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hands off

One Joseph Catalan has been bugging me on Twitter for a response to his WSWS article accusing BAYAN of supporting the US war on China. Here then is a short response from an earlier blog post.

“Maoists support US pivot vs China?”

Well, this is new, coming from pseudo-left Trotskyite grouplets already discredited here in the Philippines but still able to find a venue to spread poison overseas. One Joseph Catalan makes the absurd and fantastic claim that Bayan, by protesting Chinese intervention in the West Philippine Sea, is actually siding with the United States. The claim falls flat on its face since Bayan has consistently opposed US intervention including one-sided agreements such as the VFA and EDCA. Bayan’s track record speaks for itself. Whether in the streets, in the courts, or in parliament, we have strongly opposed US intervention and wars of aggression. We have exposed the desire of the US to exploit the dispute with China so that it can bring back US bases and increase the number of US troops in the Philippines.

Catalan’s article suffers from the same logical fallacy as those who claim that protesting US intervention makes you pro-China.

When Bayan cites US connivance with China and that the US is not going to war with China over PH claims, it is meant to counter the PH government’s lie that US military presence will boost our country’s maritime claims. A plain reading of the statement will show that it is neither an invitation nor endorsement of US military intervention in the dispute. For Catalan to continue insisting otherwise is rather childish and dishonest.

When BAYAN supports the arbitration case vs China, it is not because it is willfully supporting the US designs vs China nor is it because we’ve decided to support the Aquino regime. The UNCLOS is a valid legal instrument that establishes and strengthens our West PH Sea claims, including our exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf. It effectively counters the 9-dash line claim of China. We have no illusion though that the reactionary PH government will be in the best position to assert our claims in the future. The people’s democratic government, established upon our liberation from imperialism and the local ruling elite, would be in the best position to do that. Such a revolutionary government would also avail of the international legal instruments and avenues of diplomacy that can help strengthen our maritime claims.

Catalan and his group here in the Philippines should now be asked: When are you going to oppose China’s violations of our sovereignty? Or do you think it is a non-issue? So we should just allow China to grab our islands and waters because in your view, opposing China would make you pro-US? And if you are so opposed to US war provocations, how come you have not come out strongly to oppose the VFA and the EDCA? What have you done exactly to resist the US pivot?

Ah but for Catalan, the issue of national sovereignty is subsumed to the “formation of the independent party of the working class” as if it is not a concern at all of the working class. What is being done to our fishermen and our natural resources is a non-issue for them. They engage in a lot of Left rhetoric to cover up their essentially Rightist position of utter surrender.  What they are basically saying is that we do nothing. It justifies their inaction in the face of both US intervention and China incursions.

In the coming days, the people’s movement will undertake more actions and mobilize more people throughout the country in defense of Philippine sovereignty against US and China imperialism. Last June 12, a broad alliance led rallies at the Chinese consulate in Makati and the US embassy in Manila.

Don’t expect Catalan and the WSWS to lift a finger to defend the national interests of the Filipino people, including those of the Filipino working class.

Now that the June 12 rallies are concluded, please let me take this time to clarify certain misconceptions and accusations about the Left when it comes to China and the ongoing dispute in the West Philippine Sea. Some allegations are just patently absurd. Others may just be the result of deliberate disinformation by the Aquino regime. In any case, it is important that we make this clarification.

Here are some of the mistaken notions that we may have encountered lately.

  1. “Local Maoists” and other leftist groups are pro-China” – This is a familiar refrain but has no basis in fact. Anyone who understands Mao will know that Maoism stands diametrically opposed to what China is now. Filipino Maoists from as far back as the late 1970’s have already described Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping as a “capitalist roader” or one who has chosen the path of capitalism over socialism. The Chinese state and so-called “Communist Party” have long turned their backs on the Chinese working class. This analysis was vindicated during the early 90’s when it became ever clearer that China had turned capitalist. Fast forward today, the Left and the so-called local Maoists are in fact the ones that have identified China as a full-fledged imperialist power committing acts of aggression in the West Philippine Sea and violating the sovereignty of the Philippines.
  1. “Protesting against the US makes you pro-China”. This is another non sequitur. Why would protesting US intervention and demanding an independent foreign policy make one pro-China? It is the same fallacy that is used to describe foes of the Aquino regime. If you are anti-Aquino then you must be pro-Binay. If you are against the VFA then you are an “Abu Sayyaf lover”. It is simply twisted logic no different from the “you are either with us or against us” line. Is being pro-US the only expression of our opposition to China? What if we were to tell you that the US is not truly opposed to China and is in fact in cahoots with China on many economic issues? Will that make the pro-US groups unwittingly pro-China? Folks, the issue of the West PH Sea cannot be reduced to cheering on one imperialist power over the other. (Yes, I’m looking at you Ricky Carandang.) In fact, our national interest will be best served if we veer away from that narrow framework. It is our dependence on the US which has made us weak to begin with.  It is the reason why we do not have the military means to stand up against China. By embracing the US and giving it unqualified support, we are in fact undermining our own ability to stand up against China.
  1. The Left has not done much vs China’s aggression- Not true. Progressive groups have held protest actions against China’s incursions, poaching and environmental destruction. This year, we held 4 protests already. Bayan is part of a broad nationalist alliance called P1NAS which is opposed to China’s incursions and US intervention. The biggest rally so far vs China’s aggression was led by P1NAS on June 12, with Bayan playing a significant role. More than a thousand joined, including former Senator Rene Saguisag, actress Bibeth Orteza, incumbent and former lawmakers, and ordinary folks. The rally was also supported by former Senators Leticia Shahani and Vic Ziga. And so for former Palace PR operator Ricky Carandang to label the June 12 anti-China protest as “fake”, well, that’s just too bad coming from a supposed former journalist like himself.
  1. “Bayaran kayo ng China!” – Well here’s another baseless allegation. Bayan has no relations whatsoever with the Chinese government and the erstwhile Chinese “Communist” Party. And after the Communist Party of the Philippines labeled Deng and company as modern revisionists, I would guess that the CPP doesn’t have any relations either. Looking at our history, you’ll be surprised to find out that the real “bayaran ng China” are those in the Philippine government. Have we forgotten the NBN-ZTE deal and the Northrail project? Have we forgotten the corruption that these projects entailed? Have we forgotten that China’s State Grid controls 40% of our transmission lines because government privatized Transco? How many Chinese black sand mining projects are operating in the provinces because of pay-offs to local politicians?
  1. Maoists support US pivot vs China – Well, this is a new one coming from pseudo-left grouplets already discredited here in the Philippines but still able to find a venue overseas. One Joseph Catalan makes the absurd and fantastic claim that Bayan, by protesting Chinese intervention, is actually siding with the United States. The claim falls flat on its face since Bayan has consistently opposed US intervention including one-sided agreements such as the VFA and EDCA. Bayan’s track record speaks for itself. Whether in the streets, in the courts, or in parliament, we have strongly opposed US intervention. We have exposed the desire of the US to exploit the dispute with China so that it can bring back US bases and increase the number of US troops in the Philippines. Catalan’s article suffers from the same logical fallacy as those who claim that protesting US intervention makes you pro-China. Catalan and his group should now be asked, when are you going to oppose China’s violations of our sovereignty? Or do you think it is a non-issue? And if you are so opposed to US war provocations against China, how come you have not come out strongly to oppose the VFA and the EDCA?

We are more than willing to share with friends and any interested party our stand on China, the US and the West Philippine Sea. Most materials are available online; in our websites and Facebook pages. These may help us better analyze the different views that are coming out regarding the issue. In the end, we hope that the current conditions, aside from providing an impetus for discussion, will also translate to concrete action. We need a united people to stand up against the intervention by the big imperialist powers. Other protest actions will happen soon and we hope that the movement for the defense of national sovereignty and territorial integrity will continue gain ground and expand.  ###

Mula noon hanggang ngayon, mayor na battleground sa UP politics ang STFAP/STS o socialized tuition. Dito nagkakaalaman kung sino talaga ang para sa estudyante at sino ang kontra-estduyante.

Ang karaniwang focus ng debate ay ang socialized tuition vis-à-vis kawalan ng sapat na budget para sa UP.

Ang basic premise ng STFAP/STS noong 1989 ay ang pagtanggap sa realidad na binabawasan ng gobyerno ang budget para sa edukasyon at serbisyong panlipunan. Kung may nominal increase man sa budget ay hindi pa rin ito sapat para sa kabuuang gastusin sa edukasyon.

Malakas ang impluwensya ng mga institusyon ng neoliberalismo tulad ng IMF-WB noong dekada ’80 sa mga programa ng gobyerno. Sa ilalim ni Cory Aquino, tinutulak ang pribatisasyon sa mga serbisyong panlipunan at pagbabawas ng subsidyo upang makabayad ng utang ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas. Kasama na ring sinulong ang liberalization at deregulation sa panahong ito. Itinaguyod din kasi ni Cory ang Automatic Appropriations Law ni Marcos kaya ang pinakamalaking gastusin ng gobyerno ang pagbabayad ng utang, hindi edukasyon.

Dahil may kakulangan sa pondo ang UP, kailangang humanap ng ibang pagkukunan. Ang kagyat na pinagkunan ng ay ang mga estudyante mismo, mula sa kanilang bulsa. Kinailangang magtaas ng matrikula. Ganito ang thinking ng mga dating pangulo ng UP na sina Angara at Abueva noong 80’s, parehon nagpatupad ng TFI noong 1984 at 1989.

Pero para hindi naman masyadong garapal, binihisan ang tuition increase at tinawag na “socialized tuition”. Kunwari ay may mabuting tunguhin– na yung may kaya ang magbabayad para sa walang kaya – pero ang totoong layunin pala ay ipasa sa estudaynte ang responsibilidad ng pagpondo sa edukasyon.

Anti-thetical o taliwas ito sa esensya ng pagiging isang state university ng UP. Inaalis nito sa estado ang responsiblidad ng pagpapa-aral sa kabataan. Tinatangap nito ang maling premise na hindi na lalaki ang badyet para sa edukasyon. Tinatanggap din nito ang maling prayoridad ng gobyerno na mas gusto pang maglalaan ng pondo sa mga programang wala namang pakinabang ang mamamayan.

Lumilikha din ito ng ilusyon na maaaring magkaroon ng social justice sa loob ng UP nang hiwalay sa kabuuan ng lipunan. Hinihiwalay nito ang mga UP students sa laban para dagdagan ang budget ng edukasyon at para baguhin ang lipunan. Sa ilalim ng STFAP/STS, kaya na ng UP magsarili.

Pinakamasahol na panlilinlang ng STFAP/STS ay ang taunang pagtaas ng matrikula habang papaliit ang bilang ng mga “beneficiaries”. Ang STFAP/STS ang pinakamasahol at pinakamapanlinlang na ekspresyon ng Tuition Fee Increase sa UP.

Nagaganap ang TFI sa pamamagitan ng rebracketting o kaya ang mga periodic na across-the-board TFI tulad noong 1989 (naging P200), 1992 (naging P300) , P1,000 nung panahon ni GMA at P1,500 sa panahon ni Aquino.

Kung talagang napakagaling ng sistemang STFAP/STS, bakit hindi umiiksi ang pila sa loan board? Bakit may mga pumapasa ng UPCAT na hindi nagtutuloy dahil sa taas ng bayarin?

Ano ang alternatibo sa STFAP/STS?

Mula noong hanggang ngayon malinaw ang alternatibo ng mga progresibo. Dagdag na subsidy sa UP para signipikanteng maibaba ang tuition. Dagdag na subsidy rin para palawigin pa ang programang scholarship ng gobyerno para sa mga estudyanteng wala talagang pagkukunan ng pambayad (yung mga STFAP Bracket 1-4 noon o Bracket E ngayon).

Ibig sabihin, hindi tinatanggap ng mga estudyante ang maling premise na walang pondo para sa UP at sa sistemang edukasyon sa kabuuan. Anumang programa na naglalayong i-reporma lang ang STFAP/STS ay nangangahulugan nang pagsuko at pagtanggap sa kawalang prayoridad ng gobyerno sa edukasyon. Pagpayag ito sa pag-abandona ng estado sa responsiblidad nito. Hindi maaaring i-reporma ang programang sa umpisa pa lang ay komersyalisasyon na ang layon.

Hindi na bago ang tangkang i-reporma ang socialized tuition ng UP. Tinangka ito ng UP student movement noong 1990. Nagsikap gumawa ng sariling bersyon ng mas “demokratikong” STFAP. Pero nauwi lang ito sa pagtutulak ng rebracketting at mas mahol pa, nagbigay daan para sa pagtaas ng matrikula noong 1992. Kaya di nakapagtataka na ang mga sumunod na tangka ng reporma at rebracketting sa STFAP/STS ay nauwi din sa pagtaas ng matrikula.

Kung sasabihin ng ilan na mali naman na i-subsidize pa ang paparaming bilang ng “mayayamang” estudyante sa UP, ipakita natin na kasalanan ng STFAP/STS at ng pag-abandona ng pambansang pamahalaan kung bakit nababawasan ang bilang ng mahihirap sa UP. Kaya nga sinusulong natin ang pagbasura sa STFAP/STS, para madagdagan ang mga estudyanteng mula sa pamilyang low-income.

Sa kongkreto, dapat lakihan ang subsidy per student. Noong late 90’s ay sinasabing aabot ng P24,000 ang cost of education per student. Magkano kung gayon ang kailangan para mapaaral ang buong student population ng UP nang libre? Siguradong mas maliit naman ang halagang ito kumpara sa ginagastos para sa debt servicing at presidential pork. Bakit hindi kayang ilaan ito ng gobyerno?

Sa huli, ang pagkilos ng mga estudyante ang magtatakda kung magkaano sa aktwal ang magiging tuition sa UP. Ang malinaw, hindi dapat P1,500/unit ang binabayaran ng mga estudyante. Ang malinaw ay mali at mapanlinlang ang iskemang STFAP/STS. Hindi rin indispensable ng STFAP/STS. Hindi ito ang tanging paraan o balangkas ng pagbabayad ng tuition sa kasaysayan ng UP.

Sa 2019 ang ika-30 taon ng iskemang socialized tuition sa UP. Napapanahon na magkaroon ng malakas at sustenidong kampanya sa susunod na apat na taon para ibasura ang kontra-estudyante at kontra-mamamayang programa na ito.

"May sofa kayo? #BracketAKaNa"

philippines-us-special-forces-training-afp

Both the Board of Inquiry and the Senate Committee reports on Mamasapano point out US involvement in the botched operation to get Marwan and Usman, both wanted men by the US government.
The reports are official admissions by Philippine authorities that the US did play a role in the fiasco in Mamasapano. The reports refute earlier pronouncements by the US embassy that there was no US involvement in the operation. The Senate report in particular refutes the statements of the Department of Foreign Affairs that the operation was 100% Filipino.

The two reports however stopped short of truly uncovering the US role. They have given us more questions than answers. There should be another venue to probe the actual extent of US involvement in the police operation that claimed at least 67 Filipino lives.

Here are some questions that need to be answered so that a full accounting of the responsibilities of the principal actors in the operation can be made.

  1. Was Aquino, as commander-in-chief and chief architect of foreign policy, at any time aware of the involvement of the US in the plans to get Marwan? Did he allow US participation all the way to the Tactical Command Post which was the nerve center of the entire operation?
  2. Who exactly were the six Americans at the Tactical Command Post? Were they mere private contractors and if so, which US agency hired them? Were they from the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines? Or the CIA or FBI? Napenas called the Americans his “counterparts”, implying that they were acting in some official capacity on behalf of the US government. Who was Allan Katz or Allan Konz? What is his designation?
  3. Did the US extend funding for this operation? This question is relevant because the BOI says the P100,000 budget claimed by SAF Director Napenas was unrealistic. If the operation did not go through regular chain of command, Napenas must have gotten funding from somewhere else. Was it the US who was funding the operation? How will this be audited, if at all?
  4. What exactly were the six Americans doing at the Tactical Command Post? Were they simply watching from monitors or giving orders to their Filipino counterparts? Why would one American have the audacity to order a Filipino general to fire artillery? Was this the type of relationship he had with the SAF? Under what existing military agreement are these Americans able to participate in a combat operation by being at the Tactical Command Post?
  5. If indeed the US was able to provide real-time information on the location of the Filipino troops and other armed groups, why was there a problem with providing grid-coordinates so that the Philippine military could rescue the surrounded SAF troopers, particularly the 55th SAF? Is it true that the sole focus of the US forces were the 84th Seaborne because they had the evidence of Marwan’s death?

The Board of Inquiry created by the DILG to look into the Mamasapano operation released its report today to the public. Here are the five biggest losers as a result of the report.

  1. President Benigno Aquino III –  It was he who approved Oplan Exodus, which the BOI would describe as a plan that was defective from the start. It was Aquino who allowed the participation of the suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima in the operation, thereby violating the PNP chain of command and the Ombudsman suspension order. It was Aquino who did not give any guidance insofar as the peace negotiations with the MILF was concerned. The BOI report exposed as lies many of the statements initially given by the President, including the claim that Purisima was merely a consultant on operational jargon and that as president, he did not personally approve the plan to get Marwan.
  2. General Alan Purisima – If Aquino was the one who approved Oplan Exodus, the suspended Purisima was its implementor, along with SAF Director Getulio Napenas. Purisima no longer was part of the chain of command. He had no authority coordinating meetings and giving instructions to PNP personnel. He had no authority coordinating with other agencies and officials. Purisima also took it upon himself to coordinate with the AFP Chief of Staff, which he obviously failed to do. Purisima, not the PNP OIC, was the one updating the president at the early stages of the fighting in Mamasapano.
  3. Gen. Getulio Napenas – The former SAF director knowingly violated the chain of command by taking orders from the suspended Purisima and by not reporting to the PNP OIC. The BOI also thought that the plan presented by Napenas was doomed to fail. The BOI did not agree with the time-on-target concept of Napenas, which the BOI said was incompatible with the protocols of the PNP.
  4. The US government – Despite denials by the US embassy, the BOI report pointed out that the US government was involved in the Mamasapano operation, particularly in intelligence gathering, real-time intel, as well as medical evacuation. The BOI report affirmed that there were 6 Americans at the tactical command post of the SAF on the eve of the operation, during the operation and up to the time of the evacuation of the wounded. The BOI report also affirmed that the principal evidence of Marwans’ death, his finger, was brought to the FBI and not to the PNP. The BOI report exposes the US government as having lied about its real involvement in the bloody operation. It could be assumed that the PNP SAF were reporting directly to their US counterparts and that, in an anomalous turn, the US already knew of the Marwan operation ahead of local officials such as the PNP OIC and the DILG secretary.
  5. DILG secretary Mar Roxas – After releasing the BOI report to the public, Roxas blames Purisima for the Mamasapano fiasco but DEFENDS the President. His statements to the media today were untenable to say the least. The conclusions of the BOI report were pretty self-explanatory yet Roxas chose to look the other way when it came to the liability of the President. So pathetic was Mar that one reporter squirmed at his statements exonerating the President. He could have gained much respect if he had taken an independent stance and not kissed the butt of the President. But alas, Mar blew his chance. Not even his showdown with Junjun Binay can save his political stock now.

The Filipino people may end up losers too in the end if we do not act now to hold accountable those responsible for Mamasapano. The BOI report merely affirmed what we already knew and suspected. To take the position of Roxas, to act as if the President was not at all responsible, is to deny the evidence staring us in the face. It is to accept without the least resistance, the lies and excuses of those who are liable for the tragic incident.

We have had enough. Now more than ever, Aquino must go.

“Yellow” Logic

Posted: March 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

Pag critical sa BBL, tawag agad ay “enemy of peace”.

Pag kontra sa palpak na CARP, ang tawag agad ay pro-landlord.

Pag kontra kay Aquino, kampi daw kasi kay Binay.

Pag kontra sa US, pro-China agad ang turing.

Yellow logic is quite similar to the George W. Bush mindset. “Your’re either with us or against us.”

It is simplistic and non-sequitur. It insults our collective intelligence and covers up the wrongdoings of the current dispensation. Sila lang lagi ang tama. Lahat tayo ay mali.

napenas

Sir, the times demand that you come out and fully explain the involvement of President Benigno Aquino III and his buddy Gen. Alan Purisima in the botched Mamasapano operation. It is not enough that you quietly take all the blame. That would be dishonoring the memory of your men. That would not bring their families closure.

Sir, what really transpired during your January 9 meeting with the President? What were his orders to you and Purisima in relation to Mamasapano?

You have to explain why you followed Purisima’s order of not coordinating early enough with the other government agencies. You have to explain whose idea really was the time-on-target coordination and what the reaction of the President was to this recommendation. You have to explain why you followed the orders of a suspended general. We all know that Purisima’s words were not just mere advice. Purisima’s words seemed to be backed up by some authority emanating from the President. You said so yourself during the Senate hearing. You had no choice but to follow since Purisima was directly in touch with the President.

At this point, Sir, you have nothing to loose. But more than that, you owe it to the nation to come out with the truth. More than 40 days have passed since Mamasapano and we’re still asking questions. Can you help by providing us real and complete answers?