By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines, Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
June 10, 2016
Dear Compatriots and Friends:
Warmest greetings of solidarity! I thank Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Panday Sining-KARATULA, National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, and Kabataan Partylist for inviting me to speak before this All Leaders Forum on the GPH-NDFP Peace Talks.
I propose to state each of the twelve points in the Program of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and discuss the prospects under the Duterte administration and the tasks of the Filipino youth. I shall be elaborative on the first four points to ensure a common understanding of our national and democratic framework and then I shall proceed with the subsequent points at a quicker pace.
First point: Unite the people for the overthrow of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal system through a people’s war and for the completion of the national democratic revolution.
On the basis of his previous pronouncements, Duterte can easily agree to a radical or substantial change of the semicolonial and semifeudal system but not to the overthrow of the system through a people’s war. He is unique for declaring himself as the first Left president of the Philippines and a socialist but not a communist. He also says that he is against armed struggle and in that sense he is for peace negotiations with the NDFP and is willing to cooperate in realizing basic reforms or major changes.
Having been my student in his university days and a member of Kabataang Makabayan and having been associated with BAYAN, he understands what are the forces that make the semicolonial and semifeudal conditions and he is against the dominance of the US and other foreign powers , feudal exploitation and bureaucratic corruption. He has however declared opposition to armed struggle. The question therefore arises whether the national democratic revolution can be completed in the absence of a people’s war.
He can argue that as president and commander-in-chief of the reactionary armed forces, police and auxiliary forces he has the armed strength to guarantee the reforms that the people demand against imperialism and the oligarchy. But examples in history abound of well meaning leaders or heads of state succumbing to neocolonial and neoliberal economic and financial manipulation, subjected to coup d’etat by their own armed forces and /or impeachment by Congress once they cross the line set by the US and oligarchs.
If he agrees on basic social, economic and political reforms with the NDFP, he must also agree to arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people in support of a government of national unity, peace and development. There must be provisions for developing all means for satisfying the demands of the people, especially the toiling masses, and for resisting effectively the use of deception and violence by the imperialist and oligarchic enemies of the people.
The manner by which President Duterte has been elected, the current composition of his government and his own pronouncements show that there is still a long way to negotiate comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms that are satisfactory to the people. An interim ceasefire is possible to generate good will and a favorable atmosphere for the release of more than 500 political prisoners and for the acceleration of peace negotiations. But revolutionary vigilance is necessary for defending the patriotic and progressive forces as well as for a Duterte presidency that may come under threats from the US and local reactionaries.
Having said the foregoing, I urge the Filipino youth to continue all their efforts to unite the people for the overthrow of the semicolonial and semifeudal system through a people’s war and for the completion of the national democratic revolution. This task is validated by the lack of any final peace agreement that is satisfactory to the people. Even when and if there is already such agreement, the contracting parties and the people must still be ready to uphold, defend and advance the basic reforms agreed upon.
Any truce and alliance with the Duterte presidency should be justifiable in terms of serving the national and democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people. So long as such presidency is moving ahead along this line, any of its self-contradiction, imperfection or inadequacy by acts of commission and omission may be the subject of critical analysis and constructive proposal. The patriotic and progressive forces maintain their independence and initiative. A balance of unity and struggle must be maintained, with the latter always standing on just and reasonable grounds, with the objective of improving or strengthening the alliance.
Second point: Establish a people’s democratic republic and a democratic coalition government.
In the peace negotiations with the Duterte government, what is in sight is not a people’s democratic republic under the leadership of the working class and the Communist Party on the basis mainly of the worker-peasant alliance. To have that kind of republic, you have to overthrow the exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords through the people’s war. But the kind of republic now possible is one in which inside and outside the government the participation of the Communist Party of the Philippines is no longer banned but encouraged.
What is in sight is a kind of coalition government that involves the participation of the Communist Party amidst other patriotic and progressive forces. It is a government of national unity, peace and development. It is a framework within which all he patriotic and progressive forces can grow in strength because a common ground of basic reforms resulting from successful peace negotiations has been laid. And the Communist Party can prove that it best serves the people with its program of action and concrete deeds in this regard.
President Duterte must be credited for having offered the possibility of a coalition government long before winning elections. And in the process of forming his cabinet, he has generously offered to the Communist Party four cabinet posts concerned with labor, agrarian reform, social welfare and the environment. The CPP and NDFP have thanked the President for making the offer and have proposed that legal progressives can take the positions while the known revolutionary leaders must first focus on the progress of the peace process. The progressives are in the minority in Duterte’s cabinet. But Duterte’s actions before and after the elections have thus far been encouraging to the patriotic mass movement.
The task of the Filipino youth is to help develop and avail of a democratic coalition government in order to advance towards the goal of developing a people’s democratic republic. They must support the patriotic and progressive initiatives and measures undertaken in an alliance with an otherwise fully reactionary government. They should continue to help in strengthening the mass movement in the cities and countryside and the organs of political power in the countryside to serve as the strong foundation for a developing coalition government.
Third point: Build the people’s revolutionary army and the people’s defense system.
President Duterte has said time and again that he is against armed struggle and that he is for the existence of only one army in the Philippines. This proposition must undergo the test of what is immediately possible, which is an interim ceasefire in place, and further negotiations on the end of hostilities and redisposition of the armed forces of both sides. There are many possibilities to consider in dealing with two opposing armies that cease to fight each other.
No genuine armed revolutionary movement has ever accepted capitulation and outright dismantling while the opposite remains intact and growing. Truce and alliance are the most realizable. Revolutionary armed units can become guards of the environment and the industries under conditions of peace and development. Integration of armed forces is permissible as in the experience of the Chinese revolution. Mutual demobilization is also possible if armed units have become redundant due to the existence of peace. The armed personnel of both sides can then opt to take industrial jobs or go back to agriculture and partake of the benefits of genuine land reform.
Certainly a lot of savings can be made for development and social services if there is a just and lasting peace. But if the social, economic and political reforms are serious and deepgoing enough, the US and the local reactionary forces are likely to wage armed counterrevolution, be it a coup d’etat or civil war or even an outright war of aggression by US imperialism. Because of such a high probability, there must be provisions for effective people’s resistance.
The Filipino youth must support truce and alliance for the purpose of achieving national unity, peace and development and must always be alert and ready to fight armed counterrevolution or foreign aggression or intervention. At the first sign of a serious and imminent threat of violence against the Filipino people, the Filipino youth must rise up to join in their defense. They can do so only if they do not cease to build their mass movement and train for the defense of the people.
Fourth point: Uphold and promote the people’s democratic rights.
The entire Filipino people must uphold and promote their democratic rights: political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights against those who oppress and exploit them. The fundamental rights of the people are spelled out in the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution and the Guide for Establishing the People’s Government. The NDFP has also succeeded with the Manila government in making a Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and has used the International Bill of Rights and the Geneva Conventions as the point of reference.
President Duterte’s avowed focus on the crusade against crime and civil violence and his sense of urgency in implementing his reform platform have the effect of highlighting issues of human rights, especially civil and political rights. His reform platform has aroused and mobilized millions of people in spontaneous ways to support his electoral campaign and initial policies. This has gigantic potential for mass organizing in a progressive direction or otherwise.
The Filipino youth must be conscious of the fact that they constitute the largest part of the people, they are the most open to fundamental social change and they are the most resolute and militant in demanding and pursuing such change. They must persevere in the struggle to assert, defend and advance the people’s democratic rights.
Fifth point: Terminate all unequal relations with the United States and other foreign entities.
The recent statement of President Duterte not to be dependent on the US for national security is welcome. After the Permanent Court of Arbitration decides in favor of the Philippines in its maritime dispute with China, China will have less reason for encroaching on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Extended Continental Shelf of the Philippines and the Philippines will be more confident in further developing relations with China and in scrapping the unequal executive agreements with the US, like the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
The Filipino people must uphold their national sovereignty and independence and the territorial integrity of their country. They must continue to demand the termination of all treaties, agreements and arrangements that involve unequal relations with other countries in the economic, financial, political and military spheres. The Filipino youth must use their intelligence to end the reactionary tradition and practice of subservience to the imperialist powers. These have perpetuated the conditions of high unemployment, underdevelopment and widespread poverty.
Sixth point: Implement genuine agrarian reform, promote agricultural cooperation, raise rural production and employment through the modernization of agriculture and rural industrialization and ensure agricultural sustainability.
It is fine that President Duterte has appointed the long time peasant leader Rafael Mariano as the Secretary of Agrarian Reform. The Aquino regime has allowed the bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program-Enhanced Reform to lapse two years ago. More than 80 per cent of the supposed land reform beneficiaries have failed to amortize the land allotted to them. Land is always reaccumulated by a few in the wake of the fake reform program. Ka Paeng now has responsibility to push a new land reform law to effectively redistribute land to the tillers.
The Filipino people, the peasants themselves and the entire Filipino youth must push for the adoption and implementation of a genuine land reform program that involves the free distribution of land to the tillers, agricultural cooperation, increased production and employment through rural industrialization. Genuine land reform is the way to the economic, social and political liberation of the landless tillers. It is the main content of the democratic revolution. It is the necessary complement to national industrialization, assuring the people of food self-sufficiency and industries of major raw materials and enlarged domestic market.
Seventh point: Break the combined dominance of the US and other imperialists, big compradors and landlords over the economy. Carry out national industrialization and build an independent and self-reliant economy.
The combination of the imperialist powers headed by the US and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords have kept the people severely exploited and impoverished, the economy underdeveloped and the environment ravaged. It is necessary to carry out national industrialization and build an independent and self-reliant economy.
President Duterte has at certain times declared the need for a steel industry and national industrialization and the processing of the mineral ores taken away from the country. At other times he promises to create business islands and increase the special economic zones for foreign companies. So far he has appointed to key economic positions in his cabinet exponents of the neoliberal economic policy. But we look forward to engaging the Duterte government in peace negotiations and in due course persuade it to adopt the policy of national industrialization firmly and vigorously.
The Filipino people and youth must support the plan of the NDFP to have raw materials provided by agriculture and mineral ores provided by the extractive industries processed in our country in order to advance national industrialization and employ the millions of people who are unemployed and/or who go abroad for work. We can combine state and private Filipino resources to build industries. We can acquire investments and technology from a wide range of countries to avoid being dominated by one, two or three imperialist powers.
Eighth point: Adopt a comprehensive and progressive social policy.
It is fine that President Duterte has appointed Judy Taguiwalo as the secretary of social welfare and development. We have someone to rely on for providing timely distribution of relief goods and rehabilitation funds and other resources to cope with social and natural disasters. But the way to uplift the people is to develop the economy through national industrialization and land reform. These provide expanding employment and better means of livelihood along major lines of production and in medium and small enterprises.
The Filipino people and youth must support the plan for economic development and create and ensure democratic conditions to spread the benefits of a growing economy to the people. The people must exercise their democratic rights to demand better work and living conditions, increased social benefits and more and better social services.
Ninth point: Promote a national, scientific and pro-people culture.
President Duterte has emphasized the importance and necessity of expanding education as a way for uplifting the children and the youth and ensuring the steady progress of the people. He has announced his intention to rechannel resources to free public education and public health from bureaucratic corruption and from so many useless and yet costly projects and programs. He has expressed criticism of K-12 and has appointed a progressive person as secretary of education.
Even as more resources are intended to benefit education, the Filipino people and youth must demand a national, scientific and pro-people culture. We must promote a patriotic type of cultural and educational system that is proud of our national heritage and mindful of the current needs of the nation. We must free ourselves from feudal and medieval biases. We must use science and technology to hasten economic development. We must ensure that education and culture serve the needs and demands of the people, especially the toiling masses of workers and peasants.
Tenth point: Uphold the rights to self-determination and democracy of the Moro people, Cordillera peoples and other national minorities or indigenous peoples.
The Duterte government proposes to replace the current unitary state with a federal state. It believes that federalism is the way to assure the Moro people of regional autonomy and a fair share of the wealth that comes from their own region. Objectors argue that federalism would enhance and embolden centrifugal forces. Whatever is the form of government, the Filipino people and youth must uphold the rights to self-determination and democracy of the Moro people, the Cordillera peoples and other national minorities or indigenous peoples.
Eleventh point: Advance the revolutionary emancipation of women in all spheres.
While mayor of Davao City, Duterte has recognized and appreciated the role of women in public life, has created facilities for women and children in need and has demonstrated his abhorrence of violence to women. What remains to be seen is what more he can do to uphold gender equality and help realize the high potential of women who have long been suppressed by patriarchy. The Filipino people and youth must advance further the emancipation women in all spheres of social endeavor. There is no sphere where they cannot excel like the menfolk if they are recognized equally and enjoy equal opportunities.
Twelfth point: Adopt an active, independent and peaceful foreign policy.
President Duterte has demonstrated in a number of instances his patriotic position regarding the unjust acts and impositions of foreign powers and has in mind the immediate and long term interests of the Filipino people. The Philippines must have an active, independent and peaceful foreign policy.
The Filipino people and youth must demand the adoption and implementation of such policy. We can carry forward such a policy by upholding our national sovereignty and dignity, practising self-reliance in all fields of social endeavor (economic, political and cultural) and aiming for solidarity and cooperation for peace and development against imperialism and all reaction.##