Arduous struggle and relentless hard work ahead for revolutionary forces on Negros Island

Bayani Obrero
Spokesperson, NDF-Negros Island

On the first year of his fraudulent rise to power, Ferdinand Marcos Jr has proven himself to be a blatant and unmitigated puppet of US imperialism, an insatiable kleptocrat and a second-generation fascist tyrant.

The current Marcos regime is a scourge of the people of Negros as it dutifully implements its imperialist master’s neoliberal policies of liberalization, privatization and deregulation. It continues to facilitate the extraction of super profits by multinational corporations and local big compradors in connivance with big landlords in the monocrop sugar industry, mining, logging, real estate, eco-tourism, eco-zones and other similar ventures while preventing industrial development and aggravating the agrarian and backward character of the economy on the island and the entire country.

Early on, Marcos Jr has shown particular interest in the sugar industry similar to his dictator father. He positioned his allies within the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) through a fiasco regarding an unauthorized sugar importation order. The monocrop sugar industry especially in Negros struggled even further hounded by sustained entry of hundreds of thousands of metric tons of sugar, either legally imported or smuggled into the country, gravely affecting small planters and farm workers and their families.

Oppression and exploitation on Negros Island escalated even further within Marcos Jr’s first year. Majority of Negrosanons endure landlessness and flagrant land grabbing schemes while feudal and semifeudal forms of exploitation remain widespread. Destitution worsened with depressed wages and high inflation. Farm workers in sugarcane plantations receive an average of P250 daily wage with no benefits, however, 97% of them engage in a more exploitative “pakyaw” or piece rate wage system.

Joblessness and rising cost of living are unprecedented under Marcos Jr. Privatization of public utilities such as water and power and spikes in oil prices resulted to skyrocketing prices of basic needs on top of inaccessible social services. There is also reclassification of agricultural lands and reclamation projects in fishing grounds currently around 1,600 hectares in the entire island that drive away farmers, farm workers, fisherfolk and urban poor from their homes and source of livelihood and worsen the degradation of the environment.

Marcos Jr has treasonously surrendered as well Philippine patrimony and economic sovereignty to US imperialism and dragged the Filipino people into a brewing inter-imperialist war. His servility assures him of US support for his presidency at the same time entangles the Filipino people to a greater extent in the web of the world capitalist system and wars of aggression.

Meanwhile, Marcos Jr as top bureaucrat capitalist and head of the ruling class of big bourgeois compradors and big landlords deepens his family’s pockets with bureaucratic corruption. His lackeys in Congress railroaded the Maharlika Investment Fund which is a brazen scheme to steal public money and split the loot among themselves.

But rivalry over power, influence and fortune has already cracked the alliance of Marcos Jr and Sara Duterte just in the regime’s first year. As contradictions within the ruling faction festers, the US-Marcos II regime’s lifespan may very well be cut short soon enough.

Negrosanons are miserable and restive amidst the worsening crisis resulting from imperialism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. The toiling masses of workers and peasants and lower sections of the middle class are incited to wage various forms of resistance. Revolutionary armed struggle has become ever more necessary to realize national liberation and democracy.

Marcos Jr naturally took the road of fascism as a loyal stooge of US imperialism much like the other pseudo-democratic regimes after the fascist dictatorship of his father. Through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), he directed ‘heightened operational tempo’ of campaigns of military suppression against the revolutionary movement and the people. He utterly snubbed peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which signified disinterest in addressing the roots of the armed conflict with basic social, economic and political reforms.

Marcos Jr inherited the National Task Force (NTF)-Elcac and Memorandum Order 32 from Rodrigo Duterte that maintained de facto martial law in Negros Island and the rest of the country. The AFP and special units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) swarmed the countryside unleashing state terrorism through a bloody all-out war against the people. It perpetrated salvagings of civilians and hors de combat, abductions, torture, illegal arrest and detention, threats and harassments, forced surrender and many other forms of human rights violations mainly against farmers, farm workers, activists and critics.

Human rights abuses in Negros Island evidently increased by 300% on the first six months of Marcos Jr’s reign. From 44 monitored cases within the remaining months of Duterte’s regime, it rose to 178 from July to December 2022. NDF Negros has monitored more than 300 cases of human rights violations on the island under the US-Marcos II regime. Though deserving condemnation and justice, the assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo greatly eclipsed the numerous cases of peasant killings in Negros.

State forces under the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army are currently in a rush to meet another foolish year-end deadline of decimating the New People’s Army (NPA). Their sustained focused military operations are more reckless and bloody in the expense of the peasants in the countryside. Troops of the 303rd and 302nd Brigade are staging false flag operations scapegoating the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA to justify intense and massive military operations and enjoy impunity.

But the US-Duterte regime is mistaken that economic aggression and atrocities it let loose on Negros Island will be left unpunished. The people of Negros has the revolutionary movement with the CPP, NPA and NDF in the forefront advancing the people’s revolutionary cause and confronting the vicious and evil attacks of the local ruling class and their imperialist master.

Arduous struggle and relentless hard work are ahead for the revolutionary forces on Negros Island. It is a time of great consequence in raising the people’s war to a new and higher level.

The people must be aroused, organized and mobilized effectively on the basis of sectoral and major social issues such as the fight for wage increase and benefits, land reform, and democratic rights and welfare; the struggle against reclamation projects, land grabbing and destructive mining operations; and the demand for justice for all victims of human rights violations. The best among them will become mass leaders and activists that will enable the mass movement to broaden comprehensively as they are tempered through mass campaigns.

Achieving basic reforms through the legal democratic movement is good but it will always be minimal as the ruling class will never voluntarily give up their political and economic interests. One year under the US-Marcos II regime has once again shown that only through waging a national democratic revolution can the people resolve a semicolonial and semifeudal system.

With the disgruntled portion of the reactionaries, the broadest united front must be mustered against the US-Marcos II regime. Mass protests and revolutionary resistance must intensify whereby revolutionary forces can gain strength and carry forward the people’s war.###