2022 Philippine Elections

[OPINION] Let Leody run: Raising electoral discourse for an independent foreign policy

Rasti Delizo
[OPINION] Let Leody run: Raising electoral discourse for an independent foreign policy

Graphic by Alyssa Arizabal

'Ka Leody has been a sterling worker-activist for almost four decades, a full-time labor advocate even if such a way of life offers no monetary rewards'

As an ardent follower of events and trends in the realm of global affairs, I personally appeal to the Commission on Elections (Comelc) to allow worker-leader Ka Leody De Guzman — in his bid for the presidency — to not just advance the interests and cause of the working majority, but also to help raise the discourse on defining Philippine foreign policy beyond 2022. 

The 1987 Constitution defines “independent foreign policy” as placing “paramount consideration” on national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.

Ka Leody is part of the internationalist working-class movement. The labor center which he leads as national chairperson, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), is connected with several international labor confederations and alliances. The BMP is a member of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). The labor leader is the country representative to the International Center for Labor Solidarity (ICLS) and vice president of the Asian Regional Organization of Banks, Insurance, and Finance Unions (AROBIFU).

I personally would like to hear Ka Leody on the national political stage, explaining his views about our “independent foreign policy.”

In my discussions with him, he has explained to me, in very digestible layman’s terms, that our interests as a freedom-loving people with a long history of anti-colonial struggles is complementary to the internationalist cause of the working class, and the desire of the global community for a prosperous, just, and equitable world.

We have yet to see Ka Leody’s platform for the 2022 presidential elections. We also have to await the Comelec’s official approval of his presidential candidacy before we can even hear about his agenda on “foreign policy,” “foreign relations,” etc.

The position and stance which the BMP has taken on questions related to foreign policy over the years would reveal his framework. On the global economy, it pursued the policy of “genuine cooperation” among nations, in contrast to the dogma of neoliberal economics, which greatly favors multinational monopolies. The BMP has been at the forefront of the struggle against the “unbridled competition” of globalization since 1996. 

On the concern of armed conflicts between nations, the BMP consistently opposed imperialist wars of aggression, including the “War in Iraq,” which it declared as a “War for Oil.”

On climate change, the BMP joined environmentalist groups in calling for drastic commitments from industrialized countries in the reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions. This includes the providing of reparations for less-developed countries that are hard-hit by climate-related disasters.

On the COVID-19 pandemic, the BMP called on foreign governments to ensure universal access to safe vaccines, especially for smaller economies like the Philippines.

On defense and military agreements, the BMP, as a part of civil society and mass movement-based alliances, has repeatedly called for the termination of treaties and agreements imposed by American imperialism, such as the 1951 RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty, 1998 RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement, 2002 RP-US Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, and the 2014 PH-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Defense treaties with all countries can be pursued, but only “on our own terms.”

On dictatorships in the Southeast Asian region, the labor group is part of solidarity networks that have been calling for the immediate restoration of civilian-led democratic rule in Burma.

On diplomatic approaches to deescalate tensions across the Southeast Asian Sea (South China Sea), the BMP has called for a demilitarization process for the contested territories. This would involve both Washington and Beijing, while working toward the joint development of the area into a “Shared Regional Area of Economic Commons,” especially among the concerned littoral states.  

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On the struggle of various oppressed nations for self-determination, the BMP stands with the Palestinian people and in solidarity with the people of Cuba. The latter stance also calls for the lifting of the six-decade genocidal blockade by the US against Cuba. 

On racism and xenophobia, the BMP called out the racism of various quarters regarding the entry of Chinese construction workers into the country. It rightfully asserts that protests should be hurled, not at “our fellow Chinese workers,” but at the Philippine and Chinese governments instead.

It is my view that no other presidential candidate has a position on these global issues aside from Ka Leody. He always takes the principled higher ground, even if his standpoints are not yet publicly accepted, and is always open to intelligent discourse with others who have differing views. Ka Leody has been a sterling worker-activist for almost four decades, a full-time labor advocate even if such a way of life offers no monetary rewards.  

He deserves to be heard in the 2022 national elections. And so, I join the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), a socialist political party that is fielding senatorial candidates, party-list nominees, and local candidates for the coming year’s electoral exercise, in their appeal to the Comelec: Let Leody run! – Rappler.com

Rasti Delizo is an international affairs analyst and an activist in the socialist movement.