June 21, 2016
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines, Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Dear Compatriots and Friends,
My warmest greetings of solidarity and peace to all of you! I thank the Exodus for Justice and Peace and BAYAN-SMR for inviting me to speak as well as the journalists for participating in this Media Forum
It is appropriate and purposive for us to meet soon after the spread of the good news. This is spelled out in the Oslo Joint Statement, issued by the representatives of the incoming Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to mark the success of their preliminary talks from June 14 to 15 in the Norwegian capital.
Success of the Preliminary Talks in Setting the Resumption of Formal Talks
The two Parties agreed to resume the formal talks in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations in the third week of July and to conduct them in accordance with previously signed agreements since the The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 which set the basic framework for peace negotiations
During the resumption of the formal talks, the Parties shall discuss the following agenda items:
1. Affirmation of previously signed agreements;
2. Accelerated process for negotiations, including the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks: social and economic reforms; political and constitutional reforms; and end of hostilities and disposition of forces;
3. Reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list;
4. Amnesty Proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners, subject to concurrence by Congress; and
5. Mode of interim ceasefire.
The two Parties agreed to recommend to President Duterte the following: 1) the immediate release of NDFP consultants and other JASIG protected persons in accordance with the JASIG to enable them to participate in the peace negotiations; and 2) the immediate release of prisoners/detainees based on humanitarian grounds.
Aquino Regime’s Accountability for Paralyzing the Peace Negotiations
During the Aquino regime, no less than the principal Benigno S. Aquino III apparently paid very superficial and casual attention to the peace negotiations, unless he himself gave an explicit order to paralyze and sabotage the peace negotiations. He allowed his peace adviser, OPAPP secretary Ging Deles, and his chief negotiator Alex Padilla, to do nothing else but to impugn and negate the agreements previously signed by the Parties and to simply demand the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary forces and people. They have claimed mockingly that their predecessors in the peace process yielded too much to the NDFP.
From the very outset, Deles and Padilla harped on the lie that The Hague Joint Declaration was a document of “perpetual division” and denied the fact that this solemn document had made possible ten major agreements. They declared the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as “inoperative” and blocked every attempt to reconstitute the list of JASIG-protected NDFP consultants. NDFP consultants have been extrajudicially killed like Sotero Llamas, forcibly disappeared like Leo Velasco or imprisoned on charges of common crimes.
They maliciously tried to discredit the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) by calling it “a mere propaganda document” of the NDFP. They also tried hard to cripple the NDFP section of the Joint Monitoring Committee by seeking to reduce drastically its funding from the Norwegian third party facilitator for its operations. The CARHRIHL has been wantonly violated with the imprisonment of suspected communists and NPA fighters as well as social activists and ordinary people on false charges of common crimes.
Under the Aquino regime, the OPAPP blocked the peace negotiations with the NDFP. It became a psywar agency of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a center of corruption. The OPAPP secretary Deles spent most of her time attending fake surrender ceremonies and doing other psywar chores for the AFP and collaborating with her mates in the bureaucracy, military and Napoles-type yellow NGOs to privately siphon off funds from the large budgetary appropriations for the OPAPP and PAMANA.
Under the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino regime, gross and systematic human rights of violations were perpetrated, including abductions, torture, extrajudicial killings, evictions of the urban poor, displacement of peasants and indigenous people to make way for the expansion of mining, plantations, shopping malls and tourist facilities. The regime has cynically described the psywar, intelligence and combat operations of the AFP, PNP and their auxiliaries as peace and development operations.
The main thrust of Oplan Bayanihan has been to destroy, cripple or force the surrender of the revolutionary forces and people. Even the Aquino regime´s hype about yielding to the demands of the MILF was merely a psywar scheme to deceive the MILF and to prolong its ceasefire agreement with the GPH in order to have more AFP troops for deployment in the areas of the NPA. But thanks to the stupidity of Aquino, he plunged into the Mamasapano fiasco and re-ignited the armed resistance of the Bangsamoro.
Prospects for Peace Negotiations during the Duterte Administration
The resumption of formal talks in the peace negotiations within the first month of the Duterte administration is an auspicious start. It is premised on the previously signed agreements. The chief negotiator of the Philippine government, incoming Secretary of Labor and Employment Silvestre Bello III, has a record of negotiating diligently and working effectively with his own panel members and with the negotiators of the NDFP in making the aforesaid agreements.
Of course, most important factor on the side of the GPH is President Duterte as the principal. By many indications, he has the political will or determination to pursue the peace negotiations to a successful and happy conclusion. He understands the national and democratic character of the revolutionary forces represented by the NDFP. He knows what it takes to forge mutually acceptable agreements on social, economic and political reforms in order to achieve a just and lasting peace.
President Duterte did not suddenly drop from the sky. He grew up intellectually and politically under conditions of ever worsening conditions due to the chronic crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. Since his youth, he has been inclined to side with the oppressed and exploited. He was my student in political thought and joined the Kabataang Makabayan.
He became an official of the Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy in 1986 when he and his mother were in the forefront of challenging the Marcos fascist dictatorship. He also became an official of the Partido ng Bayan in 1987. As an elected public official in Davao City, he has actively and effectively cooperated with the legal progressive forces as well as with the revolutionary forces. At one time in 2012, he even agreed to become a resource person of the NDFP in peace negotiations until he was instructed by DILG Secretary Robredo to desist.
Coming from Davao, you know better than I do that President Duterte has often taken the initiative and heeded proposals to undertake reforms and programs that benefit the poor, the oppressed and exploited. He carries the spirit of serving the people and is ever willing to do what he can to serve them. The whole nation knows what statements and actions he has done to promote the peace negotiations and gain further the confidence of the NDFP. Without prodding from anyone, he has offered the release of all political prisoners by general amnesty and he offered cabinet posts to the CPP and the NDFP.
Duterte has declared that he is the first Left president of the Philippines. Let us give him a chance to prove it. Let us avail of the peace negotiations as one of several ways of clarifying what needs to be done and what can be done in order to bring about full national independence, democratic empowerment of the working people, economic development through national industrialization and land reform, social justice, expanded public education and advance of a patriotic and progressive culture.
Some Matters Related to the Peace Negotiations
I have said enough to start an open forum on the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. But I wish to take this opportunity to speak in honor of a comrade and close friend of President Duterte, Ka Parago or Comrade Leoncio Pitao. Preparations are now being made to commemorate the first anniversary of his death. He was martyred on June 28, 2015 in Paquibato District after serving the people and fighting for their rights and interests for a long period of time. Let us recall him as a hero of the people, whose undying spirit continues to inspire the growing revolutionary movement. Let us have a moment of silence.
It is encouraging to recall the indomitable courage of Ka Parago at a time that the forces of Oplan Bayanihan continue to rampage. We must fight them and stop the extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and detention, occupation of schools and barangay halls and the displacement of people to make way for companies that engage in mining, logging, plantations and other activities that poison the soil, destroys the farms of ordinary people, damage the environment and bring about more serious natural and social disasters.
It is fitting and proper to celebrate the revolutionary principles and heroic deeds of Ka Parago during the concert on June 27 in order to enlighten the audience about the 12-point program of the NDFP, the people’s war and the peace talks as well as during the mass mobilization and peace forum on June 28. We are hopeful that these activities will remind President Duterte of the need to withdraw the military forces to their barracks in Mindanao and elsewhere in consonance with the impending interim ceasefire agreement in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.
´The ceasefire between the armed forces of the GPH and the NDFP and the eventual conclusive success of the peace negotiations should make more resources available for expanding industrial and agricultural production and education, health and other social services. Resources should not be wasted through the superprofit remittances by the multinational firms, foreign debt servicing, bureaucratic corruption, luxury consumption by the oligarchy, excessive military spending and other forms of lopsided spending for schemes like K-12 which is meant to make education unpatriotic in content, more subservient to the needs of multinational firms, more expensive and more privatized.
Some people are worried that the ceasefire might be prolonged and that the New People’s Army would disintegrate or be gravely weakened and yet the comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms might not be satisfactory or might not be implemented at all. There is a plan to accelerate the peace negotiations and thereby to measure the seriousness of the Duterte government to make substantive progress in the peace negotiations.
The people’s army will not be idle even if it is in a mode of self-defense and does not actively carry out offensive military campaigns and operations against the AFP and PNP. It can continue to engage in mass work, land reform, production, health care, cultural work, politico-military training, defense and protection of the environment and natural resources against illegal mining, logging and landgrabbing and it can continue to suppress drug dealing, cattle rustling, robbery, kidnapping and other criminal acts as well as despotic acts of local tyrants.
My opening statement has run long enough. Thank you for your patience. I am now ready to receive and answer your questions. ###