ON THE STANDARD ISSUES OF THE DAY


(Speech delivered at Siliman University, Dumaguete City, on March
9, 1967; sponsored by the Beta Sigma Fraternity.)

THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT has too often been vilified
wittingly and unwittingly as being unconcerned about current
domestic issues and being concerned exclusively with questions of
foreign policy.

It is our task to show that standard issues of the day such as
graft and corruption, high prices, and crime and violence among
others are concrete manifestations of the essential errors of our
neo-colonial status, our national subordination to the ruling
policies imposed upon us by foreign and feudal exploiters in our
society.

At this stage, it is a fact that nationalists or national
democrats in their attempt to stress the fundamental roots of
social inequities have spoken in generalities that the petty-
minded or colonial-minded try to misrepresent as having no
concrete basis.

It should always be stated strongly that the general causes of
the suffering of our people are objectively observed in the chain
of symptoms and in the chain of concrete reality that we see from
day to day. It is our task to observe and list the concrete facts
and issues of our national life, such as graft and corruption,
high prices, crime and violence, unemployment, poverty,
malnourishment, ill-education and ill-health; and from all these,
we proceed to our general conclusions and to the basic causes if
we plan to take national and fundamental action towards their
solution.

We employ generalization only to stress what is fundamental on a
national scale or on an international scale. But it should be our
task to relate what is general and essential to the concrete
facts observed from one locality to another and from short period
to short period. In other words, to know and say that the
strategic problems of our nation are imperialism and feudalism
entails a prior perceptual knowledge of those specific or
concrete problems which appear at first as merely the
responsibility of this or that particular political party or
administration, or of this or that particular person. It is the
task of objective and scientific analysis to determine the
relationship between the particular facts and such general terms
as imperialism and feudalism, or any other generalization.

We are bound by historical and objective conditions larger than
anyone of us or any subjective aggrupation of men. No amount of
preaching and individual or sectarian crusading will ever succeed
if social inequities such as those we have mentioned are mere
particular characteristics or symptoms of such a large historical
and objective phenomenon as foreign and feudal domination. We
have to develop on a general scale the large objective forces of
national democracy that can effectively contend with the large
objective forces of imperialism and feudalism.

In this discussion we have chosen only three of the standard
issues of the day which frequently grace the front pages of our
metropolitan newspapers. These are graft and corruption, high
prices, and crime and violence which are often superficially said
to be the issues or problems larger and more pressing than the
basic problems that are imperialism and feudalism.

Graft and Corruption

Let us take the issue and problem of graft and corruption. It has
become the traditional basis for throwing out or retaining a
political party or person in public office. Generally, however,
despite our moral pronouncements about honesty, we have only
perpetuated a system wherein the conservative political parties
play what we call an in-and-out confidence game on our people.
Whatever party gets in goes out later, but only after
perpetrating graft and corruption, perpetuating a malevolent
tradition of graft and corruption. Why is there so much lack of
uprightness and integrity?

It is not enough to seek the help of God for light or to dismiss
the problem as a mystery or to blame the erring officials as
inherently crooked or simply opportunist, as suggested by the
cliche “To err is human”. What is needed is a scientific analysis
of the objective situation, of the entire system which gives rise
to graft and corruption in the magnitude and regularity that we
today observe. If we look around, we should know very well (from
first-hand accounts of people who have gone there) that the
People’s Republic of China has successfully eliminated the
problem of graft and corruption that had characterized the
Kuomintang regime of Chiang Kai-shek and which had inflamed the
Chinese people against the regime. The experience of the People’s
Republic of China shows that it is humanly possible to eliminate
graft and corruption or to reduce it to the degree of
exceptionality or abnormality. In the United States, big-time
contract-pulling persists and more sophisticated ways of making
quick money have been developed by the military-industrial
complex and by the big bosses of the capitalist parties. Retired
military officers and men of political influence are hired by the
big corporations to expedite war contracts with the government:
the irregular is made so regular that it no longer looks
irregular.

The problem of graft and corruption in the Philippines dates back
to colonial times. If the colonial officials bought or incurred
great expense to acquire their appointments in Madrid and in
Manila, they would certainly commit graft and corruption to
recoup their investment; read Rizal’s essays and novels to
confirm this statement. As in our own neocolonial times, leaders
have to spend so much to run for office, the precondition for
graft and corruption is perpetuated and, what is more serious,
honest and genuine leaders of the masses are excluded from such
office because they do not enjoy the financial support that the
political representatives of the landlord class and foreign
vested interests enjoy.

Because of the scarcity of opportunity for the people in colonial
and neocolonial times, the government and the officials in turn
become mere dispensers of privileges. To have a job, which should
be a normal right of every citizen, is itself a privilege. Even
within the middle social strata, such is the case; the bright
boys and the mediocre ones in the middle class readily become the
political agents and clerks of the ruling class. They have to
conform to the exploitative system or else suffer the
consequences for taking a different course of action or line of
thinking.

The formal right of having a means of livelihood, the principle
of freedom from want, has become a granted privilege in this
society. The imperialists, compradors, bureaucrats and landlords
are the selfish source of privilege, including the “privilege” of
having a job. Don’t they always say that they create and provide
the jobs to us and they do not even mention the fact that they
exploit us?

Now, as in colonial times, there is a system that does not only
prevent the equal allocation of limited resources and means but
also prevent development in accordance with our national needs.
The interests of a vested few – the foreign and feudal exploiters
– dictate the policies and actions of the government and
officials, and are opposed to the interests of the broad masses
of our people.

The government is made to function only as the mere executive
committee of foreign and feudal exploiters. This has come about
because our political life has been narrowed down by force of
arms or by the state power of the ruling classes to an internal
competition of its shifting factions, those political parties
maintained and financed by the vested interests in the country.
The elections of today are essentially similar to the elections
of the principalia of colonial times; the only large difference,
of course, is that elections today are conducted on a grander and
noisier scale, Madison Avenue style; and on the mere pretense
that the populace is being given the chance to make a genuine
choice.

But considering the fact that only the parties of the status quo
like the NP and LP, including the PPP, prevail and that a genuine
working class party has always been restricted from enjoying
political freedom within the system, can it not be said that a
class dictatorship actually exists in our country, a class
dictatorship of imperialist agents, compradors and landlords who
manipulate, to uphold their narrow class interests, the
prevailing political parties to give us the mere illusion of
democratic choice? The question in point is: Can the masses of
our people truly make use of elections and other political
methods provided us by the system to discipline miscreant
government officials and eliminate graft and corruption?

We know for a fact that the greatest opportunity for graft and
corruption presents itself in the breach between the government
and the private business sector, especially the foreign monopoly
firms and the local compradors. Contracts with private entities
involving appropriation of public funds or government approval
provide the opportunity for graft and corruption. Again, in the
breach between two private entities vying for a government
contract or approval, the corrupt bureaucrat gains another
opportunity for making a fast buck under the table.

It is in the development of the private capitalist sector that
graft and corruption has grown in the same way it grew in
colonial times, as shown by the example of Capitan Tiago, Quiroga
and Don Timoteo Pelaez in Rizal’s master novels – characters who
symbolize the emerging cash relations in the womb of feudal
society. Whereas graft and corruption can occur both between a
public entity and a private entity, and between one private
entity and another private entity, it cannot occur in the gap
between one public entity and another public entity where public
documents and public property can easily be checked and verified
not only by the government officials themselves but by a
political party of a new type that truly represents the interests
of the masses and most importantly, by the masses themselves who
have a high revolutionary consciousness.

Our proposal then is to change the entire system and make the
public sector the leading factor in the command and development
of our capital resources, in order to remove the malfeasance that
attends the appropriation of public funds and in order to
consolidate and direct our resources most effectively for
accelerated economic growth. Moreover, we propose that in order
to guarantee public control for the public sector, a new kind of
politics, a new type of national democracy under the leadership
of the working class, should prevail.

Those who would be the first to oppose the revolutionary
transformation of our society and the strengthening of our public
sector as the leading factor in the command and development of
our capital resources are certainly those interested in the
perpetuation of a colonial type of economy and a colonial type of
society.

They are afraid that the public sector, if strengthened and
rationalizes its investments towards industrialization, with the
necessary support of the working class party and the masses,
would be an instrument that can break the imperialist, comprador
and landlord hold on the economy. They prefer to have their “free
enterprise”, meaning to say, the rapacity of corrupt bureaucrats,
the foreign monopolists and the landlords.

What we are proposing is the strengthening of the public sector
with the broadening of democracy to the extent that the public
sector is the principal factor in our national development, and
not merely secondary to the private sector which in turn is
controlled as it is now by the foreign and feudal exploiters of
this society.

The public sector is certain to take a leading role as the
corrupt politics of the reactionary parties is replaced by
national democratic politics. The organized masses under the
leadership of the working class share and assume power and
effectively check on the integrity and performance of public
servants.

High Prices

Let us take the issue and problem of high prices. The subject
cannot be seriously discussed without considering the colonial
and agrarian character of our economy and its subordination to
U.S. imperialism. The current rise in prices can only be
understood within this context.

It is certainly dishonest for our colonial-minded leaders not to
acknowledge the disastrous results of the full and sudden
decontrol of 1962. Decontrol doubled the peso equivalent of the
dollar in the open market, thus automatically depressing the
value of the peso. This is one imperialist debauchery of our
economy.

Our national industrialists now have to pay more for imported
capital goods, fuel, raw materials and spare parts replacements.
With the resulting increase of the cost of production, some firms
have been so hard hit that they have had to fold up while others
have had to raise their prices in order to survive. In the course
of the weakening of the peso, Filipino firms have been easily
taken over by foreign firms. Otherwise, they are simply crushed
by the foreign monopolies.

With the increase of the prices of the commodities that they buy
and the resulting depression of their real wages, the workers
have to demand an adjustment of their money wages. The hiking of
the wage level in turn increases the costs of production and, the
vicious cycle of capitalism, the capitalist must pass on the cost
increment to the mass of consumers, leaving the workers with the
same or even much lower real wages. The problem of high prices
assails the vast majority of our people who have a low
fluctuating income or a low fixed income.

Inflation in the Philippines has resulted from the consistent
breakdown of local production in both national industry and
agriculture. This in reality does not conform with the Keynesian
notion that higher prices reflect higher production. This is the
irony of a neocolony that must perforce be subject to
developments in the imperialist metropolis.

In agriculture, the glaring irony has occurred. We are an
agricultural country and yet we cannot produce sufficient food
for our people. The Laurel-Langley Agreement has perpetuated the
colonial character of the economy by the terms of preferential
trade which favor a raw-material export and a finished-product
import trade relations. This is because our landlords have been
carried away by the attractive price of sugar extended by the
United States and they have turned from production of staples to
sugar production. Within the domestic market, even the price of
sugar has risen for local consumers because the bulk of it has
been exported without consideration of local needs.

Our government is so servile to U.S. imperialism that it has
allowed U.S. agro-corporations to take over thousands of hectares
of good agricultural lands in Cotabato and elsewhere for the
production of pineapple, banana, and other fruits. This has also
resulted in the decrease of ricelands in the second most
important rice-growing area in the country.

In the U.S. an inflation is going on as a result of massive
military spending in the Vietnam war and other forms of deficit
spending by the U.S. government. And because we depend so much on
manufactures from the U.S., due to lack of industries in our own
country, we automatically import the inflation from the U.S. We
have to pay more for U.S. goods. The reactionary government also
has to get U.S. loans at more onerous terms only to cover
artificially the chronic deficit in the colonial exchange of
Philippine raw materials and U.S. finished manufactures.

The Vietnam war has caused the upward spiral of prices in the
United States. Men are drafted for the non-productive work of
fighting a war and receiving pay for it. Basic materials are
being diverted from consumer goods production to the production
of war materials like bombs, chemicals, military vehicles,
construction materials, fuel and the like. These materials have
become more expensive because of the high demand from the war
industry. Thus, commodities from the United States have become
expensive in the Philippines.

We observe that in the Philippines itself, as in many other
client-states of the United States, men and materials are being
stimulated by higher prices towards the Vietnam war. To cite an
instance, if Philippine cement is massively exported to Vietnam,
the cost of constructing houses here would rise; the rent for
apartment houses would also rise as it is rising now. Also, the
expenditure of P35 million and more for the Philippine puppet
expeditionary force to Vietnam because of subservience to U.S.
policies weakens the internal capacity of the reactionary
government to look after the welfare and security of our people.

We can very well see that U.S. imperialist policies are basically
responsible for the specific problem of higher prices.

Turning to the basic problem of feudalism, its perpetuation means
the continued depression of the purchasing power of the peasant
masses. Because of class oppression and backward methods,
Philippine agriculture is not providing adequate food for the
people. Because of imperialism, Philippine agriculture is not
providing raw materials for local industries. Landlords
constantly engage in luxury spending and this also tends to jack
up prices. The whole feudal problem is sustained by imperialist
domination.

The need to vigorously pursue national industrialization in order
to provide jobs to the masses of our people is urgent.

By it, we shall provide jobs for our people and they shall be
afforded the chance to buy the products of their own labor. In
the long run, the unrestricted industrial development of our
economy will reduce the prices of commodities. If basic land
reform is used to support national industrialization, our peasant
masses reaching 70 per cent of our population will be able to buy
the products of our industries with their increased purchasing
power. Our peasant masses would be providing adequate food and
raw materials that serve as the basis for national
industrialization.

National industrialization and basic land reform are the main
economic demands of the national democratic movement.

Only the public sector backed up and determined by the organized
workers, peasants, students and other patriotic segments of our
population can lead in the achievement of national
industrialization and land reform. We cannot depend on foreign
investors for these; it is futile to do so as our experience in
the last six decades tells us – four decades under direct
imperialist rule and two decades under indirect imperialist rule.
A small amount of capital is invested in quick profit areas by
U.S. firms, oftentimes from our own credit facilities, and in a
period of even as short as one year, super-profits squeezed from
Filipino labor and from the mass of consumers are already flowing
out of the country. U.S. investments always carry with them the
curse of super-profit remittances which have plagued and
restricted the growth of the Philippine economy. Consider the
huge amount of capital that the oil firms, Caltex and Esso, are
taking out of the country; consider the danger of placing control
of such a vital commodity as oil in the hands of foreigners. By
this commodity alone, the U.S. controls the motion and prices of
all goods in this country.

Crime and Violence

Let us take up the issue and problem of crime and violence.
Smuggling, gambling, juvenile delinquency and prostitution,
robbery, theft and homicide are rampant today. Their widespread
presence is condemnable. But it is futile to preach about them if
we do not make a systematic study of them and subsequently take
critical and constructive action. It is also futile merely to do
police work on the culprits. We have to attack the roots within
the system which gives rise to all this malevolence.

Smuggling occurs in its pure form on our coastlines; in many
instances, smugglers get their contraband through with the
connivance of the PC and other armed apparatuses of the state. In
its so-called technical form, the imported goods are undervalued
or misdeclared at the customs area in order to avoid the payment
of taxes. This is subversion of the economy systematically done
with the connivance of the highest officials. The imperialist
supplier of the smuggled goods, which includes the businessmen
and their government, refuses to comply with the requirement of a
shipper’s export declaration for purposes of checking the amount
and kind of goods being imported into our country and also
refuses to check on his side the use of boats for “pure”
smuggling. As a matter of fact, the imperialist supplier connives
with obvious smugglers who arrange the transport of goods by
surreptitious means.

Smuggling intensified as a result of the full and immediate
decontrol of 1962 which deprived the reactionary government of
the right to control foreign exchange for purposes of proper
allocation and industrial priority. With dollars now freely in
the hands of private entities, their misuse for quick profit
operations like smuggling and real estate speculation could be
made. The policy of decontrol was adopted as a result of U.S.
imperialist pressures so that the foreign monopolies could
destroy our local industrial gains, remit their super-profits and
maintain a high rate of profit for their industries at home or
their local subsidiaries. Under the guise of solving graft and
corruption in dollar allocations at the Central Bank, the U.S.
imperialists and their local agents agitated for decontrol; but
graft and corruption merely shifted to the Bureau of Customs and
to police agencies in even greater volume. The worst effects, of
course, have been the sabotage of our economy and the massive
outflow of much needed capital in the form of huge profit
remittances by U.S. firms and of luxury spending by their
landlord and comprador agents.

At the upper rungs of our society, we see the corruption and
decadence based on over-affluence amidst public want. To tide
them over their boredom in a sea of mass poverty and to satisfy
their distorted sense of values, our wealthy businessmen,
politicians and evil gentry engage in maintaining queridas, in
gambling, and in lavish banquets. Subsequently, juvenile
delinquency even among their well-provided children results from
the moral breakdown of the home and from their general exposure
to the decadent values of imperialist culture which plays up sex
and violence, as you will note from current American movies and
other cultural vehicles, which are the fetishes of the wealthy.
Despite the preachiness of their religious pretensions, their
exclusive Catholic school upbringing, they fall flat on their
faces morally; they come out as split personalities of the worst
cultural complex, that of imperialist and feudal decadence in our
semi-colonial and semi-feudal society.

Murder and methods of fraud and terrorism have also characterized
our political life. The stakes among our corrupt politicians are
control and private appropriation of public funds, maintenance of
queridas and relatives on government sinecures, expansion of
private businesses through special government privileges,
maintenance of vice dens and control of coastlines for smuggling,
to cite only a few items that are the crimes of the rich. These
comprise the adult delinquency of our so-called statesmen. The
magnitude and malignance of this delinquency makes the juvenile
delinquency of their children look puny and awkward.

Prostitution, juvenile delinquency in slums, robbery, theft,
killings for lack of appreciation of or inability to use the
present channels of justice are correctly described as crimes of
poverty. We may pass the strictest laws to discourage their
commission; but so long as there is no change in the material
basis for their occurrence, we shall continue to suffer these
crimes of poverty.

Young women from the rural and city slums are annually misled
into a life of shame on the false promise of decent jobs or by
the sheer lack of the chance to exist decently. Prostitution is
the fetishism of any exploitative social system; woman is
degraded into the status of mere commodity, the way labor is
regarded in this exploitative society.

The vast majority of our people are caught between the stagnation
of feudal conditions and the insufficiency of modern
opportunities for employment in our neocolonial situation.
Robbery and theft are generally forms of spontaneous retaliation
by the dispossessed against those who have excessive possessions.

Killings for various reasons at the lower rungs of our society
are related to crimes involving property or the alienation of so
many people from the moral values that are preached by the ruling
classes which at the same time employs legal or illegal means to
violate them. Make a study of the records of our brothers in
jails and penitentiaries to confirm the general causes of their
crimes which at first appear as personal in character.

Of course, it is foolhardy to condone crimes of poverty. But it
is simply hypocritical to make any condemnation without
understanding the objective causes actually larger and more
compelling than the individual culprit.

We are living in a society where our foreign and feudal
exploiters do not only provide us with backward, conflicting and
alienated values but also restrict our own efforts to develop the
forces of national and social progress and the material
conditions necessary for a more democratic and nobler existence
and culture for all.

The national democratic movement stands for the liberation of our
nation and also the liberation of the oppressed Filipino masses.
The exploitation of one nation by another nation and of man by
man or one class by another gives rise to a chain of iniquities
that should never be posed in isolation of their root causes if
we truly stand for the freedom, creativity and dignity of man.



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