The regime change is not enough and that we need system change. This has been on many people’s minds in the Philippines, or at least among the progressives and activists. Regime change is usually about changing people in the government but still maintaining the same traditional political system that is corrupt, pro-rich and pro-capitalist. And hence, again, the need for system change, which is not easy.
In 2001, the people of the Philippines ousted Joseph Estrada, the film actor-president. Many youth activists came forward but the road toward that was not easy. Raising awareness among the youth and mobilizing them to action at that time was never easy. And yet years after, the Philippines still has someone like Duterte making everything worse.
But people do not despair because what they learned as activists is that a pro-people society where justice and equity reign is possible, with the people’s will. the Filipino people who joined in Estrada’s ouster would not have been able to aspire for such if they did not know what the people did in the 1980s when they kicked out Marcos.
It is similar to when people go for solidarity for democracy in Burma. They campaigned against the military junta and the unconditional release of Aung Sang Suu Kyi. Now, when she was freed, many people put their faith on her that she would change Burma. But it is learned that hero worship will not work in favor of the people.
This is where people continue to suffer; there is no meaning of changing political party or leaders if they align with political ideology that keeps profits ahead of people. In short, that is “Capitalism.”
It is sad and infuriating that what Filipinos and Sri Lankans went through are still happening. Those US-backed political parties we need to constantly guard against. The civil society organizations may not get involved in party politics, but we have to take a political stand and make our voice in the legislatives. It has to be through a process of People’s Movement which says no to neoliberal economic and political ideologies.
A conversation between Rey Perez Asis of the Philippines and Aruna Shantha Nonis of Sri Lanka