THE MID-SIXTIES saw the emergence of a new type of national democratic movement in the Philippines, founded on a clear patriotic and anti-imperialist line. It gained national prominence during the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and took deep root among the people. The declaration of martial law in 1972 failed to stem the growth of this movement.
The peasant movement for genuine agrarian reform rapidly gained ground, as well as the workers’ strike movement. Students, teachers, professionals and the religious took to the streets to defend civil liberties and the people’s democratic rights.
The assassination of opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino in 1983 triggered bigger protests against the Marcos dictatorship. At the core was the national democratic movement, leading such broad alliances as the Justice for Aquino Justice for All Movement (JAJA); Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy (NAJFD); and the Coalition of Organizations for the Realization of Democracy (CORD).
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) was formed in May 1985, bringing together more than a thousand mass organizations composed of more than a million members. Represented were different classes and sectors committed to the people’s struggle for national freedom and democracy.
The Grand Old Man of Philippine politics himself, staunch nationalist Sen. Lorenzo Tañada, was elected founding chairperson. BAYAN soon became the coordinating center for open mass mobilizations against the hated dictatorship. It led big demonstrations and people’s strikes in Metro Manila and the country’s major urban areas, contributing greatly to the eventual downfall of the U.S.-backed Marcos regime. But the end of the Marcos regime was not enough to ensure the fulfillment of the people’s just demands. Succeeding regimes further entrenched foreign domination and elite rule.
Recently, BAYAN figured prominently in ousting the corrupt and rotten U.S.-Estrada regime. It helped forge the broadest unity of the people and served as core of the mammoth rallies and people’s strikes until People Power 2 ousted Estrada from power. Today, it is at the forefront of a growing mass movement for democracy and freedom.
Founded on the determination and strength of the majority of oppressed classes, BAYAN is an alliance composed mainly of organizations of workers and peasants. Various sectors also account for many of our allied organization mass membership.
BAYAN counts on its members’ individual personages who serve in its leading bodies. The local chapter in the municipal, provincial or regional level is the basic unit of BAYAN.
The highest policy-making body is the National Congress. In between congresses, the National Council meets twice a year or whenever necessary. The National Executive Committee, through its various departments and the Popular Struggles Commission, ensures the implementation of BAYAN’s General Program of Action and other policies and directives laid down by the Congress and National Council. The National Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General takes care of BAYAN’s day to day operation.
Since 1969, tens of thousands of Filipinos and allies throughout the United States have contributed to the cause of national democracy in the Philippines. After the declaration of martial law in 1972, thousands of Filipino compatriots who migrated to the U.S. worked to end the Marcos dictatorship until its demise and toppling in 1986. They were supported by allies of diverse ethnic, racial, national, class and sectoral backgrounds in the U.S. Since the founding of BAYAN-Philippines in 1985, thousands of individuals and organizations in the U.S., both Filipino compatriots and multi-racial allies, have answered the calls of BAYAN-Philippines.
A BAYAN Organizing Committee was established in the U.S. in 1994, which later became known as BAYAN-International-USA. Subsequently, BAYAN-International-USA, together with hundreds of other pro-national democratic organizations and individuals, organized and launched activities throughout the U.S. year after year in line with the calls of BAYAN-Philippines. Such activities included: the Sentenaryo ng Bayan (People’s Centennial of the Philippine Revolution of 1896) campaign in 1996, mobilizations against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 1997, the People’s Assembly Against Imperialist Globalization in Seattle, Washington in 1998, the mobilization for “No to the IMF/World Bank” in Washington D.C. in 1999, “Oust Estrada” activities in 2000, mobilizations exposing and opposing the U.S.-Gloria Arroyo-Macapagal regime during her U.S. speaking tour in 2001, the North American conference “Link Arms, Raise Fists: No to U.S. Military Intervention in the Philippines!” in San Francisco, California in 2002, and activities opposing the “war on terror” and the war and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and militarization in the Philippines in 2002-2004.
To further solidify and clarify the development of BAYAN in the U.S., the National Council of BAYAN-Philippines passed a resolution establishing the BAYAN-USA National Organizing Committee (NOC) on January 18th, 2004. Six months later, on June 19th, the NOC held a National Meeting in the Bay Area with representatives from several National Democratic organizations within the U.S. The National Meeting participants united strongly and positively on the general direction and process of forming and establishing BAYAN-USA.
On August 15th, 2004, the BAYAN-Philippines 7th National Congress resolved “That the NOC move strongly forward in its steps to build, formulate and declare the official founding of BAYAN-USA…” On January 15th-16th, 2005, a BAYAN-USA Founding Assembly was held in San Francisco, California. The founding assembly–dedicated to the people’s artist, revolutionary and kasama, Danilo Hubbero “Papo” de Asis–saw the successful approval of its constitution, by-laws, General Program of Action and elected officers. Thus the only international chapter of BAYAN was formed, within the belly of the beast, serving as the information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines.