Message to the Bayan Canada Congress

Message to the Bayan Canada Congress
Renato M. Reyes, Jr. , Secretary General
January 19, 2019
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Mainit at militanteng pagbati sa lahat ng kasamang nakatipon ngayon sa Kongreso ng Bayan Canada! Mabuhay ang nakikibakang sambayanang Pilipino!

To our compatriots and allies here in Canada, we send our warmest and most militant greetings amid these very challenging times. I do apologize that our meeting is being held under less than ideal weather conditions. Let the records show that Filipinos in Canada braved temperatures of minus 13 degrees to hold this historic congress.
It is a good thing to hold our assembly at the start of the year. It sets the tone for what we want to do for the rest of the year. It would be a year of intense struggle and contradictions and we are inspired by the tremendous support you continue to give for the struggle in the homefront.
The formation of Bayan Canada as the third overseas chapter of Bayan couldn’t have come at a better time. The challenges facing our people are immense and will require the most organized, coordinated and militant response from Filipinos in the homefront and abroad.
Bayan is a national democratic alliance of various oppressed sectors in Philippine society and is part of the legal democratic movement. Established in 1985 at the height of the struggle to overthrow the US-backed Marcos dictatorship, Bayan has been at the forefront of major struggles to promote and defend the rights and interests of the Filipino people against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.  Bayan and its member organizations were leading forces in the ouster of the Marcos and Estrada regimes. We were at the forefront of the long and arduous struggle to remove US military bases in the Philippines. We fought for justice for thousands of human rights victims under the Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo, Aquino and now the Duterte regime.
We continue to fight against the socio-economic conditions that give rise to the massive migration of Filipinos abroad. We continue to fight for genuine land reform and national industrialization so that the Philippines can stand on its own, meet its domestic needs and not be subservient to imperialist powers.
We continue to fight against US imperialism, unequal trade and military agreements and military intervention. We have also mobilized thousands against China’s drive to claim the entire West Philippine Sea and deprive the Filipino people of the benefits of the country’s exclusive economic zone. We have protested the Manila visits of both Trump and Xi and have called for a truly independent foreign policy and an end to imperialist intervention and domination in the Philippines.
Bayan’s chapters overseas, including those in the United States and Hong Kong-Macau, have given Filipinos abroad a powerful voice and a direct means to participate in the struggle for national and social liberation in the homefront.
Resistance is real

We face tremendous challenges in the months to come from the tyrant Duterte, his fascist minions and their imperialist backers. We expect the deepening of the economic crisis and sharpening of the political crisis. We anticipate rising militarization, political repression, anti-communist witch-hunting, the filing of trumped-up charges, the suppression of free speech and the right to organize, and the overall criminalization of dissent. However, we also expect a rising tide of resistance to tyranny and dictatorship. Mga kasama, the resistance is real and it is growing every day – in the schools, communities, factories, countryside, and abroad.

Whether it is the revolutionary forces or the legal mass movement and the broad united front, more and more are joining the popular movement opposing the Duterte fascist regime. In just two years, we saw different political forces, groups and institutions come together in joint actions denouncing human rights violations, misogyny, charter change, new taxes, attacks on judicial independence and the move to impose nationwide Martial Law.

Inflation reached a 10 year high under the Duterte regime, increasing pressure on many poor families and those working abroad. Joblessness remains a serious concern, also reaching a high of 4.64 million in 2017 according to Ibon Foundation. Duterte has failed to fulfill his promise to end contractualization and has increased the tax burden on the Filipino people. The public is being bled dry to fund so-called infrastructure projects that will benefit compradors, cronies and bureaucrats. Corruption remains deeply-rooted in the system as evidenced by the constant fighting among factions of the ruling elite competing for a bigger slice of a shrinking pie.

There is a raging human rights crisis in the Philippines. The Filipino people’s just struggle for change has been met with escalating repression. The Duterte regime has unleashed state terror on the people in the form of the war on drugs, the militarization of the entire country, Martial Law in Mindanao, the crackdown on government critics, and the prevailing regime of impunity. The Duterte government seeks to criminalize dissent and create a subservient population that bows to the every command of Malacanang.

When the highest official of the land justifies the murder of thousands, he has lost the moral authority to lead. When the highest official of the land calls for more bloodshed in the counter-insurgency drive, he no longer represents the interests of the people. When the highest official of the land surrenders national sovereignty to foreign powers, he has to go. When the highest official threatens Martial Law as a solution to every problem facing the country, he has to go. When the highest official of the land criminalizes dissent and makes a mockery of the rule of law, he has to go. When the highest official advocates the mass murder of suspected communists and activists, he has to go. When he makes jokes about rape and sexual assault, we say he has to go. When he fashions himself as a dictator wannabe, he has to go.

For the reasons, the anti-people and anti-national Duterte regime has caused the formation of a broad united front of various political forces, sectors and personalities opposed to tyranny and dictatorship. This includes the workers and peasants, urban poor, indigenous peoples, youth and students, women’s groups, migrants, church groups, the critical media, the legal opposition, human rights advocates, academics, lawyers, and other professionals.

Bayan’s work overseas

Bayan formations abroad have effectively aroused, organized and mobilized the Filipino people for the national democratic struggle in the homefront. Bayan forces overseas have also established relations with various progressive and anti-imperialist forces that have expressed solidarity with the Filipino people. Bayan’s overseas formations amplify the international work of Bayan in the Philippines as these overseas chapters also represent the Philippine mass movement in various international platforms.

Bayan brings together the different national democratic formations that have been established overseas including Migrante, Anakbayan, Gabriela and many others. This allows for coordination, cooperation and unified action among the different organizations and sectors. The overseas chapter functions as a campaign center for various issues and advocacies that require the full participation of the different member organizations.

Bayan provides timely information to a broad audience of Filipinos and other nationalities on the situation in the Philippines. The past three years saw the Duterte regime invest heavily on social media to spread disinformation especially among Filipinos overseas. Bayan chapters abroad should lead in efforts to counter “fake news” and disinformation, using all available platforms on social media and traditional media.You should be able to form teams that can engage the online arena to clarify on current issues and promote the national democratic program and alternative. There should be a machinery for propaganda and public information among the different mass organizations.

In waging this battle, we avail of the national democratic line and analysis, the correct mass line and class analysis in engaging with our compatriots. We apply the appropriate alliance tactics in relating with different groups and individuals. Most importantly, we combine our online work with our “offline” work as we do direct organizing and education work among compatriots in their workplace, communities and schools.

As for our organizing work abroad, Bayan in the US has proven that it is possible to organize an overseas chapter in a large country where the Filipino communities are spread out or far apart. Bayan USA started with a few mass organizations of youth, women, and human rights advocates but these eventually multiplied. Even as it started small, it was able to take full advantage of the recognition and high esteem the Filipino people have for patriotic organizations like Bayan. Over time, Bayan in the US was able to strengthen itself in the different regions as more mass organizations were formed along different classes and sectors. Bayan USA is now the biggest overseas chapter of Bayan in terms of member organizations and regional formations. The regional formations provide better coordination, cooperation and unified actions at the local levels while giving full play to the initiatives of the member organizations.

Right now, We must seek out and work with the growing number of anti-Duterte forces, groups and individuals overseas and contribute to the broad united front. We should consider both joint actions and separate or coordinated actions for common goals.

Let us also continue to support progressive candidates and partylist groups in the upcoming elections even as we point out the limitations of the electoral process in achieving genuine change for the country. The worst human rights violators and plunderers should be hounded by protests wherever they may be in the globe.

Bayan overseas has linked up and established relations with various progressive and anti-imperialist formations who eventually became members of the International League of People’s Struggles and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines. We should continue organizing exposure trips, internships, humanitarian missions and other solidarity events to strengthen support for the struggle in the homefront. Bayan overseas must also oppose the blacklisting and deportation of human rights advocates from other countries who have expressed solidarity with the Filipino people.

In the coming days, the struggle in the homeland is expected to be more  intense and difficult as the tyrant Duterte pursues his agenda for a fascist dictatorship. We definitely need Bayan Canada to be a strong voice against human rights violations, tyranny, impunity and plunder. We are likewise inspired and encouraged by tireless work that you do in supporting the struggles of various oppressed sectors in the homeland.

Let me end by giving recognition to the thousands of Filipino activists and human rights defenders in the frontlines of the daily struggles for change. Let me recognize the hundreds of political prisoners — activists and revolutionaries — fighting for freedom not just for themselves but for the entire people. Allow me to pay tribute to our martyrs who made the greatest sacrifice for the motherland and the people.

Bayan’s first secretary general Lean Alejandro, who was martyred in 1987, once remarked that the line of fire is the place of honor. It has been a great honor standing with you and the many activists of the national democratic cause against the tyrant in Malacanang. We wish Bayan Canada continuing success as we link arms and struggle for a truly free, democratic and prosperous Philippines.

Mabuhay ang Bayan Canada!
Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!


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