I meant that the Philippines had been nominally independent since the US formally ended its colonial rule and formally granted independence to the Philippines in 1946. Instead of US colonial officials running the government from the national level downwards, politicians serving US monopoly capitalism and representing the comprador big bourgeoisie and the landlord class have become responsible for the entire Philippine government.

But the US made sure with the US-RP Treaty of General Relations of 1946 and subsequent treaties, agreements and arrangements, that it would continue to dominate the Philippines economically, socially, politically and militarily. The US retained their property rights, their military bases, control over the economy and military and other means of dominating the Philippines. Semicolonialism means that the Philippines is not fully independent but is subject to the dictates of an imperialist power.

By semifeudalism, I meant that the Philippines was no longer fully feudal and was no longer ruled by the landlord class chiefly but by the comprador big bourgeoisie as the chief trading and financial agent of foreign monopoly capitalism that owns large tracts of land and extractive enterprises to serve as base for exporting raw materials in exchange for equipment and other manufactures from abroad.

The natural economy of feudalism began to be undermined when the commodity system of production and the use of money as medium of exchange began to prevail as the production of export crops developed significantly in the first of the half of the 19th century, especially after the Suez Canal opening, and when crop specialization arose with some regions producing export crops and other regions producing food crops for domestic consumption.

But it was during the US colonial period, when the semifeudal economic system became dominant in the Philippines, with the US colonial rulers opening the mines, granting logging concessions and expanding the plantations for the production of raw-material exports in exchange for larger imports of equipment and other manufactures. The comprador big bourgeoisie arose as the native and mestizo ruling class seated in the major cities and became more powerful than the landlord class ruling in the provinces. In the Spanish colonial period, the big compradors were the colonial officials, Spanish merchants and religious orders.

AB: Are the terms semicolonial and semifeudal still valid? Can we not use the term neocolonial for semicolonial and capitalist for semifeudal?

JMS: The terms semicolonial and semifeudal to describe Philippine society are still valid. Semicolonialism is a distinctly political term that refers to the lack of full national independence of the Philippines and to the continuing control of the Philippines by the US and its imperialist allies. This term has been widely accepted and has not been the target of questioning or objection. It is a longstanding term from Lenin who spoke of colonies, semicolonies and dependent countries being subordinate to the imperialist powers.

Like other people, I sometimes use the term neocolony to refer to the Philippines to express the nuance that the Philippines is under a new form of political control by economic and financial means rather than by outright bureaucratic and military control by a colonial power. It was Sukarno and Zhou En-lai who were best known for using this term in connection with the Bandung Conference of African and Asian peoples against imperialism, neocolonialism and colonialism. I find nothing wrong with using neocolony as synonym for semicolony.

Like the term semicolonialism, semifeudalism comes from Marxist-Leninist literature describing the Chinese economy before the victory of the Chinese revolution in 1949. It is used to describe economies that have long been dominated by the commodity system of production and no longer by a natural economy of feudalism. But it is a merchant bourgeoisie rather than an industrial bourgeoisie that is the chief ruling class based on land ownership or in partnership with the landlord class.

Semifeudalism is a precise term with a definite content. It is a big comprador type of capitalism that is based on feudal and semifeudal conditions and thrives on a lopsided colonial exchange of raw material exports and manufacture imports. It is a term for a nonindustrial or pre-industrial and agrarian economy in which the comprador big bourgeoisie has arisen as the wealthiest and most powerful exploiting class from feudal haciendas as resource base for exports and in combination with the landlord class. Influenced by bourgeois economists, right wing social democrats and Trotskyites, some people think that it is a term that has never been valid or has outgrown its validity.

They think that an economy has to be exclusively feudal or capitalist. They do not understand that in its world history capitalism grew out of the womb of feudalism, first in the form of the handicraft business, some light manufacturing and the merchants trading between town and country before industrial capitalism surged forth as the dominant form of capitalism with the steam engine and then with the electro-mechanically powered machinery for the mass production and largescale circulation of commodities.

Semifeudalism is a term that refers to a kind of economy that evolved from feudalism and became starkly conspicuous in the 20th century in the Philippines with the rise of the comprador big bourgeoisie as the chief exploiting class in collaboration with the landlord class. Big compradors have long been big landlords because they base themselves on large landed estates and use these to produce crops for export in exchange for the importation of finished products from abroad. Prior to the rise of the native and mestizo comprador big bourgeoisie during the US colonial regime, the Spanish colonial bureaucrats, merchants and religious orders played the role of big compradors in the Manila-Acapulco trade and then in the direct Manila-Europe trade in the 19th century.

The big comprador Ayala family and related families have owned banks and trading companies but have also owned or managed big landed estates in Calatagan and Nasugbu, Batangas and elsewhere since the beginning of the 20th century. In recent times in the 21st century, the recently deceased Eduardo Cojuangco owned the United Coconut Planters Bank and came to own the gigantic big comprador firm San Miguel Corporation but he also owned some twenty haciendas in various provinces in the Philippines (Tarlac, Pangasinan, Isabela, Negros, Palawan, Agusan, Albay and so on).

AB: How do you explain the Philippine economy as semifeudal at the present time?

JMS: The Philippine economy is still dominated by the comprador big bourgeoisie in combination with the landlord class. It has no industrial foundation of its own. It does not produce the industrial equipment but imports these with income mainly from the export of agricultural products and mineral ores. It does not have an independent steel industry. It has no machine-building industry nor the capacity to produce machine tools, vehicles, computers, basic chemicals, medicines and other capital goods and major manufactures.

Local manufacturing is dependent on imported machines and raw material inputs. So-called export processing zones of multinational firms are detached from the domestic economy and are engaged in semiprocessing and assembly. They are mere appendages or segments of the international assembly line of multinational firms.

The so-called service industries serve as adjuncts, not of an independent industrial capacity for the country, but of comprador-type operations in export and wholesale domestic trade, finance, tourism and travel, and the whole gamut of media, communications and infotech-based businesses that merely skim their share of profit from these basically commercial operations with some globalized character. Such industries may impart a glossy, capitalist-like sheen on the Philippine economy at first glance, but are simply unsustainable outgrowths of the semifeudal economy.

In spite or because of the long running bogus land reform program of the agrarian state, agriculture remains a major base of the economy but it is in the main afflicted by traditional feudal relations of production, by backward, non-mechanized, non-irrigated, and with low output. However, there is the noticeable phenomenon of the scattered use of harvester and thresher combines from China and Japan in small to medium landholdings, displacing farmworkers. Large-scale agricultural production with some amount of mechanization and hiring of seasonal farm workers is carried out in foreign-owned and big comprador-owned plantations producing export crops.

AB: Can you explain the impact of the economic policy shifts of the US and world capitalist system on the Philippine economy since the 1950s? Have these policy shifts, which have been followed by the Philippine government, promoted the industrialization of the Philippines?

JMS: There have been conspicuous and superficial phenomena in the Philippines attendant to shifts in the economic policy of US imperialism and the local reactionaries. Up to the 1950s, US surplus consumer goods poured into the Philippines to exhaust US war damage payments and loans from the US Export-Import Bank. By the 1970s upon the rehabilitation of Japan, the Philippines was being swamped with all sorts of Japanese goods and Marcos went into showy infrastructure projects, using up Japanese reparations and availing of loans from the World Bank.

Some shallow-minded bourgeois economists thought that the Philippines could become a newly-industrializing country when the export-processing zones were launched. But the Filipino rulers proved incapable of overcoming limitations imposed by the Japanese creditors on the Iligan Integrated Steel Mills which were established during the time of Macapagal and would be sold away to Chinese Malaysians in the time of Ramos.

The multilateral consensus among the industrial capitalist countries in IMF, World Bank and the Asian Development was to keep the Philippines nonindustrial and agrarian, a dumping ground of surplus manufactures and cheap source of raw materials, restricted to infrastructure building to enhance the export of raw materials and import finished manufactures.

The share that the Philippines got in the imperialist recycling of petrodollars in construction projects in the Middle East was the desperate shift of Marcos’ crony construction companies to this region, the deployment of Filipino construction workers and the start of a significant amount of remittances from migrant workers to keep up the importation of consumer goods under the auspices of the Filipino comprador big bourgeoisie.

But the bigger phenomenon of exporting cheap Filipino labor to earn foreign exchange and augment foreign loans for covering the growing deficit due to the increased dumping of surplus consumer goods by the imperialist countries and by the neighboring newly-industrialized countries in East Asia.

The US instigated the neoliberal policy of imperialist globalization in a futile attempt to override the worsening crisis of overproduction within the US and among its industrialized allies from 1979 onwards. This policy has been awesome because it brazenly calls for the unbridled aggrandizement of monopoly capital, the deliberate reduction of the wage income and social services, the denationalization of weaker economies and the abuse of international credit for private construction and the provision of consumer goods. In the neoliberal framework, the Philippines never had a chance to make its own national industrialization, until now when neoliberalism has become bankrupt and the public debt is already in rthe process of exploding in the face of both industrialized and non-industrialized countries.

Such new facets of the local economy as the significant rise in remittances of overseas Filipino workers since the late 1970s, expansion of so-called free economic zones, large-scale land-use conversion for real-estate, production of new commodity crops, have only served to aggravate and deepen the backward and nonindustrial character of the domestic forces of production in the Philippines.

Significant external changes like the complete restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and China, the rise of China as a manufacturing giant, technological developments in communications, robotics, and so on have only served to aggravate the crisis of overproduction in the world capitalist system and have not provided the Philippine reactionary government the opportunity to undertake the industrial development of the Philippines, especially because there has been a lack of political will for such purpose.

AB: What is the composition of the Philippine population in terms of socioeconomic class and urban-rural dichotomy?

JMS: Based on the false statistics of the reactionary government, the employees in the industry sector (19.1per cent) and those in the service sector (58 per cent) now total 77.1 per cent of the labor force against the measly 22.9 per cent in the agriculture sector. There are two points missed in the understatement of employment in agriculture: first, almost the entire family of peasants and farm workers, including women and children, do farm work and other productive activities in the natural economy; and second, most of the surplus population and the rural odd-jobbers and many of the urban odd-jobbers are still connected to their peasant families.

In considering the class composition of the Philippine population, one must in general count as members of a definite socioeconomic class those family members who are dependent on or assist their parents in work. This is especially in the case of peasants and farm workers because they take part in production and get a definite share of the social product . By this reckoning, the poor and middle peasants are still the overwhelming majority of the people employed in the two basic productive sectors of agriculture and industry. At the least, 60 per cent of the population are still peasant and based in the rural areas.

Even the false statistics of the reactionary government admit that there are still more people employed in agriculture than in industry, although the difference has been made incredibly small. The mechanical and superficial definition of “urban” in these statistics have the overall effect of bloating further the number of non-rural employment, where in fact these are typically members of peasant families engaged in sideline occupations in nearby town centers, such as drivers, haulers, vendors, shop assistants, and other casual laborers in the informal economy.

There is a noticeable degree of rural semiproletarianization, due to the limits of agricultural land, and widespread land-use conversion for real estate, tourism, energy and infrastructure projects. This results in the increasing number of surplus peasants and farmworkers who are displaced from the land and could no longer be absorbed in agricultural production.

But they have scant opportunity to become productive since there are limited industries in the cities and the labor export market can only absorb so much, large amounts of rural labor are being displaced from the land and forced idle. To feed themselves and their families, they resort to all sorts of productive work from serving as habal-habal transport drivers, engaging in small retail, seasonal swidden farming, collecting firewood for sale, and so on, which are intrinsically tied to the rural economy.

The big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalist families comprise fractions of 1 per cent of the Philippine population, the stunted middle bourgeoisie cannot exceed 2 percent of the population, the urban petty bourgeoisie still ranges from 6 to 8 per cent of the population. The workers and peasants comprise at least 90 per cent of the population, with the nonagricultural workers no more than 30 or 40 per cent. There has been no significant advance of industrial capitalist development to change radically the social pyramid and rural-urban distribution of the population since the writing of “Philippine Society and Revolution.”

The Philippines is extremely underdeveloped if we consider the extent of unemployment as an indicator of development. According to 2019 official statistics, 12 million people or more than 26 per cent of the 45 million labor force cannot find work in the Philippines and have to seek jobs abroad. Another 10.6 million or 23 per cent of the labor force remain in the Philippines and are admitted by the reactionary government as unemployed. A total of 22.6 million people or more than 49 per cent of the labor force are unemployed.

The National Statistics Authority of the government admits that of the almost 70 million Filipinos counted as working-age population (as of the 2017 Labor Force Survey), more than 27 million are categorized as “not in the labor force” (NILF). These include overseas workers, who are even excluded in the NSA’s labor data collection. Other NILF include those who are “not looking for work” for various reasons. This point alone proves the severity of the country’s unemployment problem.

Aside from exporting raw materials for foreign monopoly capitalism, the Philippines has exported huge amounts of cheap labor since 1980. It does this in two ways with huge increases:

1) in overseas Filipinos (with for instance OFW deployment increasing from just 214,590 in 1980 to over two million annually since 2016; the stock of overseas Filipinos meanwhile increased from 7.0 million in 1997 [earliest available data] to 10.3 million in 2013 [latest available data, although Migrante estimates at least 12 million today]); and

2) in employment in special economic zones (increasing from 91,860 in 1994 to over 1.5 million today; this is from how the number of economic zones increased from 16 to 395 and of enterprises [mainly foreign TNCs] in them from 331 to 4,341 over that same period). This grossly affirms how our lack of an industrial base means that foreign monopoly capital is able to exploit Filipino raw materials and cheap labor.

AB: In 1983 you and Ka Julie your wife analyzed the Philippine mode of production and coun­tered the wrong line that the Philippines was no longer semifeudal but capitalist? What was the basis of that line?

JMS: Yes, we thought in 1983 that it was our duty to counter the erroneous line that the Philippine economy was no longer semifeudal but capitalist. The implication of the term capitalist was that the Philippines had become industrial capitalist. There would have been no problem if the homegrown capitalism was described as semifeudal capitalism or big comprador capitalism or big comprador-landlord economy.

Certain cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines were quite awed by the Marcos fascist regime’s infrastructure projects and propaganda that the Philippines was becoming industrial capitalist because of “eleven industrial projects” connected to the infrastructure projects and the promotion of universal banks so-called, no longer merely commercial banks but banks for industrial investment, as in the merger of bank and industrial capital in the emergence of monopoly capitalism in Europe.

Julie and I thought those CPP cadres I have mentioned were under the influence of bourgeois economists and even of Trotskyism. They were short of knowledge about political economy and were lacking in critical ability. They even claimed that the peasantry in Central Luzon was rapidly disappearing because of industrialization and did not recognize that the number of peasants persisted but the surplus rural population was increasing and desperate even for odd jobs on the farms and in Metro Manila. They were also dazzled by the prospects of export processing zones and semiprocessing enterprises.

They failed to recognize that the bureaucrat capitalist Marcos and his cronies were big compradors who were benefiting from infrastructure projects which were grossly graft-laden and dependent on onerous foreign debt as well as on imported construction equipment and structural steel. The so-called eleven industrial projects and universal banks were all balderdash and were subordinate to the infrastructure projects and export-import trading. The export-processing zones were not at all the cutting edge of industrialization but fringe-processing or assembly of finished components.

The errant comrades were completely unaware that Marcos had already exhausted the Japanese war damage payments and that the neo-Keynesian lending under the auspices of the World Bank for the purpose of enhancing the colonial exchange of raw materials from the hinterlands and finished goods from the metropolis was under strain and severe criticism from 1979 onwards. The Marcos fascist regime was already in financial trouble due to the dwindling of international credit from 1979 to 1982.

AB: What were the conse­quen­ces of the wrong line of those who practically praised Marcos for transforming the Philippines from semifeudal to industrial capitalist?

JMS: The subjectivist line that Marcos had transformed or was transforming the Philippine economy from semifeudal to industrial capitalist bred Right and “Left” opportunist lines. It reinforced the reformist Right opportunist line of the so-called popular democrats. It also whipped up the Left opportunist and Trotskyite line that the Maoist line of protracted people’s war was invalid and that victory in the armed revolution could be accomplished through urban uprisings and/or rapid regularization of the people’s army. The Left opportunist line manifested Trotskyite notions and did the most damage to the armed revolution from 1986 until 1992, prompting the Second Great Rectification Movement in 1992.

The critique of the wrong subjectivist line about the mode of production in the Philippines in 1983 did not stop the Right opportunists and “Left” opportunists in having their way and inflicting damage to the revolutionary forces at various times in various regions but it reinforced the Marxist-Leninist foundation of the CPP and gathered the support of most cadres and members for the Second Great Rectification Movement. This was an educational movement to repudiate, criticize and rectify the erroneous subjectivist line and the Right and “Left” opportunist errors as well as consequent crimes. It saved the CPP and the revolutionary movement from disintegration.

AB: Now, there are again claims that the Philippines is no longer semifeudal but capitalist. Why? What is the basis for these claims? Has the neoliberal policy really developed beyond what you call the semifeudal economy?

JMS: As Lenin has taught us a long time ago about the law of uneven development, modern imperialism or monopoly capitalism can make spasmodic investments in colonies, semicolonies and dependent countries but these do not result in an even economic development from one level to a new higher level. The kind of foreign investments that flowed into the Philippines during the time of Marcos did not lift the Philippines from semifeudalism to industrial capitalism but to a worse kind of semifeudalism that resulted in the downfall of Marcos and the stagnation of the economy during the time of Cory Aquino.

Then from 1992 onwards Ramos as president pushed hard the neoliberal policy, privatised state assets to use the sales income for buoying up the budget and to get neoliberal credit for a private construction boom and larger importation of finished manufactures. The Philippine economy actually degenerated and then was adversely affected in a big way by the Asian financial crisis of 1997.The export-oriented processing enterprises collapsed and became subordinated to China as final assembly platform.

The Estrada regime could not last long because of corruption and depressed conditions of the economy. But despite continuing difficulties, the subsequent Arroyo and Aquino regimes seemed to be able to fix the Philippine economy because of low-interest international credit by way of reviving the world capitalist economy, the inflow of speculative portfolio funds which did not build any productive enterprise, the foreign exchange remittances of overseas contract workers and the shift of business processing operations from the imperialist countries to the Philippines.

Philippine economic “progress” since the 2000s is equated or made to appear with the glossy high rise buildings due to neoliberal funding and a big amount of import-dependent consumption due to a rising level of foreign debt in combination with the remittances of the OFWs which have not been enough to cover budgetary and trade deficits. Thus there is now an unsustainable public debt of Php 9 trillion without any solid kind of industrial development. The backward nonindustrial character of the Philippine economy when the public debt bubbles of neoliberalism will be exploding in both industrial capitalist countries and in nonindustrial countries like the Philippines.

But there are those who think that the grotesque distribution of employment and outputs in the agriculture, industry and service sectors spells the rise of the Philippine economy, from semifeudalism to capitalism which is implied to be industrial capitalism. According to latest government statistics, agriculture is supposed to account for 22.9 percent employment and 7.4 per cent share of the GDP, industry for 19.1 per cent of employment and 34 per cent share of GDP and service sector for 58 per cent of employment and 58.6 of GDP.

These figures are patently false by understating the proportion of those employed in agriculture and disregarding the fact that entire families of peasants and farm workers (including children below the age of 10 years) participate in farm work and overstating employment in the service sector which obviously includes estimates of the big number of odd-jobbers and unemployed. The service sector is not a basic productive sector, unlike agriculture and industry.

Nevertheless, the service sector is highly significant because it is where the comprador bourgeoisie reigns with it its big financial, trading and other service corporations. These determine the semifeudal and big comprador capitalist character of the Philippine economy in line which lacks an industrial foundation. But the statisticians of the reactionary government also crowd the service sector with small and medium service enterprises and the far more numerous income-earners working as jeepney drivers, market stall proprietors, gasoline station attendants, sari-sari store owners, street vendors, cooks, waitresses and others involved in the so-called “informal economy.”

That the service sector dominates the economy indicates a grossly disfigured non-industrial state of the economy. The proportions of employment and output ascribed to the industry sector clearly do not make the Philippines industrial capitalist, especially if we consider that the Philippine industry sector is entirely dependent on imported equipment, fuel and other major components and raw materials.

What has been passed off by the reactionary rulers and economists as industrial capitalist development in the Philippines consists of pockets of large-scale industrial capitalist production dependent on imported equipment and components which include electronic parts, electrical wiring production and other export commodities inside the export processing zones. These zones of cheap Filipino labor and tax evasion form part of the international assembly line (now more fashionably called “global value chains”) of multinational corporations.

There are also large-scale extractive industries such as mining operations which make use of giant earth moving machines, high explosives, open pits and heavy doses of cyanide and other lethal chemicals, and international shipping vessels which often avoid customs with the complicity of corrupt officials. Large numbers of the Filipino proletariat are concentrated in these areas of economic activity. The question, however, is whether these form part of, or contribute to domestic capitalist development. The processing of the mineral ores is done abroad beyond the primary stage.

Except for the low wages they pay to workers, the mining enterprises, in fact, do not contribute anything fundamental to domestic capitalist development. In fact, they prevent local capitalist factors from developing industrially by sucking in domestic resources, and influencing economic policy to the detriment of the national bourgeoisie. The independent local capitalist sector is limited mainly to small and medium-scale manufacturing, with significant numbers in the local food manufacturing.

AB: What are the possible consequences of not describing Philippine politics and economy in the most precise way possible?

JMS: If the thinking gains ground that the Philippines has become industrial capitalist from being semifeudal, there would be an obfuscation of the three basic problems of foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, with the big compradors and bureaucrat capitalists serving as the bridge between foreign monopoly capitalism and feudalism consisting of traditional rent-taking landlords and export crop landlords, and leasehold contract growers (including commercial livestock and poultry growers for niche markets) who combine some amount of mechanization and the use of seasonal farm workers.

Worst of all, there can be again the illusion that the peasantry is a dwindling or even disappearing class through capitalist development, agrarian revolution is no longer the main content of the people’s democratic revolution and that the protracted people’s war has lost the wide social and physical terrain for maneuver and growth in stages. The subjectivist line can again be whipped up for the Right and Left opportunist lines that arose from 1981 to 1992 and became very damaging to the revolutionary movement from 1985 to 1992.

Those who spread the aforesaid subjectivist line eventually exposed themselves as Trotskyites. They are again loudly attacking the characterization of the Philippine economy as semi-feudal in order to push the long-discredited Trotskyite line that there ought not to be two stages in the Philippine revolution because socialism is already the immediate issue, that there is no need for the people’s democratic revolution, that the peasantry and the middle bourgeoisie are reactionary forces that should be kept out of the national united front, that the strategic line of protracted people’s war by encircling the cities from the country should be discarded and that the workers must do all the revolutionary struggle and share no power with the peasant masses.

However, the semifeudal character of the Philippines will become even more conspicuous as the crisis of the world capitalist system and that of the domestic ruling system worsen, especially after the aggravation of the crisis and large-scale disruptions of global and domestic supply chains wrought by COVID-19. The liberalized trade and investment policies of the reactionary government have favored foreign monopoly capitalists and smugglers through the ports and free economic zones at the expense of local production.

The Philippine economy remains dependent on imported equipment and many kinds of consumer manufactures, foreign debt and investments. It suffers from a rapidly worsening chronic trade deficit and mounting public debt. The people suffer high rates of unemployment, job insecurity, low wages, rising prices of food and other basic commodities, mass poverty and homelessness.

The export-oriented, import-dependent and heavily indebted economy is already reeling from the global economic slowdown and the aggravation done by the destruction of productive forces due to the Covid-19 lockdowns. The private construction boom, real estate development and tourist enterprises are likely to suffer a collapse as they did after the Asian financial crisis of 1997.

The GDP growth last year which slowed to 5.9%, the lowest in eight years, is set to be wiped out with the unprecedented contraction of the economy. Sure to further deteriorate are all sectors of the economy in terms of output and employment. Overseas remittances and BPO operations will slow down. The Philippine economy and government have gone bankrupt and will have no way whatsoever to claim any kind of economic development from the underdeveloped and impoverished conditions of semifeudalism.

CPP/NDF-KM: Siyang walang pangalan

Propaganda poety posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Aug 31, 2020): Siyang walang pangalan

AUGUST 31, 2020

Ngayong Pambansang Araw ng mga Bayani, pinakamataas na pagpupugay ang inaalay ng Kabataang Makabayan sa lahat ng mga namartir sa pakikibaka at sa mga patuloy na nakikibaka para sa pagtatagumpay ng pambansa demokratikong rebolusyon!

Ang laban at tagumpay ng rebolusyon ay mula at para sa lahat ng magsasaka, manggagawa, kabataan, maralitang lunsod, manggagawang pangkalusugan, at kabuuan ng mamamayang nagkakaisa. Ang tunay na bayani ay ang masang Pilipino na nakikibaka para wasakin ang paghahari ng imperyalismo, pyudalismo, at burukrata-kapitalismo sa loob ng malakolonyal at malapyudal na Pilipinas!

Ang Kabataang Makabayan ay nananawagan sa lahat ng patriyotikong kabataan at mamamayan na lumahok sa armadong pakikibaka at sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan upang ipagpatuloy ang labang nasimulan ng mga Pulang Bayani at martir ng rebolusyon!

Sumapi sa Kabataang Makabayan! Sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan!

CPP/NDF-Negros: Pagpasidungog sa mga martir kag baganihan sang rebolusyon sa pungsod! Handurawon kag ipadayon ang ila ginpakigbato!

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Website (Aug 31, 2020): Pagpasidungog sa mga martir kag baganihan sang rebolusyon sa pungsod! Handurawon kag ipadayon ang ila ginpakigbato!

AUGUST 31, 2020

Nagapakig-isa ang National Democratic Front-Negros sa bug-os nga pumuluyo sa pagsaulog sa pungsodnon nga adlaw sang mga baganihan kadungan ang paghatag sang mataas nga pagpasidungog kag pagkilala sa tanan nga mga martir kag baganihan sang rebolusyon kag paghimakas diri sa Isla.

Samtang hayagan nga nagapakatuta ang rehimen Duterte sa mga imperyalista nga mga amo sini sa diin padayon nga nagaratsada sang mga neoliberal nga pagsulundan sa ekonomiya kag ginabaligya ang aton rekurso kag soberanya, nagakadapat nga pakalayuhon ang nasyunalismo kag pagkarebolusyonaryo nga esperito sang aton mga baganihan nga depensahan ang aton pungsod batuk sa sari-sari nga porma sang imperyalista nga pagpanabotahe kag pagpanalakay.

Sa tunga sang pangkalibutanon nga krisis sa ikaayong lawas kag nagalala nga pag-usmod sang ekonomiya tuga sang kapabayaan, inutil kag pasista nga tikang sang rehimen, madamu nga mga bag-o nga baganihan ang nagatuhaw nga maisog kag ubos-kusog nga ginahalad ang ila talento, ikasarang kag mangin ang ila nga kabuhi para sa pumuluyo. Ginapanginbulahan naton ang mga hangaway sang pumuluyo, mamumugon sa ikaayong lawas, mga mangunguma, mamumugon, mga manunudlo, mga mamamantala, mga aktibista kag iban pa, nga wala kakapoy nga ginabaton ang hangkat sang panahon kag handa nga dawaton ang ano man nga responsibilidad kag sakripisyo agud lubos nga alagaran ang sahing pigos kag ginahimuslan.

Sa pihak nga yara ang katalagman sang pandemya, padayon nga nagasabwag sang sistematiko nga pagpang-atake, asud-asud nga terorismo kag todo larga nga ginahawanan sang berdugo nga rehimen Duterte ang dalan sa pagpundar sang isa ka pasista nga diktadurya , apang paga-atubangon ini sang indi-malingkang nga pagbato sang malapad kag nagakusog nga hanay sang rebolusyonaryo kag progresibo nga pwersa sa Negros kag bilog pungsod agud dugmukon kag sukton ang tiraniko nga rehimen sa iya malaba nga krimen nga ginkomiter sa pumuluyo.

Nagalala ang inhustisya kag kultura sang impyunidad (wala sang may napasabat) tuga sang nagabaskog kag madinugu-on nga todo-gyera nga ginalunsar sang rehimen batuk sa pumuluyo sa ngalan sang kontra-insurhensiya nga programa. Isa sa nangin sentro kag laboratoryo ang isla sang Negros sa diin naglab-ot na sa 89 ang biktima sang ekstra-hudisyal nga pagpamatay kag masobra 90 ang ginpatu-patu-an sang kaso base sa peke kag ginpantamon nga ebidensya nga naghalin sa kubay sang mga mangunguma, lider masa kag aktibista, mga abogado kag tigdampig sa tawhanon nga kinamatarung kag mga yara sa burukrasya sibil.

Apang ang ila dugo nga gin-ula kag mga sakripisyo ang magaserbi nga tuburan kag kalayo nga nagadabadaba sa paghimakas sang bug-os nga Negrosanon agud padayon nga ikabuhi kag itib-ong ang ila rebolusyonaryo nga prinsipyo kag ginpakigbato nga maangkon ang matuod nga reporma sa duta, pungsodnon nga industriyalisasyon kag pungsodnon nga kahilwayan kag kalinong nga nakabase sa hustisya sosyal.

Gani mas pa nga pataason ang militansya kag pasingki-on ang paglunsar sang malapnagon nga paghimakas masa kag armadong paghimakas tubtob mapalayas sa poder kag mapabayad ang sapatnon apang balati-anon nga rehimen US-Duterte. Sa amu lamang sini nga paagi maangkon naton ang matuod-tuod nga hustisya para sa tanan nga nangin biktima kag maangkon ang pungsodnon nga kahilwayan! ###

Kalinaw News: Army, PNP Joint Law Enforcement Operations neutralize NPA leader in Negros

From Kalinaw News (Aug 31, 2020): Army, PNP Joint Law Enforcement Operations neutralize NPA leader in Negros
CAUAYAN, Negros Occidental – The Army’s 15th Infantry (Molave Warrior) Battalion and Philippine National Police Joint Law Enforcement Operation successfully neutralized a high-ranking NPA leader at Kilometer 109, Barangay Dancalan, Ilog, Negros Occidental on Monday, August 31, 2020.

The NPA leader was identified as Mitchel Fat alias “TM”, “EPI”, and “LAKAS” Squad Leader, Squad 1, SYP Platoon, CN2, KR-NCBS and a known High Value Individual (HVI) of Central Negros Front. He was the leader of the group behind the brutal killing of four Policemen in Ayungon, Negros Oriental last July 18, 2019.
He has three standing Warrants of Arrest with Criminal Case No. A2020-74-CRC, Criminal Case No. A2020-71-CRC and Criminal Case No. A2020-73-CRC issued by 7th RTC, Branch 75 of Bais City, Negros Oriental.

The government forces are serving the warrants when they were fired upon by the said suspect armed with Cal. 45 pistol which prompted the operating troops to retaliate. After which, the suspect was immediately transported to Lorenzo Zayco District Hospital in Kabankalan City for medical attention, however, he was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.

Recovered from his possession are the following items: One Cal. 45 pistol with serial number 2170458 and with chamber load; One magazine of Cal. 45 pistol with four live ammos; Two fired cartridge case of Cal. 45 ammos; One Hammock; One sling bag; One inside holster; Two magazine pouch; One lower Battle Dress Attire; One upper marine uniform; One handheld radio with charger; One Nokia cellular phone; One brown wallet; Two boxes of Sterile Acupuncture needle; One sim card, and other subversive documents.

The neutralization of Alias Lakas” came after local populace in the area provided and tipped-off his presence and whereabouts.

Lieutenant Colonel Erwin CariƱo Commanding officer of 15th Infantry (Molave Warrior) Battalion said that, “The neutralization of another Communist NPA Terrorist High Value Individual is another setback to the CPP-NPA-NDF terrorist in Negros Province. It also shows the unwavering support of the local populace in whom are already affected with the menace brought by these terrorist group.”

“The 15IB is steadfast in its mandate in defeating the terrorist in Negros Island and being a more relevant ground force committed to end Local Communist Armed Conflict in CHICKS area. We are optimistic that with the improved system of collaboration among the different government forces and agencies, we would continue to trample down the influence and terroristic activities of the communist-terrorist group in our communities,” Lt. Col. Carino added.

For his part, BGen. Noel Baluyan, Commander, 302nd Infantry Brigade, lauded the 15IB troops for neutralizing the said NPA leader and further directed the unit to sustain its anti-insurgency efforts. BGen. Baluyan likewise reiterated his call to the remaining members of the communist-terrorist group to return to the folds of the law to avoid death.

“You still have time to surrender. And, the best time to yield and start a new is now,” Baluyan emphasized.

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace in the Philippines This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact us:]

Kalinaw News: Soldiers’ liberation of NPA recruits drumbeat National Heroes’ Day

From Kalinaw News (Aug 31, 2020): Soldiers’ liberation of NPA recruits drumbeat National Heroes’ Day
CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – The liberation of 60 former rebels from the clutches of terrorism highlights Southern Tagalog’s celebration of this year’s National Heroes Day.

Fifty seven of the surrenders were Mangyans from Mindoro Island while the rest were former NPA terrorists who used to operate in CALABARZON.
According to BGen Alex Rillera, Commander of the 202nd Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over northern Quezon, the three former rebels who surrendered to his soldiers belong to the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee s Main Regional Guerilla Unit which is the main fighting unit of the NPA.

“Alias Ed, alias Willy and alias Bong decided to turn their backs from the underground movement on Aug 24 after a series of local peace negotiations held in Brgy Pandan of Real town which were spearheaded by Quezon s Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or PTF ELCAC”, said BGen Rillera.

He added that “the identity and NPA membership of the three surrenderers were identified and validated by alias Honey, a former rebel who surrendered to the local peace negotiating team early this year.”

BGen Rillera ended his statement by expressing optimism that “the communist terrorists will never be able to recover from their unprecedented losses in this part of the country, thus, we are confident that Region 4A will soon be liberated from threats and atrocities of the NPAs.”

Relatedly, the Army’s 203rd Brigade has facilitated the return to mainstream society of 57 former rebels from the island of Mindoro.

Colonel Jose Augusto Villarreal, Commander of the 203rd Brigade which covers MIMARO provinces, said that “the mass exodus was a result of two separate local peace negotiations held in the mountain communities of Occidental Mindoro on August 26 and 27 following the historic visit of government officials in the far-flung areas of Mindoro aboard military helicopters.”

The visit was in relation to the unprecedented delivery of basic services to around 800 Mangyans from Buhid tribe as part of the national government s Retooled Community Support Program or RCSP.

Col Villareal added that “nine NPA regulars and 48 militias admitted their affiliations to SRMA 4D’s KLG MAV which operates and terrorises the hinterland communities of the province.”

“These never-before-seen number of surrenders in Mindoro is a tangible proof of the security forces and the local government units headways in counterinsurgency which indicates that genuine peace and development in the island is finally within reach,” ended Col Villareal.

The former rebels will undergo the process of enrolment to the government s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP which offers as much as Php700,000 worth of immediate, livelihood and reintegration packages to qualified beneficiaries.

MGen Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, Commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, branded the former rebels as “heroes of modern times whose act of turning their backs from armed struggle is a crucial step toward the much coveted national healing and unity in our beloved country.”

He reaffirmed his commitment that “these former rebels and those who will decide to give up their arms in the coming days will be assisted by our troops in claiming their benefits, ensuring their safety and promoting their well-being as they rejoin our society as responsible and productive Filipinos.”

Maj Gen Burgos ended his statement by saying that “heroism is not only about dying for our flag and country but, more importantly, by being part of the solution to the numerous problems which our country is facing” while reiterating his call to the few remaining NPA terrorists in Southern Tagalog to “give up your arms and be the hero who champions peace and development, be the hero whom our citizens truly deserve.”

Since the implementation of E-CLIP, the 2nd Infantry Division has already facilitated the surrender of 661 former rebels across Southern Tagalog.

The identity of the former rebels are being withheld for their security against possible NPA actions.

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace in the Philippines This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact us:]

Kalinaw News: AFP Joins the Commemoration of National Heroes Day

From Kalinaw News (Aug 31, 2020): AFP Joins the Commemoration of National Heroes Day
The AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert I Gapay led the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in commemoration of the National Heroes Day, August 31.

The National Heroes Day celebration was also attended by Dr. Rene R. Escalante, Chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Mayor Lino Cayetano of the City of Taguig, and Undersecretary Ernesto G. Carolina, Administrator, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.
Recalling the sacrifices of the nation’s heroes, Lt. Gen. Gapay dedicated the celebration to modern day heroes fighting the pandemic in the frontlines.

“To the heroes of our time – medical practitioners, law enforcers, government employees, and everyone who continues to perform their duties despite the threats posed by COVID-19, thank you for your hard work and sacrifices. Our whole nation is profoundly grateful to all of you for giving the Filipino people a fighting chance and a glimmer of hope against this pandemic,” Lt. Gen. Gapay said in a statement.

In an interview with the media, Lt. Gen. Gapay said that the celebration of the National Heroes Day is a reminder of all the sacrifices and heroism of those who fought for our independence. “We want to instil this to the minds of the Filipinos, particularly the youth. This is also to honor and give thanks to the modern day heroes,” he said.

The nation is facing an unforeseen enemy in COVID – 19 pandemic and has put a lot of people in the frontlines. Many Filipinos inevitably continue to sacrifice their lives for the sake of duty.

Lt. Gen. Gapay in his statement believes that there is a hero in all of us, he said “Heroism knows no bounds and manifests in different ways. It does not matter whether one is a uniformed personnel, a public servant, or an ordinary citizen – specks of heroism are innate in all of us, urging us to perform everyday acts of valor.”

He then encourages everyone to exude heroism especially in these trying times, “Indeed, what makes exceptional men and women true heroes is their commitment – a burning desire to serve. True heroes emerge when our nation needs them most.”

As the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Lt. Gen. Gapay calls for unity to uphold the principles of honor and justice so that the sacrifices of the heroes who came before us will not be in vain. “That we, living in challenging times, still have the spirit of heroism alive and well within us,” Lt. Gen. Gapay said in closing.

[Kalinaw News is the official online source of information on the pursuit for peace in the Philippines This website is a property of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army located at Lawton Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Contact us:]