Alejandro Lichauco: A great Filipino patriot, advocate of full national independence and genuine economic development

Message of condolences to his family and friends

Founding General Secretary, Movemenf for the Advancement of Nationalism
NDFP Chief Political Consultant

I am deeply saddened to be informed that my close colleague and friend, Alejandro Lichauco, has departed. My family and I convey sincerest condolences to his family and friends. I share their sense of loss. I had known and worked closely with Ding since the early 1960s.

I first came to know Ding when I read his articles criticizing US monopoly domination of the Philippine economy and advocating a policy of national independence and nationalist industrialization.

I invited him to write for the Progressive Review of which I was the editor-in-chuef. When I first met him, I recognized him as one who had been observing the mass protest actions conducted by the Lapiang Manggagawa and the youth who came from the University of the Philippines and other universities in downtown Manila.

Before I knew him personally, he had been inspired and moved by the same ideas that influenced me. He admired, accepted and supported the anti-imperialist ideas of Claro Mayo Recto in the 1950s and joined Recto’s Nationalist Citizens Party. As soon as I met Ding in his office, we became instant friends because of our common ideas and values, and his modesty and amiability.

He encouraged the founding of Kabataang Makabayan in 1964. He became a major speaker in the KM Nationalist Lecture Series. He was always open to consultations. He actively promoted the Omnibus Rally in January 1965 to expose and oppose the unequal treaties with the US, which included the US-RP Mutual Defense Pact, the Military Bases Agreement, the Military Assistance Agreement, the Laurel Langley Agreement and the Quirino Foster Agreement.

Ding helped in raising the funds to bring by bus to Manila thousands of peasants from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions. We succeeded in mobilizing the peasants from various peasant associations, the workers of the Socialist Party of the Philippines (formerly Lapiang Manggagawa) and the youth of Kabataang Makabayan. We were able to help bring a total of 20,000 demonstrators in front of the Malacañang Palace.

When preparations were made for the formation of the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism in 1965 and 1966, Ding was active in the overall preparatory committee as well as in the committee to draft the MAN Program of Action. He was among the most active thinkers and planners, who included Sen. Lorenzo M. Tañada, Dean Jose Lansang, Renato Constantino and Francisco Nemenzo, Jr.

Ding and I had close working relations within the National Council of MAN. We often met in meetings, drafting sessions and mass actions. We were together when Marcos invited the MAN National Council to Malacañang in 1967 after he was perturbed by the frequent mass actions of the KM, SPP and the MAN. We stood our ground against the self-serving statements of Marcos. Ding and I maintained our close friendship and working relations even after the SPP and KM withdrew from MAN in 1968.

The KM contributed what it could to help in 1970 in the election of anti-imperialist patriots like Ding Lichauco and Enrique Volatire Garcia to the 1971 Constitutional Convention. In the convention, he submitted a comprehensive and profound critique of US imperialism in the Philippines. After Marcos declared martial law and hijacked the convention, Ding was arrested as he left the convention floor and was detained at Camp Crame as a political prisoner.

To the eternal shame of Marcos the puppet, his fascist regime charged Ding with subversion for his patriotic and progressive activities in MAN and for writing his critique of US imperialism. This paper was published by the Monthly Review Press of New York, and was called The Lichauco Paper. The Filipino people are forever proud of Ding Lichauco and the eleven other delegates who refused to sign the martial law Constitution. For his refusal, he was placed under house arrest after release from detention.

After the overthrow of Marcos in 1986, Ding did not jockey for any position in the Cory Aquino government. Neither did the new rulers see any use in having an anti-imperialist advocate for national independence and genuine economic development through nationalist industrialization and land reform. The new government became as subservient as Marcos to the US and to the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. It followed the US-imposed policy of neoliberal globalization and pushed hard investment and trade liberalization.

While Ding was still alive and fit to work, I asked every post-Marcos regime whether it was harnessing him for work in government or at least in peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Whenever I got a negative answer, I was sure that the possibility of making a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms was bleak or impossible. The draft which the NDFP has made since 1998 conforms to the people’s demands for national independence, economic sovereignty and genuine development that Ding advocated.

Ding had high qualifications for office in government. He graduated from Harvard College with the degree of B.A. in economics and from the Harvard Law School with the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He was a policy director of the Philippine Chamber of Industries, director of the Institute of Economic Studies of Araneta University,  senior consultant to the Congressional Economic Planning Office, and head of the policy research department of the National Economic Council (now NEDA).

Most importantly, he manifested and proved by word and deed his conviction, wisdom and competence as a patriotic and progressive Filipino, ever concerned with the rights and welfare of the Filipino people. He has bequeathed to us a number of important writings, which include The IMF-WB Group, the International Economic Order and the Philippine Experience,Towards a New Economic Order and the Conquest of Mass Poverty, Nationalist Economics, The Philippine Crisis and Hunger, Corruption and Betrayal.

The crisis of the world capitalist system and that of the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords keep on worsening. The dogma of neoliberalism has become totally bankrupt. The global depression is persistent. Underdevelopment has become aggravated and deepened. Mass poverty and unemployment are rampant.

Exploitation and oppression are ever escalating and must be ended. State terrorism and wars of aggression are ever on the rise and must be stopped. The works of Alejandro Lichauco shed light on the problems that we face and the road that we must traverse in order to achieve full national independence, democracy, economic development, social justice, people’s solidarity and peace.