Revolt of the Masses—Marcos Style
By Teodoro L. Locsin Jr.
A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcize this spectre; Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact.
I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European Powers to be itself a Power.
II. It is time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.
—From the communist manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich (just call me “Fred”) Engels
January 30, 1971—A SPECTRE is haunting the Philippine oligarchy: the spectre of the Revolt of the Masses led by no less than the President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, the biggest oligarch of them all, according to the opposition, not to mention close friends, who add, however, that since he has amassed a fortune which three generations of Marcoses cannot spend, he desires now to serve the nation.
All the powers of the Establishment, all vested interests should enter into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre; owners of public utilities, sugar centrals and estates, mines, cement factories, oil companies, banks, etc., as well as the Fourth Estate and the CIA.
To this end, one of these Powers has gathered in “that tall building in the suburbs”—the publishers and editors of the nation’s leading newspapers and magazines—to vilify the Marcos administration and bring it down through a series of “pooled editorials.”
The debauchment of the currency, political terrorism on a scale and of a virulence never reached before, the deterioration of public order, the utter loss of confidence in the institutions of the republic on the part of the common people have all been blamed on President Marcos by these conspirators. Two things have resulted from their efforts.
I. The universal opinion is that Marcos is the worst president this nation has ever had.
II. Anyone who says a good word for the President damages his reputation irreparably.
It is high time that this fairy tale of Marcosian malevolence is shown for what it is: a vicious lie started by certain vested interests who would bend the President to their corrupt will. For this purpose, President Marcos has come out with a declaration of war on the Oligarchy.
“It is now time to fight the pressure groups and the oligarchs in the name of the people,” said the President. “There are too many inequities. The rich continue to grow richer and the poor continue to grow poorer. I will see to it that my remaining three years will be devoted to removing these inequities.”
He confessed to having compromised with the oligarchs in the past. He had thought that the rich could be counted on to help in the development of the nation, to give it the industrial base without which it could never pull itself out of the quagmire of feudal poverty and stagnation and the condition of an economic colony of the industrial states. But all that is past! The President said he had finally realized that nothing can be expected of the rich except progressive greed and an inexorable instinct for monopoly. Conscience, it seems, is one luxury the rich cannot afford to have.
If it was a blinding vision that converted Saul of Tarsus from a pagan inquisitor on the trail of fugitive Christians into Saint Paul, it was a brownout plunging Greater Manila into a darkness only relieved by a full moon just five minutes before President Marcos was to deliver a speech on the crippling jeepney strike that transformed “the richest man in Asia”—as his enemies call him—into a protector of the common people, the leader, as he would like to style himself, of a popular revolution from the top. “Revolution from the top,” an old slogan used with no effect during last year’s student riots, will become a reality at last!
Convinced that the brownout was not an accident but contrived by the Lopezes, who own the controlling stock of the Meralco, to humiliate him and exacerbate the tensions generated by a seemingly insoluble strike—which he suspected was inspired and financed by the same party—President Marcos publicly pointed at the Lopezes an accusing finger, calling them the most malevolent of the oligarchs who are strangling the common people with high prices.
In the darkness, before a dead microphone, what he had wanted was not light but electricity which would give him the voice to reach his people, for whom he was no longer the President of the Republic but a dangerous nuisance they would have to endure for three awful years more because he has the armed forces at his beck and call.
The increasing cost of living is responsible for the credibility gap, the President is aware. He insists, however, that the blame be not placed on him. True, he had devalued the peso, but it was the increase in Meralco rates that started the spiraling of prices.
The Lopezes, he said, had tried to intimidate him into approving several projects of dubious advantage to the nation. One of these would give them a monopoly of this country’s oil supply. They had threatened, if he did not accede to their request, to launch a vehement campaign in the media they own to discredit him before the nation.
(Vice-President Lopez resigned from the Marcos Cabinet. The Department of Agriculture, which he had charge of, is one of the few departments that exudes a good smell. But he had to go—and he did.)
Labor groups, said the President, have been clamoring for a rollback of the new Meralco rates—“one of the major causes for the spiraling of prices of all other prime commodities.” He has, therefore, ordered a restudy of the Public Service Commission decision granting the Meralco increased rates up to 54 percent over the previous rates.
Emilio Abello, chairman of the board of directors of the Meralco, criticized the President’s move for a retrial of the Meralco case.
“The President should know that under our system of the tripartite separation of powers and under a rule of law, the President of the Republic should not directly or indirectly interfere in the free and untrammeled exercise by the Supreme Court of its powers under the Constitution.”
If the trade unions are really intent on rolling back the Meralco rates, said Abello, “they should ask the President to roll back the rate of exchange from over P6 to $1 to the previous rate of P3.90 to $1, and we will immediately also roll back our present increased rates to what they were before the floating rate.”
President Marcos said that the favorable PSC decision on the Meralco case was achieved by bribery. The Meralco, which has an income of P93 million annually, pays only 25% on its income instead of 75% because the Lopezes were able to have a bill passed in Congress requiring the Meralco to pay only that comparatively small amount, said the President.
Labor, the President went on, has answered his call to arms and has rallied to his side. Labor leaders submitted a resolution encouraging the fight against the “oligarchs.” The resolution, according to the President, clearly proves just where the sympathies of labor truly lie—with him!
The next day, however, the President was criticized by the labor leaders for “giving a slant to the resolution” they had given him.
“We are not for anybody,” said Roberto S. Oca, president of the Pinagbuklod na Manggagawang Pilipino. The workers had been invited to the Palace and they could not refuse, said Oca. “As union men,” Oca went on, “we would be untrue to our cause if we didn’t support any effort for the uplift of the groaning workers.”
The unions, he said, are not only interested in rolling back the new Meralco rates but also the price of fuel and other products as well. The President, said Oca, even promised to go after businesses supposedly owned by his “cronies.”
“If the President reneges on his promise,” Oca warned, “then the workers will join the activists in the streets.”
The labor leader concluded by saying, “I will never allow myself and labor to be made an instrument of President Marcos to put down the Lopezes. I am closer to Vice-President Lopez than to anybody else.”
Cipriano Cid, national president of the Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions, and of the Lapiang Manggagawa sa Filipinas, denounced Malacañang’s efforts to use the labor groups to serve its own selfish purposes, as Cid put it.
“The practice of professional labor leaders who flop over to the politicians whenever an opportunity arises to publicly declare their ready subservience is a highly condemnable practice which has retarded the progress of labor all these years,” said Cid.
“If the trade unions and labor leaders had noted deterioration of any matter prejudicial to the workers economically or socially, they could have spoken without waiting to be called and be used for purposes other than their own.
“They had to use President Marcos and Malacañang as a forum for their traditional subservience to politicians and government officials at the sacrifice of their cause and their own dignity and independence.
“No wonder Filipinos and foreigners, particularly Americans, feel they can use Filipino unions and their leaders as doormats.”
Cid informed Secretary Allegedly of Labor Blas Ople that he was aware of Malacañang’s “efforts to promote and continue dividing the labor front by the formation of multiple labor centers with the support of the President and the Labor Department.” For labor to be effective in its demands, it must be united, he said. But the Marcos administration has made it a policy to establish many centers of authority in the labor movement.
“We do not deny any damn fool’s right to form and organize any and all kinds of unions to his heart’s content if this would satisfy his vanity and his ends but not with the open support of the President and his labor secretary,” Cid concluded.
Unfazed by labor’s repudiation of his “revolution,” the President declared that he would fight the cartels and monopolies “to the finish.”
“It is high time that we did something about them. And we are now moving against these business and political empires for the good of the state.”
It was not desire for revenge but the interests of the people that motivated his “revolts,” according to the President.
“I did not ask for this fight. I am a patient man but I will not run from a fight, especially from those who seek to further their own selfish interests at the expense of all, particularly of the poor.”
President Marcos vowed that he would end once and for all the control of big sectors of the media by vested interest groups. These groups cannot be made to account for their actions, according to the President, since they control so much of the press, radio and television. There is no way to bring their anomalies to public notice.
“This only proves my earlier statements that it is dangerous for any single man or group to own such a substantial portion of the media in the country, without having to account for it to the people.”
The Roces and Prietos are not only in the lumber industry, the movie business, real estate and racing but also in the publishing business, with the Manila Times, the Daily Mirror, Taliba, Women’s Magazine, and in radio and television.
The Elizaldes are not only in sugar, rope, rhum, steel but also in publishing, with the Evening News and The Sun, and in radio and television.
Hans Menzi is in zippers, fruit, and has just gotten a huge loan from the government or a government guarantee of one for a paper mill or something—and is also in publishing, with Manila Daily Bulletin and Liwayway.
The Sorianos have beer, ice cream, soft drinks, Bislig, and so forth and so on—and also the Philippines Herald and Channel 13.
And there is President Marcos’s own close associate, Roberto Benedicto, who is not only in this and that but also in television, having acquired for himself and others (?) at something like P10 million the formerly Lopez-owned Channel 9.
Not only the Lopezes but also these would come under the presidential classification of groups that “cannot be made to account for their actions, since they control the media,” with “no way to bring their anomalies to public notice,” should they be guilty, one might add, of anomalies. There is the Department of Justice, of course, which the Presidnet could order to go after them, as he has done in the case of the Lopezes, but this is not the time to quibble with the President and his war against the oligarchs.
“Down with the oligarchs!”
To be precise, “Down with the oppressive oligarchs!” For President Marcos makes a distinction between mere oligarchs and “oppressive” oligarchs, a distinction, however, which escapes one, for what is an oligarch if not oppressive? Where would be the profit, where would be the power and the glory in being an oligarch if one did not exploit the advantages of one’s position? One might as well be a diabolist who did not go for the Black Mass or would have nothing to do with Satan. An oligarchy is government by the rich few, of the rich few and for the rich few and must necessarily be oppressive of the impoverished many. The rich are either oligarchs, and, therefore, oppressive, or they are not oligarchs at all, merely people with a lot of money. Concentrations of wealth in a few tend, however, to further concentration of wealth in ever fewer, that is, toward monopolies and cartels, and President Marcos, forgetting his distinction between mere oligarchs and “oppressive” oligarchs, announced that he would extend the Revolt of the Masses that he led to bring down monopolies and cartels outside of the Lopez economic empire. He would subject to government investigation oil companies, rumored to be operating as a cartel, that is, a conspiracy against the consumers, keeping prices up through price-fixing and suppression of competition. He would deal similarly with such public utilities as the Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company, which had increased its rates like Meralco, and airlines like Toda’s Philippine Air Lines, and the shipping lines and bus companies, presumably.
The Lopez brothers do not owe any government financial institution nor do they enjoy any government guarantee for their loans, but other “Oligarchs” are up to their eyeballs in government guarantee. Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. has furnished the Free Press with a list of those who enjoy government guarantees of loans in the tens and hundreds of millions of pesos. Among them is the Negros group which recently acquired the Esso fertilizer plant through a huge government guarantee. And there is the Elizalde Steel Rolling Mills, Inc., which enjoys a government guarantee of a loan in the tens of millions of pesos. And the Iligan Integrated Steel Mills, Inc., which, also according to the senator, enjoys a government guarantee of five hundred million or half a billion pesos! These are completely at the mercy of the Marcos administration. Any complaint, for instance, of undue increase in the price of fertilizer or discriminatory conduct on the part of the fertilizer company should bring down upon the head of the management the wrath of the Leader of the Revolt against the Oligarchs—Oppressive Style.
Complaints against the price of steel, which is so essential to the industrialization of the country, should lead to quick and ruthless presidential action against the Elizalde Steel Rolling Mills and Iligan Integrated Steel Mills.
“Bethlehem Steel Gives in to Nixon: Price Cut Ok’d.”
It can happen here under the new Marcos dispensation.
And naturalized Chinese who control the food supply have been designated by the President as special targets of investigation. In other words, watch out, Antonio Roxas Chua and others—however much you might have contributed to President Marcos’s campaign for reelection! This is the new Marcos and no “oppressor” of the people will be spared.
“X-Y-Z” should tremble before the wrath to come.
Encouraging the President, “a majority party congressman urged President Marcos to expand his crackdown on economic oligarchy to include giant private corporations in which the government has substantial investments,” according to an Evening News report last week.
“Rep. Gaudencio Beduya (N, Cebu) said he had in mind private firms in which the government has sunk hundreds of millions of pesos in investments with very little hope of at least recovering them.”
The handwriting on the wall?
Is the “revolution from the top” finally here?
With such a revolution going on, President Marcos, assured of the support of the broad masses of the people, as the communist jargon goes, would no longer need a huge military establishment in order to maintain his establishment. There would be no need to spend P700 million a year for the armed forces. Against whom would they be defending this regime? Huks would be defecting to the government side as the Marcos-led Revolt of the Masses becomes even more revolting to the Oligarchy. The money saved by reducing drastically the army budget could go into the massive implementation of land reform, finally liberating the toiling peasants from their ancient bondage to feudalism as practiced by some of the President’s best friends.
“Arise, ye wretched of the earth, and follow the Leader!” (The President, not the magazine.) “You have nothing to lose but your change.
“You have a world to win!”
Then comes the dawn.