Seeking to liberate the Philippines from centuries of Spanish colonial bondage, Gat Andres Bonifacio along with other revolutionary minded Filipinos founded the Katipunan. 156 years after his birth, many Filipinos continue to derive inspiration from the father of the Philippine revolution. As we look back on his heroic life, we pay our highest tribute and homage to Andres Bonifacio for being a true patriot and a hero of the working class.
From the ranks of the oppressed masses, the Katipunan multiplied in great numbers and rallied the Filipino people to rise up and mount an armed revolution against an enormous global colonial power. Andres Bonifacio’s love for the downtrodden Filipinos and his abhorrence of the injustices inflicted against them ignited that burning desire within him to offer his life for the cause of national liberation. In martyrdom, he was murdered by the cohorts of Emilio Aguinaldo who is a traitor corrupted by personal ambitions.
Centuries after the beginning of the colonial onslaught in the Philippines, our country today continues to be a subject of foreign domination and semicolonial woes. Unlike Bonifacio’s Katipunan, which was founded by Filipinos, the US-Duterte regime’s very own Armed Forces of the Philippines was founded by Americans in 1935 to protect US interests and is currently based in its main military headquarters Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo appropriately named after the eternally damned traitor who ordered the execution of Andres Bonifacio.
Aguinaldo’s level of treachery is exhibited by the despotic rule of President Rodigo Duterte. This regime brazenly places our country as a trampling ground for the predatory neoliberal interests of both US and China. As bargaining chips, Filipino workers are likewise peddled to be exploited as cheap and docile workers under its rotten labour export program. To secure more loans and induce a higher credit rating, Duterte is hell-bent on imposing more burdensome state exactions on OFWs next year including the mandatory SSS and the higher Philhealth premium rate in compliance with his fraudulent Universal Health Care Law.
The impending creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos a few weeks from now would further facilitate the upward siphoning of OFW monetary contributions to subsidize private profit. SSS has already expressed as early as two years ago its lechery in investing a part of its fund for Duterte’s floundering Build Build Build program. On top of that, big privately-owned healthcare facilities including dialysis centres have been amassing tons of money from Philhealth over the years through scandalous “ghost treatments.”
Amidst the extractivist plunder of our natural resources for big foreign corporate gain, the lives of Filipino workers linger in darkness as they are deprived of national minimum wage and employment security. With a staggering 21.5 percent unemployment rate as revealed in the latest SWS survey, the number of jobless Filipinos soared to 10 million, the highest in Southeast Asia. This does not even include those who are forever in the cyclical peril of losing their jobs due to contractualization. In addition, the livelihood of millions of farmers are jeopardized due to Duterte’s Rice Liberalization Law which is apparently favourable to big comprador developers and wealthy land grabbers.
Like millions of OFWs, the agonizing socio-economic injustices in the country banished Mary Jane Veloso and Mary Jean Alberto into the farthest corners of the Earth in their desire to support their loved ones back home. As the former languishes in prison, the latter was sent back to the country inside a box. Their tragedies point to the government’s negligence and apathy towards Filipinos in distress. The deliberate impoverishment of the Filipino people by the local ruling class and the country’s neo-colonial subjugation by foreign imperialist powers tell us that the strife against the dark forces is far from over.
The same maladies that Andres Bonifacio and the Katipuneros sought to vanquish not only persist to this very day, but have been transmuted into the more fatal schemes of neoliberalism and Fascism. Millions upon millions of our people groan in the mire of scarcity and absence of social services while the wealthy few delight in their ill-gotten spoils.
More than just ritualizing our commemoration of Andres Bonifacio, may we truly honour his heroism by forging ahead with his unfinished revolution and advance the cause of national liberation and democracy. In loyal service to the Filipino masses, let us follow in his footsteps and unite in this great struggle. From the pueblos of Chile and Bolivia, to the streets of Palestine and the Philippines, let us join hands with all freedom-loving people of the world in the global revolt against neoliberalism, Fascism and imperialism.
Long live Gat Andres Bonifacio!
Long live the national democratic struggle!
Long live the Filipino people!