In spotlight: Filipino mass struggles vs worsening politico-economic crises

Amidst the ever-worsening and deepening economic and political crisis in the Philippines, the Filipino people continue the mass struggle against the anti-people policies and programs of the US-Marcos Jr. regime. Led by the national democratic movement, they have carried various sectoral issues and demands through nationwide campaigns and protests.

  • Nationwide transport strikes against PUV Modernization

Since March last year, various transport groups led by Piston and Manibela have organized a series of nationwide transport strikes against the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) and the mandatory franchise consolidation policy of the Marcos Jr. administration. The PUVMP requires jeepney drivers and operators to purchase electric jeepneys at a price that is unaffordable, allowing rich corporations to monopolize e-jeepney ownership and mire drivers and operators further into debt.

This year, with strong support from various organisations, commuters and their families, the transport groups staged a total of eight days nationwide strikes on different occasions from April to June to protest the following: April 15-16, a 2-day strike against franchise consolidation deadline. They asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the new guidelines of the PUMVP; April 29-May 1, a 3-day strike calling for the return of 5-year franchises; and June 10-12, a 3-day strike against the Department of Transportation officials’ crackdown on unconsolidated PUVs.

  • Students and youth against the US-PH Balikatan Exercises

On May 6, Gabriela-Youth together with other women’s organisations trooped to the US embassy in Manila to denounce the US-PH Balikatan exercises, stating that the Philippines is being used as a playground for US war games. The US-led joint military exercises took place from April 22 to May 18, 2024, in the most northern part of Luzon and Palawan, covering the West Philippine Sea, South China Sea and the sea near the Taiwan strait.

The group called criticized the US-Marcos Jr. regime for prioritizing the Balikatan exercises and the building of more EDCA sites, rather than addressing the struggles of Filipino students who were heavily affected by soaring prices due to inflation and expensive costs of education. They also highlighted that the US presence in the country would only lead to terror and the potential exploitation of and violence against young women, children and LGBTQ+.

  • Environmental groups and advocates against large-scale mining and environmental destruction

On March 4, Kalikasan PNE, Katribu and other environmental groups and advocates held a protest at the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) to reiterate their call to repeal the 1995 Philippine Mining Act. They asserted that for the past 29 years, the law has allowed multi-national and transnational mining companies, such as Apex Mining in Davao de Oro to conduct destructive large-scale mining operations, resulting in environmental damage and negatively impacting the communities of indigenous peoples and farmers. They underscored the role of reactionary state and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in aiding these mining companies in exploiting ancestral lands and militarizing the indigenous communities, with the support of NTF-Elcac and state security forces. The group also demanded justice for all the victims of landslides caused by large-scale mining, deforestations and other disasters.

  • People’s organizations against US and China’s militarization of the West Philippine Sea

Carrying the call, ‘Atin ang Pinas, China Layas!’ (Philippines is Ours, China Go Away!’, mass organisations under BAYAN rallied outside the Chinese consulate in Makati on April 10. They protested China’s ongoing intimidation of Filipino fisherfolk and its continuous intrusion in the West Philippine Sea. At the same time, they also demanded the removal of US and other foreign military troops in the Philippines, who recently conducted war games using Philippine waters, including the West Philippine Sea.