Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Filipino: New Patriotic Alliance) or BAYAN is a leftist political coalition in the Philippines, which brought together more than a thousand grassroots and progressive organizations, representing over a million people from different sectors.
The mid-sixties saw the emergence of the national democratic movement in the Philippines on a clear perspective. With the events like the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983, the mass movement gained strength and became powerful to trigger the first quarter storm of 1970.
Taking great flight in the mobilization of the people were the initiation of mass action which was rendered with leading national democratic movements and broad alliances such as the Justice for Aquino, Justice for All (JAJA), the Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy (NAJFD) and the Coalition of Organizations for the Realization of Democracy (CORD).
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) was established in May 1985. It mobilized together more than one thousand grassroots organizations with a total membership of more than one million, representing different classes and sectors committed to our people's struggle for national freedom and democracy. The founding chairperson was the staunch nationalist former Senator Lorenzo Tanada, the Grand Old Man of Philippine politics.
BAYAN soon became the catalyst and coordinating center for open mass mobilization against the dictatorship. It led big and massive demonstrations in Metro Manila and carried out nationally coordinated people's strikes or welgang bayan in major cities of the country. These mass actions greatly contributed to the downfall of the Marcos regime.
The BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN (BAYAN), which means New Patriotic Alliance, is a national multi-sectoral alliance of people's organizations committed to the Filipino people's struggle for national freedom and democracy.
Since 1998, Bayan Muna, the political party of the organization, has been the leading party-list member in the House of Representatives of the Philippines. The nickname BAYAN was picked since it stands for nation or community in Filipino.
Different opinions exist as to whether the structure of BAYAN is progressive, communist, democratic or feudal, hierarchical or non-hierarchical, and whether it is nationalist or not. Its own documentation suggests that it is a centralized organization, including:
- chapters as the smallest units
- a general assembly as the theoretically highest policy-making body, but which meets only once every three years
- a national council which meets twice a year or more often if needed
- a national executive committee to implement the policies of the general assembly and national council
- five specialized commissions
- a general secretariat that runs day-to-day operations
- a national office in Quezon City in Metro Manila.
BAYAN is a coalition of many different organizations such as labor groups like the Kilusang Mayo Uno, peasant organizations such as Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, youth organizations such as the League of Filipino Students, religious organizations such as the Student Christian Movement - Philippines, the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace and Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR), feminist organizations such as GABRIELA, Kilusan ng Manggawang Kababaihan (Women Workers' Movement), SAMAKANA (Association of United and Free Women) and AMIHAN (National Federation of Peasant Women), Health Workers' organizations such as the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), educational/scientific organizations such as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Scientists, Technologists, Engineers for the People (STEP), fisherfolk such as Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA - National Federation of Fisherfolk Organizations), cultural organizations like BUGKOS, and indigenous people's organizations such as Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP - National Federation Of Indigenous Peoples' Organizations).
In a resolution past during the BAYAN 7th Congress in August 2004, the coalition would expand to include overseas Filipino organizations as official members of BAYAN. In January 2005, the first BAYAN USA assembly was held in San Francisco. As the first overseas BAYAN chapter, BAYAN USA directly coordinated the implementation of BAYAN campaigns to BAYAN member organizations in the United States. These organizations include the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, League of Filipino Students in San Francisco State University, Anakbayan, the Critical Filipino/Filipina Studies Collective, Habi Ng Kalinangan, and Babae (women), a women's organization that serves to address the rights and welfare of Filipinas in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Claims such as these are consistent with reports from Amnesty International. For example, on 22 April 2003, Amnesty International claimed that as part of the government's anti-insurgency campaign against the New Peoples' Army (NPA), there were systematic human rights violations such as disappearances, torture, extra judicial executions and arbitrary arrests carried out by national security forces and paramilitary groups known as militias. According to the reports, both civilians and members of legally recognized organizations considered to be related to the NPA are at risk, especially in provinces such as Oriental Mindoro.
They also released primers, reports, critiques and position papers done by their members and allied organization in certain national issues like Charter Change (ChaCha), Anti-terrorism Bill, National ID System, Political Killings and Forced Disappearances, Fiscal Crisis, Political Persecution among others.
Splits and Divisions
The 1990's was the lowest point for BAYAN as it has undergone a period of splits. The first division happened in 1994 as its Manila-Rizal organization bolted from the hierarchy, forming the organizations Sanlakas, Alab-Katipunan and Siglaya. In 1997, the Central Luzon formation broke away giving rise to the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD).
Some explanations for the splits that happened, according to former BAYAN leaders who left, is the arrogance and sectarian practices of the organization. But despite being weakened by the separation, it continues to have significant political influence and is very much superior in terms of numbers compared to the other Left groups put together.
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