THE PARTY LIST ELECTIONS AND THE CORRECT ROLE OF PROGRESSIVES
WITHIN THE REACTIONARY PARLIAMENT

 


An analysis by the Communist Party of the Philippines reflecting on electoral success of the progressive party list Bayan Muna in last year’s congressional elections:

The participation and victory of a number of progressive forces in the recent electoral struggle have opened up an additional arena for airing the people's national-democratic interests and advancing mass struggles.

Although progressives have achieved some significant gains in the recent party list elections (and in winning a few low-ranking local positions), reactionaries continue to enjoy decisive dominance over elections for the senate, district representatives, governor, mayor and other positions in local government.

The party list system purportedly aims to provide representation in congress to marginalized sectors of the people. Towards this end, 20% of congressional seats are allotted to representatives of elected parties.

In actuality, the party list system is an added instrument of the ruling class to coopt leaders and progressive organizations to become ensnared in parliamentarism, share in the corruption and privileges accorded by the reactionary system and abandon their stand for genuine social change.

Despite the measly 20% reserved for marginalized sectors, corrupt politicians and parties representing the reactionary ruling class nonetheless tried to grab it for themselves by fielding their own errand boys in the party list elections. Many participants in the party list elections in May were of this sort. Among them were those supported and funded by the state (MAD, VFB, COCOFED, APEC, NATCO-COOP), big political parties of the ruling classes (Lakas-NUCD, NPC, PMP, LDP, LP, Promdi, Aksyon Demokratiko, True Marcos Loyalists, Osme¤a), big business (CREBA) and big religious sects (CIBAC, BUHAY). A number of them (MAD, VFP, Lakas-NUCD, NPC, APEC and CIBAC) dominated the party list elections. Progressive organizations and the democratic mass movement vigorously objected and successfully blocked them from taking seats in congress reserved for party list representatives. This was achieved through mass actions and the tactic of filing a case in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court clarified that only parties and organizations that genuinely represented marginalized sectors of the people were qualified to join the party list elections. The COMELEC was obliged to accredit only three so far - Bayan Muna, Akbayan and Butil - among those that actually garnered 2% or more of the total party list votes cast.

Progressives and genuine representatives of marginalized sectors are minuscule in number compared to the more than 200 representatives of the reactionary ruling classes in congress. Worse, only about a dozen of the 52 seats reserved for party list representatives have been filled up in the last two party list elections.

In any case, the reactionaries failed to thwart the people's strong support for and the unequivocal victory of, Bayan Muna, a progressive party. This, despite brazen poll fraud, harassment and vote buying by reactionary organizations who ran in the party list elections. Through its more than 1.7 million votes, Bayan Muna posted a big lead over other party list candidates, including extensions of corrupt politicians and their political parties, others who outrightly embodied the interests of the reactionary ruling class, pseudo-revolutionary parties and reformist groups. This meant that three representatives of Bayan Muna would take their seats in congress.

The public is still largely unaware of the party list. Not even half of those who voted in the recent polls voted in the party list elections. The big number of votes garnered by Bayan Muna mainly came from its wide base among the toiling masses and support from the middle forces who participated in and advanced EDSA 2. Through its well-conducted alliance work, it was able to raise added resources, broaden its linkages in provinces, districts, municipalities and cities, gain additional votes and thwart poll fraud. Other candidates garnered far fewer votes, except for MAD.

Although they have also been able to win party list seats, the narrow organizational base and influence on the people of Anakbayan and Sanlakas and other pseudo-revolutionary organizations have also become manifest.

In the case of Sanlakas, it has been isolated from the mainstream of the anti-Estrada movement as far back as the latter part of 2000, with its advancement of its "Resign All" slogan. AMIN, another pseudo-revolutionary organization in Mindanao, bought votes but failed to attain the requisite 2%.

Despite the victories of progressive forces in the electoral arena, strengthening the mass movement both in the cities and countryside remains the key to advancing the people's democratic demands. Advances in electoral and parliamentary struggle are part of the overall advance and strengthening of the progressive and revolutionary forces. It is our objective to accelerate and comprehensively advance and strengthen all parallel arenas of revolutionary struggle.

The actions within parliament of representatives of the progressive and democratic mass movement and the people should not be divorced from the mass movement. They can only be effective representatives of the people within the reactionary parliament if they maintain tight relations with the democratic mass movement outside. They must remain focused on the agenda of the people and the mass movement even as they utilize the methods of parliament.

It is the primary task of progressive forces within parliament to expose the reactionary congress and the reactionary state in general by advancing people's issues and struggles against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. They must not be used to deodorize or redeem the decadent and moribund system.

It is also an important task for them to be alert to, and vigorously resist, the temptations of parliamentarism and the corrupt political system.

There are clear limitations to, and boundaries in, what the progressive forces can do within parliament. Because congress is a parliament of reaction and reactionaries, it will not pass laws that would be detrimental to the basic interests and continued class dominance of the reactionary ruling classes. Nonetheless, progressives within congress, in cooperation with mass actions outside the latter, must thoroughly fight for the passage of laws and programs that would provide the people even a modicum of relief. They must serve as the voice of the oppressed people resisting the deterioration of their livelihoods and the trampling of their democratic rights.

State suppression of progressive forces is also a glaring reality. The continued escalation of the armed conflict between the revolutionary forces and the state's armed forces and the unrelenting intensification of the crisis gripping the reactionary ruling system are further pushing the enemy to tighten its surveillance and intensify its harassment and attacks against progressive political parties and the revolutionary mass movement. Even now, the reactionaries are relentlessly maligning and harassing Bayan Muna. AFP propagandists and psywar experts have been insinuating that Bayan Muna is allegedly a mere front of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Newspapers have also reported that the US' local henchmen have already fielded hit squads that would target leaders of the open democratic movement, including the party list representatives.

Progressives have a very small niche. The same goes for what they have been able to achieve in the electoral and parliamentary struggle. Reactionary elections are a political arena tightly controlled by the reactionary ruling classes. They are characterized by the widespread and absolute reliance of reactionary politicians and parties on violence, money, deception and fraud to win. In the face of all this, the effort and success of some progressives to win seats in the reactionary parliament manifest a level of capability among the revolutionary and democratic forces to likewise use the enemy's instruments and arena against him and to attain benefits for the movement and the people. It has been demonstrated that these victories may be surpassed in the future, along with the further advance of armed struggle and the mass movement.

On the other hand, the reactionary elections and parliament cannot be decisively used by the revolutionary forces and people to seize political power and obtain fundamental changes for the people's welfare. Armed revolution remains the only means for the revolutionary movement and the people to overthrow the reactionary and corrupt ruling system. Armed struggle and the mass movement are essential and more primary compared to electoral and parliamentary struggle. Along with such efforts and victories in electoral and parliamentary struggle, it is likewise necessary to further clarify to the people the undeniable need to advance armed struggle and expand and deepen the revolutionary mass movement in the cities and countryside.

Ang Bayan July 2001