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https://iclfi.org/pubs/ta-en/2024-02-23-edca

As its hegemony declines and the liberal order slides toward disintegration, the U.S. response has been to increase pressure on China and Russia, while tightening control of countries like the Philippines. The crisis of imperialism is driving the U.S. to war, with the military buildups from the East China Sea to the Malacca Strait acting as tripwires for bloody confrontation with China.

Situated by the South China Sea, the Philippines guards the busiest maritime routes in the world, through which passes much of China’s oil supply. These disputed waters host rich fishing grounds, as well as untapped reserves of undersea oil, gas and minerals. From the Philippines, the U.S. has access to East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean—the litoral of the most populous, economically active part of the world.

For decades, the Philippine left has supported the bourgeoisie’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. The forces influenced by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its National Democratic Front (NDF), the social democrats and the labor bureaucracy have enthusiastically cheered for the bourgeoisie’s legal case in the Arbitration Court in The Hague against China’s maritime claims. Their often hysterical anti-China nationalist campaign, in concert with capitalist forces, over the Spratly Islands gave cover for U.S. imperialism to ramp up its presence in the region, eventually gaining access to nine military sites under President Ferdinand (Bongbong) Marcos Jr. via the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The restoration of U.S. basing rights in the Philippines under EDCA is a milestone in the imperialist hegemon’s war drive in the region. For Filipinos, who marked the 125th anniversary of the Filipino-American War on February 4, EDCA is the latest imperialist burden on the Philippine masses—a stark reminder that the Philippines is an American neocolony, independent only in name. Likewise for the workers and peasants of China, these U.S. bases represent a clear and present threat to their existence.

U.S. access to bases in the Philippines pushes the region closer to the brink of war. EDCA bodes terrible hardship for the workers and oppressed masses of the region and the world. The bases in the Philippines will become targets, and ensuing armed conflict will wreak havoc on the economies of Southeast Asia and Australia, for which China is a major trading partner.

For the Filipino youth, the U.S.-led march to war means further regimentation via the compulsory ROTC program and a grim future as cannon fodder for the warmongers. To this we say: Smash EDCA! U.S. bases out! Imperyalismo Ibagsak! Down with bourgeois militarism and imperialist war! Oppose compulsory ROTC! Not one tao, not a single sentimo for the bourgeois military!

To smash EDCA will require monumental international proletarian struggle, including in China, to drive out the U.S. bandits from the Philippines and throughout the West Pacific Rim. The leftists and labor leaders who refuse to take the side of China against imperialist enslavement, like Akbayan and Makabayan, stand in the camp of our exploiters and will never win the support of the workers and peasants of China. Meanwhile, the ruling Communist Party of China, which upholds the program of “socialism in one country,” craves only its “peaceful rise” within the imperialist-dominated international order and sees social revolution in the Philippines and elsewhere as a threat to achieving that goal. An anti-imperialist alliance would inspire the 100s million strong Chinese proletariat to sweep away the parasitic bureaucracy and seize the helm of the biggest country today where capitalism was overthrown.

Militant workers and youth are increasingly frustrated with the leaderships of Akbayan, Makabayan, NAGKAISA and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, who have not offered any solutions to fight the bourgeoisie’s attacks and new imperialist impositions including the Public Services Act, the PUV Modernization Program, and Charter Change. Instead, these labor bureaucrats and self-proclaimed leftist leaders promote the idea that the Philippine bourgeoisie can be friends and allies of the workers and the oppressed in the fight for national and social liberation.

Anti-imperialist workers and radical youth: beware the bourgeois politicians like former President Rodrigo Duterte, who masquerade as friends of the oppressed and opponents of imperialist war! The Dutertes of Davao and their northern counterparts, Sen. Imee Marcos of Ilocos and the Mambas of Cagayan, will be the first to abandon and betray our struggles against EDCA because it is their nature as members of the neocolonial property-owning class to put their business and narrow clan interests ahead of the oppressed nation. Any militant mobilization by workers and the poor that the bourgeoisie cannot control is rightfully seen as a danger to the peace and stability of Philippines society, which is built on human misery and super-exploitation of labor in the plantations and export processing zones.

Raising a revolutionary internationalist banner against the pro-imperialists inside the left and workers movement will serve as a rallying point for opponents of imperialism among the workers and the urban and rural poor. To achieve national industrialization, peasant emancipation and free the country of foreign bases, our struggle needs a leadership that is not bound to the wretched Philippine bourgeoisie or the imperialists.

To the militant workers and anti-imperialist students, we assert that the vital task today is to build an authentic communist party capable of propelling our struggle for national liberation toward socialist revolution. As a first step, this means we must clean our own house: Drive the reformist conciliators and pro-U.S. lapdogs—the likes of Sonny Matula (FFW), Joshua Mata (SENTRO), Mike C. Mendoza (TUCP), Elmer Labog (KMU) and Raoul Manuel (Kabataan)—from the left and workers movement!

The Philippines and China have a common enemy in U.S. imperialism. It is in the interests of the oppressed masses of the Philippines, the toiling majority in the archipelago, to form an anti-imperialist alliance with the Chinese workers, peasants and PLA soldiers.

To begin, we must recognize the obstacles in the way of forging this fighting alliance. Firstly, imperialism exploits the anti-China resentment generated by the Beijing Stalinist regime’s maritime policy in the South China Sea, where Chinese authorities harass fisher folk from neighboring countries who have shared these traditional fishing grounds and safe harbors for countless generations. Secondly, China’s support for deeply hated factions of the bourgeoisie, like the authoritarian regime of former President Duterte, does not make Beijing any more popular among the working people.

For the Chinese people and the Philippine masses to form this anti-imperialist alliance means rejecting the calls for “zones of peace,” “non-interference” and “peaceful coexistence” with the imperialists, peddled by the Beijing Stalinists and Philippine leftists like Partido Manggagawa and Partido Lakas ng Masa. These do not advance our struggle against imperialism and war. What we need is a revolutionary internationalist program. At the minimum:

  • Rip out the anti-fishing barriers! Share the waters!
  • Joint defense of the South China Sea against the imperialist aggressors!
  • Filipino fisher folk, give this leaflet to the Chinese PLA Navy/Maritime Militia!

If you agree with the revolutionary anti-imperialist positions in this leaflet and would like to discuss how to achieve them, please write to:

—Committee of Correspondents Overseas
Spartacist Group Pilipinas (SGPil)
spartacist@spartacist.org