PEACE IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC? PROSPECTS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND REFORMS
Address to the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) Cebu
By Jose Maria Sison
05 December 2020
First of all, let me thank the Movement Against Tyranny Cebu for inviting me to speak on the theme of peace and the prospects for justice and reforms and to express warmest greetings of solidarity in the struggle for democracy against the tyranny of the Duterte regime.
I admire you and salute you for your firm commitment. I congratulate you for all the successes that you have achieved in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the broad masses of the people to fight for national and social liberation against tyranny.
- Struggle for Peace as Key Role of the United Front Against Tyranny
As a broad united front, the Movement Against Tyranny seeks to fight for the national and democratic rights and interests of the toiling masses of workers and peasants, the middle strata such as the urban petty bourgeoisie and middle bourgeoisie and the anti-fascist sections and elements of the upper classes.
The MAT bases itself on the consensus of the various patriotic and democratic forces that strive to stop the anti-national and anti-democratic policies and actions of the Duterte tyranny and to end the reign of terror and greed that seeks to perpetuate imperialist domination and the ruling system of big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists.
The Duterte regime has sought to justify its tyranny, its ever worsening use of state terrorism, as something necessary to end the armed revolution of the people, which it maligns as “communist terrorist”. On this false ground, it has terminated the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and has proclaimed the nullification of all the agreements that have been made in these negotiations.
It completely obscures the fact that millions of the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces, including the CPP and NPA and other formations allied within the NDFP, have invoked the sovereign right of the people to rise up against the intolerable ruling system of exploitation and oppression and yet have agreed with the reactionary Government of Republic of the Philippines to engage in peace negotiations.
The GRP and NDFP mutually signed and approved The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 as the framework agreement for peace negotiations. It declares the aim of the peace negotiations, which is to address the roots of the armed conflict and arrive at comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms. It spells out national sovereignty, democracy and social justice as the basic guiding principles of the negotiations.
It sets forth the substantive agenda in the following sequence: respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. It provides the methods of arriving at comprehensive and related agreements through reciprocal working committees under the direction of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels, respectively.
Since 1992, the Filipino people have nurtured the hope that the civil war between the revolutionary forces of the NDFP and the counterrevolutionary forces of the GRP be resolved through peace negotiations and that solutions of the social, economic and political problems that have caused the civil war be agreed upon in order to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace.
But there are forces behind and within the GRP that oppose serious peace negotiations with the NDFP in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and consent to such negotiations only as a means of outwitting and steering the NDFP towards capitulation or at least paralyzing the armed revolution or even splitting it over time through protracted indefinite ceasefire agreements.
Because of disruptive actions and extremely prolonged delays by the GRP, less than four years (minus suspensions and terminations but including nonsubstantial meetings and recesses) have actually been devoted to peace negotiations since 1992. It is a lie for the Duterte regime to claim that more than 25 years of peace negotiations have passed and yet these have not resulted in a final peace agreement. To make the length of time for peace negotiations sound more ridiculous, the regime claims that the peace negotiations had run for 30 years since the ceasefire negotiations of 1986 during the time of Aquino.
We must recall that on the very first day after the signing of The Hague Joint Declaration on September 1, 1992, GRP President Ramos proclaimed the formation of the National Unification Commission (NUC) for the purpose of “localized peace negotiations” under the auspices of the commission and peace and order councils of the GRP between the reactionary military officers and their own military assets and a few renegades masquerading as “independent revolutionary” armed groups.
For two years, they tried to conjure the illusion that the revolutionary forces could be bought with paltry amounts and promises and were breaking up and surrendering in great number. Ramos agreed to allow the GRP representatives to engage in exploratory talks with the NDFP representatives only after he realized that the revolutionary forces have become more consolidated and stronger through the Second Great Rectification Movement.
The formal opening of the peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels could be held only on June 26, 1995. On this occasion the Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees was signed. But after the formal opening, the peace negotiations were disrupted for one whole year because of the GRP refusal to release the NDFP consultant Sotero Llamas from prison.
There were still many more disruptions and delays which the GRP side was responsible for from 1996 to the end of the Ramos term in 1998. During their meetings, however, the GRP and NDFP panels were able to forge several important agreements. The most important of these agreements was the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in compliance with the first item of the substantive agenda.
The CARHRIHL was forged by the negotiating panels in six months of concentrated work and was signed by the panels on March 16, 1998. The NDFP Chairman signed it promptly. But GRP President Ramos failed to sign it. The newly-elected GRP President Estrada signed it on August 7, 1998. But on May 31, 1999 the GRP issued its formal notice of termination of peace negotiations. The termination took effect on July 1, 1999 and did not resume while Estrada was in power up to January 2001.
The peace negotiations resumed on April 27, 2001 during the Arroyo regime. Both parties affirmed as valid and binding all bilateral agreements entered into since the 1992 Hague Joint Declaration. The Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) was accepted by both parties as Third Party Facilitator in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. But the second round of formal talks in Oslo, Norway from June 10 to 13, 2001 was recessed by the GRP by citing as cause the death of a notorious Marcos-period torturer who resisted arrest by the NPA.
The Arroyo regime sought to make peace negotiations impossible by requesting the US government in October and November 2001 to designate as terrorist the CPP, NPA and myself as “terrorist’, use such designation as lever demanding the capitulation of the revolutionary movement of the people, and reduce negotiations to disarming and demobilizing the revolutionary forces while keeping the indefinite suspension of the peace negotiations until the surrender of the NDFP. Formal talks were held in February, April and June 2004, with the GRP consistently trying to seek the capitulation of the NDFP and with the NDFP rebuffing the GRP. Thereafter, for more than five years, there were no peace negotiations while Arroyo was in power.
One year after assuming the GRP presidency, Benigno Aquino III agreed to the resumption of the peace negotiations in Oslo on June 18, 2011. No substantial agreement of any kind was made. The GRP side showed no interest in negotiating the substantive agenda. It focused on seeking to nullify The Hague Joint Declaration and described it as a document of perpetual division. It had the illusion that it could defeat the armed revolution through military operations or mere palliatives.
It also refused to allow the release of the NDFP consultants who remained in prison in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. Despite the progressive background of some of its members, the GRP negotiating panel was controlled by clerico-fascists and pro-US military officers, especially at the level of the Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process.
If together with the US military officers the “soc-dem” Norberto Gonzales poisoned the peace negotiations during the time of Arroyo, so did the “soc-dem” Teresita Deles together with the pro-US military officers during the time of Aquino II. But the worst in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations would still come when someone like Duterte, who at first proclaimed himself as Left and socialist, shortly thereafter would undertake the most vicious and most violent actions intended to kill the peace negotiations once and for all time.
- Why and How the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations Have Been Terminated
Before Duterte became president, he boasted of being close to the CPP, NPA and NDFP. He shouted “Long live the CPP and NPA!” every time he went to a guerrilla front in Mindanao to ingratiate himself with the revolutionary movement. And he wanted to be an NDFP consultant in peace negotiations. He was publicly advising the business entrepreneurs to pay their taxes to the people’s revolutionary government. He proposed to release all political prisoners even before the resumption of peace negotiations. He pledged to make peace with the revolutionary movement of the people.
As soon as he visited the first military camp after he became president in 2016, he began to differentiate his past as mayor of Davao City, whose political life depended on alliance with the revolutionary movement, from his current office as chief executive of the entire ruling system, in charge of all its coercive apparatuses and all the opportunities for plunder. At the exploratory talks in June 2016 to prepare for the first round of formal talks, it was already clear that he would not release all the political prisoners before the first round of formal talks in August 2016.
Surreptitiously he started his all-out war against the revolutionary movement under the guise of his military minions continuing the Oplan Bayanihan of his predecessor Aquino. Like Estrada, Arroyo and Aquino, he gave himself six months to one year to pretend to be for serious peace negotiations in order to consolidate his position within the reactionary government and at the same time try to hoodwink the revolutionary movement. Despite these stumbling blocks, however, the NDFP negotiating panel persevered in pushing for the release of political prisoners in definite batches to facilitate the peace talks.
The GRP and NDFP negotiating panels held the first and second rounds of formal talks in Oslo in August and October 2016. These were devoted mainly to the issue of realizing the promise of Duterte to release all political prisoners and to holding the initial meetings of the reciprocal working committees. In the first formal talks, an agreement was made to carry out reciprocal unilateral ceasefire to demonstrate goodwill and promote the peace negotiations. This ran for almost six months from late August 2016 to the first week of February 2017. The revolutionary forces upheld this ceasefire, the longest in the history of the peace talks, despite continued military operations by the GRP. The Duterte regime however mistook the NDFP’s principled desire to push the peace talks as a sign of weakness.
In the third round of talks in Rome in January-February 2017 and in the fourth round of talks in Noordwijk aan Zee in April 2017, Duterte demanded protracted indefinite ceasefire and in effect the end of the people’s revolutionary government by giving up vital functions of governance in exchange for a renewed promise of releasing all the political prisoners. The NDFP was firm with its stand that all the political prisoners must be released and the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) must be forged before there can be any agreement on any extended mutual ceasefire.
To make credible his pretense at being serious in pursuing the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations, Duterte had appointed to the GRP negotiating panel persons respected by the NDFP as having an understanding of the national and democratic demands of the people. Thus, despite the maneuvers of Duterte and his pro-US security cluster to push the NDFP to a position of capitulation, there was substantial progress made in the negotiations of social and economic reforms.
But the fifth round of formal talks, already poised to commence in May 2017, was aborted because the GRP demanded that the CPP Central Committee withdraw its call for intensifying the armed resistance in response to Duterte’s proclamation of martial law to cover the entirety of Mindanao despite the fact that those whom he assailed as Muslim terrorists, who launched a military operation in Marawi City, were located in just a few definite and limited areas.
The proclamation, which invoked the Marawi siege only as pretext, was directed mainly against the revolutionary movement led by the CPP. The NDFP negotiating panel stood firm that it would not recommend the withdrawal of the call of the CPP Central Committee unless Duterte would first amend his martial law proclamation. Duterte refused to make the necessary amendment of his proclamation even as GRP Defense Secretary Lorenzana made a press statement that the proclamation did not target the CPP and the NPA.
Despite the impasse in the holding of the formal peace talks, due mainly to “war hawks” in the security cluster of the Duterte Cabinet, the GRP negotiating panel was able to get permission from Duterte to engage in backchannel talks so that the negotiation and drafting of the CASER would proceed. Indeed, most of the CASER mutual draft, especially the most important sections on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and National Industrialization and Economic Development were done by the reciprocal working committees and were ready for negotiation at the level of the negotiating panels.
The proposed reforms in the CASER draft agreed on by the GRP and NDFP reciprocal working committees would have delivered immediate and concrete gains for the people. The Duterte regime however revealed its insincerity when militarist hawks Esperon and Galvez disowned this draft including the work of their own economic policy officials who helped produce this. Brazenly sabotaging the peace talks, they declared that a CASER would be “treasonous”.
Ultimately, Duterte and the pro-US retired and active military officers around him had their way. To discredit the peace negotiations in press statements, they harped on various lines like the peace negotiations had taken too long without any result, that the NPA was violating CARHRIHL as if there were no Joint Monitoring Committee to receive complaints, and that it was best to conduct “localized peace talks” ala NUC and at the same time escalate the all-out war against the CPP and NPA.
Withdrawal from the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations suited Duterte’s constant posture and image of being a strongman, ever willing to engage in extrajudicial killings as in the bogus war on drugs. Most important of all, it was consonant with the more cold-blooded aim of realizing his scheme of fascist dictatorship. The death of the peace negotiations was finally sealed on November 13, 2017 when Duterte pledged to US President Trump to annihilate the CPP and NPA.
Ten days after, on November 23, 2017, Duterte issued Proclamation 360 to terminate the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. And on December 5, 2017 he issued Proclamation 374 to designate the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations. These proclamations were intended to end the peace negotiations once and for all. They were the preparation for the issuance of Memorandum Order 32 on November 22, 2018 which placed the Bicol region, and the Negros and Samar islands under a “state of emergency,” the formation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on December 4, 2018 and the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Law on July 3, 2020 which has realized Duterte’s ambition of fascist dictatorship even without the formal proclamation of natiopnwide martial law in the Marcos precedent of 1972.
I think that I have given you a full presentation of how Duterte has done more than enough to prove to all reasonable and peace-loving people that he premeditated the killing of the peace negotiations and that he has done more than enough to ensure that there can be no peace negotiations while he is in power. We cannot expect that the worsening crisis of the Philippine ruling system would persuade him to resume peace negotiations.
Duterte takes the one-sided view that the worsening crisis is his opportunity and justification to grab despotic power and the unlimited privilege of plunder in the style of his idol Marcos. He does not even know that by his own aggravation of the crisis with his reign of terror and greed, he has inflicted intolerable suffering on the people from the escalating conditions of oppression and exploitation and that the people and various patriotic and democratic forces are eager to oust him from power.
The only limitation to his power that Duterte seems to be aware of is his bad health condition which now limits his personal appearances before the public. But it is still important for him to project the image of being able to rule beyond 2022 through a fascist dictatorship and to keep in reserve his ability to rig the Comelec vote count, as he did in the 2019 mid-term elections, in order to install his daughter or some other stooge as his presidential proxy.
It is the duty of the Filipino people to assert their own sovereign power to catalyze the process of the disintegration and overthrow of the Duterte ruling clique. In this regard, it t is important for the broad united front to rely mainly on the basic alliance of the working class and peasantry, win over the middle social strata and take advantage of the splits among the reactionary upper classes. The last two years of every incumbent president in the Philippines are normally his lameduck years, when centrifugal forces arise even within the ranks of the regime.
Duterte is in the worst situation as the public gets to know how much his crimes have devastated the Philippine economy and all other aspects of Philippine society, how extreme has been his greed for power and plunder, and how after all he is now physically debilitated and is mentally and morally deranged. The broad united front of the patriotic and democratic forces of the people have all the facts and all the political and moral advantage and resources to spotlight the reality that emperor is naked and has the ashen face of a dying tyrant—as was the situation in the waning years of Marcos’ dictatorial rule.
- The Significance of Peace as the Reign of Justice and Reforms in Relation to the Pandemic
The persistent character of the Philippines as a semicolonial and semifeudal country puts it in chronic crisis. As the continuing dominant economic power, US imperialism has kept it underdeveloped and limited to being a cheap source of raw materials, semimanufactures and cheap labor and an importer of finished products of higher value from industrial capitalist countries. Thus, the Philippines has suffered widening trade deficits and has been made more dependent on foreign direct investments and loans that are designed to keep it underdeveloped.
The rich natural resources of the country can be considered a boon to the Filipino people but it has been turned into their bane by foreign monopoly capitalism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords and their political agents who play the role of bureaucrat comprador capitalists. These anti-national and anti-democratic forces are averse even to such bourgeois democratic reforms as genuine land reform and national industrialization.
Since the US nominal grant of national independence in 1946, the Philippines has been kept as a cheap source of mineral ores, timber and certain export crops, as Japan reconstructed and expanded its industry and then the East Asian tigers arose. In the international division of labor, the most that the Philippines could get as concession since the late 1970s has been a share in the semi-manufacture of garments and semiconductors and export of working men and women in addition to the production of raw materials for export.
Upon the ascendance of the neoliberal policy of imperialist globalization since the 1980s, the more the Filipino puppet leaders and technocrats have accepted as the comparative advantage of the Philippines the role of provider of raw materials and cheap labor and the status of underdevelopment in the Philippines. Their idea of development has not gone beyond giving priority to private construction, infrastructure building and the opportunities for pork barrel corruption and the perpetuation of the colonial pattern of production, consumption and trade and ever-increasing dependence on consumer imports, foreign investments and loans for the purpose.
Coming as the latest of the Filipino puppet presidents, Duterte has admitted since the beginning of his term that he knew nothing about economics and has always depended on technocrats who follow the dictates of foreign monopoly capitalism and have disdain for the self-reliant development of the Philippines. Playing the role of the strongman, the cowardly weakling Duterte has poured increasing amounts of tax money to military overspending and to the corruption of the military officers on top of the ever growing bureaucratic corruption.
The broad masses of the Filipino people have been deeply disappointed by Duterte’s termination of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and the abortion of the CASER exactly at the time that this was in an advanced stage of mutual drafting and negotiation. The abortion coincided with Duterte’s stepped-up drive for fascist dictatorship and the escalating opposition of his pro-US technocrats and military and ex-military officials to genuine land reform and national industrialization, describing these as running counter to the neoliberal economic policy and allowing communists to gain credit for the reforms.
By the time that the Covid-19 pandemic came, the chronic crisis of the ruling system had become very serious, further aggravated by the crisis of overproduction and stagnation in the world capitalist economy and the misuse of public funds by the Duterte regime. At first, Duterte underestimated the potential of the pandemic as he allowed more than half a million Chinese tourists to flow into the Philippines even after the WHO gave the warning about the pandemic in January 2020.
But since adopting the lockdown policy in March 2020, Duterte has considered it as one big opportunity for plunder and grabbing and exercising emergency powers on a broad range of social concerns. He promised medical testing, sufficient health personnel and facilities and economic assistance for those losing their jobs and means of livelihood. But the promise has not been fulfilled and instead Duterte and his gang have pocketed public funds and shared these with their fast-rising crony business allies, while up to now there is no clear accounting of Php 590 billion.
Aside from the big plunder perpetrated by the Duterte clique, even just in accounting for the massive Bayanihan I funds reallocated for Covid-19 response, he has used the prolonged lockdown (the longest continuous lockdown in the world from March 16 to the present) to intimidate the people with the sweeping coercive measures and excessive display of force by the military and police, the escalation of the bogus war on drugs and the so-called focused operations in the countryside, the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Law which practically realizes Duterte’s scheme of fascist dictatorship, and tighter control over such institutions as mass media and churches. This is far worse than the Marcos fascist regime because it combines the undeclared martial rule with the methods of mass murder and mass arrests similar to those of Oplan Tokhang, which are justified by a combination of pretexts such as fighting terrorism, fighting drugs and criminality, and fighting Covid-19.
In the name of fighting terrorism, the Anti-Terrorism Law enables widespread state terrorism or fascism. Under the direction of the Anti-Terrorism Council and the NTF-ELCAC, social activists, critics and political opponents of the regime are arbitrarily listed or tagged as “communist terrorists” or “enemies of the state”; publicly slandered and vilified; threatened with confiscation of bank accounts and property; and arrested and detained incommunicado without judicial warrant for a long period of time to allow the fascist criminals to torture and murder their victims and destroy the corpus delicti in the notorious style of the Duterte death squads.
By all indications, Duterte and his fascist gang have the illusion that, thanks to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, they have further tightened their control over the people and have gained so much more power and wealth. They overlook the fact that the pandemic and lockdowns have exposed the rotten anti-people character of the ruling system; that they have further bankrupted the economy and their own government; and that they have further generated the conditions for the people to wage all forms of resistance.
As if the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns were not enough to expose the rottenness of the ruling system and rouse the people to resistance, a series of typhoons have struck the Philippines, causing landslides and massive floods that have destroyed food crops, homes and infrastructure, and paralyzing power, communications, transport and other essential services for many days. These have exposed the gross lack of resources for rescue, relief and rehabilitation and the criminal neglect of disaster preparations because of military overspending, bureaucratic corruption, and other mispriorities.
They have likewise exposed the serious damage to the environment by the logging interests (many now masquerading as agroforestry-based IFMAs), mining and quarrying and plantation corporations favored by foreign monopoly capitalists, the Filipino puppet leaders and the big compradors. The pointless construction of large dams has caused the inundation of farms, communities and nearby cities and yet the Duterte regime continues to promote the construction of these huge dams under its graft-laden infrastructure program.
The people are enraged by the heaps of abuse inflicted on them for a long period of time and by the immediate prospect of food scarcity, mass hunger, long-term loss of jobs and livelihood, and inflation. The understated negative growth rate of 11 per cent was recorded at the end of the third quarter of 2020 due mainly to the pandemic lockdown. This negative growth rate is certain to worsen as a consequence of the typhoons and floods, not to speak yet of the droughts, pestilence and disease outbreaks that will follow.
In view of the overwhelming crisis of the ruling system, aggravated by the pandemic lockdown and the floods, the Duterte regime if smart should now be playing once more the peace card if only to try appeasing and countering the rising wave of mass indignation and resistance. Instead, it continues to go berserk in unleashing state terrorism because of sheer arrogance and hubris as well as the realization that it has no more maneuver time, credibility and resources to make its peace pretense credible and effective to any extent. It is now in its lameduck period of less than two years and is unwilling to give up the act and instruments of state terrorism that it has already acquired.
In sharp contrast to the intransigent position of the Duterte regime against the resumption of peace negotiations, there are those within the broad united front of patriotic and democratic forces who advocate the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations—not to persuade Duterte to negotiate peace but to expose and condemn him as the enemy of peace and to rally the people to the call for peace against the state terrorism of his regime and to offer the prospect of resuming said negotiations after his ouster.
The newly-elected US President Biden has declared in a recent statement that he is critical of the trends of authoritarianism in Turkey, Hungary and the Philippines and that he is interested in the promotion of human rights and democracy in the countries which the US supports. This statement has perked up the conservative opposition, which has been nearly decimated and temporarily paralyzed by Duterte’s demagoguery and patronage during the last four years but which is now hoping that the Duterte regime will start to self-disintegrate in its lameduck period of less than two years.
The conservative opposition is also banking on the Washington bipartisan consensus against Duterte’s sell-out of Philippine sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea to China. It remains to be seen, however, whether the US can restrain Duterte from realizing his ambition of ruling beyond 2022 or from rigging the 2022 presidential elections to install his proxy. And yet as it is the US is already greatly increasing its support to the regime’s counterinsurgency program with military aid tripling from US$76 million in 2017 to US$216 million in 2019.
The US has the power to restrain Duterte and even to prevent him from carrying out false flag operations and other preemptive measures which are calculated to damage the broad united front and yet put the blame on any of the opposition forces. But the US would probably embolden both the Duterte regime and the conservative opposition to stick to the line of suppressing the national democratic movement of the Filipino people under the guise of rabid anti-communism.
It is highly probable that Biden and the “deep state” of US imperialism will promise to the conservative opposition to restrain Duterte and extract a pledge to continue the brutal anti-communist anti-people military campaign but will still use the Duterte terrorist regime to the hilt and allow it to control and rig the 2022 presidential elections if held. The regime has an overwhelming advantage over the conservative opposition because of its control of the Supreme Court and the Comelec through the Duterte appointees and its success in rigging the 2019 mid-term elections and having overwhelming control over the Senate and the Lower House.
It is obvious that Duterte has already acquired enough power to use the Comelec voting process either to ratify charter change to make him fascist dictator or allow him to install a stooge as his presidential successor as well as to suppress all his critics and opponents with the use of the Anti-Terrorism Act. However, the factors against the perpetuation of Duterte’s power is the certain worsening of the crisis of the ruling system, the further rise of the armed revolutionary movement and the legal democratic movement, the growing US-China conflict and the conservative opposition to Duterte’s serving two conflicting imperialist powers for his selfish interest.
The broad masses of the Filipino people and the armed revolutionary movement have no choice but to be vigilant, stand firm in pursuing the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war and avail of the favorable conditions generated by the rapidly worsening crisis of the world capitalist ruling system and the Philippine ruling system. At the same time, they are for a broad united front committed to the general line of struggle for national liberation, democracy, peace, justice and basic social, economic and political reforms.
- The Advancement of the Principles of Human Rights by the Peace Negotiations
The tyrannical Duterte regime is arrogantly overconfident that like the Marcos fascist regime it can impose a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people by vilifying the revolutionary forces of the Filipino people as “communist terrorists” and unleashing state terrorism not only against suspected revolutionaries but also against all social activists, critics and opponents of the Duterte regime.
We are witnessing now the licence provided by the Anti-Terrorism Law for red-tagging, threatening, arresting, detaining and killing an increasing number of people who exercise their civil and political rights to uphold, defend and promote their legitimate interests and who make lawful criticism and demands. Among the victims are leaders and mass activists of workers and peasants, national minorities, women, professionals, religious people and others.
It is of crucial importance to expose and oppose the Anti-Terrorism Law, the termination of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and the misrepresentation of the revolutionary forces, the legal democratic forces and all critics and opponents of the Duterte regime as “communist terrorists” and as “guilty by association” as they are arbitrarily listed by the NTF-ELCAC and the Anti-Terrorism Council.
It must be stressed first of all that the Hernandez political offense doctrine—that the charge of rebellion is political and cannot be complexed with common crimes or transmuted into the most heinous crime of terrorism—has not been overturned and therefore still applies. It must be likewise stressed that the Anti-Subversion Law of 1957 was repealed in 1992 because it was finally deemed a bill of attainder criminalizing the Communist Party, its officers and members without the benefit of trial and because legalization of the CPP was intended to create favorable conditions and atmosphere for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
It must finally be stressed that the CPP and NPA cannot be misrepresented as terrorist, attacking the very people whose participation and support they seek for the revolution, and their officers and members can be held legally liable and chargeable for simple rebellion and cannot be subjected to the charge of terrorism in substitution of or in addition to rebellion. It has become even more unjust to make the charge of rebellion a nonbailable capital offense, discouraging the political solution of the ongoing civil war between the reactionary government and the people’s revolutionary government.
Focusing further on the issue whether the CPP and NPA are terrorist or not, it is absolutely clear legally and politically that they uphold, defend and advance the rights and interests of the people, have absolutely no interest in harming the people whose support and participation they seek. They have committed themselves to the international law on human rights and humanitarian conduct in the armed conflict. They adhere to the international conventions on human rights and the Geneva Conventions.
In 1996 the NDFP promulgated its Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977 and submitted it to the Swiss Federal Council as the responsible depositary. This new declaration, in addition to the 1991 NDFP declaration of accession to Protocol II, further commits the NDFP, the CPP, NPA and other allied revolutionary organizations as well as the organs of political power to adhere to human rights and humanitarian conduct in war. Subsequently, the NDFP and the GRP mutually approved the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998. This agreement is of great historic and current significance.
Since the founding of the New People’s Army on March 29, 1969 by the CPP, the Basic Rules of the NPA has bound all its commands, units, officers and fighters to follow the Three Rules of Discipline and the Eight Points of Attention.
These have ensured respect for human rights and humanitarian conduct. The political, economic, social, educational and cultural mass work of the CPP, the NPA and the revolutionary mass organizations have endeared themselves to the people in all the guerrilla fronts and areas governed by the people’s revolutionary government.
The broad masses of the people and the broad united front must condemn the Duterte regime for making the false charge of terrorism against the CPP and NPA, for terminating the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and for trying to impose state terrorism or fascist dictatorship on the people. For these negotiations to resume in the future, the GRP must nullify the false charge of terrorism against the revolutionary movement and reaffirm all the agreements that have been mutually approved by the GRP and NDFP.
The conservative opposition should be advised that it improves its position and chances by joining the consensus and struggle to render justice for all the victims of Duterte’s reign of terror and greed and against all those who have committed crimes against them. Even right now, they are morally and politically obliged to join the people in demanding justice for all the victims of human rights violations, especially the victims of extrajudicial killings, and the immediate release of all political prisoners.
The broad masses of the people and the broad united front must call for international solidarity for the struggle to end the Duterte regime of tyranny, treason, butchery, plunder and mass deception. This regime must be held accountable for its crimes, and overseas bank deposits of its gang leaders must be traced and returned to the Filipino people. Duterte himself and his criminal accomplices must be brought before the International Criminal Court or before a Philippine court of the GRP or the people’s revolutionary government for prosecution and trial.
While Duterte is still in power with the contradictory support of two conflicting imperialist powers, the US and China, the Filipino people and their patriotic organizations abroad must cooperate with the host people and other minority peoples to condemn the crimes of the Duterte regime, isolate it and work for moral, political and economic sanctions.
They must call on the US, European Union, Australia, New Zealand and other governments to end their listing of the CPP and NPA as terrorist because this listing is baseless and unjust. Before and after the listing, the CPP and NPA have never engaged in any act of terrorism in any foreign country. This listing by foreign governments has been invoked by Duterte’s regime to make its own terrorist listing and emboldened him to engage in state terrorism in the name of anti-terrorism.
The Filipino people and all forces of the Movement Against Tyranny must be thankful for all the successes of the Filipino compatriots abroad and the international solidarity movement in exposing, condemning and making demands to stop the Duterte regime from committing gross and systematic human rights violations. All these achievements inspire the Filipino people to fight ever more resolutely and militantly to fight for their national and social liberation against the Duterte regime and the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system that this regime seeks to perpetuate.
Long live the Movement Against Tyranny Cebu!
Advance the struggle for national independence and democracy!
Long live the Filipino people!