On the Fourth Anniversary of Black Valentine’s Day Arrest

I was arrested four years ago – on Black Valentine’s Day – on the eve of the long-stalled resumption of the formal peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH).

The principal agenda in the would-be resumption of the formal peace talks was supposed to center on the second of the four substantive agenda in the NDFP-GRP/GPH peace talks, i.e., on Comprehensive Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).

The first substantive agenda, that centered on respect for human rights, was already agreed upon in 1998, and had resulted in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Aside from the CASER, the other remaining agenda – on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) and on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (EHDF) – are supposed to immediately follow after the start of and progress in the second substantive agenda.

On my part, as a regular member of the NDFP Socio-Economic Reforms Committee in the NDFP-GRP/GPH Reciprocal Working Committees on Socio-Economic Reforms, I was supposed to directly participate in the slated NDFP-GRP/GPH talks on the socio-economic reforms agenda, with the objective of coming out a unity on CASER.

85 of us, long-since listed as peace talks participants, consultants and other officers and personnel of the NDFP significantly involved in the peace process with the GRP/GPH, are supposed to be protected by the NDFP-GRP/GPH Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and not subjected to surveillance, arrest, detention, torture, trumped-up court charges and other antagonistic acts that would deter our effective participation and work in the peace process.

As I was being arrested on Black Valentine’s Day, I invoked, before the head of the arresting forces, my JASIG protection. But the answer was that their higher-ups insist on the arrest – no matter the JASIG.

I also asked to immediately and directly be able to consult with the People’s Interest Law Center (and its head then, Atty. Romeo Capulong) that serves as legal counsel of the NDFP, its peace panel and consultants in the peace process, and to confer with our attorneys on the matter of my arrest, including on the question of its “legality” (especially as there was no warrant of arrest served at the time of my arrest) and its violation of peace agreements. But the only answer was that all these would have to be coursed through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), which accordingly has been on top of the situation all along. (I was, however, able to confer with my lawyers, only the next day arranged via other channels.)

The formal peace talks between the NDFP and the GRP/GPH were again stalled after a couple of days, because of the latter’s failure to release the victim of the Black Valentine’s Day Arrest and the other earlier arrested and still-detained NDFP peace talks participants and consultants supposedly protected by the JASIG.

While informal talks on the side continue to seek prospects and favorable conditions for the resumption and advance of formal peace talks, many hurdles and setbacks still need to be resolved and overcome, including:

The continuing detention of NDFP peace talks participants and consultants, together with some 500 other political prisoners;

The continuing failure to account and answer for the subjection to enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings of some NDFP peace talks participants and consultants, their staffs and loved ones;

The further victimizing of detained NDFP peace talks participants and consultants and other political prisoners by swamping us with trumped-up criminalized charges. in violation of the Hernandez Doctrine, and thus keeping us in jail practically indefinitely;

The overly long hibernation and very slow crawl of justice in our cases, all the more prolonging our detention;

The utter lack of concern and effort to solve the many problems of prisoners being long-detained, even if they are minors, elderlies, sickly/incapacitated, mistakenly identified, with cases that have been mixed-up, and other discrepancies in the course of justice;

The very, very poor quality and unhealthy food rations, not even worth half the nominal P50/inmate/day food budget supposedly allotted to us;

Niggardly limiting our access to sunning and exercise in open air to only one hour a week, at the most. This, even if Philippine law and the United Nations Standards state that at least an hour daily of sunning and exercise in open air should be allowed to prisoners;

The abusive “greyhound” operations, supposedly to search for “contrabands”, but – since political prisoners do not have “contrabands” – the resorting to cruel and heartless confiscations, wanton spoilings, and even outright theft of harmless, essential necessities for the humane existence of detainees, like vitamins, nail cutters, long toothbrushes, ballpens, blunt scissors and other materials for writing and artwork, cooking stoves, CDs/DVDs (even on human rights) and the absurd justifications for such. (The confiscation, too, of a typewriter sent by the NDFP peace panel so that detained NDFP peace talks participants and consultants may still be able to continue with some – even if minimum – part of their work for the peace process, while still in jail.)

Human rights violations, heavy and unwarranted repressions and restrictions have escalated recently as a result of the jail authorities’ fascist reactions to the fasting and hunger strike, we, political prisoners, waged here at the Special Intensive Care Area 1 (SICA1) Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa, five days prior to the visit of Pope Francis I and during his five days of actual visit to this country, bringing along with him his call for “mercy and compassion.”

Our 10 days of fasting and hunger strike was an act of self-sacrifice to make loud our calls for our freedom, for justice, for real solutions to social ills, for serious efforts towards lasting.peace in our country.

Our calls emphasized our dire situation as political prisoners – imprisoned because of our struggles for political and social changes in the interest of our people; subjected to severe repressions, reprisals, abuses, deprivations, and other fascist acts by state and jail authorities; made to suffer one of the most rotten and slowest crawl of justice in the world; and frustrated with the long lack of progress in the peace process.

But in reaction to our act of self-sacrifice and our calls, the jail authorities resorted to foul and fascist acts. They violated our rights to the extent of disregarding international protocols on respect for human rights, the United Nation’s norms on the treatment of prisoners, as well as the prevailing state’s own laws.

The whole time we went through our act of self-sacrifice – and even afterwards – our doctors were totally barred from visiting us and checking on our medical conditions. There were instances, when even a lawyer of ours and some of our loved ones were also barred. Many, many visitors from human rights organizations, church organizations, other people’s organizations, and many more other supporters and sympathizers were also cruelly barred.

Worse, the jail authorities even machinated and unleashed malicious and vicious schemes to isolate us, political prisoners, and induce, from other inmates under the hands of leaders of a lumpen prison gang and of those accused by the government as terrorists, intensified antagonisms and orchestrated threats of violence against our lives and limbs. This, by also barring the visitors of all other inmates, and casting the blame for such on the “foolish” (“kalokohan”) hunger strike of political prisoners.

While we do still need to effectively fend off attacks by rotten and fascist jail authorities and their trigger-happy pawns, and more so also need to push for the rectification of the rotten, fake and abusive penal system, we maintain our focus on our prime objective – our fight for freedom, for justice, for social and political causes, and for related serious advances towards lasting peace – all in the interest of the mass of the people we were brought here for and continue to sacrifice for.

In the meantime, it has been four years since the Black Valentine’s Day Arrest …

The fight goes on!

NDFP peace consultant
detained at the
Special Intensive Care Area 1
Camp Bagong Diwa,
Taguig City
February 13, 2015

On Justice Guarina’s “Economic Nationalism: Voices from the Past”

The very well-written article “Economic Nationalism: Voices from the Past” (Commentary, Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 24, 2014) was for me quite refreshing, considering that it was surprisingly written by a former high court official, retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Mario Guarina III.

The article itself is a rarity at this time of the profligacy and dominance of neoliberalism in policy, word and rule in the country.

Justice Guarina’s commentary was a very welcome respite in the face of current mantras of neoliberalism and its mouthpieces in the state and private establishments, trying to make it appear that Asia’s long-standing economic laggard in the Philippines has now become the region’s star economic performer.

Actually, the Philippines has been turning out to be, more and more, one of the region’s worst socio-economic performers, as it now has one of the lowest industrial – and even agricultural – capability, activity and development in the region. It also has one of the largest and most deploring rate of unemployment and poverty in the region.

All this, as a result of several decades of world imperialist-imposed neoliberal economic dominance, policies and programs, that have drastically crippled the country’s industrial and overall socio-economic development and have grossly impoverished the mass of the Filipino people.

More than half a century ago, the voices of a great many advocates of national independence, economic nationalism, industrial development and social progress – notably among them, Claro M. Recto and Lorenzo Tañada – were able to openly wield wide influence in the country and promote policies and programs for these causes.

During the time the “Filipino First” policy was officially adopted and being implemented in the country in an effort to promote national industrialization and socio-economic development, local industries then developed and proliferated in the country, as Justice Guarina recalled: “in a manner unprecedented in our history”, such that “we became the fastest growing Asian economy next only to Japan.”

But imperialist attacks against and dismantling of such, and the local neocolonial puppets’ overly submissive compliance to imperialist attacks, started to take place since the U.S. imperialist-imposed “decontrol” policy of the Diosdado Macapagal regime. This was followed much later by even more comprehensive and more systemically destructive anti-nationalist and anti-national industrialization measures via the global imperialism-imposed neoliberal policies, all under very tight dictation and close supervision by the imperialist-controlled International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization, as well as by U.S. agencies.

Instead of becoming genuinely economically and industrially self-reliant, inclusive and developed, the Philippine economy has consequently become all the more dependent on foreign capital and foreign trade, non-inclusive and underdeveloped, with only external and actually false appearances of “progress”.

The Philippine economy has, in particular, falsely “developed” in recent decades as one of the world’s main cheap assemblers of electronic parts reexported to imperialist countries, providers of ancillary call center and other outsourced back-office business process operations, and suppliers of private household help and other cheap labor in imperialist and other more developed countries.

All these, not quite far from being looked down for being just “miners of gold and hewers of wood” for foreign masters for a long time since about a century ago, as we were overly dependent on traditional agricultural, mining and other raw material exports for survival, amidst rapid and solid industrial and socio-economic development in other countries not as submissive to the imperialist powers.

All these, not far from the Philippine economy now more and more just specializing on catering to the ancillary needs of imperialists and other more developed countries, and the people in the country becoming more and more dependent on such.

Bulk of the country’s income from such has mostly gone to consumption and the development of commerce, services and the related proliferation of commercial buildings and upscale condominiums, while industry and agriculture have fallen and continue to fall way behind.

Justice Guarina’s commentary quite competently touched on problems since the past – and actually up to the present – but did not yet proceed on what necessarily should be done to decisively solve such problems.

In regard to what is to be done, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and allied people’s revolutionary organizations in the country have long since submitted and continue to submit, not only direct to the people but also to the local reigning government (the Government of the Republic of the Philippines or GRP/GPH), the NDFP’s agenda for comprehensive and substantive solutions to the fundamental problems of the country and people. Among such has been the NDFP’s long since proposed Comprehensive Agenda for Socio-Economic Reforms or CASER.

As far back as February 2011, the NDFP and the GRP/GPH were supposed to immediately discuss the CASER in the resumption of their long-stalled peace talks.

But, just a few hours before the resumption of the peace talks, combined military and police forces of the GRP/GPH, with the direct go-signal of their higher ups, treacherously arrested and hauled into jail a long-standing peace consultant of the NDFP and also a regular member of the NDFP’s Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms. This, despite his and fellow peace consultants’ supposed protection from surveillance, arrest, detention, torture and other antagonistic acts that would deter their participation and work related to the peace process. This, actually, in vile effort to tie the hands of those sitting opposite to the GRP/GPH across the negotiation table.

The NDFP peace panel demanded from the GRP/GPH the immediate release of all detained peace consultants, including the then latest one arrested and jailed. The failure – actually, the refusal – of the GRP/GPH to do so resulted in the long stalling once again of the peace talks, including that on socio-economic reforms.

The NDFP continues, in principle and in practice, to press for the resumption of the formal peace talks to be able to comprehensively and substantively discuss with the GRP/GPH, and seek to resolve fundamental socio-economic and political-constitutional problems of the country and people, in the effort to achieve a just and lasting peace. The NDFP always remains open to meetings with the GRP/GPH, for as long as the latter reciprocally remains open and opportunities for serious talks and efforts to resolve standing issues and problems of the people and the country remain available.

In the meantime, the NDFP has kept on pressing the GRP/GPH for the soonest resumption of the long-stalled formal peace talks and, in particular, the start of the talks on CASER. The NDFP will continue to press on such with the outgoing present GRP/GPH regime or, if such is no longer feasible, with a successor regime seriously interested enough in the peace process and open to fundamental changes.

The NDFP is presently hopeful of the possibility of the current GRP/GPH regime’s opening up to the resumption of peace talks with the NDPF in the near future.

If the NDFP-GRP/GPH talks on CASER do pull through and turn out to be successful, then there may be a good opportunity to push for the revival – and actual advance – of real economic nationalism, national industrialization, and other socio-economic reforms that the NDFP sees eye-to-eye with Recto, Tañada, Guarina and other principled and determined advocates of these socio-economic causes in the interest of our country and people, who have already suffered too long from imperialist greed, exploitation and intentional suppression of our development as a country and people.

Alan Jazmines
NDFP peace consultant and
member of the NDFP Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms,
presently detained at the Special Intensive Care Area Jail
Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City

Even a lot worse this time inside Bicutan

Chelo Banal-Formoso’s September 25 Philippine Daily Inquirer article “Inside Bicutan in Time of Worse than Cholera” touched familiar cords in my memories of the time I was among the political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa during the Marcos martial law regime.

I was then twice confined here at Camp Bagong Diwa during that period – the first time sometime before her October 1978 visit to the detention center and the second time from 1982 up to the release of all political prisoners and the closing down of the detention center for political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa right after the February 1986 EDSA People Power.

About 30 years ago, the Marcos martial law regime was claiming to have supposedly already “normalized” the country’s situation, that accordingly necessitated the imposition of martial law in September 1972. In actual fact, the Marcos martial law regime was then still persisting with its fascist dictatorship.

The Marcos fascist dictatorship kept prating then that “there are no longer political prisoners in the country.” In actual fact, however, human rights organizations had then documented, with exact body count, the existence of some 750 political prisoners throughout the country.

About 75 of those 750 political prisoners were then confined at Camp Bagong Diwa. I was then among those 75.

Now, the Benigno S. Aquino III regime also keeps prating exactly the very same Marcos line that “there are no longer political prisoners in the country.” But, in actual fact, human rights organizations have been documenting the actual existence at present of about the same number (750) of political prisoners throughout the country.

One big difference now is that there are now some 450 of us, political prisoners,here in the same Camp Bagong Diwa, five times more than our number during the Marcos martial law regime.

Of these 450 political prisoners presently confined at Camp Bagong Diwa, are some 30 directly or indirectly related to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) – including five of us, NDFP peace consultants – who have been arrested, tortured, swamped with trumped-up criminalized charges, and who continue to be detained, heavily repressed, restricted and deprived. All these, despite standing agreements with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) for our protection from surveillance, arrest, torture, detention, trumped-up prosecution and other repressive acts that would deter our effective participation and work in the peace process.

There are also some 50 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) officers and forces, who have long been detained here (many of them for about or even more than a decade already), also on the basis of trumped-up criminalized charges. This, despite a peace agreement (the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro) already signed by the GPH and MILF about six months ago, and the recent submission of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law for legislative approval.

And also brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in November last year, were about 260 additional Moro detainees arrested where the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)-led stand-off in Zamboanga City took place in September last year. Many of them are, however, only innocent civilians, including a number of minors (below 18 years of age) and elderlies (past 70 years of age).

There are, furthermore, about 100 other Moro political prisoners – mostly innocent community folk arrested en masse in “all out war” operations launched against “terrorists” – to justify the collection of tens of millions of dollars of bounty claims from the U.S. Anti-Terrorist Aid.

And there are also a handful of U.S. rendition victims from another country (Indonesia), who have been transferred from previous imprisonment in a foreign country (Malaysia), forcibly (drugged, blindfolded and straightjacketted) smuggled into the country by Philippine police intelligence forces under the direction and supervision of the U.S. FBI. They were assigned fake Filipino identities, charged as Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists, swamped with “terrorism” charges filed against the fake identities assigned to them, and have been kept in Philippine imprisonment – Guantanamo style – for about a decade now. In June 2012, I was surreptitiously transferred here from Camp Crame detention because of my expose of all this and the constant intensive U.S. FBI intrusions into the cases of political prisoners there, especially the Moros.

The swamping of numerous trumped-up charges, given the very, very slow crawl of justice in the country’s courts, have been resulting in the intended practically indefinite detention of these political prisoners here in Camp Bagong Diwa and elsewhere in the country.

The fact that all political prisoners brought here to Camp Bagong Diwa are considered “high risk”, and thus specifically confined to “special intensive care” or “maximum security” jails here under extremely heavy restrictions, has made our quest for justice and freedom, and our very situation under detention all the more difficult.

There are furthermore the related difficulties, and many times the intentional failures, in bringing us to courts in our far-away localities, resulting in the further slowing down of our court cases; the problems even in the visits of our relatives and supporters from our far-away localities; and the excessively tight restrictions imposed upon us and our movements within our very cramp jails.

There are also the very, very stingy and very, very poor food rations that, in reality, amounts, at the most, to only 20% of our measly P50/day per inmate nominal food budget – the lowest, compared to that of jails in all cities in Metro Manila and other cities in the country, where the nominal food budget ranges from P80/day to P100/day per inmate.

And there are the fascist attacks time and again ordered by the top national leadership of the jail management, and viciously implemented by their “greyhound” (search) operatives. The ultimate in absurdities take place during these “greyhound” operations. Confiscations, soiling and wastage of our food, medicines, beddings, clothings and other personal belongings, and even outright thieveries take place right and left. They justify all these by insisting that what they have been confiscating are all “contrabands”. Such include transistor radios, ballpens, paper clips, blunt scissors, artwork and handicraft materials and products, sewing needles, shaving razors, small shaving mirrors, toothbrushes with long handles, nailcutters, belts, rice cookers, cooking stoves, lighters, branded vitamins, and even money. Practically all these have been essential necessities for our humane existence and daily needs as inmates.

What makes their confiscations and their justifications of the confiscations all the more absurd is that most of those items confiscated were brought in with the official permission of the local jail authorities. Many of these were actually bought from the local jail personnel’s cooperative store.

We, NDFP peace consultants and political prisoners, led in making complaints against the absurd and cruel confiscations and many other human rights violations committed by the “greyhound” operatives of the national jail authorities. In reprisal the latter ordered the confiscation of the typewriter that we used to type our complaints. The national director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) all the more absurdly tried to justify the confiscation of the typewriter, claiming that typewriters are also considered as “contrabands”.

In very stark contrast, in the more than seven years I was detained here at Camp Bagong Diwa, during the Marcos martial law regime, there were no issues at all here about the categorization of any of the belongings of political prisoners as “contrabands”. Unlike now, we were then, without any question and controversy, allowed radios, typewriters, all writing/artwork/handicraft equipment and materials, all cooking equipment and tools, all tools and materials for personal hygiene, and many others that national jail authorities and their “greyhound” operatives now one-track-mindedly, absurdly and in even more fascist mindset and manner keep categorizing and confiscating as “contrabands”.

Very ironically, as political prisoners here at Camp Bagong Diwa during the period of out-and-out fascist dictatorship, we then actually never went through such absurd and fascist “greyhound” operations and confiscations that the present national jail management and forces have every now and then been wielding against us and have been justifying, contrary to our political and human rights, and contrary even to ordinary sensibility.

To make us feel “at home” as “guests of the state”, the buildings we were confined in here during the Marcos martial law regime had no cells and iron bars, but only individual rooms made of wood, that were locked from inside. The main gate of the buildings we were confined in would, however, be locked from the outside only late in the night.

We were then also given more “freedom” within our jail area. We were allowed whole daytime access to wide grounds, where on our own we could have sunning, engage in sports, exercise, and other activities, and also tend to vegetable gardens and raise poultry within a wide-open five-hectare space around our jail buildings. Very much unlike now, when we are not at all given access to grounds outside our very cramp jail buildings, and are instead confined most of the time to a tight, narrow two-by-forty meters corridor of one wing of one floor of the jail buildings, where there are a series of control gates, that are padlocked practically the whole day. Only occasionally, at present, are we allowed access to the rooftop for sunning and exercise, and for only very limited schedules.

We were allocated entire floors of buildings for kitchen work, mess halls, television rooms, a library (with a free daily supply of fresh newspapers), and a couple of production areas (with machines and tools, like cutters, grinders and hammers, to make handicrafts and art work, and even shoe repairs, and the like). Given the mentality of the national leadership of today’s jail authorities, practically all of these would not be given way to.

We used to run our own cooperative store, where goods were sold without any markup at all. Unlike now, where the local jail personnel own and run their exclusive cooperative store, and charge us at more than double the market prices of goods.

So that we could ourselves determine what to make for our meals and control our own food budget and purchases, we were then given, in cash, a daily food budget of P12 per detainee, the present equivalent of which is more than P250 – more than five times our present already very stingy nominal daily food budget of P50, or more than 25 times the real worth of our present even more stingy actual daily food rations.

No different at all from the others, the present post-martial law government has only been putting on a democratic fascade, and in reality continues to hold a big and growing number of political prisoners – despite its repeated denials – and treats us all with persistent fascist mindsets, policies and rules, that, in terms of our experiences as political prisoners here at Camp Bagong Diwa, have ironically been even worse than during the “normalization” period of the Marcos martial law regime.

All these only reflect how fascism have in essence and in practice continued to rule over the county under pseudo-democratic regimes that have taken over after the fall of the relatively more openly fascist Marcos regime. All these only reveal that true democracy and real freedom still need to be fought for all out, in the interest of the entire oppressed people in the country.

Alan Jazmines
NDFP peace consultant
and political prisoner,
Special Intensive Care Area 1 Jail,
Camp Bagong Diwa

Militant and Hearty Greetings to Ka Joema on his 75th Birthday and 55 Years of Service!

I and other National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants, and other political prisoners here at the Camp Bagong Diwa, join many others in militantly and heartily greeting Comrade Jose Maria “Joema” Sison on his 75th birthday this February 8, and most especially his 55 years of service to the people and the revolutionary movement.

For more than five decades now and running, he has contributed so much of value to the socio-economic, cultural, political and ideological education and struggle this far, not only of the revolutionary forces and people in this country, but also in the world.

His contributions have been and continue to be of great lead and help to a multitude of progressive and revolutionary forces.

They have,in particular, been of great lead and help to me and continue to do so.

In mid-1971, disgusted at finding out after a year of working with its management team, that the only company I had aspired to work for was supposed to serve as the country’s forerunner of national industrialization but had no true intent and no real basis for such, and that the ruling state and system all the more had no real interest in national industrialization, I decided to no longer work for the exploiters, and instead to give my everything, including my full-time to what would really serve for the upliftment of the lives and progress of the people.

I resigned and immediately turned to full- time, intensive research and social investigation by reading written works and interviewing people to rethink and determine where I should devote the whole of myself for the rest of my life.

I immediately concentrated on studying radical revolutionary writings on society in the Philippines and the world, including proposed solutions to the socio-economic-cultural-political problems of the people.

Among the writings I concentrated on and found most accurate and incisive in reflecting reality in the depiction of the country and people, and most insightful and profound in proposing solutions to the deep and long-standing problems of the people and society were Ka Joema’s Struggle for National Democracy and (under the pseudonym of “Amado Guerrero”) Philippine Society and Revolution, as well as the Communist Manifesto and various classical works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao Zedong, plus John Eaton’s Political Economy.

I particularly closely concentrated on Ka Joema’s works as I found them most immediately useful for the present situation and struggle of the Filipino people, while at the same time I also devoted much time on the voluminous classical writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and others who made profound analyses of the situation in their respective countries and in the world.

After attending various fora, study circles and going around, interviewing people who had something to do with various social movements in the country (including, activists and rallyists), I was fully convinced that the movement for national democracy is presently the most apt, given the present semicolonial and semifeudal conditions of Philippine society and the present stage of the socio-economic-cultural-political revolution that needs to be completed in the country —as I learned from Ka Joema’s writings. I thus decided to give my time and the full of my life to the present national democratic revolutionary struggle and its revolutionary socialist perspective.

It did not take long before I personally met Ka Joema. There were later times when Ka Joema and I would meet to talk about particular tasks I was then participating in.

I was, however, arrested (for the first time) in early 1974 and released after three years — after the Amnesty International exposed the crimes of torture committed by the Marcos martial law regime against us political prisoners, and we also wrote about and filed legal complaints about those crimes of torture.

By then, Ka Joema had been arrested (in November 1977) in La Union. He underwent brutalities and, throughout his martial law detention, was kept in an isolation cell in Fort Bonifacio and intensively subjected to cruel restrictions. He had to climb the walls of his isolation cell just to be able to talk with other political detainees also kept in neighboring isolation cells to the left and to the right of his own.

More importantly, even under very restrictive conditions of detention, Ka Joema — with the help and partnership of his wife, Ka Juliet, as his note-taker and co-author, continued to put out sharp ideological and political revolutionary writings, that have continued to be of great value and help to the national democratic revolutionary movement and the proletarian revolutionary party in its lead. Most incisive were his criticisms of some confused socio-economic analyses (including the exaggerated estimate of the level of urbanization and industrial development already reached in the country, as against the continuing and even worsening pre-industrial and semifeudal socio-economic state of the country) and, more importantly, his criticisms of some revisionist errors in revolutionary tactics prevailing then, including the premature “Strategic Counter-Offensive” and “Regularization of the New People’s Army”, given that the people’s war was then still at the early sub-stage of the strategic defensive. After his release from prison and initial peace talks were held between the NDFP and the Cory Aquino government, he criticized the NDFP’s handling then of the peace talks and wrote about how it should instead be handled. What he wrote about has been how it has been handled ever since he took over as the NDFP peace panel’s Chief Political Consultant.

The determined pursuit of the rectification campaign throughout the national democratic movement, actual realities and later developments and progress have been proving the correctness of the criticisms initiated by Ka Joema.

Soon after we were released from martial law imprisonment, together with some other leading ex-political prisoners, we held occasional meetings at Ka Joema’s residence in an apartment in La Loma, Quezon City.

In our several meetings there, one of those we agreed upon and worked on was the formation of the Partido ng Bayan (PnB), a precursor of the Makabayan Coalition and its progressive party-list organizations.

Ka Joema was the Chairperson of the PnB Preparatory Committee, but had earlier been committed to and had to leave for a long series of engagements abroad. Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia,Chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, was then elected and took over to become the Founding Chairperson. I was then the Secretary-General.

PnB was fast organized nationwide and won some congressional and local seats in the ensuing elections. But all along and afterwards, it terribly suffered extra-judicial killings and other grave human rights violations, including the killing of Ka Lando and the killing and attempted killing of a big number of other PnB leaders, personnel and supporters.

The lives and security of other PnB leaders, personnel and supporters continued to be endangered, and even shifting mobile offices and quarters could no longer be safely maintained.

I had little choice but to go underground, often living with and kept secure by the worker and peasant masses.

In Ka Joema’s case, he was obliged to stay in exile abroad. But the reactionary state and successive reactionary regimes would not let him stay in peace even outside the country. His life and security remained constantly under threat.

The reactionary state has also delved into coming out with numerous concoctions of several criminal charges against Ka Joema. The Arroyo regime’s Inter-Agency Legal Action Group was specifically busy day-in and day-out manufacturing trumped-up criminal charges against Ka Joema and other leaders of the national democratic movement.

With the connivance between U.S. imperialism and successive kowtowing regimes in his home country, Ka Joema has been placed and continues to be maintained in the list of “terrorists” and thus made vulnerable to arrests and harassments.

In late August 2007, the U.S. and its puppet Arroyo regime went to the extent of conniving to make the Dutch police arrest and place him in solitary confinement. Ka Joema’s and the NDFP leadership’s and peace panel’s papers, computer disks and files were confiscated. As the Dutch court found no sufficient basis for his imprisonment, he was released after 16 days, and the files were also returned but important files were damaged.

Even in exile and subjected to threats and harassments, however, Ka Joema remains undeterred from continuing with his work and contributions to the people’s struggles and revolutionary movement in his home country and in the world. His comprehensive grasp of and insights into local and world situation and sharpness in thusly defining revolutionary strategy and tactics have not at all dulled but have even become more advanced and developed with age, the protracted struggle and rich summed-up experiences and revolutionary practice.

Aside from his continuing ideological and political leadership in the revolutionary movement in the homefront and his being chief political consultant of the NDFP and its peace panel, Ka Joema presently chairs the International League of People’s Struggles, an international organization with the objective of promoting peoples struggles and progressive organizations throughout the world.

He has also been very keen on the need to help strengthen fraternal relations among revolutionary parties and to help develop the international communist movement.

All these continuing efforts and work of Ka Joema are evident that prison and exile—itself an extension of prison—are still not enough to shackle revolutionaries like Ka Joema.

His efforts,keenness, work and achievements continue to guide and inspire us, political prisoners. with revolutionary and pro-people aspirations, and a great many more in the revolutionary movement outside of prison.

The moon on alan Jazmines’ face by VERA Files

By Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

Photos courtesy of the Jazmines family

Jazmines’ book of poems

Although Alan Jazmines, to go by his last job description, is a peace warrior (National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant), he continues to be on indefinite “stay-cation”. It’s the term for people who remain home during long holidays.

Except that he has stayed, and continues to stay, at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig. Put together his periods of arrest from 1974 to 1976, from ’82 to ’86 and from 2011 to the present and considering his age (66), he deserves a peace warrior’s proper restoration to the bosom of his surviving family.

In January this year, Jazmines, painter, poet and former professor at the Asian Institute of Management, may have had only three hours to breathe the air of freedom when he visited the wake of his mother Cristina, 92, when the Taguig Regional Trial Court granted him a furlough. Mrs. Jazmines died Jan. 1.

He was in the midst of peace talks with the government as NDFP consultant when Bulacan police forces arrested him on Valentine’s Day in 2011. He had been in a Malolos jail for 24 hours before a warrant was issued for his arrest for 13 counts of murder.

Authorities moved him to Camp Crame where he stayed until June last year. He described his cell: “I had a Muslim cellmate. The cell was spacious, but it was still all walls. There was a window I could look out of; it reached my chest. But the window looked out to more walls.”

Alan Jazmines today

While serving time for what seems like trumped-up charges, Jasminez continues to paint and write. His subjects for his acrylics are interior scenes, commonplace people he had seen on the streets when he still enjoyed freedom, landscapes, historical paintings of the Katipunan, the clash between the individual and authority figures.

His paintings have been exhibited and/or sold in various group shows at sympathetic venues like Sining Kamalig. At one time in 1985, he was part of a two-person show. The other painter was Edicio de la Torre, himself a former political detainee and now head of the Education for Life Foundation.

During his accumulated time in prison Jazmines has written poems, essays, letters, statements on conditions of his jail mates, including those arrested and convicted of petty crimes and misdemeanors.

The author of an out-of-print book, Moon’s Face and Other Poems (Kalikasan Press, 1991), he alluded to the torture that prisoners went through, whether they had an ideological orientation or not: “By your parts/ they made a final judgment of you,/ muttered something about hell/ and left you and your pieces/ in the wake.”

Alan Jazmines at the 1986 Partido ng Bayan Congress

He said, “Political detainees are not ordered to do menial labor by prison authorities when they complain about the food situation. It’s the lowly inmates who are made to clean the barracks.” He implied that he and his fellows have earned some respect.

He added that “poldets” (short for political detainees) serve as the other prisoners’ spokespersons by writing about prison conditions, compiling documents about unjust detention, falsification of identification cards, overly long detentions, slow trials.

He said, “Those who are ordered by the courts to be set free remain unreleased. Or, as they are about to get ready to walk home as free persons, a new warrant is served them.”

The jailers are sensitive when prisoners complain about the food: heavily watered down squash, chayote, eggplant or upo, served with a cup of rice. If they’re lucky, they get tuyo (dried fish). Leafy vegetables are not included in their diet.

Jazmines, who used to stand tall at five feet and nine inches, has shrunk by a half inch, weighs 160 pounds and is on maintenance drugs for hypertension, kidney stones, slipped disc, scoliosis and high cholesterol, all worsened by prison diet.

Perhaps the worst report he received was that of female detainees in a Quezon City prison for misdemeanors. They were made to stand one late evening in their night gowns in front of police officers.

Jazmines has witnessed much of the world and its extreme evils. But he found time to write a renga with a fellow poet during National Correctional Consciousness Week. Renga is a collaborative poem that has a tradition in Japan.

The lines set in bold are his: “Voltaire in yellow shakes his slippered foot involuntarily/ Darlene & Voltaire smile on hearing us/ Who’d have thought they know what we, as poets and painters, know/ It’s fine, we’re discussing things with various ranges!/ But sea blue walls have ears as barbed as tongues a-flame/ They colored our walls with pink & our iron bars with white but inside it’s still a prison cell/ Thursday ends in smiles/ Smiles can last to Friday & the weekend.”

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

Recent arrest of another NDFP Peace Consultant, in further spite of the peace process

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and various local and international organizations pushing for the peace process have intently been pressing on with their efforts towards genuine, lasting peace through the attainment of mutual agreements, fundamental socio-economic and political-constitutional changes, and serious end to hostilities.

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) – – in particular, as of late on the part of the present Aquino regime – – has, on the contrary, treacherously been continuing with its belittling and grave disregard of (to the extent of intently trampling upon) agreements already made from the onset and through the course of the NDFP-GPH peace talks.

This, even in the case of agreements quite crucial to the continuation and progress of the peace process, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The CARHRIHL is supposed to ensure the respect and protection on both sides in the ongoing civil strife in the country. The JASIG is supposed to ensure that peace consultants and staffs of both sides are protected from surveillance, arrest, detention, prosecution and other antagonistic acts that would violate their rights as well as deter their effective participation and work in the peace process.

Yet, the military, paramilitary, police and intelligence forces of the GPH have without let-up been surveilling, arresting, detaining, swamping with trumped-up criminal charges and violating the human, legal and other rights of NDFP peace consultants and other JASIG-protected NDFP forces the GPH forces can lay their hands on.

The latest NDFP peace consultant who has been subjected to such traitorous acts of the GPH forces has been Ma. Loida Magpatoc, an NDFP peace consultant representing the NDFP in Far South Mindanao.

Magpatoc is 52 years old, married and a “Lola” to five grandchildren.

Despite her being JASIG-protected, a P500,000.00 reward was put up by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for her capture.

In performance of her work as an NDFP peace consultant, Magpatoc had been immersing and consulting with the local community folk in the barangays of Far South Mindanao in regard to land, production and other socio-economic and political issues, when the 1002nd Brigade (1002ND Bde) of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (10th ID PA) got wind of her presence in Brgy. Zone III, Digos, Davao del Sur and came to arrest her as early as 4am last July 28.

The entire local community, however, immediately learned of the situation and came out en masse to protect her and block the 1002nd Bde. Magpatoc presented her JASIG Document of Information to the 1002nd Bde and claimed her protection from arrest. But the 1002nd Bde only confiscated her JASIG document, ignored her claim for protection from arrest, and insisted on proceeding to arrest her. The barangay folk, who were surrounding her, refused to let the 1002nd Bde forces take her, as the former were apprehensive that the latter would only commit foul deeds against her. Magpatoc and the barangay folk asked if there was a warrant for her arrest, but the 1002nd Bde forces were not able to present any.

The arrest was eventually made, however, when the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Davao del Sur came later in the day to take her, this time armed with warrant of arrest (based on trumped-up criminal charges of “robbery,” “damage to properties” and “double homicide”), and bring her to their Digos headquarters. From there, she was flown on August 4 to Metro Manila and brought for confinement at the Taguig City Jail Female Dormitory in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

After her arrest, the reward for Ma. Loida Magpatoc’s capture by the AFP, suddenly became P5.6 million.

Alan Jazmines
NDFP peace consultant
detained at the
Special intensive Care Area,
Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City
02 September 2013

Spins about the supposed 7.8% growth

Softened and weakened a lot by “free market” neoliberalization since the 1990s, the Philippine economy under the present semi-colonial and semi-feudal ruling system has more and more become like a wimp of a kitten that has long been noted to be one of the sickest and most laggard in Asia.

 The Benigno S. Aquino III regime meows all over with a bullhorn in an effort to appear to be roaring before the nation and the world, and has been boasting as hype to its third  State of the Nation Address about its having achieved such “great economic success”: that, with the ‘”stunning” 7.8% year-on-year growth rate of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter of this year, it has beaten even if just by the tip of a nose that of the region’s mightiest tiger  and also  the world’s second largest economy at present – – that of China.

Compared to China’s $1.9 trillion, the mere $63 billion (P2,656 billion) 1st quarter 2013 Philippine GDP is only a pittance, a mere 3% of China’s.

It would thus take more than 30 hurried steps for the sick, frail, limp kitten of the present Philippine economy to really match every single stride of the incomparably giant of the Chinese economy.

And yet the sick, frail, limp kitten is now thumping its breast to boast that it has outperformed the giant of a tiger, as the first quarter’s 7.8% GDP growth rate of the former at a very low scale happened to be a wee bit bigger than the 7.7% GDP growth rate of the latter at a much, much higher scale.

The comparison across scales so very wide apart is actually meaningless. There is no sense at all in comparing the puny pace of the miniscule, ill-managed,  backward, shallow, volatile economy of the Philippines at present with the gigantic  stride of the heavily state-managed economy of China.

Quite importantly, varied multifaceted contexts of the decimally apparently closegrowth rates also need to be considered:

For one, the Benigno S. Aquino III regime has glossed over the fact that for the last decade, China’s GDP growth rate was always higher than 9%,many timeswent up to more than 12%,  andoccasionally even more than 14%. The present dip has been a new development brought about by much reduced exports as a result of the long pestering crisis of the world capitalist system that has turned into a prolonged Great Recession since 2008, hitting first the U.S., triggered by the subprime and housing crisis; followed by a prolonged slump, grave deficits and severe austerity measures in the European  Union, that have all worsened and worsened up to now;  and has this recently been inducing its worst effects on the Chinese economy.

The effects of all these on the more advanced and more industrialized economies have been more immediate. However, the backward, pre-industrial, agrarian economies – – like that presently prevailing in the Philippines, subserviently clutching on to the fringes of the monopoly capitalist  and other more industrialized and more advanced economies – – are not exempted, but eventually will be suffering more from the dragging effects of the current crisis of the world capitalist system.

A large part of the recent dip particular to the Chinese economy, however, has been the result of major adjustments China has been making just recently in its economy. The adjustments have been geared to fix solutions to problematic areas, crack down on speculative activities that used to only superficially generate double-digit growth rates, and further strengthen state-managed, heavy fixed-asset enterprises to ensure more solid and real growth. This,  even if returns on investments would for a time be slower and delayed, and would thus result in the temporary slowing down of China’s present GDP growth – – all in order to gain more solid and lasting growth in the future.

Even as there is no real basis for comparison, the regime’s  spin meisters have been projecting such a big, boastful roar about having bettered China’s current GDP rate, that really is only a mirage – – actually just a continuation of the mirage that had initially showed up in the last quarter of last year.

The regime described the 7.8% growth rate as “the largest in a non-presidential year in recent history.”  Indeed, the GDP growth rate had artificially shot up to the second highest then at 8.4% during the partial height of the presidential electoral campaign in the first quarter of 2010 and reached its peak, again at an artificial 8.9%, in the second quarter of 2010 at the very height and eve of the electoral campaign. All this took place in the last few months of the Gloria Arroyo regime.

On the other hand, right after, in 2011- – the first full year of the Benigno S. Aquino III regime- – the GDP annual growth rate dived to 4%.

The current regime’s propagandists are now only vainly trying to hide the fact that renewed height in public and private election campaign spending for this year’s mid-term senatorial, congressional and local elections has been one of the principal reasons behind the once again temporary artificial rise in the first quarter 2013 GDP growth rate.

The regime poured out an unprecedented increase of 45.6% in the budget for public infrastructure in the first quarter,as a big boost to the electoral campaign of its candidates from national to local levels.The surge of public infrastructure expenses and additional electioneering expenses,squeezed from here and there out of the state coffers, has boosted by 13.2% overall state spending in the first quarter.

Aside from easily tapping government funds and resources by various means, most politicos also tapped their own, their allies and their backers and financiers’ private funds and resources for their election campaigns.

Notably many among those who won in the senatorial election last May reportedly  spent more than P100 million each in their campaigns, and many others spent close to that (the unofficial expenses were actually much more), not only in the senatorial race, but also in many of the governatorial, mayoral and congressional races.

All this has resulted in the temporary  big rise in consumer purchases, a phenomenon that has not failed to take place every election campaign period, whether presidential or non-presidential.

Further, on the part of the private sector, as it was in the last quarter of 2012, the biggest boost- – 32.5% – – has again come from private construction, mainly the construction of new buildings and offices, especially as the massive transfers of call centers and other business process outsourcing (BPO) from the U.S.A. to the Philippines have recently left commercial buildings and offices with an all-time average low of 3% to 4% in vacancy – – across Metro Manila. This recent phenomenon has resulted in private construction  contributing to overall GDP at least three times more than the rise in public construction.

The influx of transfers to the Philippines of BPO and other labor-intensive, non-core and peripheral business activities (like J.P. Morgan’s move to transfer 17,000 labor-intensive, non-core call center jobs from the U.S.A. or about seven percent of its 258,965 global workforce, and thus generate for the company at least $1billion in annual labor cost savings) has increased so much, such that total income from BPO – – principally call center – – operations has now replaced remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the No. 1 boost to the present Philippine economy. The country has now actually become the new call center  capital of the world, replacing India, as the cost of labor is much cheaper here and the English accent of Filipinos is closer to the American accent or is at least “neutral,” unlike in India.

Still, OFWs’remittances have remained a strong second and has now reached more than $21 billion per year, amounting to 28% of the Gross National Product (GNP) – – 33% of the GDP – – of the country.

OFWs, who now number more than 10 million documented (plus about 2 million more undocumented) migrant Filipinos, comprise more than 28% of the labor force and more than 31% of the total of both the employed and underemployed in the country. Their remittances have been the main support that more than a third of the population in the country has now become quite dependent on.  OFWs’ remittances have for several years now continued to be the single biggest boost to private consumption of commodities and services in the country.

Aside from direct remittances to their families left behind in the country, a large part of OFWs’ enormous other earnings has also been directly funneled into purchases of condominium units by the more high-income among them, accounting for the bulk of the 6.1% increase in international sales last year. The recent surge in the construction of new condominium units has also contributed to a large part in the recent increase in private construction — although now second only to the putting up of new buildings and offices to accommodate the rise of BPO transfers to the country.

What used to be leading the Philippine economy in the past decade has been the re-exports (after applying cheap, sheer assembly labor to imported parts) of semiconductors and other semimanufactures of electronic parts (chips, capacitors, resistors, integrated circuits, among others) for completion in more advanced and industrialized countries

The face value (without subtracting the cost of imported parts) of the re-exports of semiconductors and other electronic semimanufactures used to have risen to more than 60% of the country’s total exports about a decade ago. But even the face value of the re-exports of these semimanufactures have for sometime continually been dropping (from $2.33 billion, amounting to 39.7% of total exports a year ago, down to 36% in February this year – – the steepest  since the 36.6% drop in October 2011). This has resulted in a total drop of exports by 12.08% year-on-year.

The declining re-exports of semiconductors and other semimanufactured electronic parts have been due to several long pestering and worsening major problems, especially of late.

For one, the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system – – with a prolonged Great Recession running for more than half a decade now – – has resulted in a slump in the world market for semiconductors and other electronic semimanufactures, which used to be the lifeblood of this country’s exports and theentire  Philippine economy.

The Philippines has also been increasingly losing in competitiveness even in the mere assembly of semiconductors and other electronic semimanufactures, as other countries  in a similarly backward state have adapted more and more advanced technologies, while the backward state of technology and industry in the Philippines has more and more been left behind by other increasingly industrializing countries.

The spurts in the seeming growth of the present Philippine economy from time to time without real basis, but only artificially spiked by false boosts such as election campaigns and externally dependent income generators- -such as the massive influx of BPO operations, OFWs’ remittances and re-exports of semiconductors and other assemblies of electronic parts- -indicate the shallowness and lack of real solid grounding of the country’s present economy.

What can we really expect in solidly reliable terms from an economy that is stimulated more by splurgings during election campaigns; pretending to be American staffs answering phone inquiries mostly to U.S. companies;  working abroad as domestic helpers, staffs or some other kind of assistants; doing cheap, technologically low-level, labor-intensive assembly work on electronic parts initially produced by and to be completed by more professionally skilled workers in more industrialized and more technologically advanced countries?

The hype about the peripheral 7.8% growth rate, without ever mentioning its temporariness and where it actually came from, only tries to gross over and hide the many deep-seated long-standing and present problems in the utterly backward basic economic structure and situation in the country, and the dire and further worsening effects of these on the long-suffering and more and more miserable Filipino people.

The gloating over the present Philippine GDP growth rate of 7.8% surpassing China’s by a wee bit and even more so those of other Asian economies (Indonesia’s 6%, Thailand’s 5.3%, Vietnam’s 4.9%, Japan’s 3.5% and South Korea’s 1.5%) only hides the fact that the Philippine economy actually has one of the most backward and weakest economic base and development in the whole of Asia.

Industrialization and the downfall of feudalism have become sine qua nonin modern economy since the breakthrough of the world’s industrial and antifeudal revolution more than a century ago. Yet, the Philippine economy has remained pre-industrial and semifeudal up to now.

Except for a couple of “emerging Asian tigers” such as  Singapore, the countries in the Southeast Asian region remain among the most backward in the world. Among these, it is the Philippines which has long been the sickest and most laggard. While Singapore is far more advanced, even the other countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which are closest to the Philippines, have already left the Philippines far behind in industrial development. Industry’s share in the 2012 GDP was 48.1% in Indonesia; 47.4% in Malaysia; 41.5% in Vietnam and 40.1% in Thailand. Far below these, it was only 30.3% in the Philippines in the 2012 GDP, down from 31-35% during the last two decades.

One simple illustration of just how utterly backward the Philippines has been compared to these neighbors of ours, is that they all already are now in the manufacture of cars and other motorized vehicles, while the Philippines still keeps on just importing or assembling imports of these.

One big problem that keeps Philippine “industrialization” stunted, very low-level and highly inadequate is that it has developed very little terms of strategic, technologically advanced and heavy industries. Actually, not even in terms of medium-level industries.

It has failed to really develop, for one, even just therequired  basic steel industry – – which for several decades and up to now has remained a crippled failure – –  so much so that mining products continue to be mostly simply exported in bulk in their raw forms to monopoly capitalist and other more industrialized countries, and various finished products from these are just brought back in trickles for sale in the country.

There is actually very little real industrialization and manufacturing – – in the full sense of these terms – – in the country. Much of Philippine manufacturing is backward, and actually just consists of cheap, low-value added, labor-intensive cottage industry, sweat shops and  the local assembly of some parts to be returned  to the mother industrial centers in technologically and industrially advanced countries for essential completion before being sold to various markets, including the Philippine market.

Bulk of such local assembly for re-export is done in secluded special economic zones, where practically all the materials for are imported and there is practically no other added local content except labor. There is thus not much interconnection – – much less, integration – – with the rest of the local economy, as the production is linked more with their real industrial centers elsewhere.

Thus, there is not much basis – – least of all is there real effort – – in the comprehensive planning and actual strategic development of industrialization and technological development in the country. This, especially so, as the present Philippine government has no real interest and has not actually been doing much in this regard.

Philippine industry – – and in fact, the entire Philippine economy – – has only been adopting to new ways of serving monopoly capitalist and other economies much more advanced and richer than ours. From being just “hewers of wood and drawers of ore” for foreign masters for a long time up to now, the Philippines has now also become as subserviently the assemblers of electronic parts, telephone attendants and domestic servants of the monopoly capitalist and other economies more well-to-do than ours.

With the mass of our tillers still remaining essentially under feudal and semifeudal bondage, and even more and more of them now than ever before having become landless, virtually without work  and comprising the biggest bulk of the country’s unemployed and underemployed – – given the many loopholes, inadequacies and general failure of the ruling state’s “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program” (CARP) – – the Philippines’ backward agriculture has also been deteriorating more and more. Its share in the GDP, in fact, has consistently been going down from more than 22% during the last two decades to now below 12%.

Further indicative of how distorted and underdeveloped is the Philippine economy is at present has been the overly large chunk of GDP eaten up by the services sector, which has risen from 45% in the 1990s to 57% to date, thus now actually dominating the Philippine economy and drowning the industrial and agricultural sectors.

The accelerating upsurge of BPO services (catering mainly to U.S. businesses) and the big increases in financial transactions and the consumption of commodities and other services have greatly been escalating the scale and share of services in the country’s present economy,  dwarfing and all the more keeping underdeveloped the industrial and agricultural sectors.

But the more principal cause of the underdevelopment of the industrial and agricultural sectors has been the long-standing policy of successive monopoly capitalist – and – big landlord dictated ruling regimes in the country to put their thumbs down against giving determined support and prioritization to the development of these sectors.

The long standing and pesteringunderdevelopment especially of the industrial and agricultural sectors, and of the overall economy of the country, for that matter – – despite much prated  ephemeral illusions of growth – – have actually been resulting not in the lifting of the socio-economic conditions of the people or in what is now popularly called “inclusive growth.”  Instead, these illusions of “stunning growth” have ironically been accompanied only by bigger and bigger  increases in unemployment and poverty among the people:

According to National Statistics Office (NSO) figures, contradicting the supposed 7.8%  economic growth in the first quarter of the year, unemployment in the country reached its recent peak at 7.5% and breached the three-million mark last April, from 6.9% in the same month last year and from 7.1% in January this year. Aside from this is the ever increasing underemployment (actually, disguised unemployment) that is additionally three times as large. Joblessness has actually been pestering and worsening since more than a dozen years ago, when the implementation of neoliberalism and “labor flexibility” had been starting to escalate. Since then, average unemployment rate in the country has remained high at 7.6% and additional underemployment has been three times as large.

Pathetically, unemployment and underemployment in the country have for sometime been the lowest in the region.

Meanwhile, Social Weather Station (SWS) survey results showed that self-related poverty affected 5.2% of the population (10.6 million families) in March 2013, and that hunger among Filipinos rose from 15.1% in June to 18% in December 2011,  to19.3% in March 2013, and to 23.8% in May.

About 20% of the poorest of the people have to scrimp with only 6% of the total national income while, as culled from Forbes Asia statistics, growth in wealth, amounting to $13 billion or the equivalent of 76.5% of the country’s GDP growth in 2010-2011, was amassed by just the 40 richest families in the country.  There is just some difficulty in obtaining official data to determine explicitly how much of the GDP growth was amassed by big foreign monopoly capitalists, as such is usually hidden in costs of operations, in export and import prices, in capital and in financial transactions.

All these only show how the rotten, backward, semicolonial and semifeudal socio-economic and political system prevailing in the country has been making the mass of the people suffer all the more, while the big foreign and local exploiters have been amassing the bulk of the country’s wealth.

The full development from a subservient, backward, pre-industrial, agrarian, exclusive economy to a self-reliant, modern,  industrialized, inclusive one  would urgently require first priority policy, decisive action and all-out support to independent, full-scale national industrialization, genuine agrarian reform, rural development and other fundamental socio-economic, cultural and political reforms against the impositions, maneuvers and resistance of foreign monopoly capitalists and local big compradors, big landlords and big bureaucrat capitalists.

 ALAN JAZMINES, NDF peace consultant

detained at BJMP-SICA. Camp BagongDiwa, Bicutan, Taguig City

9 July 2013