By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
GRP President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo turns a deaf ear to the people’s socio-economic demands. This is proven by her railroading the approval of the VAT increase despite widespread popular opposition. She has refused to listen to the longstanding demand of workers for a PhP 125 across the board daily wage increase and the government employees for a monthly raise of PhP 3,000. People’s organizations and alliances, especially of indigenous peoples, patriotic groups and environmentalists have strongly opposed the opening up of our natural resources to the plunder of foreign mining companies. Madame President ignores them and hails the arrival of the foreign plunderers.
The workers of Hacienda Luisita demand genuine land reform. What does Madame President do? She takes the side of the big landlord clan of the Aquinos and Cojuangcos and has no qualms allowing her Labor Secretary to mandate the Armed Forces of the Philippines to violently disperse the peaceful picket of the workers. Filipino migrant workers, whose remittances keep the economy afloat, demand protection of her government. But her foreign secretary comes back home empty-handed, afraid to stand up to the foreign country that insults our migrant workers.
But she listens to and is totally subservient to the US which is allowed to send 70 military spies into our country, have 28 joint war exercises for this year – more than two exercises every month – in flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the Filipino people. The US blatantly interferes in Philippine internal affairs by declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and NDFP Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Ma. Sison “terrorist” and what does she do? She openly applauds and welcomes it. She is so concerned about the sovereignty of the US and other foreign powers but cannot stand up for the sovereignty of the Filipino people.
It is clear that Madame Macapagal Arroyo does not have the political will to negotiate basic socio-economic reforms that are needed to address the root causes of the armed conflict. Neither does she have the political will to stand up for the national sovereignty of the Filipino people, which is a guiding principle of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations enshrined in The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992. Having assumed her office amidst widespread accusations of massive fraud in the elections, she is overdependent on militarists and rabid anti-Communists.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can only sing to the baton of the US, supported by the militarists and the rabid anti-Communists around her: to precondition the resumption of formal talks to a prolonged ceasefire. Yet the AFP, PNP and CAFGU do not cease to attack workers and peasants who demand basic socio-economic reforms like genuine land reform and just wages. They do not cease attacking civilian communities suspected of supporting the revolutionary movement in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law and the CARHRIHL. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ignores the obligations her government agreed to in peace agreements with the NDFP, such as The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, the CARHRIHL, and the Oslo Joint Statements.
The NDFP is, as in the past, desirous to negotiate basic social, economic and political reforms, address the root causes of the armed conflict, and implement the CARHRIHL, the Oslo Joint Statements and other bilateral agreements. But Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appears to be interested only in a ceasefire that is tantamount to pacification and capitulation.