By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson
International League of Peoples' Struggle
April 16, 2009

My dear compatriots,

Having been the chairman of the Preparatory Commission that founded in 1986 Partido ng Bayan, which the ultrareactionaries subsequently repressed , I am happy about the remarkable success of the progressive party list groups in the 2001, 2004 and 2007 elections and their current initiative to establish the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan or in brief Makabayan. I convey warmest greetings of solidarity to all of them, their national and regional officers, the personages and the hundreds of mass activists from various people's organizations that are now gathered in this founding assembly of Makabayan.

This is a historic occasion that signifies, particularly in the field of electoral struggle, a major advance of the people's movement for genuine national independence, democracy, social justice and all-round development. I commend and congratulate Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela for initiating the building of Makabayan as basically a coalition of parties for uniting the broad masses of the people and mobilizing them for meaningful change in accordance with their national and democratic rights and interests.

The founding of Makabayan is timely. It comes as a consolidation of the achievements in electoral struggle of the progressive party list groups and related mass organizations. It is a prompt preparation for the elections in 2010. It counters the schemes of the US-Arroyo regime to push charter change, to prolong the power of the Arroyo clique or to rig the 2010 elections in favor of the worst reactionaries. It contributes to the strengthening of the broad range of opposition forces against the detested regime.

Makabayan is a formidable combination of patriotic and pro-people forces in comparison to the fractious state of the traditional political opposition. Even at this very moment, it can be described as the strongest opposition force in terms of being the most principled instrument of the people, having the most cogent patriotic and progressive platform, gathering the most dedicated and most active volunteers in the service of the people and enjoying the strongest and most reliable mass base on a nationwide scale.

At the core of Makabayan are the progressive party list groups and their leaders and members who have proven their integrity and effectiveness in serving the people. They are in sharp contrast to the traditional politicians. They are well tested in resisting the temptations of puppetry and corruption. They have been subjected to the most vicious forms of vilification and repression. They have prevailed over these and have become ever more determined to fight for the national and democratic rights and interests of the people.

Under the guidance of its Declaration of Unity and Rules of Organization, Makabayan is bound to grow ever stronger. Your principles and general program respond to the people's demand for the politics of fundamental change and substantial reforms, for good governance, for uplifting the poor, for pro-Filipino economic development, for saving the environment, for upholding national sovereignty and adopting an independent foreign policy, for defending the people's democratic rights, for promoting Philippine culture and for attaining justice and peace. Your cause is just and compelling.

In the face of the rottenness and much worsened crisis of the domestic ruling system and the world capitalist system, the theme of your founding assembly is of great importance and acute urgency: "Pilipino para sa pagbabago! Pagbabago para sa Pilipino! This clarion call is well amplified by your proposed platform for the 2010 elections . You stand for the politics of change and reforms against the politics of the status quo and reaction. You have not only the general principles to guide you in the long run but also the concrete plans for serving the immediate needs and demands of the people, especially at this time when they are suffering extremely from oppression and exploitation.

The US-instigated policies of "neoliberal globalization" and "global war of terror" have brought about an unprecedented economic and political crisis on a global scale since the end of World War II. The Arroyo regime is despicable for having been subservient to such policies and for having aggravated the rottenness of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. We are now confonted by a socio-economic and political crisis of unprecedented proportions since World War II.

The socio-economic crisis is wreaking havoc on the lives of the broad masses of the people because of rapidly rising unemployment, sinking levels of income, soaring prices of basic commodities and services and other intolerable conditions. The political crisis is characterized by the ruling clique's vicious attacks on its intrasystemic rivals and on the broad masses of the people. The people are suffering escalating levels of exploitation and oppression. These drive the people to fight back and seek to change not only the current regime but the entire ruling system.

In my view, it is not possible to make a fundamental change of the ruling system through periodic elections under the rules set by the exploiting classes and their political agents. There are various forms of mass struggles for revolutionary change that can be carried out by the people. But the electoral form of mass struggle is important and necessary whenever it becomes possible for the patriotic and progressive forces to participate and push forward basic reforms that respond to the immediate needs and demands of the people.

The electoral form of struggle can be a major part of the movement to arouse, organize and mobilize the people to achieve immediate basic reforms or the ultimate aim of social revolution. There is no error of electoralism or parliamentarism when there is no foreclosing of other forms of struggle that the people have the sovereign right to adopt and wage. There is also no error of reformism when there is no pontification that the struggle for reforms is the sole option of the people.

Makabayan is inspired by high principles and must firmly adhere to them. But it must be flexible in policy in order to wage electoral struggle effectively. It is broad enough in having as mass base the toiling masses of workers and peasants, the middle social strata and major sectors such as the women, youth, the various types of professionals and the social activists in various concerns such as human rights, development, peace, environment and so on, But you must be ready to further broaden the united front formally or informally by availing of the cooperation of certain sections of the ruling classes in order to isolate and defeat the worst of the reactionaries at every given time.

As I have earlier pointed out, Makabayan is by itself a strong coalition in several respects. But it also has limitations. Its highly motivated activists and mass base may be strong in number and capabilities in certain areas but it may be less strong in other areas. Definitely, Makabayan does not yet have the financial and other material resources to field its own complete slate of national and local candidates. There is therefore a need for you to go into further bilateral and multilateral alliances with other entities, such as coalitions, parties, groups, personages and candidates.

On its own account, without going into any broader coalition, Makabayan can field some candidates for the Senate and many candidates for the House of Representatives and for local executive offices. But certainly broadening the coalition or alliance at the national level is necessary in order to co-determine the best possible presidential and vice presidential candidates and to ensure the victory of Makabayan-chosen candidates for the Senate. Broader regional, provincial, district and municipal alliances are also necessary in the choice of the best possible candidates for the House of Representatives and the executive offices from the level of governor downwards.

To be truly a political force advancing the politics of change and reforms, Makabayan should always be close to the people, especially to the toiling masses of workers and peasants, learning from them, trusting them and relying on them. By following such mass line, you can learn how best to engage in political education, increase your organized strength and mobilize the masses for denouncing the oppressive and exploitative character and policies of the reactionary government and demanding immediate basic social, economic, political and cultural reforms in the direction of fundamental social transformation.

Makabayan must always seek to empower the people and must do its best to represent and serve them in what is still a reactionary government under the control of the political agents of the exploiting classes. Substantial reforms are possible only when the patriotic and progressive elements from Makabayan and other enlightened groups in the government draw strength and support from the protests and demands of the mass movement and when the politicians of the status quo and reaction become increasingly discredited and isolated.

I wish your founding assembly the utmost success in deliberating and ratifying the basic documents, in assessing the current and potential strength of the coalition and its components, in exploring the arena of the electoral struggle, in beginning to fill up your organizational structure and in inspiring your rapid growth and further alliances with other political forces. I am confident that Makabayan will carry forward the politics of change on a patriotic and progressive course and bring to a new and higher level the unity and fighting capabilities of the people for national and social liberation.

Long live Makabayan!
Carry forward the politics of change!
Long live the Filipino people!