at the Ateneo de Davao University
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
June 8, 2016
Dear fellow Ateneans and friends,
Warmest greetings of peace to all of you in this multisectoral gathering called “When Blue Meets Red”! I thank the officials of the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC) and the University Research Council (URC) of the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) for inviting me to give this brief special message and for having Fidel Agcaoili as the lead discussant in representation of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Like the rest of the NDFP, I commend the resolve of the AdDU to strengthen its platform on peace [Be Engaged and Embrace Peace] by providing spaces for continuing conversations to widen and deepen understanding of the historical, political, and philosophical ramifications of the formal peace talks between the incoming Duterte government and the NDFP.
It is definitely useful and timely for you to promote multisectoral conversations in order to raise the level of common understanding, support the peace negotiations and offer constructive proposals for making agreements in the interest of our people. Indeed, the peace negotiations can move forward if the common point of reference is what is just and beneficial to the people.
As far as the NDFP is concerned, the people are desirous of social, economic and political reforms that address the roots of the civil war and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace We want the people to enjoy the benefits of full national independence, democracy, social justice, development through national industrialization and genuine land reform and a patriotic and progressive system of education and culture.
We in the NDFP appreciate highly your welcome and encouragement of the initiatives being undertaken by incoming President Duterte. He has offered no less than the Communist Party of the Philippines four cabinet posts that involve close relations with the people. The CPP and NDFP have thanked the President-elect for his act of good will and show of trust and confidence and encouraged the legal national and democratic forces to select their nominees for government positions.
President-elect Duterte has long demonstrated that he has the strength of character, the political will and determination to engage the revolutionary forces and do what is good for the people. He is not afraid of denouncing foreign interlopers and the oligarchs and describing himself as a socialist and as the first Left president of the Philippines. His statement sometime ago that he was amenable to a coalition government has encouraged the NDFP to seriously study the possibility of a government of national unity, peace and development.
I am proud of having some part in the development of President Duterte as a political activist and leader. He was a student of mine in political thought and became a member of Kabataang Makabayan. There should never be any problem in the peace process that we cannot discuss and fix promptly, directly or through emissaries. We have the necessary degree of rapport to exchange views and come to an agreement quickly in order to bring the peace process to a successful and happy conclusion.
President Duterte is known to spontaneously make abrupt or sometimes tentative statements, especially in the economic field. But he is also known, especially by those who know him enough, to listen to what is just and reasonable and is capable of changing or adjusting a previous position. He is said to be never deliberately unjust and unreasonable.
I make these comments in the hope that his anti-imperialist, democratic and socialist intentions and reflexes will allow him to understand that even within the International Monetary Fund there is now growing criticism of neoliberal economic policy for exacerbating inequality and economic stagnation. I believe that as truce and alliance or cooperation advances in our relations he will grasp fully the requirements of national industrialization and genuine land reform.
The visits of Fidel Agcaoili to President Duterte in Davao City have been very fruitful and so have been Fidel’s conversations with the former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III who is the appointed chief negotiator of the Duterte government. The NDFP is ready to resume the peace negotiations in accordance with the existing agreements. We are now preparing for the preliminary talks in Oslo next week to agree on the agenda for the resumption of formal talks in July. We are also ready to agree on the drafts of important documents for finalization and signing by the negotiating panels and for approval by the principals in July.
We in the NDFP have been elated by the pledge of President Duterte to release all the political prisoners by general amnesty even before the start of formal talks if the preliminary talks prove to be successful. And we have expressed the willingness to achieve peace immediately in the form of a mutual interim ceasefire. We are ready to maintain the ceasefire and the peace while we carry out the plan to accelerate the peace negotiations.
The three remaining items in the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations are: 1) social and economic reforms, 2) political and constitutional reforms and 3) end of hostilities and disposition of the armed forces. The negotiating panels must produce the comprehensive agreements on each of these items. In 1998 they succeeded in producing the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHIL). But unfortunately, when the Ramos government came to an end it was succeeded by regimes obsessed with obtaining the capitulation of the NDFP and less interested in the success of the peace process through the satisfaction of the people’s demands for reforms.
Now we have again the same leading negotiators of both sides who were responsible for the ten major agreements made during the Ramos government, ranging from The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 as the framework agreement for the peace negotiations to the CARHRIHL of 1998. There is a far greater chance than ever before for producing the comprehensive agreements at a faster rate to the mutual satisfaction of both parties and most importantly to the satisfaction of the people who need and demand the reforms.
The most crucial factor for the success of the peace process is the mutual determination of the Duterte government and the NDFP to exercise the necessary political will to adopt the long overdue basic reforms, especially in the face of the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system that is inflicting intolerable suffering on the Filipino people. Since President Duterte is a professed socialist, it should be easy for him to agree to the bourgeois democratic reforms that the NDFP is proposing for uplifting the social conditions and lives of the Filipino people.
The NDFP wishes your multisectoral conversations the utmost success. We eagerly await the results. We are ready to learn from the views and proposals expressed. May you support the peace process more than ever before.
Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!