Every Filipino, even if one isn’t a revolutionary, would want the strategic direction of the Philippine economy geared towards strengthening public social services such as health and education, agriculture, and Filipino-owned industries; at the same time ensuring ecological sustainability and social justice. The government should have led in implementing a genuine land reform program and planned trade and production to advance national industrialization.
But dominated by US imperialism and its allies, the Philippines was forcibly integrated in global production chains of monopoly capitalists. Since then, it turned dependent on imports and as mere producers of certain cash crops, exporters of labor and raw materials (causing brain drain and damaged environment), and host country of cheap and repressed workers.
The country’s development stagnated, no thanks to US imperialism which continues to dominate the political, economic, and cultural life of the Filipinos. Through its puppets in government (the bureaucrat capitalists currently led by Rodrigo Duterte), and the big landlords and comprador bourgeoisie, US imperialism and its allies plundered the country’s resources. Today, Duterte’s double puppetry to US and China has exacerbated the chronic crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal Philippines.
Imperialism has caused the puppet government to sabotage Philippines’ economic development. Imperialism made bowing to it both a profitable and a political survival tool for bureaucrat capitalists like Duterte. The architects and beneficiaries of this system have taken actions more for their profits, power and land monopoly.
The country’s underdevelopment has always been most exposed whenever disasters hit. It became far starker with the Covid-19 pandemic. When it hit, the disintegrating semicolonial, semifeudal system can no longer hold up.
The Filipino people, especially the poor, felt the fatal impact of imperialism’s neoliberal policies, specifically on the country’s healthcare system during the pandemic as they were largely left to fend for themselves.
Neglecting and sabotaging the country’s prospects in developing its industries such as medical and pharmaceutical which became the most immediate needs to respond to the pandemic—from test kits to personnel protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies, medicine, and at some point even masks—left the government with no choice but to depend on importation and to wait in line when supplies could be made available to the country.
While criminally negligent in actually helping the people to beat COVID-19, Duterte sought to consolidate its rule of terror and control of the state to ensure for himself and his clique loot from kickbacks, loans, pork barrel, and intelligence funds.
Note also how the regime has intensified its moves to railroad charter change to further open up the Philippines to imperialist plunder. The Duterte regime has also grown more blatant at sticking up for its imperialist masters—allowing and in fact actively demanding for US imperialist’s military aid and military basing, among others, as well as giving way to China’s military occupation of Philippine reefs.
Elsewhere around the world, Covid-19 has exposed and aggravated the anti-social character of the world capitalist system. It is a system intrinsically devoted to profit-seeking and self-interest even at the cost of endangering itself and causing depressions and recessions. With the pandemic, it exposed itself for further aggravating the vulnerability and suffering of people it has long exploited, oppressed and cheated of their rights to social services such as in the fields of public health, education, housing, and even water.
Even amid the pandemic, the monopoly bourgeoisie and capitalist states defended their monopolies and privileges. It starkly showed, for example, in their holding on to patents on vaccines that they produced with massive public spending. It showed also in the continuing imperialist sanctions that inhibited cooperation in facing pandemics, and in the ongoing wars of counterrevolution, imperialist aggression, and imperialist rivalries.
Under neoliberal economic policy, one of the ways imperialism sought to squeeze more profits without solving its persistent crises of overproduction, the broad masses of the people have been forced to suffer low wages, reduced benefits, reduced social services, insecure jobs and retirement.
“The neoliberal economic policy has liberalized trade and investments, provided tax cuts, incentives and bailouts to the monopoly bourgeoisie, pressed down wages and other incomes of the lower classes, privatized public assets, reduced social services, imposed austerity measures, removed social and environmental regulations and denationalized the less developed economies of the world,” said the CPP in a statement.
At “normal” times, poor people already lived with dismal health and housing services, lack of access to food, water and health services. During pandemics, all these were aggravated, and the oppressed and exploited people became even more vulnerable. They have little to no means to practice social distancing and feed themselves when lockdowns reduced their incomes. They have little to no means to seek medical attention when it’s priced above their reach, no thanks to privatization.
In the Philippines, the COVID 19 pandemic highlighted the lethality for the people of the imperialist stranglehold on this country’s lifeblood. It reared its ugly head not just in the deleterious effects of privatization and deregulation. It also reared its ugly head in how our economy has been stunted, forced to remain backward, agricultural, a mere dumping ground of imperialist countries’ surplus capital, a mere source of cheap labor and raw materials. ###