By Malcolm Guy
International Coordinating Committee
November 14, 2015
Comrades, fellow delegates, observers and honored guests, please accept our warmest revolutionary greetings from the ILPS general secretariat and staff who wish you all a very successful Fifth, yes, hard to believe, Fifth International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle held under the theme: “For a Socially Just World, Strengthen the Peoples’ Solidarity and Intensify the Struggle Against Imperialist Plunder, Crisis and War!”
It is indeed a major victory for the anti-imperialist movement to have all of you gathered here today in the Philippines. I know that in a period of devastating austerity measures by governments around the globe, many of you have had to seek funding from friends and family to be here, to reach into your savings and forgo that holiday, or have spent hours and hours fund raising in your communities and networks. Thank you for all that effort, and thank you to the members of your mass organizations, member organizations of the ILPS, for supporting your presence here. That is the victory we are saluting. And you can give yourselves a round of applause.
I would also like at this time to thank the ILPS Secretariat, the Host Country Committee, the staff and all the others that have volunteered their efforts, for the excellent preparations and hard work in fulfilling the decisions of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) to assure the successful holding of the Fifth International Assembly (5th IA) of the ILPS at this wonderful venue here in the heart of Quezon City, Philippines. I think they also deserve a very warm round of applause.
In this period, I have been very privileged to work with and learn much from a strong group of comrades in the Office of the ILPS Secretariat. They include the wonderfully capable Ruth De Leon, Dan Borjal, Treasurer Theo Droog, and webmaster Boyen Baleva.
I have also been very privileged to have the occasion to work closely with the ILPS Chairperson, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, whose dedication to the struggles of the people of the world combined with an amazing analytical capacity and wise words of advice have made my job as General Secretary enjoyable and, I hope, useful.
I would like to remind you that the outgoing International Coordinating Group (ICG) of the ILPS, our executive committee if you like, is made up of Chairperson, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, chairperson of International Network of Philippine Studies, Netherlands; Vice Chairperson, Len Cooper from the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union in Australia; Vice Chairperson for Internal Affairs, Dr. Carol P. Araullo, chairperson of BAYAN, Philippines; Vice Chairperson for External Affairs, Bill Dores of the International Action Center in the US.; myself, Malcolm Guy, from the Immigrant Workers Centre in Canada as General Secretary; First Deputy General Secretary, Wahu Kaara of KENDEREN in Kenya; Second Deputy General Secretary, Antonio Tujan of IBON Philippines; Treasurer Theo Droog from Nederlands-Filippijnse Solidariteitsbeweging (Netherlands-Philippines Solidarity Group); and Auditor, Lyn Meza, from Chelsea Against the War, also in the US.
The International Coordinating Group and the International Coordinating Committee have met at least once a year since the 4th International Assembly in 2011. However, the meeting in April 2013 was converted into an expanded ICG meeting for a lack of quorum. With 27 members of the ICC, at least 14, more than 50 %, must be present to assure quorum.
Meetings of the ICC normally take place in the Netherlands, since our Chairperson, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, is not allowed to leave that country because of imperialist machinations supported by the Dutch government. But we have found a way to subvert and work around their imperialist attempts to sabotage our movement. Our last meeting of the ICC was held here in the Philippines, yesterday, November 13, since so many ICC members are here to attend this 5th ILPS Assembly.
I’ll quickly review the ICC meetings held since 2011 to give you some idea how your elected representatives have been working for you, the members.
Back in March 2012 twenty (20) members of the International Coordinating Committee from six (6) continents met in the Netherlands. Fourteen (14) were physically present, which five (5) participated via Skype and there was one (1) proxy. Two alternate members from Canada and the Philippines also attended.
That one year alone the Chairperson reported that he had given 29 statements and speeches, issued 16 letters of solidarity and had given four interviews on the stand and views of the ILPS on various important issues. That is over two statements or speeches a month, and there are some who say the ILPS is not active enough!
At that meeting the ICC approved the application of membership of seven (7) organizations coming from South Korea, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. The book compilation of the Fourth International Assembly was also distributed at that meeting, an important document you should read if you have not already had the chance.
The next meeting of the ICC was held in the Netherlands in April 2013. As mentioned there was a lack of quorum so it was converted into an expanded International Coordinating Group meeting. But that does not mean there was a lack of energy or decisions during that gathering.
For example, we discussed the very successful International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines held in July, 2013, here in Quezon City, which I was fortunate enough to be a part of. That conference led to the formation of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines, the ICHRP.
At that expanded ICG meeting, we also discussed the 4th International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) which was successfully held in New York in October 2013. I remember marching from Times Square to the front of the United Nations Building where we held a rally as well as an exhilarating march across the Brooklyn Bridge with hundreds of migrant workers from across the Americas and around the globe. What a view we had of Manhattan!
Our Indonesian comrades were at the forefront of a series of amazing events during 2013 leading up to and culminating in counter actions to the APEC Summit and 9th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Bali, Indonesia. We will have our hands full trying to outdo our Indonesian comrades this time around in opposing the imperialist APEC here in the Philippines.
Some members of the International Coordinating Committee, particularly from the global south, have had difficulties in raising the funds to attend ICC meetings in the Netherlands. Thus, it was decided at that meeting to provide up to 50% travel subsidy for ICC members from the global south – Africa, Latin America, the Middle East (Western Asia), South Asia and South East Asia – so they can attend the ICC meetings.
The ILPS Secretariat also suggested that better off chapters assist those from the global south: specifically, that Australia play a role in assisting ICC members from South Asia (India, Manipur, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.), North America assist members from Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe assist ICC members from Africa and West Asia to attend ICC meetings. To date this has been relatively successful, and some ICC members at this 5th Assembly have benefited from this assistance.
At that meeting an offer by Latin American groups to hold the next Assembly there was discussed, along with other suggestions of Senegal in Africa and Greece in Europe. We will have more on that later.
In 2014, the meeting of the leading group gathered 16 members of the ICC, six (6) in person, six (6) by Skype, and three proxies. Alternate member Rey Casambre also participated via Skype.
The participation in the ICC meetings via Skype and other such means of communication has helped the leading body better play its role. But this has meant that in order to participate certain ICC members have to get up and stay up for hours in the middle of night, from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., for example. We thank you for that dedication!
That ICC meeting, as is the norm now, was conducted in Spanish and English with some French and Pilipino. As the League develops as a multilingual, multinational anti-imperialist united front, the question of conversing and sharing in different languages, and the question of translation and simultaneous interpretation will become more and more important.
Already at this 5th Assembly we have arranged to have a Spanish translator/ interpreter fly in from Europe to work alongside people here in the Philippines, to assist an important delegation from Latin America to be able to fully participate in this gathering. There will also be people working to translate and interpret into other languages such as Japanese, Korean, Bahasa
Indonesia and French. We salute these translators and interpreters and thank you for agreeing to take on this important, and growing, task.
Speaking of languages, we have already begun to make the ILPS website more language friendly and less English-centric. Perhaps this is a good time to let you look quickly at the new, updated, mobile device friendly ILPS website. As you can see it is cleaner, with clearer language choices and you can read it easily on your mobile phones and tablets as well as on your computer screens. Thanks to Boyen Baleva for the hard work on the new site, and for all the work he does as website administrator and internet whiz. We are looking for people to assist Boyen over the next few years, so if you have suggestions of people with internet savvy and a willingness to help, please talk to me during the Assembly.
Now, returning to the ICC meeting that was held in 2014, as is usual practice we heard the reports from the ILPS Global Regions, and the reports from the different countries and Country Chapters. Written reports from 10 of the 17 Commissions of the ILPS were also discussed along with several resolutions.
A major part of the 2014 meeting was dedicated to deciding on the Theme and the site of the 5th International Assembly. For several important reasons, the ICC decided that the 5th International Assembly would be held one year later than originally planned, after four years instead of three. And we now know the Theme that was decided. It is right here on the wall in front of us.
As for the choice of where we would hold the 5th International Assembly, several excellent alternatives had been put forward including Ecuador, Venezuela, Senegal and Greece. After conferring with the member organizations and contacts in these different countries, and weighing the pros and cons of the different proposals, it was decided by a majority vote to hold the 5th International Assembly of the ILPS right here in the Philippines to coincide with the counter-APEC activities that were going to be organized. The ILPS Philippines Chapter agreed to be the host of the 5th International Assembly assisted by ILPS Hong Kong/Macau.
This year, 2015, we have held two meetings of the ICC, in February in the Netherlands and just yesterday, November 13, here in the Philippines.
At those meetings the Chairperson discussed, as he did each meeting, the important features of the current world situation and the tasks of the anti-imperialist mass movement in response to the problems and prospects growing from the current world situation.
As you heard earlier in the Chairperson’s excellent speech, the most conspicuous features in the current situation are the continuing global crisis and the unrelenting wars of aggression being waged by the imperialists led by the US on one hand and the growing resistance of the people through various means. He cited the intensifying contradictions among the imperialists with the emergence of a bloc led by Russia and China in opposition to the US-led bloc of imperialist powers.
Over the next three days of this Assembly, we will have the chance to discuss in detail these elements and other issues such as the serious migration crisis in Europe and its impacts, and come up with our plans for how to react and coordinate our counter proposals.
This was a quick review of some of the ways in which the members of the ICG, ICC and ILPS Secretariat have worked hard to try to assist you, the members, to better communicate and coordinate your activities.
As for myself, over the past two years, I assisted in rebuilding the country chapter of the ILPS in Canada, which went through some serious growing pains and lost several member organizations. After months of preparation, the ILPS in Canada held its 3rd Assembly in Montreal, Québec, in September this year, attended by 70 delegates and observers from across our huge country. And I can proudly say that the ILPS in Canada now has a revitalized and dynamic leadership and renewed membership. Some of those members are here with us today, including the new Chairperson of the ILPS in Canada, Aiyanas Ormond.
As General Secretary of the ILPS, I have attended all meetings of the ICG and ICC in person, both in the Netherlands and here in the Philippines, often at considerable personal expense, and by taking time off from filmmaking, my 2nd professional career after anti-imperialist activism, which has led to some important delays advancing and completing my films and also caused some funding complications.
As General Secretary, I organized and attended meetings of the ILPS secretariat, both in person and via Skype, with Secretariat head Ruth De Leon, Webmaster Boyen Baleva, ILPS Treasurer Theo Droog, and sometimes the Chairperson and other leading ILPS members to prepare meetings of the ICC and ICG, this International Assembly, and to look after the day-to-day functioning of the League. As you saw earlier, I assisted with the creation of the updated ILPS website as we work to improve communications for and among member organizations.
As General Secretary I issued several memos since the 4th International Assembly on important issues, but I honestly believe I could have been more active on that level.
During the last four years, I made two major trips to represent the ILPS at International gatherings, first to Ecuador in October 2011 and to Mexico in May 2014. This was part of our effort to strengthen and build the ILPS in Latin America and the Caribbean, one of our priorities coming out of the 4th International Assembly.
In Ecuador, I attended the 17th National Convention (XVII Convención Nacional) of the Movimiento Popular Democratico (MPD-15) in October, 2011, in Quito, Ecuador, as guest of the MPD along with Marie Boti (International Women’s Alliance General Secretary), Julia Camagong (ILPS Special Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean), Robert Roy, Bayan Representative, and special guest, Congressman Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Philippines.
I also participated in a meeting to present the ILPS to representatives of the Frente Popular in Quito, as well as a meeting of popular organizations in Cuenca and I was invited to speak at the University of Cuenca on the occasion of the anniversary of the assassination of Che Guevera. Finally, I attended a meeting with the Confederación Unitaria de Barrios del Ecuador or CUBE, in a working class neighborhood on the outskirts of Quito.
We were all very warmly received and our hotel accommodations, food and all transport were taken care of by our hosts. We were always accompanied during our stay in Ecuador, including our internal trips by air, car and taxi. Our schedule was organized in advance with our hosts, including time to visit the country for some tourism. The MPD Secretario Nacional, Dr. Marco Cadena T., was very generous with his time, and accompanied us every day in Quito, personally taking me to the airport on my departure.
I also had an amazing trip to Mexico as General Secretary to attend the Fourth Congress of the Frente Popular Revolutionario of Mexico, or FPR.
I was particularly impressed by the FPR’s contingent at the huge May First rally in Mexico City with members of the Frente coming in from all over the country. I saw firsthand that the FPR is truly a revolutionary front of working people, youth, women, peasants, indigenous and other peoples fighting in the streets and countryside of Mexico.
I would like now to thank our comrades in Mexico and Ecuador in my rudimentary Spanish.
Gracias por invitarme, como Secretario General de la ILPS y miembro de ILPS – Canadá, para asistir a su Quarto Congreso en Mexico et a la Convención Nacional de Movimiento Popular Democratico en Ecuador.
Un gracias especial a Florentino López de Mexico, que está aquí con nosotros hoy.Ha sido una maravillosa experiencia de aprendizaje para mí, con excelentes discusiones y las propuestas presentadas en los dos paises. (Special thanks to Florentino Lopez de Mexico, who is here with us today. It has been a wonderful learning experience for me, with excellent discussions and proposals in the two countries.)
Por último, este corto viaje me ha dado la oportunidad de tratar de mejorar mi español muy basico, y agradezco a los compañeros por su paciencia y comprensión . (Finally, this short trip has given me the opportunity to try to improve my very basic Spanish, and I thank colleagues for their patience and understanding.)
At this point I would like quickly to look at our tasks that will have to be taken up by the new leadership that will be elected at this Assembly.
Over the next four years and beyond, we must boldly expand and widen the anti-imperialist united front into a truly global force capable of organizing against imperialism on all fronts.
To this end we must boldly consolidate, strengthen the ILPS by vastly expanding its forces, doubling if possible, within the next four years; paying particular attention to expanding in Europe, Africa and Western Asia.
Through hard work from many comrades in Latin America and the Caribbean, including ILPS special representative Julia Camagong, we have expanded in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past four years. We can take lessons learned from this experience into the other areas of the globe where the ILPS is still relatively weak.
This involves stepping up our political education, organization and mass mobilization.
We still need to increase anti -imperialist political education in the League, in large part by propagating the declarations, tasks and resolutions of the commissions and related entities. There must always be an acute awareness of the political reality and the need to take up issues promptly as they arise. To this end, the commissions and related entities must do further work on the 17 concerns in terms of research and publications. We must consolidate and expand our use of study meetings, seminars and conferences. We also need to continue to assure the dissemination in electronic and print media the educational materials of the ILPS, including documents in full, position papers, primers, statements and the like. I will be presenting a resolution to set up a media committee attached to the ICC to help disseminate widely among media outlets around the globe the ILPS declarations, actions and campaigns.
The leading bodies of the ILPS must be strengthened so they can contribute significantly to the further all-round development and fulfillment of the League’s tasks. We must encourage the building of country and territorial chapters of the ILPS along the anti-imperialist and democratic united front line. This means boldly inviting even more participating organizations, especially from countries and global regions in Africa, Central Asia, South Asia and Europe, both East and West, while continuing to build our presence in Latin America and the Caribbean. We need to build the coordinating committees at the level of the global regions — Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America — like the coordinating committee already existing in East Asia Oceania.
The North American coordinating committee has taken too long to set up, and this should be resolved during this Assembly.
We need to complete and strengthen the organization of the commissions, which could include reducing and combining some of the 17 commissions to assure their better functioning. Inter-commission cooperation and coordination and joint projects or activities must also be undertaken, especially those that are closely related and on specific issues, campaigns and activities of mutual concern.
We also need to strengthen the self-reliant financial standing of the ILPS by collecting participating dues and undertaking fundraising activities through cultural activities, sale of publications, t-shirts, paraphernalia and the like.
We will hear a proposal from the Treasurer shortly to revise the present dues structure, which has not been functioning properly, particularly for groups from the global North. Many member organizations must seriously take up the political challenge to pay their yearly dues diligently and promptly.
Under the guidance of the international united front policy, we need to increase the initiation of, or joining in, mass campaigns or activities of mass mobilization and broad international conferences along the anti -imperialist and democratic line of struggle. Over the past four years we have taken some steps to achieve these goals, but it still needs improvement. The ILPS must further develop its capacity to hold globally coordinated actions on major global issues as well as specific regional or national issues that have global implications.
To this end, we must build and strengthen the ILPS committees for initiating or joining mass mobilizations and conferences. This includes charting a calendar of the campaigns and activities of mass mobilization and international conferences.
We must more actively seek the cooperation of national liberation movements, campaign committees, organizations, institutions and alliances for the purpose of mass mobilizations. We need to strengthen the ILPS by availing of the mass mobilizations and broad international conferences to increase ILPS membership.
We must reach out to more workers’ parties to have their mass organizations become members of the ILPS. These types of organizations have proven to be the most consistent and consolidated in their participation in the work of the ILPS.
While maintaining our principles and respecting the goals and charter of the ILPS, we need to boldly do away with sectarianism and narrowness of vision in reaching out to new anti-imperialist member organizations. We have no time to lose. The objective conditions are favourable right now for expanding and strengthening the ILPS.
Establishment of ILPS Chapters
At this point I would like to salute the establishment of new ILPS country Chapters in the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands since the 4th Assembly.
This means we now have ILPS chapters in the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Canada, the US, Hong Kong and Macau (SAR), the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands. That’s nine (9) chapters in different countries and territories. A good start, but clearly not sufficient, with none in Africa and Western Asia or South Asia.
It is perhaps worth mentioning once again the criteria to build country or territorial chapters. I always prefer to use the term country or territorial chapter and not “national” chapter since most countries or territories are made up of several nations, including indigenous nations.
In a country where there are at least three member organizations, their leaders or representatives can take the initiative to form the country-wide organizing committee in order to prepare and hold an assembly for the purpose of establishing the country or territorial chapter. They shall inform and seek the approval of the ICC accordingly.
Alternatively, the ICC can instruct member organizations in a country to form the aforesaid organizing committee. In a country where there are members and alternate members of the ICC, they are expected to take the lead in forming the country or territorial organizing committee and establishing the ILPS chapter.
The country-wide organizing committee shall prepare the holding of the country or territorial assembly by deciding its theme, program of activities, venue and date and by drafting the rules or statutes of the chapter, the rules for the nomination and election of the officers, the program of action and resolutions.
The country or territorial organizing committee can invite mass organizations to become ILPS member organizations and to participate in such an assembly. It shall submit the application of such organizations for ILPS membership to the ICC for approval.
After its establishment, the country or territory chapter is authorized to process and approve within its jurisdiction the application of organizations for ILPS membership. To become ILPS member organizations, such organizations must accept the ILPS charter and pursue the anti-imperialist and democratic line of the people’s struggle.
The country or territorial chapter shall adopt and practice the policy of the united front and its leadership shall act as a coordinating center for ILPS member organizations in the country or territory concerned.
A Little History
Before I conclude and to assist you in the discussions and decisions to come, it is perhaps important to review a little history about our organization, the League.
As you probably know, around 1998 the original ideas for what was to become the ILPS were developed. It was conceived as an international united front of mass organizations along the anti- imperialist and democratic line. Political parties were not to be allowed to become members to avoid unnecessary ideological debates, but mass organizations they lead could become members.
In 1999, representatives of several mass organizations from different countries agreed to constitute the International Initiative Committee, and it was convened in January 2000 for the task of preparing the founding assembly in 2001.
Over the past 14 years the League has been outstanding in undertaking and generating political education along the anti-imperialist and democratic line in a comprehensive range of major concerns and issues.
Every International Assembly, like this one, has been an occasion for raising political consciousness through the plenary deliberations and the workshops of the commissions. Between the Assemblies, the League intensified efforts to propagate its Charter, current General Declaration, and commission resolutions. The officers and various organs of the ILPS have, in the main part, promptly taken up within their respective scopes the issues of the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles through statements and call to action.
The ILPS has effected a constant flow of information and study materials through its printed documents, the print and electronic media, website, social media outlets, mailing lists and list serves.
Because of effective political education on the anti-imperialist united front and people’s solidarity, the ILPS has reached a high level of political unity and militancy against imperialism and reaction. It also succeeded in frustrating the attempts of a few sectarians to deny the major role of anti-imperialist states and countries, and their contradictions with imperialist powers, and thus stunted the growth of the League and the anti-imperialist united front for some time. The work of the ILPS has become more effective since 2009, when it solved this problem of sectarianism, which previously turned off many organizations that had joined or had wished to join the ILPS.
Of course we still have much work to do, and there are important weaknesses and shortcomings that we will discuss and seek to overcome at this Assembly and in the months and years to come.
But there is no denying that the ILPS stands today as the largest global formation of its kind, militantly anti-imperialist and democratic, with hundreds of member organizations which in turn have millions of individual members in scores of countries and on all continents. It is the foremost global formation of mass organizations comprehensively covering all major concerns and issues in the people’s struggle for national and social liberation, promptly issuing analyses, statements and calls to actions for the benefit of the broad masses of the world’s people. And it does all that by relying mainly on membership dues and cooperation of its member-organizations to operate. It does not depend on funding from any imperialist or reactionary source.
We clearly have many tasks and challenges ahead of us and I wish all of you a productive and successful 5th International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle.