Peace does not come from the silencing of guns

By COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) rejects the ceasefire demand of the Arroyo regime which it has set as a precondition for the resumption of formal peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

By setting a precondition for the resumption of formal peace negotiations, the Arroyo regime is acting in violation of The Hague Joint Declaration between the GRP and the NDFP. This joint declaration signed in 1992 sets the framework and four-stage agenda of peace negotiations.

In having signed this declaration, the GRP bound itself to discuss the matter of a ceasefire and the disposition of the armed forces of both parties only after having negotiated and settled the outstanding socio-economic and political issues that are at the core of the present armed conflict.

By setting a ceasefire as a precondition for peace negotiations, the Arroyo regime is demonstrating its contempt for The Hague Joint Declaration. It has succumbed to the long-standing demand of US imperialism and its militarist minions to scrap The Hague Joint Declaration which places both the NDFP and the GRP on equal standing in the peace negotiations.

If the Arroyo regime persists in pushing for a ceasefire as a precondition, it might as well call for an end to formal peace negotiations and demonstrate to the entire world that it is no longer interested in tackling and addressing the roots of the civil war in the Philippines. On the other hand, the CPP and the NDF will continue to assert that peace negotiations be conducted along the framework of The Hague Joint Declaration, whether with the Arroyo regime or the regime that succeeds it.

It is absolutely correct for the NDFP negotiating panel to refuse the GRP's demand for a ceasefire. If it did otherwise, the NDFP would have fallen into the GRP's framework of a prolonged and indefinite ceasefire. The GRP's claim that a ceasefire will create favorable conditions for peace negotiations is completely false. As was proven in 1986-1987, a ceasefire will only create conditions that would embolden the GRP to compel the revolutionary forces to recognize and negotiate within the framework of the GRP constitution and carry out measures to subjugate the revolutionary forces.

Since 1992, peace negotiations have been carried out by both parties on an equal footing precisely because the NDFP and the GRP are both armed and actively engaging each other in the battlefield. If the NDFP were to succumb to the Arroyo regime's demand for a ceasefire, it would place itself in an unduly disadvantageous position in peace negotiations with the GRP. In such a situation, peace negotiations will not serve its purpose of addressing the roots of the armed conflict but will only be used as an added instrument of the GRP to compel the subjugation of the revolutionary forces.

The CPP also rejects the view that peace can be achieved foremost through the silencing of guns. A state of peace cannot at all be achieved through the New People's Army laying down its arms and allowing the Arroyo regime to carry out measures that serve the interests of corrupt government bureaucrats, foreign monopoly capitalists and local big capitalists. Neither can peace be attained by inviting the escalation of US military intervention nor by continuing to allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to violate the people's human rights with impunity.

The absence of peace in the Philippines stems primarily from gross social injustice and the severe oppression and exploitation of Filipino workers and peasants under the country's current neocolonial status. This is made worse by the reactionary state's employment of fascist force to suppress the Filipino people to enable it to carry out policies that serve the interests of foreign monopoly capitalists.

The Arroyo regime has shown that it is not at all interested in achieving peace through its repeated failure to carry out its obligations provided for in past agreements. It has outrightly reneged on its responsibility under the Oslo Declaration of February 2004 to undertake positive measures to address the issue of the US government's "terrorist" listing of the CPP, the NPA and the NDFP Negotiating Panel's chief political consultant. The issue of the US government's "terrorist" listing constitutes political interference and is therefore a violation of Philippine national sovereignty — a basic principle set out in The Hague Joint Declaration. Instead of protesting US intervention, the Arroyo regime in fact invites it.

The Arroyo regime has exhibited extreme disdain for the peace negotiations by putting up one roadblock after another. Worse, it has carried out measures that aggravate the Filipino people's social conditions. In pushing for an increase in the tax burden borne by the people, including a plan to raise the Value Added Tax and vigorously offering the anti-people Mining Act to foreign monopoly capitalists, the Arroyo regime further makes the Filipino people's aspirations for peace an unreachable dream under her regime.

Even now, the Arroyo regime is strategically deploying its units in areas where foreign mining concessionaires are to operate. With the AFP and the PNP serving as the armed mercenaries of foreign mining companies, the Filipino people will never know peace. The AFP is giving special attention to Mindanao, where there are large deposits of oil, natural gas, gold, copper and other minerals. The people of Mindanao, including the Moro people, are bound to intensify their armed struggle in defense of the environment and their livelihood against the plunder and rape of their resources by foreign mining companies.

By pushing for the VAT increase, the Mining Act and other anti-people measures, the Arroyo regime has shown a complete lack of interest in the question of peace. What Arroyo is really interested in is to serve the interests of foreign banks and companies and cut a share in the plunder of the country's resources. In the context of the oppressive and exploitative policies of the Arroyo regime, there is great need for the people to escalate their armed and non-armed struggles to defend their rights and advance their struggle for social justice and peace.

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