In no other moment in our contemporary history has the struggle of Andres Bonifacio resonated so glaringly. The tyranny of local elites and foreign powers that Bonifacio fought against more than a hundred years ago has proven its resilience and remains to be the same oppression that burdens and confronts our nation. The country’s working class is facing its worst moment with the onslaught of a predatory globalization that spreads and deepens inequality and alienation. The national elites are fighting each other for power, not solely for survival, but to amass more wealth by colluding with transnational corporations against national interests.

The bankruptcy of this system shall manifest itself again in the forthcoming presidential elections. We shall once again rage and bear witness to the worst symptoms of elite patronage politics. Popularity will supersede political platforms. Deceit will supplant standards of good governance. Narrow elite factional interests will shroud national survival and the working people’s welfare.

The current crop of presidentiables represents the stark absence of options among the existing elite leaders. No national leader has so far dared to submit a social blueprint that emphasizes the national interest and directly confronts the desperation of the poor, the hopelessness of the youth, the cynicism of the middle class, and the insensitivity and voraciousness of our elites.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, for instance, dismissed the demands for her platform of governance by claiming that her track record already speaks for her plans. On the opposite camp, Fernando Poe Jr., whose announcement of his presidential candidacy was met both with scorn and accolades, banks on his “bida”and “masa” image and relegated his platform to his questionable economic and political advisers. We urge the public to take extreme caution and discernment in looking at the intentions of both candidates, since both FPJ and GMA represent the interest of elites that are vying for political power without any vision of national rejuvenation or any strategy of political regeneration.

The main issue in the forthcoming elections is no longer confined within GMA’s elitist agenda or FPJ’s lack of experience in governance and virtual simulation of a screen hero. The issue is already the troubling contradictions in the Philippine political system. It is a system that limits the choice of the masses between sections of the elite. It is a system that appears to be democratic, but in fact deepens the marginalization of the majority of Filipinos.

We shall also continue the struggle for deeper and meaningful changes in our political system that shall ensure the interest of the workers and the marginalized Filipinos. The bankruptcy of our political system necessitates the continuing struggle for a truly equal and representative structure of governance and the birth of new leaders from the ranks of the oppressed, and we affirm our fight for that goal. We also affirm our commitment to carve out spaces of democracy and equality at the local level to contest elite politics even at the lowest rung of our politics.

We can never forget and leave behind the nationalist and proletarian spirit that Andres Bonifacio imbibed on us. He, too, blended the toilers’ cause with that of the national interest. The elite’s factional manuevers abruptly impeded his dream.

Let us not fall prey to another national tragedy this time around.

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