Philippines: Regional conference discusses socialist solutions

Photo: Macario Sakay

See also: Philippines workers protest contract labour

A successful 2010 Southeast Asia Socialism and Feminism conference was held at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Metro Manila over November 27 and 28.

The conference, organised on the theme of “Capitalist Crisis, Socialist Alternatives”, was organised by the Party of the Labouring Masses and the feminist group Transform Asia. It was attended by 100 PLM delegates from Metro Manila, as well as representatives from other organisations.

Many of the PLM delegates were workers and leaders of various unions or other mass organisations. There were delegates from the BISIG trade union representing workers at the Goldilocks cake and food company.

Goldilocks workers staged a heroic strike in March against the company’s attempt to smash the union by sacking 127 of its members as a prelude to replacing permanent workers with outsourced contract labour. Striking Goldilocks’ workers defied management-organised violence against pickets lines to win their demands — electrifying the Filippino labour movement in a context where it has been badly battered by the effects of globilisation.

Leaders of the Solidarity of Filipino Workers (BMP), which is heavily involved in the campaign against the growing use by bosses of outsourced contract labour, also took part. BMP president Leody de Guzman spoke on a panel on the role of the working class in the struggle for socialism.

A former UP student president addressed the conference on the struggle of university students against the government’s cuts to the education budget. Across the campus, flyers advertised the December 1 student strike strike against the cuts, and the walls of the campus’ cooperative shopping centre were sprayed with anti-cuts graffiti.

Other delegates came from organisation of the urban poor and women. Representatives of campaign groups such as the Freedom from Debt Coalition and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities also spoke.

The conferences was attended by 13 international guests. Representatives cam from the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM); People’s Democratic Party (PRD-Indonesia); Working People’s Association (PRP-Indonesia); Political Committee of the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD-Indonesia); Socialist Alliance (Australia); The Left Party (Sweden); the General Confederation of Nepalese Trade Unions (Gefant); the Vietnamese Union of Friendship Organisations; and the Centre for Environment and Community Asset Development (Vietnam).

The newly appointed Cuban ambassador Juan Carlos Avencibia Corrales and the Venezuelan charge d’affairs Manolo Iturbe spoke to the conference about the revolution in their countries.

Topics discussed included the capitalist crisis and war drive; the environmental crisis and socialist solutions; the struggle of women for liberation;; a socialist strategies; and international solidarity and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s call for a Fifth Socialist International.