Development of the Philippines: Motion (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
"That Seanad Éireann, affirming its support for the forces of democracy, national reconciliation, peace and stability in the Philippines, welcomes the efforts of the Philippine Government to promote the social and economic development of the country and its declared intention to draw up a new democratic constitution for the Philippines."
—(Senator Bulbulia).

Most of what I wanted to say I managed to say on the last occasion. I should like to supplement it in the few minutes remaining to me. I will remind the House that the motion begins with the words:

That Seanad Éireann, affirming its support for the forces of democracy,...

One point I intended to make the last day was that democracy can take a number of forms, that the forces of democracy can work in a number of ways and that in the case of the so far successful outcome of the Philippines' crisis, it was the successful interplay of the forces of democracy, acting in one particular form, on the streets of Manila and democracy, operating in another form, within the corridors of power within the United States.

The motion goes on to talk about support for "national reconciliation, peace and stability in the Philippines." These are phrases that are familiar to us. These represented aspirations of ours in Ireland. Perhaps we can remind ourselves by recalling the great difficulty of achieving peace and reconciliation among community groups who have been estranged from one another. One realises, therefore, that the immense task that faces the provisional Government of the Philippines in seeking national reconciliation between, for example, the army itself and its supporters and those who have been in rebellion in certain areas of the Philippines and in active conflict with that army. One must sympathise with the Government of the Philippines in their effort to bring together these two groups who have been taking part in quite an active civil war, and like all civil wars, at many times an extremely cruel and vicious war. This task will certainly not be easy. The motion goes on to talk about welcoming the efforts of the Philippine Government to promote the social and economic development of the country. We must sympathise with the Government in realisation of the enormity of the work which has to be done in this regard.

Finally, the motion refers to the declared intention of the Government to draw up the new democratic Constitution for the Philippines. This is, indeed, some thing also that we should support heartily.

We must realise that there are difficulties. It is distinctly appropriate that we in this House of the Oireachtas, who face the problems of social and economic development, face, too, the problems of national reconciliation, peace and stability but suffer them in a less severe form because of the nature of our society here can, indeed, sympathise with this remarkable development that has taken place in the Philippines.

If in fact, the Government of the Philippines are able to achieve the objective of possibly a cease fire of six months followed by a permanent cease fire and if they are able to draw up a new democratic Constitution, which will enable the whole nation to progress in regard to social and economic development, what a spur to us this would be in turn. Because, if a country at its state of development, a country with the severity of its economic problem, a country that has gone through the viciousness of twisted democratic Government over a decade, can win through, then surely we can find our way, not necessarily the same way, but a particular way forward.

It is entirely appropriate that this motion should be before us. I was happy to second the motion, as put down by Senator Bulbulia, and to give an opportunity to the Members of the House to express their views in regard to what, I consider, as I said a number of times, were really an outstanding series of events. How many of us thought in the early days of the Philippine crisis, when the conflicting election results were coming in, that the process would come through to the conclusion that it has? It is good for us to look elsewhere in the world at these successes and to hope that the success that has been achieved so far in the Philippines will be followed by a more complete and permanent success. That is why I have pleasure in seconding the motion and in listening to Senator Bulbulia and to the Minister the last day and look forward with interest to listening to my fellow Senators speaking on this same subject.

It is, of course, unequivocally true that the change in the Philippines is welcome. I do not think anybody in this country has doubts about that. At a minimalist state, one could remember the covers ofIn Dublin magazine during the Seanad elections which said that anything was better than a certain party leader. There is no doubt but that anything would have been better than the corrupt oppressive, murderous regime that existed in the Philippines. Therefore, the change is very welcome. The manner of achievement of change in the Philippines is welcome. As one with an attempted justification for non-violence as a method of achieving fundamental social change, it was very satisfying to see some sort of change achieved by nonviolent means. The capacity of ordinary people to resist the oppressive forces of a corrupt State was very well demonstrated as was the quality of leadership given by Cardinal Syn and other Church leaders in the Philippines subsequent to the appalling abuse of democracy that the Marcos regime perpetrated on the people of the Philippines.

Having welcomed what has been done, one is entitled to at least raise an eyebrow about the depth of the change in the Philippines because it is impossible to ignore the fact that the prime movers in the transition from the Marcos regime to the election of President Aquino were people who had an unsavoury record and, judging by what the international news media were reporting, a very personally gratifying record under President Marcos. There was considerable amount of allegations in the media that Mr. Enriles had done extremely well out of the Marcos years and that his belated conversion to democracy may have had far more to do with self-interest than it had to do with the establishment of a very noble and idealistic and altruistic democracy in the Philippines. Similarly, the Army Leader, General Ramos, who supported him may well have had something more on his mind than the liberation of the people of the Philippines from oppression and injustice.

Nevertheless, their actions did bring about a considerable perception of liberation in the short term and a sense of freedom and a freedom of expression which is apparently quite obvious in terms of the freedom of the press and the freedom of people to express different views and so on in the Philippines at present. All of that is very welcome from the point of view of the ordinary people of the Philippines who suffered far too much from various forms of arbitrary State power.

I have some reservations about much of what we are saying regarding the forces of democracy in the Philippines. I have some reservations as to whether, given the vital interests that the western powers, in particular the United States, have in the Philippines whether the final destiny of the Philippines is going to be left in the hands of the Filipino people irrespective of what their free choices may be. I also have some reservations as to whether, given the enormous level of poverty and of injustice and inequality in the country and also the general level of poverty collectively — if I can use the word; I do not intend to give the meaning to it that the word "collectively" might imply — the normal process of parliamentary democracy, as we understand it, can of itself without some sort of external guarantees really succeed. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the perceptions of most Filipinos about their own State and their own conditions have been dramatically transformed by what has happened in recent months. More than anything else, more than my ideology or anybody's else's ideology, the feelings of ordinary people that they are free in a way that they have not been for 20 years is to be welcomed unequivocally, irrespective of the circumstances and some of the dubious circumstances under which it was achieved.

In terms of the future development of the Philippines and the Filipino people the history of the involvement of the United States in the Philippines in the last 20 years does not encourage one to believe that there will be a vast measure of freedom conceded. One thing which was noticeable during the interregnum, during the period of uncertainty coming up to the election and subsequent to it, was the very clear acceptance by every international commentator whose words I had a chance to either read or hear that the United States would not tolerate. under any circumstances, a Government in the Philippines which would not allow US bases in the Philippines. Given that the United States claim to be the world's number one champion of democracy, the quite clear and unequivocal hints that were coming from their State Department that the United States would take whatever means were necessary to preserve its bases in the Philippines, I would not be too optimistic about the degree of freedom of choice which the people of the Philippines will be allowed to have about matters which they regard as central to their own sovereignty and destiny and particularly with the question of the military bases and the less than savoury sociological and social impact that the presence of large numbers of footloose and lonely, to put it mildly, military personnel may have on the people of the Philippines and the huge incidence of activity such as prostitution in the immediate vicinity of large military bases.

The people of the Philippines may well feel that they have had enough of American military bases, that the American military bases represent the possibility of intervention in the event of an unsatisfactory or unacceptable Government being elected in the future in the Philippines or in the case of some fundamental attempt to change the direction of Phillipines for eign policy. I have to say at this stage that I have no reason to believe that the present administration in the United States has any willingness or any commitment to allow any form of democracy other than a form of democracy that happens to agree with itself which, of course, is not democracy at all. If you are not prepared to tolerate a democracy which produces the opposite of what you wish yourself, then you do not really have any tolerance for democracy at all.

Therefore, in terms of the future of the Philippines it is very important that any attempt by either major superpower to use pressures of any kind, whether they be the obvious military ones or the less obvious forms of pressure through the international lending agencies, either the international banks or the so called development agencies to influence the course of Philippines internal or foreign policy, whether it be internal economic policy or external foreign policy, should be watched with considerable scepticism by our Government and, indeed, by the countries of the European Community who have, on occasions at least, shown an admirable independence from the United States in terms of their attitudes and decisions. To give them credit, our Government and this present Government in particular, have contributed on some occasions at least to an independence of thinking on the part of the EC that other EC Governments would not have been attached to or endeared by.

I have memories of the shock and horror on the faces of American politicians, diplomats and academics at a conference in Cork when our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Barry, articulated the EC view on Central America. I must say that, whatever my criticisms on occasions, that attitude is to be welcomed. I hope a similar independence of view will characterise our attitude to what is happening in the Philippines in the future.

There are enormous problems in the Philippines. The trouble with the country to the extent to which my limited understanding extends is that to change the structural injustice in the Philippines will mean the Government taking on some of the forces which actually contributed to the overthrow of the Marcos regime, in particular the structure of land ownership, the structure of business ownership and trade union rights, three issues that need to be developed and need to be extended upon. Whether they are reconcilable with the perceived self-interest of the community and the business community and the propertied community, which supported change out of frustration with President Marcos and in fairness to them probably out of an honest commitment to at least some form of free democracy, is, to say the least, a very large question.

I will look with great interest and, indeed, with some apprehension at the form that the new Constitution, currently being drafted, takes. I will look in particular at commitments that may spring from that in the area of land reform and in the area of the future foreign policy and the future status that the country gives itself in terms of the superpower rivalry. I wonder will the Filipino people really be free to decide what they want in a constitution or will there be the threat in the background all the time of intervention by the armed forces or by the armed forces in alliance with vested interests? What most of us worry about is whether, if this revolution was brought about by those who used to give unquestioning loyalty to President Marcos, they can now really sacrifice the gains they personally made, in many cases under the Marcos regime, in the interest of the people they claim to serve.

There is a considerable amount of evidence at this stage that both of the super powers, one given to loud speeches about democracy and the other given to loud speeches about socialism, are both demonstrably capable of actions which give the lie to what they claim to represent in both cases. In this case the United States have a reasonably good record at this stage of intervention where democratically elected governments or, obviously, popular governments do things which are recognised or reckoned to threaten the self interest of the United States. Chile being the most obvious, the most painful and the most ruthless example of a deliberate campaign by the so-called champions of freedom to destroy democratic freedom in the interest of their own economic and political interests. The history of Guatemala in the fifties and the current extraordinary suffering of the people of Nicaragua underline what I am saying.

I must say that my suspicions about the depth of conversion of the present United States administration to the principles of democracy and freedom of speech andhabeas corpus are called into question by their unflinching support for the regime in South Korea in particular which is anything but a model of democracy or freedom or civil rights or anything like that. Therefore, despite the willingness of the United States which is the patron in many ways of change in the Philippines and which none of us doubts had a considerable if not overwhelming influence on those who finally decided to deal with President Marcos, we must ask whether they are really committed to democracy or to stability in the Philippines which may not coincide in the short term with democracy and particularly with a stability which preserves US interests.

The evidence from Chile, from South Africa, or from South Korea is that the United States Government does not necessarily see democracy, no matter how much its rhetoric may suggest the opposite, as being reconcilable with their own interests. If their own interests are threatened it seems to me that they are just as willing as the Soviet Union is willing to sacrifice socialism, to sacrifice democracy to defend the interests of the United States.

That leads me on to what is probably the biggest problem that a country like the Philippines faces, though it is not alone in this, and that is the problem of the enormous indebtedness that that country and most Third World countries now suffer from. The capacity of large western countries like the United States to exercise enormous leverage over internal economic policy, internal social policy and, clearly, foreign policy as well, is enormous. It is true at this stage that the Third World countries generally, are now paying more back to the wealthy nations in interest and debt repayment than they are actually receiving in aid so that year to year we are actually net beneficiaries from the state of the Third World because of that scale of indebtedness. I should say they should be paying it back. I look forward with some enthusiasm to the possibility of a debtors' cartel which says that we will not pay but in the short term it seems to me that the scale of repayments is enormous.

I worry, therefore, that no matter what the rhetoric may be or no matter what the kind words may be, that international indebtedness alone and the sort of reactionary social and economic policies that international bankers and the world bank and the international monetary fund demand will undermine whatever democratic gains have been made. I remain convinced that the sort of demands made on Third World countries in terms of cut backs in public expendiure, increases in prices, reduction of real wages are fundamentally inimical to democracy and will, therefore, undermine it. It is interesting, therefore, that the countries very often in Third World areas that are regarded as models of economic development, all have one thing in common and that is that they are not democracies. Those who champion the free market and democracy as the model for development would really want to think a bit further about the way international lending agencies threaten contries like the Philippines and threaten their democracy by the pursuit of what is as blindly an ideological position as people like myself are often accused of taking. I wish the people and the Government of the Philippines well. I hope that they are allowed to develop as they see fit in their own way at their own pace without the threats implicit or explicit of external intervention in one form or another.

I should like to thank Senators Bulbulia and Dooge for providing us with the opportunity of debating this motion on the Philippines. I can readily identify with its sentiments in supporting such forces of democracy and international reconciliation that exists in the Philippines and hoping that the Filipino Government can make progress towards the genuine promotion of social and economic development of that country. We are grateful for the opportunity of debating these issues here in this House.

It seems that a correct note of caution has been struck in the preceding speaker's speech in particular, in which he correctly said that we are a long way from significant progress in relation to the Philippines due to a number of significant factors. Indeed, I might summarise what I have to say under two headings. I certainly applaud the speech of the Minister of State when he makes reference to the position taken by Ireland in relation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and to the successive condemnations of the Marcos administrations. I am giving you credit, Minister of State, for a speech made by your Minister and I am sure that you can convey the credit to your master, if I might use an unfortunate expression.

He does not dissent from the view.

As well as that, I agree that efforts have been made in a number of specific instances to raise issues that have been of concern to the Irish people. The Minister made reference to the position of Fr. Niall O'Brien and the unfortunate tragic continuance of the case of Rudi Romano. All of us hope there will be some news soon from efforts which I know, are continuing, but which I hope will yield better results than have been yielded so far. If I might be just a little more contentious might I say that I feel on occasions like this that we must always remember that we are in a Parliament of two Chambers and that we are talking about issues of foreign policy. I know that the movers of this motion will not quibble with my putting it in a larger context.

Many people are looking at the development needs of the Philippines. The first issue that strikes one immediately is whether the Philippines will be allowed to proceed on a path that will bring some relief to those who are landless, that will provide for organistions and for those who want free trade unions and civil rights for the people.

Indeed, in one journal they published in California, theSouth-East Asia Chronicle, issue No. 92, just a year ago in an article by Robin Brode and John Kavanagh, it was suggested that the economic crisis headed the disintegration of the economic model. It looked at the economic situation of the Philippines. It argued — and this is an interesting point — that the economic circumstances of the Philippines were such as to make it difficult for Marcos to continue. Equally, the conditions which now prevail in the Philippines are such as may prevent Mrs. Aquino making the reforms which many people would wish.

International economies can assist the transition from one leader to another, but in its structure it usually carries a particular relationship with the country and its economy that can succeed one leader rather than another. I noted that in the Minister's speech on this motion, he made reference to the favourable climate in which the Philippines, under its present administration, President Aquino, finds itself in renegotiating and servicing its international debt in excess of $26 billion. I make the point that I would disagree with the Minister's speech in its sense of wonderment. I do not have a sense of wonderment in relation to foreign policy. The phrase occurs in the Minister's speech that it was a remarkable, peaceful revolution. Perhaps it is because I am more committed to a structured view of international economic relationships and power that I find myself not being easily put into a state of wonderment.

Quite frankly, the position in relation to the Marcos regime was that there had been three strategies of external economic relationships applied. The first of these had been one in which there was what has been referred to as export-orientated development. The second was one in which there was a shifted second strategy of economic relationship which was international sub-contracting, which is a form of refined slavery in the modern world. The third was one in which there was the threat of disinvestment which followed one of the major strikes in the Philippines and which questioned the availability of the Filipino people as a docile labour force.

During the first strategy of export-led development, this was being forced on the Filipino people by an unrepresentative President who was, in turn, functioning as broker of the Filipino reality to the international lending institutions. In 1981 export earnings dropped 4.3 per cent from 1980, and they went down a further 12.6 per cent in 1982. Real growth was plummeting and the country's debt was $25 billion. Here there was a situation where the international financial institutions were saying to a country; "you can import less and less, but your debt is growing. You are expected to facilitate the lives of your people by exporting more and more". When asked the question of the international institutions as to how such a strategy can be sustained the answer is always the same, not only about the Philippines but about other countries in the same situation. It is: "We are not in the business of making short term policy initiatives." It is regarded as an interference to be asked to look at the implications of debt provision strategy.

Finally, as people began to get more and more worried about the inability of the Filipino economy structurally to service its debt and its borrowing requirements, there was the development of international sub-contracting, by which a transnational corporation sub-contracts out the labour-intensive stage of production and reimports under tariff concession the finished product, I said this should and could be regarded as a form of international slavery. I do not see anything remarkable about this. There is nothing miraculous about it. It is a form of the international division of labour that is in a straight line from the sugar commodities structure which sustained the same relationship between slavery and sugar as existed in the time up to the 1830s here.

Finally, there was the massive disinvestment which took place following June 1982 when there was a major strike involving women sugar workers in one entire province and which led to a disinvestment that forced the Marcos regime back from setting up 17 industrial estates that had been planned to setting up 11. There were economic circumstances. The thrust of what I am saying now is that these economic circumstances exercised a constraint on the Marcos regime which made it possible for a great popular expression to take place following the elections which had been rigged and interfered with. Equally, the same external constraints in relation to servicing the economy in a new way exist now for Cory Aquino.

Then to turn to the internal problems that arise within the Philippines, there is the very interesting question as to whether in relation to land reforms situation in which landlessness was used as a condition which could be exploited for oppression can be changed. I am referring particularly to the presence within the Philippines under the Marcos regime of the policy of strategic hamletting, which has an infamous history from Vietnam through Salvador to Guatemala. The same principles apply in that the implications of landlessness address the whole question of the manipulation of the real needs of the people. Can Mrs. Aquino initiate a programme of land reform which will meet the needs of the landless peasants and which can restore their confidence, prospects or hopes for some kind of a decent society? I would again certainly wish that this would be so, but I seriously wonder if again life has changed so dramatically within the Philippines economy internally. I have been speaking about the external constraints on it. There is still the same relationship to the production of sugar. There is a plantation society in which people are removed from participation and production, except in terms of the greatest inequity. There is the division of the society equally in relation to factions based on a feudal warlord system. There is the existence of private sources of power and oppression. It is very wrong to be looking for cosmetic changes.

I should like at this stage to introduce the distinction in what I am saying between foreign policy and diplomacy, as it will assist us. A report on diplomacy for a year is a report on what was said in different fora that take place in relation to foreign policy, for instance, on what was said at the United Nations commissions and on what the Twelve did, and so forth. This is a report on work in progress of a diplomatic kind. It is neither a comment on foreign policy nor is it a report on it. It relates to foreign policy, given our overall attitude towards international debt and towards the correctness of democracy, as well as towards the right of peoples to participate. What is our attitude now in relation to the Philippines? I join with all of those who wish the Filipino people well and wish their new President well, and with those who want to wish their President the ability to bring about the reforms I have mentioned.

We have benefited from previous speakers mentioning an important point in relation to the new kind of external atmosphere which we must all assist the Philippines to attain while trying to turn the situation around, and the influence we must have in seeing significant structural changes within the Philippines. How realistic is this in the context of the military relationship to one of the superpowers, particularly as in recent weeks, in response to the United Nations debate on the South African question, we have again and again heard the Reagan administration say that their assistance to South Africa is conditional on the private sector's development within one African country after another? How can one expect a leopard to so change its spots that the old economics will be replaced by a new form of economics that will allow the Filipino people to breathe?

There is a lesson in all of this for us. It is about the questions that we must ask. If we were to have an independent foreign policy, and within the context of that to be in a position to say something significant in relation to the choices now facing the Filipino people, what are the implications of that for our own relationship with the superpower involved? I have no optimism in that regard. I detected a trend, which made me unhappy, to trim our message in relation to foreign policy into the safe thickets of diplomacy, and not to take a stand that is independent of that power in relation to questions of debt, aid, trade and the right of all those undeveloped nations to forge a new system of economics. Making secondhand appeals for a return to growth — and it being in everybody's interest that we all start selling more to each other — is very pious, but it is also unrealistic. One can have economic restructuring of the international economic order on a conventional model that will result in millions more poor people and more people being committed to famine and disease, or there can be a fundamental restructuring of the economic order that will involve the shifting of power more and more to the group of undeveloped countries.

I see nothing in the present United States administration to show that it believes in this latter strategy. All of their statements suggest that they believe in the opposite. What we have to be careful about is establishing more distance between the United States policy in relation to the Philippines and our own attitudes. We hope in this report that when a change comes about in the United States — those of us who are optimists hope that it will come about — that there will be better times and that our aspirations for the Philippines will have more force and strength. In saying that I do not want to be accused of being anti-United States. I take entirely what Senator B. Ryan has said in relation to his criticism of the other superpower.

To conclude, I should like to state that this is how I balance my speech in responding to the Minister's speech. The Minister's speech seems apprehensive about the People's Army and surrounding his apprenhension of the People's Army is what is regarded as the Communist threat to the reforming administration of Mrs. Aquino. The People's Army and the Communist activity in the Philippines is responding to the structural reality of landlessness; to the need of people for reform and of people wanting to move beyond slavery in the sugar plantations. It is at our peril that we ignore the structural realities that are going on in countries like the Philippines. If we have to have something to say to these people, it must be of identifying with the need for structural reform in all these undeveloped countries. This will mean that we will be willing to pay the price for distancing ourselves from the major power that leans on and influences this country, and that we will be willing to go far beyond the safe existence of the thickets of diplomacy and toward making our foreign policy fit with those who will be our equal partners in a more independent and sovereign world.

I am pleased to be given the opportunity of contributing to this debate and of speaking in favour of the motion standing in the names of Senators Bulbulia and Dooge.

I should like to ask the House a question as to what right we have to sit here in judgment with regard to the present — or, indeed, the past — state of affairs in the Philippines. We must be careful in considering the internal affairs of another country and not to appear to be doing so on the basis that ‘Daddy knows best', that in some ways those with white skins know better than the rest of the peoples of the world, that all the political misfortunes and events of what we call the Third World are ‘open season' to us, and that we are in some way endowed with a special degree of wisdom with regard to advising these people as to how they should govern themselves.

The consideration of the problems of a country like the Philippines along those lines is identical with the attitude that gives rise to the determination by one of the superpowers that they will only help a particular country if their internal policies are structured to suit the policies of the particular superpower. The only difference between us lecturing the Filipino people on what they should do and expecting to be listened to on that basis, and the United States or the Soviet Union putting political or economic pressure on the country, is one of scale. Therefore, we must be careful in drafting motions and in speaking to them to recognise that the Philippines is an independent State and that the Filipinos are an independent people. They are entitled to make their own mistakes. They are entitled to have their own definition of what they mean by freedom. It would ill suit us to insist that they would conform in every way to our definition of these desirable objectives.

Having said that, the motion before the House avoids this problem. We should ask would we be happy to have the Filipino Parliament discussing a motion on Ireland couched in these terms? If we can answer that question in the affirmative, then we can truly say that we are not being patronising to our Filipino colleagues. We can make that affirmation regarding this motion. We must be careful, in the way in which we tackle these problems, to recognise their rights and their freedom to organise their affairs in whatever way they think correct. This is even more difficult when one is faced with the position, as was faced in the Philippines a short time ago, of a regime like the Marcos regime which I suppose, by any objective standards, had deteriorated into an ever less satisfactory representative capacity. In that regard the increasing evidence of corruption and the denial of human rights together eventually conspired or joined to enable us to overcome our reticence to speak on the internal affairs of another country and to speak because of the scale of the problem which was confronting the people of that country.

We had our own evidence of that through the well publicised problems of Fr. Niall O'Brien and, indeed, the problems associated with the disappearance of Fr. Rudi Romano. In the latter case, the importance of the influence of the United States in the latter months of the Marcos regime meant that for many friends of the United States, like myself, it was hard to believe that they could not have exerted influence, if not to achieve the release of Fr. Romano — which might not have been physically possible — at least to get information with regard to his whereabouts. Interference with another country's internal affairs and over-close relationship between aid and the adoption of a particular policy mean that the benefactor in some way is diminished by the actions of those in receipt of the aid or assistance if those actions are less than humanitarian. There can be little doubt that the regime had deteriorated to a stage where it was corrupt. It was right that we should say that. The problem would have arisen as to whether any of us would have felt that it had deteriorated to such an extent that action by an external power would have been justified. Most of us would have answered the question that that stage had not been reached. That only adds to what I am saying, which is, that in the consideration of the problems of another country one has constantly to reassess the extent to which comment stays within the bounds of what is reasonable and does not in itself represent an interference in the internal affairs of that country.

Now that the new Government of Mrs. Aquino is in existence we must again be conscious of that fact. It is not up to us to tell the new Government how to run its country. It is not up to us to lay down the strict standards of parliamentary democracy that they should follow. Certainly, with the tradition in the Philippines there is little doubt that parliamentary democracy of some kind will be established. The election of legislators will form an essential and key part of the administration. Where the Government can be aided and assisted is not so much in the area of structural reform of the political system and the giving of advice in that area but in the area of a reconsideration by the developed countries of an attitude towards the foreign debt of that country on the one hand, and that reconsideration not being tied into the adoption by that Government of policies which would be seen to be supportive of the interests of any particular military alliance.

The importance to the communities which make up the Philippines of the price, for example, of the various commodities which form such an essential part of the prosperity of the Philippines will form a very central part of any rescue programme for the emerging democracy of that country. The support which the Aquino Government will get in the economic area will of, course, have considerable effect on the way and the ability of that domestic regime to respond to the armed threat which still exists within its boundaries from forces who are as determined to usurp democracy as President Marcos eventually was. The emergence of the continued campaign by the so-called New People's Army is a problem that we cannot solve for the Philippines. It is one which we can appreciate and can take into consideration in the expectations which we have of the regime. The political influence which could be exerted on that New Peoples Army by outside powers — in particular outside powers centred around the USSR — if properly applied, would have a very beneficial effect on giving the peace and stability which is such an essential part of permitting President Aquino's regime to commence to tackle the problems which confront it.

The preconditions for the laying down of their arms and even of the cessation of hostilities and preconditions in the area of land reform, for example, are not helpful and represent a very serious threat to the Government of the country, which will undoubtedly delay the reforms which they are supposed to promote. No government, whether it is a government like President Aquino's or not, can easily begin to do that which is being impressed on it by force of arms. Those who, like myself would criticise the close relationship which existed between the USA and the previous administration must now go beyond expressions of mere support to the new regime, they must also use their influence to ensure that the Communist New People's Army desist from their insurrection so as to give the new President, her cabinet and her Government the opportunity and the freedom to develop their new and independent policies.

I have not mentioned anything about the make-up of President Aquino's new administration. In some ways that may not please me. There may be elements in her administration which I would not be happy with. I will not go any further than that because that is precisely the point at which we depart from talking in general terms about conditions within the country and getting involved in their internal affairs. It is, therefore, with that in mind that I consider it a great honour to support the motion so ably presented by Senator Bulbulia and I hope that the national reconciliation and the peace and stability mentioned in the motion form part of the situation in the years ahead for the Filipino people and for their government.

I am pleased to have an opportunity to support this motion. Before I commence, perhaps to bring us all down to earth and to lend some weight to some of the comments that have been made by Senator O'Leary in relation to looking at other countries' difficulties, I would suggest that this motion could equally well apply to Ireland if the word "Ireland" instead of "Philippines" had been used and its declared intention to draw up a new democratic Constitution for Ireland.

There is a danger, as Senator O'Leary suggested, that in trying to do our best to support and sustain new developments, which seem hopeful in other countries, we might be guilty of patronage and that we might be guilty also of sublimating or defusing our own difficulties in the very respect that we are drawing attention to someone else's by focusing such attention elsewhere. Many of the things I wish to say in relation to the Philippines could equally be said in relation to Ireland. There is no doubt that the forces which are opposed to the development of democracy in the Philippines are not just internal forces but are also external forces. The manipulative and subtle ways of international capitalism should be of grave concern to those who wish to see the fullest possible development of the people of the Philippines in relation to the resources which they have indigenously.

There is no doubt that for the last two or three decades — because of the need to feed the ever-increasing size of the wheel of consumer capitalism in North America — that it has become more and more necessary to penetrate other parts of the world where perhaps economies are weakest in order to obtain and process raw material as cheaply as possible to feed the machine to which I have alluded. Therefore, Ireland is uniquely placed because of its relationship with the emergence of a relatively independent western Europevis-á-vis the two major power blocks. Because of our very long association with North America, because of our long historical association with Britain and with Third World countries, which are now part of what is known as the Commonwealth of nations, we can, without resort to military power, exercise considerable influence on those who might undermine the sort of fledgling developments which one hopes, having been seeded in the Philippines, will begin to bear fruit.

When I say that, I return again to the idea of Ireland remaining positively neutral in a world which seems increasingly warlike. Of course to be positively neutral and to be involved in the peace-making process we must start with ourselves. Peace-making as we know is a very challenging and very difficult occupation requiring much courage. Nevertheless we must find the principles here in our own country which if true here can be exported elsewhere. I would insist that when we debate a motion such as this — and remembering that we are a small country — we must always endeavour to use the occasion to reassert that Ireland is a neutral country, will remain neutral and will endeavour to fulfil its obligations as a peacemaker in the world community. Ireland can only do that if she belongs to a wide network and develops that network.

To be constructive and to take up again Senator O'Leary's point about the danger of patronage I would suggest that in the process of our education we should be encouraging the development in every school in Ireland of the learining of some language which is not commonly spoken so that some people from this island can go out with a coinage of communication and expression to share with others in the language which is their own so that we are not patronising by the use of English in a country, or a region of a country, where English is not the native tongue. I say that with feeling because of my recent introduction to the Gaelic tongue and the realisation of what has been lost through generations of the imperial use of English and the disappearance of many of the smaller languages throughout the world.

In supporting the motion I suggest that already we have Amnesty International as an organisation which will look at any excesses that may be practised in the development of the new country. We have many charters, declarations, covenants and so on in human rights to which individuals can lay claim. We have the Christian church, in particular the Catholic Church, which has done so much for justice and equality among the people of the Philippines as elsewhere. All of these influences can be used without patronising the people. Above all we have our own youth. If we were to evolve from the school into a period of national social service where one of the options would be voluntary exchange service with Third World countries then we would not be trying to penetrate those countries with our money looking for return but rather we would be sharing with the people and with the young people of those countries skills, that we have learned here in order to learn from their experiences and to heighten our own awareness, not only of the difficulties we have at home but, of the whole world to which we belong.

This motion calls on Seanad Éireann to affirm its support for the forces of democracy. Let us not forget the forces of democracy. Democracy was described by Herodotus the ancient Roman chronicler, when he was looking at ancient Greece, as taking the people into partnership. We are supporting that and we have to ask ourselves have we done it at home. Reconciliation is a very meek and mild, wishy-washy term unless it is related to reconstruction. Can we help these people with their reconstruction, have we any lessons to learn from the need for reconstruction here that we can share with them if we exchange with them as equals? Peace and stability; it is not peace loving it is peace making that is going to matter in the future.

When we talk about promoting the social and economic development of the Philippines and its declared intention to draw up a new democratic Constitution we must ask ourselves do we fully understand the implications of democracy — taking the people into partnership, allowing the different shades of opinion, the different strands, the different colours of the social fabric to participate in the great new resurgence of energy, drive and enthusiasm by the intermingling of all the differences? Is that what we understand by democracy? All men are born different and each is unique. How do we encourage that type of development wherever we have influence? These are challenges for a small nation that has yet to solve its own problems and can learn through the solution of its own problems. But we will be able to help other nations only if we see it as an exercise in sharing with them the pain of our experience in order to promote helpful resolution of their problems and our own. Therefore, we should take the opportunity to see in the fledgling developments in the Philippines and the quest for more democratic freedom, the need for people from this island to go for whatever reason to share with them and to bring skills, not to be part of some entrepreneurial penetration.

Before concluding I would like to add one warning. There is a great danger — and Senator Higgins and Senator Ryan have mentioned it — that outside forces see in the Philippines a place in the power struggle between the great powers, regard it as an area of influence or an area for the penetration of capital and exploitation of the people. We must reject these inferences and try to see how we can help to promote an individual and collective community of the people as they seek to make something of their new found liberty.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

There are five minutes left before I call on Senator Bulbulia to reply.

When I think of the Philippines I remember my national school days when I delivered a magazine calledThe Far East which had wonderful images for me. I did not know where it was but it was a place to be. Some of my neighbours became priests and went to the Philippines. Their lives were changed when they got there. It appeared to be normal but as one read about the takeover in the Philippines one wondered how these priests settled down to live in such a corrupt country.

I have a copy of theSouth East Asia Chronicle, Issue No. 92, which gives the background to what was going on there. It states:

While Aquino's assassination may prove to have been the spark, it was long growing economic desperation which brought poor, middle, and upper classes into massive protest demonstrations. No longer were the anti-Marcos demonstrators simply the more militant students, workers, slum-dwellers, peasants and small businessmen. The murder even sent top Filipino financiers and capitalists into Ayala Avenue — actions analogous to the Rockafellers funding and leading demonstrations in Wall Street (and giving their employees time off to join in). Central Bank officials, horrified at the tons of phone-book confetti showering down from protesting employees, were forced to confiscate the surviving phone books.

If that is not a background for the absolute turmoil that is going to take place I can well imagine what the difficulties mentioned by Senator Michael D. Higgins will be now that Mrs. Aquino has taken over and the difficulty of getting the position stabilised.

If we think back on our own Land League days and the trouble Michael Davitt had in trying to get the land question settled it is very easy to visualise that kind of turmoil, demonstrations and protests. I have another magazine entitled thePhilippine Report which features an interview in which was asked, and I quote: “how many Filipinos support the insurgency?”

Regarding the first part of your question we made an assessment late last year (1984), and came to the conclusion that at least 10 million Filipino people, or almost one-fifth of the national population, are struggling in various ways against the present semi-colonial and semi-feudal system.

If it is nearly true that one-fifth of a population are prepared to be involved in arms and uprising you can see the difficulty the new Government is faced with in the Philippines. I welcome the idea that we support the Government in its effort to stabilise the Philippines. Many of our Irish people in the Philippines deserve to have peace. So do the Filipinos. It would be nice to find that Rudi Romano was brought back alive. There are so many people who are in difficulty over there that I want to welcome this motion and wish the Filipino people well and now that Marcos has disappeared that they will be able to prosper.

I am extremely heartened by the contributions made in the first instance by the Minister, by the attendance of the Minister of State and by the remarks and comments of my colleagues in the Seanad from all sides who participated in this debate. Something which struck me very forcibly — I had the extra advantage of having been to the Philippines this year — was from their reading, research and conversations with various people their observations and the thrust or what they had to say was, generally speaking, accurate and summed up the situation in the Philippines although they had a longer distance approach to it than I had. That interested me and I listened very keenly to what everybody had to say.

The Minister's speech was comprehensive and set the scene and the context for the change in the Philippines which we have all been talking about in the course of this debate. I would like to make reference to a comment made by Senator Michael D. Higginsa propos a statement in the Minister's speech wherein he commented on the remarkable peaceful revolution of the Philippine people. Senator Higgins seemed to indicate that the Minister was in some sort of wideeyed wonder at this development in the Philippines, that he was less than aware of events there pinning his comments on the use of the word “remarkable” in the speech. I am sure that the Minister meant that the situation was worthy of being remarked upon not that he was in any way astonished, astounded, surprised or taken unawares by developments.

He shall be.

It may be a semantic touch but it is a suggestion that I would like to correct because I think there was a certain misapprehension on the part of Senator Michael D. Higgins when he cavilled at that use of the word "remarkable" in the Minister's speech.

We are now celebrating 100 days in power of President Corayon Aquino and the people's peaceful revolution in the Philippines. President Aquino was commenting on the 100 days — obviously 100 days is a time when one perhaps evaluates and feels that it is worth having a look at the situation as it now stands and I quote from an article inThe Irish Times, 5 June 1986:

She never promised snap solutions to a legacy of debt, poverty and corruption.

Continuing from the same article, she urged her people on to support by saying and I quote:

"Don't sit back and think that because there is now a people's government the nation's problems are taken care of. That is a dangerous delusion."

I am heartened by these comments because they indicate that President Aquino is in no way under any illusion as to the very difficult task ahead of her and she is certainly aware of the very fragile nature of the desperate forces which form the Coalition which she heads up.

The Minister referred to the various improvements that are taking place in the Philippines during the 100 days of the new administration, as also did several Senators. It is important to recognise them and to ensure that they are firmly on the record of the House given the situation which obtained in the Philippines under Marcos and the martial law that he imposed. There is now a free press in the Philippines. As everybody in a democracy knows and recognises, that is a significant leap forward in a country that had known only oppression and repression of the media for so many years. President Aquino has succeeded in starting to abolish economic cartels which were referred to by Senators who contributed to the debate. Restrictive labour laws have been eased and political interference in the judiciary has been ended. These are major and significant advances. I know they are not the land reforms so earnestly advocated and so palpably denied by the people whom I spoke to in the Philippines. One hope that very soon those kinds of reforms will follow.

I would like also to advert to the fact that freedom has been given to some 500 political prisoners in the wake of the accession of President Aquino. That will go a long way to ease the tensions, resentments, distress and unhappiness which were so much a feature of the lives of political detainees. There were some remaining political prisoners but to the best of my knowledge virtually all have now been freed. That is a significant advance.

Members have spoken about the huge debts and I did also, which are being faced by the Filipino people and the enormous difficulty that this poses for the reforms which President Aquino must wish for. The Treasury is bankrupt. It is important to note little improvements, such as, that foreign exchange reserves have jumped 85 per cent and that inflation has fallen from 50 per cent in 1984 to 2.1 per cent. This is a sign of confidence and stability which was absent until now.

Much has been spoken in the course of the debate about the New People's Army. Senator O'Leary felt that they were very open to manipulation from the USSR. Any guerrilla army is open to manipulation from any source, malign, or indeed benign. I was interested to hear Senator Browne say that he understood that this New People's Army was supported by some 10 million of the Filipino people, approximately one-fifth of the population. From my observation there — I would hesitate to appear to be in any way an expert on the basis of having spent the best part of a month there — it is true to say that the Filipino people under Marcos had no focus for their resentment, frustration and anger at the course of events, so that mobilisation in rural areas, and in the villages around the New People's Army, became a focus for those people. They were not aware of ideology being Marxist or capitalist. They just knew that these people in the guerrilla movement were articulating their frustrations and anxieties. It has been said blandly that it is a Communist guerrilla movement or that it is Russian inspired. It may appear like that to those of us on the outside but I am not sure from my time spent in the Philippines that that is necessarily the case. I never met any of the leaders. Therefore I have no idea of what their political orientation or ideology is. It may very well be that of usurping democracy, as Senator O'Leary stated, and overthrowing the State. Certainly the grass roots membership of this organisation appeared to be fairly people-centred. Predident Aquino has spoken to the New President Aquino has spoken to the New that she wishes to assimilate them into the process of national reconciliation and recovery. I quote further fromThe Irish Times, 5 June 1986:

There is now freedom from the hills. For those who want it there is the possibility of returning to normal life.

That is a fairly powerful statement of her wish to see some dialogue and assimilation of those forces within the national reconciliation movement. I am sure she is realist enough to recognise the fact that you must at some stage attempt to embrace your enemies and bring them into your movement. Otherwise they will always remain without and one will have continuing difficulties.

I must admit to scanning eagerly the foreign newspapers for word on the Philippines. Recently I read that one of the guerrilla priests who is well known in the Philippines, Rev. Frank Navarro, had named five Filipino bishops as acceptable mediators in ceasefire talks between the administration and the NPA. I met two of those bishops during the course of my visit to the Philippines. They are well known for their views on liberation theology and indeed for their stand on civil rights. President Aquino would appear to have sent out feelers and emissaries. Certain movements would appear to be underway in an attempt to achieve a reconciliation between these opposing forces which she must achieve if she is to move ahead and make progress.

Many Senators were disappointed that they were beaten by the bell and did not have an opportunity to contribute to this debate. Senator McDonald was anxious to have the point made that the Christian Democrats are present in the Philippines. To that end he gave me an information leaflet from Brussels entitled CD INFO, May 1980 which states:

The "Christian Social Movement" was founded in the sixties and its leaders were persecuted, arrested or sent to exile. This movement has now been restructured under the name "National Union of Christian Democrats (NUCD); it supported Cory Aquino in her bid for the presidency.

In deference to Senator McDonald I would like to advert to that fact. I received a report on a visit of the Christian Democrats to the Philippines in April. Some of their observations were rather interesting, not all of which I agreed with. Their first impression after the revolution was that there was an air of relief in the air but that it gradually became clear to them that the general euphoria at the fall of Marcos will give way to discord and dissension which may come to the fore during the inevitable confrontation with the financial and economic problems. All Senators who spoke here in the course of the debate recognised the magnitude of the problems and the very great difficulties that lie ahead for Mrs. Aquino in seeking their resolution.

I would like to make reference to other points raised by Senators. Senators Jack Fitzsimons and Michael Lynch obviously went to great trouble to speak to Columban Fathers who worked in the Philippines and who are located at Dalgan Park, Navan, County Meath. They were well briefed on the subject and spoke very movingly. Senator Professor Dooge talked about the revolution as being an astounding series of events. He asked how many of us would have imagined that it would have reached this stage. He also made the point about which I feel very strongly and which led me to seek permission from my group to put down this motion, that it is important that we in this country should, from time to time, look outside ourselves and look at problems elsewhere.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

There is a vote in the other House.

I will conclude, because we have had a very good debate. I will not go through the contributions of the various Senators but I have been well satisfied and moved at their knowledge and awareness of the problem. In conclusion, I join with the seconder of the motion, Professor Dooge and all Senators who contributed, in wishing this fragile coalition and the Filipino people well and hoping that it will soon be independent and sovereign.

Question put and agreed to.