Lecture at the Forum for Liberation Theology
Centre for Liberation Theologies, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 15 May 2014
By Jose Maria Sison
Communist Party of the Philippines
I thank the Centre for Liberation Theologies for inviting me to this Forum for Liberation Theology to speak on the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. It is an honor and pleasure for me to interface and dialogue with theologians and others who are seriously interested in knowing the nature and development of the Philippine revolution, and the relationship of Christians with the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation.
I wish to present my subject by using the following outline: 1. the old democratic revolution against Spanish colonialism and feudalism; 2. the new democratic revolution against the semi-colonial and semi-feudal ruling system; 3. the Christians for National Liberation; 4. the continuance of the new democratic revolution to the present.
I. Old Democratic Revolution
Spain was motivated by mercantilism and the desire to spread the Catholic Christian faith in imposing colonialism by force of arms on the people of the Philippine archipelago, effectively starting in 1565 after the expedition of Magellan in 1521. It used the sword and the cross to pacify the people. The conquistadores brutally suppressed those who resisted. The missionaries worked persuasively to bring the people under the bells of the Catholic church.
The Spanish colonialists could apply the divide and rule policy on a people that generally had pre-feudal autonomous small communities. The Islamic sultanates covered a small part of the archipelago, particularly in southwest Mindanao. The Muslims traded in other parts and began to spread their faith. But the success of Spanish colonialism cut them off from most of the archipelago.
The Spanish king rewarded the conquistadores by granting to them the encomiendas, large areas of land which they were supposed to administer to make sure that the natives got their Christian catechism and paid tribute. The encomienda system, which involved slavery and all its brutal features previously denounced by Bartolome de las Casas in the Americas, would last for almost a century, and morphed into the system of feudal ownership of land by the friars and the native principales.
Spanish colonialism succeeded in maintaining a colonial system of government centralized in the walled city of Manila. It was enough to control entire municipalities with the use of Spanish friars in charge of the parishes and the Spanish military officer in charge of the civil guards. However, the people were never a totally conquered and pacified. The Moros in the south, Igorots in the north, and many hill tribes resisted subjugation until the end of Spanish colonialism. More than 200 revolts of varying scopes and intensity occurred in supposedly pacified provinces in more than 300 years preceding the Philippine revolution of 1896.
In the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade which lasted until 1815, the Spanish religious orders had a share of the boletas, cargo spaces in the ship, which the friars rented out to merchants. The income was supposedly for obras pias (pious works) but was large enough to capitalize the establishment of a bank, the Monte de Piedad. The galleon trade was basically trade between Chinese porcelain and silk, and Mexican silver, with the Chinese buying Philippine rice and cotton.
When the Suez Canal was opened in 1869, the direct trade between the Philippines and Europe accelerated and expanded. The Spanish religious orders expanded their landholdings arbitrarily, especially in the Tagalog areas of Luzon, in order to produce export crops, including sugar, copra, cocoa, tobacco, and hemp. Landholdings of native landlords for the production of staple food crops also expanded. The dispossessed peasants nationwide became restless.
Since the middle of the 19th century, a big number of native secular priests had been produced by the seminaries. They eventually demanded that they take over the parishes from the foreign missionaries, and that the latter stay in the convents of their religious orders. What arose as a secularization movement among secular priests was condemned by the Spanish regular orders and the colonial government. A theocracy practically existed in the Philippines, with the church often more powerful than the governor generals who came and went in rapid succession.
When the Cavite Mutiny of 1872 occurred in a Spanish naval stockyard, the colonial and religious officials framed up and tried as instigators of the mutiny the known leaders of the secularization movement, secular priests Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora. They were sentenced to death by garrote and were executed in 1872. Their martyrdom galvanized for the first time the national sentiment of the Filipino people against the Spanish colonial authorities and the Spanish religious orders.
Before the 1880s, Filipino students in various professional courses (medical, legal, engineering, etc.) increased. Some of them who resented the authoritarian system in the Catholic schools left for Spain. They imbibed the influences of the French revolution and the Spanish enlightenment. They formed in Madrid the Propaganda Movement in the 1880s advocatng such reforms as making the Philippines a regular province of Spain and letting the people enjoy democratic rights.
La Liga Filipina was established in Manila in 1892 to pursue the reforms advocated by the Propaganda Movement. The Spanish authorities arrested and exiled the leader Dr. Jose Rizal. The crackdown on La Liga Filipina inspired the formation of the Katipunan which vowed to rise up in arms for national independence from Spain. The Katipunan, led by Andres Bonifacio, launched a series of armed uprisings in Manila and its environs in 1896. Thus the Philippine democratic revolution started.
The guiding ideology was bourgeois liberal democratic. It called for national independence from Spanish colonialism and the end of feudalism, especially the dissolution of the friar estates. It was espoused by patriots and progressives among the workers, peasants, and the university-educated youth. They were strongly anti-clerical and were most averse to the friars of the religious orders and to the colonial officials. But they generally considered themselves Christians and called for a Filipino church. It may be said therefore that the Christians were on the opposing sides of revolution and counterrevolution.
The old democratic revolution of 1896 achieved national independence from Spanish colonialism in 1898. The Malolos Constitution of 1899 followed the template of the liberal democratic constitution. It provided for the separation of Church and State. But national independence was short-lived as US imperialism intervened and launched a war of aggression on 4 February 1899. The Constitutional provision on Church-State separation was then suspended for the duration of the war by the cabinet of the revolutionary government on the argument that the Filipino priests of the Catholic church were the most effective collectors of financial and other material resources for the revolution.
The revolutionary government had its own vicar general Rev. Gregorio Aglipay. He had been sent by the Spanish Bishop Nozaleda to offer a peace settlement to the revolutionary government. But instead he declared loyalty to the Philippine revolution and was appointed the vicar general. He considered the Philippine revolution a just war against colonial oppression and social injustice. He led a guerrilla force in his home province of Ilocos Norte to assault the US military garrison in Laoag. All Filipino secular priests in areas governed by the revolutionary forces declared their independence from the Spanish religious authorities, and of course from the colonial government.
As soon as they conquered the Philippines, the US colonial authorities moved to persuade the Catholic Church and the religious orders to replace the Spanish friars with Filipino secular priests in parishes, and to phase out gradually the Spanish friars in religious orders and schools with American or Irish priests. The Catholic church has remained dominant, with 85 per cent of the population baptized by it.
The priests who followed the leadership of Aglipay established the Philippine Independent Church in 1902. This covers some four percent of the population. To this day, it is the largest Christian church outside of the Roman Catholic church. The US colonial period opened the way to the entry of various Protestant denominations that share among them some five percent of the population.
II. New Democratic Revolution
The US imperialists defeated the old democratic revolution mainly with the use of superior arms and extreme brutality. They massacred 10 percent or 700,000 of the Philippine population during the Filipino-American War which formally ended in 1902. They continued to inflict on the Filipino people another 800,000 death casualties up to 1915.
US imperialism had also a high capacity for deception. In the course of its war of aggression, it proclaimed a policy of benevolent assimilation to the revolutionary leaders and the people. It declared that it had no other aim but to further civilize and Christianize the people, and to teach them democracy for the purpose of self-rule. It used the language of bourgeois liberalism to coopt the leadership of the revolution.
The US established a colonial rule different from the old style colonialism of Spain involving sheer plunder. It represented a new kind of colonialism involving the extraction of superprofits through investments. It had the resources and the needs of monopoly capitalism. It expanded the plantations for export crops, opened the mines, and engaged in a limited amount of manufacturing. It established the public school system and improved the infrastructure for expanding domestic and foreign trade.
It has developed a semi-feudal economic system among the natives since the first decade of the 20th century. The urban-based big compradors and the rural-based landlords have served as the ruling classes. They comprise fractions of one percent of the population. The size of the middle bourgeoisie has stagnated as a fraction of one percent and the urban petty bourgeoisie has grown to eight percent. The industrial proletariat has risen from a small percentage to some 16-17 percent. The peasantry has gone down from a high of 90 percent to 75 percent.
The growth of the proletariat and the trade union movement paved the way for the establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism in 1930. The US colonial regime tried to suppress this party as soon as it was established by imprisoning and exiling the leaders. But the Great Depression and the ever worsening social conditions goaded the workers and peasants to undertake strikes and mass protests.
After World War II broke out, the merger party of the Communist and Socialist parties and the mass movement built a people’s army and local organs of political power, carried out land reform, and fought the Japanese invaders. After the war, the US and the local exploiting classes unleashed violent actions against the communists, the people’s army, and the people, compelling them to fight back and declare an armed revolution.
In 1946, the US gave up direct colonial rule, granted nominal independence to the Philippines, and passed on functions of national administration to the politicians of competing factions of the local ruling classes of big compradors and landlords. Thus, the Philippines became a semi-colony, with the US retaining its military bases, the property rights of its citizens and corporations, and its strategic dominance over the Philippine state, its economy, politics, culture, defense, and international relations.
The semi-feudal economy persisted characterized by the exploitation of the toiling masses of workers and peasants, production of raw materials for export and import of manufactures mainly for consumption. Politics remained a revolving game for factions of the local exploiting classes. The dominant culture was a mixture and compromise of cultural imperialism and Christianity of the reactionary kind. The Philippine military continued its dependence on US indoctrination, planning, intelligence, and supply of war materiel. The Philippine government robotically followed US policy.
In the 1960s, the crisis of the Philippine ruling system worsened, with the exhaustion of the land frontier for peasant resettlement and the lack of industrial development causing mass unemployment and widespread poverty. The broad masses of the people called for fundamental social change to lift them from poverty and misery. The anti-imperialist and anti-feudal mass movement grew. The Marcos regime became more violent in suppressing the mass movement and saw the conditions opportune for a fascist dictatorship.
The proletarian revolutionaries recognized the worsening social conditions and the need for an armed revolution. They separated from the old merger party of the Communist and Socialist parties in April 1966. They criticized, repudiated, and rectified the errors of this party. They reestablished the Communist Party of the Philippines on 26 December 1968 under the theoretical guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. They proclaimed the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution. They organized the New People’s Army on 29 March 1969 with the aim of overthrowing the big comprador-landlord government, and replacing it with a people’s democratic government.
The Communist Party of the Philippines constituted itself as the advanced detachment of the proletariat – the leading class in the new democratic revolution and the consequent socialist revolution. It recruited its cadres and members from the ranks of workers and progressive youth activists who wished to remould themselves as proletarian revolutionaries. It deployed the proletarian revolutionaries to the countryside to arouse, organize and mobilize the peasantry as the main force of the revolution and as the inexhaustible support for the people’s war. It regarded the urban petty bourgeoisie a basic revolutionary force but no longer as the leading force as in the old democratic revolution. It also sought to win over the middle bourgeoisie on grounds of patriotism, despite the latter´s distrust for the toiling masses.
The program of the new democratic revolution holds US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords as responsible for the semi-colonial and semi-feudal character of Philippine society. In the political field, it demands national independence and democratic rights, including respect for civil liberties, the solution of the land problem, and the empowerment of the workers and peasants. In the economic field, it demands social justice and economic development through land reform and national industrialization. In the cultural field, it demands a patriotic, scientific, and pro-people system of education and culture. In foreign relations, it seeks solidarity and cooperation with all peoples and countries for peace and development.
All the demands in the program of the new democratic revolution uphold, defend and promote the national and democratic rights and interests of the entire Filipino people, especially the toiling masses of workers and peasants, irrespective of their religious beliefs, their ethno-linguistic affinity, ancestry, color of skin, and gender. For emphasis, let me state that Christians and other religious believers, have the fundamental right to freedom of thought and belief. This right is clearly enshrined in the revolutionary constitution, the Guide to Establishing the People’s Democratic Government.
The strategic line of protracted people’s war, which involves encircling the cities by the revolutionary forces in the countryside, and accumulating strength here until conditions are ripe for seizing the cities, has been adopted by the CPP and the NPA for two reasons. First, it gives full play to the role of the peasants as main force of the democratic revolution. Second, it is the way to enable the people’s army to grow from small to big and from weak to strong, and avoid being decisively destroyed in one uprising or one battle by a far superior enemy military force.
All forces of the new democratic revolution, including the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, the National Democratic Front, the revolutionary mass organizations, and the organs of democratic power, recognize that more than 90 percent of the population are Christians, and that the new democratic revolution cannot be won without the participation and support of the Christians. Thus, the Christians for National Liberation has been initiated to engage the Christians as such, and give full play to their participation and support in the Philippine revolution.
The CNL has played a highly significant role in promoting ecumenism by uniting within the revolutionary movement the faithfuls of the Roman Catholic Church, the Philippine Independent Church, and various Protestant denominations; by developing mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims; by opposing Christian chauvinism so-called and other un-Christian phenomena engendered by colonial history and continuing bigotry; and by realizing the dialogue and cooperation between religious believers and nonbelievers.
While guided by dialectical and historical materialism in their revolutionary practice, the communists in the Philippines have a high level of discipline, and code of social behavior. They respect freedom of conscience and do not impose their ideology on others. When others differ from them in opinion, they prefer to listen and learn first, and then patiently explain their side for the purpose of mutual understanding and cooperation.
They avoid deflection of the issues of national and social liberation towards a heated debate of religious issues above the social needs and demands of the people. But they happily welcome and agree with any attempt to develop the dialogue and cooperation between them and the Christians in their obedience to the second great commandment to love and serve the people in consonance with their love of God above all.
III. Christians for National Liberation
The Christians for National Liberation (CNL) was founded at the worship room of the Sampaloc University Center in Manila on 17 February, 1972 on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora. Seventy-two revolutionary disciples of Christ gathered to bear the “cross of sacrifice” and raise the “red banner of revolution”. They described themselves as a revolutionary organization of church people who had been challenged by social realities and their Christian faith to take part in the new democratic revolution under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines and in accordance with the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution. They adopted the battle cry, “Love your neighbor. Serve the people.”
The founding process extended to the general assembly that was held at the Assumption Convent in Herran, Manila on 19-20 August 1972, a full month before the Marcos regime declared martial law and imposed a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people. The nearly 250 delegates included priests, nuns, pastors, seminarians, novices, and church militants involved in social action projects in urban and rural communities. They elected the National Executive Board of the CNL.
The CNL officers and members arose from and developed in the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal or national democratic movement from the late 1960s to 1972. They were motivated by a high sense of patriotism sharpened by renewed studies of the Philippine revolution of 1896, the current dismal conditions, and the urgent need for continuing the Philippine revolution. They wanted to end the semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions. They wanted national and social liberation from the evils of foreign domination, domestic feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. Like the rest of Filipino patriots and progressives, they were also inspired by the revolutionary resistance of the Vietnamese and other Indochinese people against the US war of aggression.
They were appalled and challenged by the ever worsening social crisis, the increasing violence of the Marcos regime towards mass protests, and apparent scheme of the regime to impose a fascist dictatorship on the people. They deemed it necessary to fight for democracy not only in the sense of upholding civil and political liberties but also in realizing the substance of democracy though land reform for the benefit of the peasant majority of the people. They desired the end of the conditions of underdevelopment and the start of genuine development through land reform and national industrialization.
The Catholics, the members of the Philippine Independent Church, and the Protestants all used the Bible as the source of inspiration. They had their respective theological authorities to support their commitment to the cause of national and social liberation. Certainly, the Catholics found wider new ground in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The book Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire became available in English translation in 1970, and influenced those who became members of the CNL. It was well ahead of the book A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez which was published in English by Orbis only in 1973. The book Rules for Radicals of Saul Alinsky also influenced those Christians who engaged in community work. The Filipino Redemptorist, Fr. Luis Hechanova advocated the Theology of Struggle and wrote a pamphlet on this.
The CNL departed from the conservative tradition and position of the institutional church and hierarchy. It called for the church of the people, especially for the poor, deprived, and oppressed. It propagated conscientization and preferential option for the poor. The lower clergy joined the CNL and consciously distanced themselves from the mindset and actuations of an institutional church that owns substantial land and stocks in major corporations, and that provides services mainly to the exploiting classes. In the shift from the Spanish to the US colonial period, the Catholic Church retained their property rights and gained capital for corporate investments from the sale of friar estates which came under the US-instituted land reform program.
The religious and church workers that comprised the CNL also differentiated themselves from the reformist tradition cultivated by the American Jesuits since the 1930s to propagate the social encyclicals of the church, advocate social reforms, and carry out social action with the objective of improving upon and preserving the ruling system, and preventing the communists from winning the people and taking power. The American Jesuit, Fr. Walter Hogan became prominent in the Philippines for establishing the Institute of Social Order which trained the organizers of the Federation of Free Workers and the Federation of Free Farmers starting in the 1950s, in order to seize the initiative as the state cracked down on the suspected communist organizations of workers and peasants. They also pushed for the enactment of the Anti-Subversion Law to target suspected communists.
Special mention must made of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, based in the state-owned University of the Philippines, in the university belt in Manila and the Protestant colleges and universities. It studied and published articles against US domination and the unjust social system in the Philippines. The Khi Rho, a militant Catholic youth and student organization, declared itself a national democratic organization. It promoted the line of the new democratic revolution not only in the Catholic schools and the National Union of Students of the Philippines but also worked to win over to the line such organizations as the Federation of Free Workers and Federation of Free Farmers. It actively opposed the rabid anti-communist line of Fr. Jose Blanco, S.J.
The officers and members of the CNL studied the documents of the Communist Party of the Philippines, especially the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution and Amado Guerrero’s Philippine Society and Revolution, and engaged the communists in dialogues for mutual understanding and cooperation in the social, economic, political, and cultural fields. The Christian side did not oblige the Communists to study Christian theology. Neither did the Communists oblige the Christians to study Marxism-Leninism. But certainly in the course of ever continuing dialogue, each side took interest in studying the principles of the other side, in appreciating the desire of the other side to join the cause of national and social liberation, and in creating the bridge of cooperation.
The Communists learned more deeply than ever about the faith and good works of the Christians. They distinguished the good Christians from the bad ones among the exploiting classes, who used religion as an opium to delude themselves and the people. On the other hand, the Christians learned to appreciate materialist dialectics and class analysis as tools for understanding and solving social problems and for changing society. Many do so without having to give up their religious faith. Some priest friends of mine also said that they accepted historical materialism but not dialectical materialism.
When Marcos declared martial law on 21 September 1972, the CNL played an important role in opposing the fascist dictatorship and in providing refuge and facilities to many people, especially the activists, who were targeted for arrest and detention. They also helped families in asking the military for the whereabouts of people arrested and detained, and in providing humanitarian aid and legal counsel to those in need. They did so even as then Cardinal Rufino Santos supported the proclamation of martial law and declared that it be given a chance to carry out reforms.
The CNL joined the National Democratic Front of the Philippines when it was established on 24 April 1973 as a united front of patriotic and progressive forces committed to work for the unity of the broad masses of the Filipino people in fighting the US-directed Marcos fascist dictatorship. It cooperated with the organizations that sought its help. It deployed CNL members to strengthen the urban underground. It played a key role in encouraging and supporting the La Tondeña workers’ strike in 1975, and the consequent nationwide wave of workers’ strikes in 300 workplaces that extended up to 1976.
It authorized CNL members to work in the countryside in order to do religious work and mass work, or join the New People’s Army and become spokespersons or communicators to the people. Many priests, nuns, pastors and seminarians became communists and even joined the NPA in the course of working with communists and Red fighters in serving the people and fighting the enemy. There is a long list of martyrs and heroes who were religious and chose to become revolutionary fighters. There is also long list of religious who became political prisoners.
In the broad united front of the religious promoted by the CNL, the secular priests in the Philippine Priests Incorporated and the Association of Major Religious Superiors made significant contributions to the people’s struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship. Many social action centers of the Catholic Church adopted the national democratic orientation and enjoyed the support of Bishop Julio X. Labayen and Fr. Luis Hechanova, head and executive director of the National Secretariat of Social Action (NASSA). Bishop Labayen inspired and supported the Basic Christian Communities-Community Organizing which became targets of propaganda and physical attacks by the military minions of the fascist dictatorship.
Archbishop Jaime Sin took over the archdiocese of Manila when Cardinal Santos died in 1973. By then, human rights violations had become rampant and more bloody, with forced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings victimizing oppositionists, trade unionists, and peasant leaders, who were affiliated with the church and who were not at all connected to the revolutionary movement. The CNL played a significant role in persuading Cardinal Sin and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to criticize the fascist regime and demand justice for the victims of human rights violations.
However, Cardinal Sin would only proclaim a policy of critical collaboration towards the Marcos fascist regime. This policy would come to an end only on 13 February 1986 when the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a pastoral letter declaring the regime illegitimate and immoral after the farcical snap presidential election of 1986.
In accordance with their own respective reasons, the Catholic and other Christian churches, the conservative opposition forces, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the US, sections of the reactionary armed forces, the chambers of commerce and industry, and other forces, converged on the decision to overthrow the Marcos regime. The broad masses of the people carried out gigantic mass actions in the national capital region and in the provinces to put the fascist dictatorship to an end.
IV. Continuance of the New Democratic Revolution and People’s War
The downfall of the Marcos dictatorship did not result in the national and social liberation of the Filipino people. The ruling system of big compradors and landlords under US hegemony remained intact. From the monopoly of political power and bureaucratic loot, there was a swing back with a vengeance to the oligarchy of factions competing for power and wealth, and masquerading as democracy.
Every post-Marcos regime has been characterized by puppetry to US imperialism, collaboration with foreign and local exploiters, bureaucratic corruption, brutality, and gross human rights violations. It is therefore not surprising that the Filipino people and the revolutionary forces have persevered in the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war, and that every post-Marcos regime has failed to destroy the armed revolutionary movement.
In the course of the struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship, a broad range of opposition forces had an understanding that, immediately after the overthrow of Marcos, there would be a peace agreement between the Manila government and the revolutionary forces represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. In accordance with such understanding, the revolutionary forces represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines discreetly reminded President Corazon Aquino of their willingness to negotiate an agreement for a just and lasting peace.
But Aquino was interested merely in a ceasefire agreement to allow her to consolidate her power. She had no interest in an agreement to address the roots of the armed conflict through basic social, economic, and political reforms. At any rate, the NDFP agreed with the Aquino regime in November 1986 to have a 60-day ceasefire to work out the agenda for substantive peace negotiations. Before the ceasefire agreement ran out, Aquino allowed her security forces to massacre peasant demonstrators in front of her palace on 23 January 1987, and then, in her own words, “unsheathed the sword of war” against the revolutionary forces on 22 March 1987, instead of investigating and finding out which military officers were culpable for the massacre.
When hard pressed by the mutinous military group called Reform the Armed Forces of the Philippines and by the worsening social and political crisis in the Philippines in 1989, she sent a series of emissaries to the NDFP to express her desire for peace negotiations. But she relented in December 1990 from exploratory talks. It would be her presidential successor Gen. Fidel Ramos who would seek peace negotiations more seriously in 1992.
The Manila government and the NDFP signed The Hague Joint Declaration on 01 September 1992 as the framework agreement for conducting the peace negotiations. This stipulates that the roots of the armed conflict are to be addressed by basic reforms in order to lay the basis for just and lasting peace; that national sovereignty, democracy, and social justice are the mutually acceptable principles guiding the negotiations; and that no side shall make any precondition that negate the character and purpose of negotiations. It sets forth the substantive agenda to be negotiated in sequence, namely: 1. respect for human rights and international humanitarian law; 2. social and economic reforms; 3. political and constitutional reforms; and 4. end of hostilities and disposition of forces. The Hague Joint Declaration also lays down the method of forging the comprehensive agreements through the formation of reciprocal working committees.
Before the end of the Ramos regime, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) was signed by the Negotiating Panels on 16 March 1998. The NDFP principal, Comrade Mariano Orosa, immediately approved it on 10 April 1998, while Ramos hesitated to approve it. It was his presidential successor Joseph Estrada who approved the agreement on 7 August 1998. However, since then, the Estrada and succeeding regimes continuously put up obstacles in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and CARHRIHL in order to prevent the negotiation on social and economic reforms.
The Christians for National Liberation and the broad masses of Christians have strongly supported the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war, the legal and peaceful democratic mass movement, and the campaign for a just and lasting peace. Bishops of the Catholic Church, the Philippine Independent Church, the Protestant denominations, and the lower clergy outside of the CNL have been calling for upholding national sovereignty and the national patrimony, social justice, respect for human rights, protection of the environment, and a just and lasting peace. During every regime of the Manila government, bishops have used their conferences and special bodies, like the Ecumenical Bishops Forum, Pilgrims for Peace and Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, to call for peace negotiations and to serve as bridge between the Manila government and NDFP.
The revolutionary forces and people represented by the NDFP are ever ready for serious peace negotiations to forge agreements with the Manila government for a just and lasting peace. But because this government refuses to address the roots of the civil war through peace negotiations, the revolutionary forces are justified to wage the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. Along this general line, the revolutionary forces are currently pursuing their strategic plan of advancing from the stage of strategic defensive to that of the strategic stalemate.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, the revolutionary mass organizations of workers, peasants, youth, women, children, and cultural activists, and the organs of democratic power are strengthening themselves. In the course of the people´s war, they are carrying out programs and campaigns to improve the conditions and lives of the people through self-organization, public education, health care, land reform, economic production, self-defense, arbitration of people’s disputes, cultural upliftment, gender equality, and environmental protection. ###
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-Ditto- 6th National Congress documents, Pilipinas, jan. 1995.
-Ditto- ¨Hail the 28th anniversary of the Christians for National Liberation, firmly grasp revolutionary principles¨, Pilipinas, special issue, Feb. 2000.
-Ditto- 7th National Congress documents, Pilipinas, February 2004.
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– Ditto – The GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations: Major Written Agreements and Outstanding Issues (Quezon City: NDFP-Nominated Section to the Joint Secretariat of the GRP-NDFPJoint Monitoring Committee, 2006)
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– Ditto – Crisis of Imperialism and People’s Resistance (Philippines: Aklat ng Bayan, 2009)
– Ditto – Foundation for Resuming the Philippine Revolution (Netherlands & Philippines: International Network for Philippine Studies and Aklat ng Bayan, 2013).
– Ditto – People’s Struggle Against Imperialist Plunder and War (Philippines: Aklat ng Bayan, 2009)
– Ditto – The People’s Struggle for a Just Peace (Netherlands: International Network for Philippine Studies, 1991)
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