Executive Secretary Ermita lets the cat out of the bag

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

25 January 2008

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita lets the cat out of the bag when he said, "So what's the end game for negotiation? Let's silence the guns." He thus exposes his militarist mindset. All he wants from peace negotiations is that the people's army surrenders.

Silence the guns of the people's army, but of course not the guns of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and the regime's death squads.

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

25 January 2008

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita lets the cat out of the bag when he said, "So what's the end game for negotiation? Let's silence the guns." He thus exposes his militarist mindset. All he wants from peace negotiations is that the people's army surrenders.

Silence the guns of the people's army, but of course not the guns of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and the regime's death squads.

It is also utterly ridiculous that even before the peace negotiations can resume, he sets as precondition getting immediately the surrender and pacification that the expects from the end game that he conceives of.

The alpha and omega for the Arroyo regime is the disarming of the revolutionary forces, the perpetuation of the oppressive and exploitative system and the prevention of basic social, economic and political reforms. All that the regime is interested in is surrender negotiations and not real peace negotiations in the interest of the Filipino people.

For the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the end game of peace negotiations means no more government corruption. It means food for the people, education and health care available for all, genuine land reform for the many millions of peasants and no more landgrabbing in favor of big compradors like San Miguel Corporation, respect for the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples and no more license to plunder for foreign mining companies like Lafayette, Sagittarius and Toronto Ventures.

For the NDFP, the end game of peace negotiations means Filipinos no longer have to go abroad to find work, no more contractualization and assumption of jurisdiction against the workers but guarantee of their right to organize and strike and to job security. National industrialization to ensure the development of a healthy economy. No more trafficking of women and other violations of their rights.

The end game means no more unequal treaties like the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), but rather mutually beneficial relations with other countries and foreign investors. No more US troops in the Philippines.

In short, for the NDFP, the end game of negotiations is a just and lasting peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of the Filipino people.

The NDFP is open and willing to have exploratory talks without preconditions. We appreciate the call of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) and other peace advocates for the resumption of peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP. We commend the principled position taken by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro who declared: “We’d like to see peace talks resume immediately without preconditions and in accordance with all prior agreements.”

To Executive Secretary Ermita we say: “Set aside your militarist mindset and heed the call of so many peace advocates in the Philippines and abroad for the resumption of peace talks.” To National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and his close associate, Fr. Romeo Intengan, we say: “Set aside your rabid anti-communist line of wanting to destroy the revolutionary movement.” To Ermita, Gonzales and Intengan, we say: “Be guided, if not by the people’s interest, at least by real politik. Consider the reality on the ground. The New People’s Army will soon celebrate its 39th anniversary. The dictator Marcos, with US military and political support, could not defeat it, nor could successive regimes after his. The New People’s Army is deeply rooted in the people whose interest it defends. It in turn is cherished and supported by the people.”

To Ermita and Gonzales, and to Mrs. Gloria Arroyo herself, we can say: “Why be afraid of exploratory talks without preconditions?“ You should even be more afraid that there would be no more peace talks because your rule will become more unstable as the crisis of the ruling system worsens rapidly under the weight of the world capitalist crisis and the conditions for waging armed revolution are more favorable than ever before.

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