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

Member, NDFP Reciprocal Working Committe on Socio-Economic Reforms

The very well-written article Economic Nationalism: Voices from the Past (Commentary, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 24 September 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 Guariña 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 Guariña’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 Guariña 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 US 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 US 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 Guariña’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, Guariña, 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.

NDFP Peace Consultant
Member, NDFP Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms
presently detained at the Special Intensive Care Area Jail
Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City
11 October 2014