CASER: Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms
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Well into the 21st century, we are still faced with the arduous and urgent task of building an economy for the people. The agenda of social and economic reforms in the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is an acknowledgement that far-reaching change is needed. The NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) is pleased to share with the public the latest version of the NDFP’s proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).
The first version of the NDFP’s proposed CASER was produced in 1998 during, arguably, the most intense period of implementing globalization policies in the country’s history. The NDFP warned then that neoliberalism would only worsen the country’s semifeudal and semicolonial backwardness. Through the CASER, we proposed an economic program rejecting destructive free market economics and instead upholding the necessity of responsible state intervention and making the welfare of the people the center of economic policies.
Today, nearly two decades later, the world has entered a time of intensified crisis and heightened inter-imperialist rivalries. The effects of neoliberalism on the Philippine economy and the Filipino people are also clearer than ever. Whatever economic growth is claimed to have been achieved has benefited only the few foreign and domestic elites. For the overwhelming majority of Filipinos it has meant joblessness and poverty in an underdeveloped and backward economy further beset and ravaged by inevitable disasters brought about by climate change. The Philippine economy remains a mere adjunct of the world’s monopoly capitalist powers as a source of their profit and capital for its cheap labor and material resources.
Such a state of affairs has more than ever validated the basic premises and analyses of the NDFP’s original proposed CASER from 1998. On the positive side however, the Filipino people have accumulated experience enabling themselves to gain power in their daily economic and political struggles against oppression and exploitation. The most important among these are the considerable successes and lessons of the revolutionary forces in areas that have already been able to set up local organs of political power.
This latest version of the CASER is the result of careful study and analysis started in the middle of 2016. The NDFP RWC-SER looked at the relevant experience and practice of the revolutionary forces in the cities and, especially, the countryside. We also reviewed the experience of countries that have, in different political contexts and historical moments, been able to advance from underdevelopment.
The CASER’s provisions were updated, refined and added to after dozens of consultations held nationwide. Organized forces in guerrilla zones and progressive mass organizations of peasants, workers, urban poor, national minorities, women, youth and students, migrant workers, and other marginalized groups were consulted. Many others likewise seeking reforms were also consulted: industrialists and national entrepreneurs, landowners and professionals, economists and academics, NGOs and advocates of people’s issues, and GRP officials and personnel. Reaching out to so many was made easier by the release of unjustly detained NDFP consultants.
And yet this proposed CASER, like the Philippine society it aims to develop and evolve, still remains a work in progress. Further raising public awareness of the need for reforms is only the beginning. We encourage people to read, study and hold public discussions on the NDFP’s proposed CASER. We welcome any and all comments from the public on how to effectively undertake social and economic reforms to benefit the people and the country. The CASER can only improve as more and more people discuss, review, revise, embrace and then campaign for its proposed reforms as their own.
The reform proposals of the NDFP draft CASER can serve as the basis of unity for building the broadest united front. In this regard, we need more than ever before to popularize this document as a tool for arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people against the developing fascist tyranny in the service of domestic, US and other foreign exploiters, plunderers, and oppressors of the people.NDFP RECIPROCAL COMMITTEE ON SOCIO-ECONOMIC REFORMS CHAIR JULIE DE LIMA
The NDFP’s proposed CASER is in many respects a radical path of socioeconomic transformation especially in seeking to reflect the interests and aspirations of the people. Yet it is easy to see that many of its benefits are immediately realizable with sufficient political resolve. As it is, millions of Filipinos already wage the most important struggles for this on a daily basis – across the vast countryside and in the urban centers, against avaricious foreign and domestic elites, and to liberate the people from oppression and exploitation. And the people will continue to struggle even in the face of escalating repression.