Unfazed by surveys and the elite, De Guzman determined to usher in worker-led Malacañang

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Unfazed by surveys and the elite, De Guzman determined to usher in worker-led Malacañang
Supporters of Ka Leody De Guzman take the opportunity to snap a quick selfie with the 2022 presidential candidate after his proclamation rally, February 9, 2022
Philstar.com / James Relativo

MANILA, Philippines — Perhaps one of the biggest underdogs of the 2022 presidential elections, Ka Leody de Guzman vows to continue gunning for the highest position in government to bring "genuine change" and "socialist politics" for the welfare of the common Filipino.

While lagging in surveys behind his more affluent and popular opponents with bigger funds and electoral machinery, the former factory worker says that the common folk who continue to shower him with their trust wills him on.

"Lagi nilang itinatanong: Ka Leody, saan ka humuhugot ng lakas ng loob para banggain itong mga dambuhalang kalaban mo?" the firebrand Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino chair said in his proclamation rally Tuesday.

(They always ask: Leody, where do you get the courage to face these giant opponents of yours?)

"Ang sabi ko, sa mga manggagawa at maralitang pinagsasamantalahan. Sila ang aking inspirasyon... Dahil mula sa simula, ramdam ko kung paano ang mga manggagawa, ang maralita at magsasaka ay pinagsasamantalahan ng iilang mga bilyonaryo at kapitalista dito sa ating bayan."

(I say, from the workers and the exploited poor. They are my inspiration ... Because from the beginning, I feel how the workers, the poor and the peasants are being exploited by the few billionaires and capitalists here in our country.

Running under the banner of Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) together with vice presidential candidate and former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, around 1,100 attended their preclusion rally at Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City — a venue created in honor of martyrs who fought against Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

The son of the latter, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., is also running for presidency.

De Guzman's platforms include raising the minimum wage to P750 nationwide, abolishing labor contractualization, land reform, national industrialization, a 20% wealth tax on the 500 wealthiest Filipinos, continuing peace talks with the communist rebels, among a few.

'Time to embrace the masses, not ruling classes'

With Marcos, Vice President Robredo, etc. still being the strongest contenders in the elections, De Guzman says that it's time to try alternative candidates and do away with the tried and tested ruling elite who have always had a hold of political power in the Philippines.

De Guzman says that all other presidents in Philippine history, from Emilio Aguinaldo, Marcos, Corazon Aquino and even President Rodrigo Duterte, had only been representatives of capitalists and landlords while making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

"Hindi nila problema ang mataas na presyo, marami silang pera. Hindi nila problema ang pabahay, marami silang mansyon... Hindi nila problema ang pag-aaral ng kanilang mga anak, dahil madalas sila ang may ari ng eskwelahan. Hindi nila problema ang pagpapagamot dahil madalas sila rin ang may ari ng ospital," he added.

(They don’t have a problem with high prices, they have a lot of money. They don't have a problem with housing, they have many mansions ... They don't have a problem with their children's education, because they often own the school. They do not have a problem with healthcare because they are often also the owners of the hospital.)

"Hindi nila problema ang problema nating [karaniwang tao] kaya hindi nila prinoproblema... Kaya't ang makalulutas sa ating problema ay tayo mismo."

(They don't have a problem with our [ordinary people's] problem so they don't have a problem ... So the one who can solve our problem is ourselves.)

He posits that 2022 is a good opportunity to change the course of Filipino politics and economy, this while emphasizing the fact that the amount of people and organizations recognizing their efforts are quickly broadening since last year.

"Ang pagbabago ay wala sa mga kumakandidatong trapo, dinastiya, mga sikat at mayayaman," adds the BMP chairperson.

"Ang pagbabago ay nasa atin mismo kung tatangkilikin natin at yayakapin ang mga kandidatong kauri natin at may mahabang track record ng pakikibaka para sa ating interes."

(Change is not among the traditional politician candidates, dynasties, the famous and the rich. The change is in ourselves if we can enjoy and embrace candidates like us and have a long track record of fighting for our interests.)

A different path to socialism?

Socialism, according to its proponents Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, etc., aims to create a more egalitarian, just and equal society for workers and peasants by capturing the political power from the bourgeoisie and changing a nation's economy and culture. It also usually means worker and peasant control of the means of production like factories and land.

However, there's usually two approaches when it comes to this problem: armed revolution (like the one waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) or reform within the existing government.

Ka Leody, Bello and the other PLM candidates are running under a self-proclaimed socialist platform.

In the past, "democratic socialist" presidents like Chile's Salvador Allende and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez have won the elections, the latter calling it "Socialism of the 21st Century." However, coup d'états often happen under such systems that mainly elected a socialist president while maintaining the same army and police. Allende died during a coup.

In many European countries, it's commonplace for reformist "social democrats" (not to be confused with the Filipino radical "national democrats" who join the elections) to run for office.

Under the 1936 Constitution of the Soviet Union, the principle, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work," is applied when it comes to compensation in exchange of one's contribution under socialism, a tenet adapted from Marx's "Critique of the Gotha Programme" and Lenin's "State and Revolution." 

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