By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Message to the Mindanao Workers’ Summit
Davao City, April 25-26.2013
First of all, I thank the officers of the Nonoy Librado Development Foundation, Inc. for inviting me as the Chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) to deliver a message of solidarity to the Mindanao Workers’ Summit. We welcome your project, Workers’ Rights are Human Rights: Strengthening Trade Unions to Advance Fundamental Freedoms in Mindanao.
We of the ILPS commend the foundation for having successfully engaged in education, research, networking and policy advocacy in order to uphold, protect and promote the rights and welfare of workers. With your achievements, you have done well in drawing inspiration from Nonoy Librado’s legacy of courageous and relentless advocacy of workers’ rights.
We express warmest greetings of solidarity to all the participants in the Mindanao Workers’ Summit. We are aware that you come from various companies and workplaces in Mindanao. We wish you the utmost success in sharing your situations and experiences with regard to trade union work and human rights, in learning both positive and negative lessons and in drawing up recommendations and resolutions.
We highly appreciate the tasks that you are committed to perform in the summit. We know that the workers of Mindanao are undergoing terrible suffering from both the deterioration of wage and living conditions and the brutal use of armed force by the state and private companies in order to suppress trade unions and violate workers’ rights. All these grave problems put the workers in Mindanao in an ever more vicious circle of exploitation and oppression.
The unraveling of the neoliberal economic policy globally and domestically has brought about a protracted and rapidly worsening crisis in Mindanao. This is wreaking havoc on the lives of the broad masses of the people, especially the workers and peasants. The high rate of unemployment, the reduced incomes, the rising costs of basic goods and services, the heavier tax burden, deterioration of social services and the breakdown of electric power facilities are aggravating the conditions of poverty and misery.
The US-Aquino regime is a fanatic of neoliberalism and does not care about national independence, human rights and the long-desired goal of national industrialization and genuine land reform. It gives free rein to the superprofit-taking by the US and other foreign corporations and the big comprador-landlords. It allows these malefactors to grab the land and all natural resources in connection with their plantations, mining, logging, bio-fuel production and sheer real estate speculation.
The export-oriented plantations and bio-fuel production have taken away huge areas of land from the production of food staples. Logging for export has destroyed the forest cover which used to protect Mindanao from typhoons, flooding and drought. Mining involves the export of mineral ores and runs counter to the national aspiration for industrial development. It also destroys the environment and agriculture, poisoning the rivers, accelerating siltation and causing landslides and floods.
The US-Aquino regime collaborates closely with the US and other foreign corporations and the local big compradors and landlords in exploiting the workers and peasants. Oplan Bayanihan gives them all out military, police and paramiltary protection in combination with the private security guards. The regime systematically employs violence and engages in human rights violations in attempts to intimidate workers and prevent them from having real trade unions and asserting their rights.
In representation of the people and revolutionary forces, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has engaged the Philippine reactionary government in peace negotiations in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992. It has gone so far as to offer an immediate truce and alliance on the basis of a general declaration of common intent to realize national independence and economic development through national industrialization and genuine land reform.
But the US-Aquino regime is obsessed with seeking the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary movement of the people and with avoiding serious negotiations on social, economic and political reforms. It refuses to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace on the basis of comprehensive agreements on the aforesaid reforms.
The regime is a shameless puppet of US imperialism. It has adopted Oplan Bayanihan in accordance with the US Counterinsurgency Guide. It has allowed the US military forces to establish forward stations in Mindanao and elsewhere in the Philippines and to increase interventionist operations under various pretexts. It is already preparing public opinion for the return of US military bases. It collaborates with the US in stirring up troubles in East Asia in order to justify the further entrenchment of US military forces in the Philippines and other countries in East Asia.
We hope that our observations can help the summit participants in understanding the socio-economic, political and military context in which the workers of Mindanao are being subjected to the escalation of of exploitation and oppression. You can best discuss in detail the conditions that are adverse to the workers of Mindanao, make the necessary conclusions and define the tasks of fighting for their rights and welfare, strengthening the trade union movement , opposing human rights violations and demanding justice for the victims, be they individuals, organizations and entire communities.
Your summit opens the door to more work in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the workers and their supporters in Mindanao. We wish you ever greater victories in this regard. We are confident that your resolute and militant work among the workers will lead to better conditions for them and will contribute to the advance of the peopĺe’s movement for realizing national independence, democracy, social justice and all-round development.