Philippines: from GLW archives. 6

Alan Bradley alanb at SPAMelf.brisnet.org.au
Sat Jan 20 02:38:36 MST 2001


>From issue 425 of Green Left Weekly (http://www.greenleft.org.au)

PHILIPPINES: Estrada must resign, but what's the alternative?

MANILA — Ten thousand people rallied here on October 18 calling for the
impeachment or resignation of Philippine President Joseph Estrada (known by
his nickname “Erap”). The rally was organised by the RIO (Resign Impeach
Oust Erap) alliance centred on the main capitalist opposition party,
Lakas-NUCD, and Bayan, the main legal front organisation of the Communist
Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The politics of the rally was dominated by the right-wing Lakas-NUCD. As
well as several politicians from Lakas-NUCD, speakers included former
members of Estrada's party, LAMP. Rally participants came primarily from
the elite of Philippine society. T-shirts supporting current vice-president
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (popularly known as GMA), who recently resigned
from her position in the cabinet and is a member of Lakas-NUCD, were
common. The event had a pro-GMA election campaign flavour to it.

The self-confessed gambling lord Governor Luis Singson received the loudest
applause. Singson fell foul of the regime and blew the whistle on Erap's
income from illegal gambling.

The CPP mobilised only 1000 people. The three CPP-aligned speakers — from
the women rights organisation Gabriella, Bayan and the trade union May
First Movement (KMU) — emphasised the importance of unity to force Erap to
resign. The CPP-aligned leaders were invited on stage by Lakas-NUCD
politicians to join hands “in unity” with members of the right-wing Reform
Armed Forces Movement, a wing of the Philippine military with a history of
right-wing coup plotting. Cameras flashed at this unusual scene.

None of the CPP-aligned speakers mentioned the CPP's view on the strong
possibility that a GMA government may replace the Estrada regime. The
leader of the CPP Jose Maria Sison in a recent statement argued that Erap
should “immediately give way to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo”. The statement
called for a government of “national unity”.

Calls for Estrada's resignation by influential figures such as Cardinal Sin
and former president Cory Aquino have added significant momentum to the
campaign against the regime. However, the Catholic Church and Aquino have
not yet mobilised their supporters, preferring to follow constitutional
methods.

Some left groups, such as Sanlakas and the Socialist Party of Labor (SPP),
managed to speak at the rally. Rasti Delizo speaking for the SPP called for
“people's power” to force Erap to resign and rejected GMA as a viable
alternative. Delizo called for an end to trapo (traditional politicians')
politics and for a government of the poor.

The SPP speaker appealed to Bayan supporters to unite with the left
movement in its campaign to force Erap to resign. Attempts were made to
stop the Delizo from finishing his speech and he was heckled by the crowd.

A speaker from Akbayan, a liberal electoral party influenced by the
social-democratic BISIG party, called for Erap to be impeached by Congress.

The rest of the left has as yet to unite to launch a campaign of street
actions to force the president out of office. In a first move towards a
united left response, a press conference of non-CPP left groups on October
17 announced the formation of a broad left coalition called the People's
Action to Remove Erap.

The alliance proposed a “people's power” campaign to force Estrada's
resignation, rejected GMA as an alternative and called for a government
that genuinely represents the people. Several actions have been planned.

For the moment the pro-GMA, anti-Estrada wing of the ruling class, with the
blessing of the CPP, have been allowed to take the initiative.

BY REIHANA MOHIDEEN





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