Political implications of the current impasse and prospects of GRP-NDFP peace talks

Presentation to Forum on Peace under Siege

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
June 28, 2018

I. POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF CURRENT IMPASSE
1. The promise of Duterte on May16, 2016 to amnesty and release all political prisoners even before the start of peace talks is a long and repeatedly proven lie.

2. His strategic obsession has always been to seek the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary forces and people and has no interest in addressing the roots of the armed conflict through social, economic and political reforms.

3. His main objective is to obtain a bilateral ceasefire of protracted and indefinite duration without any preceding comprehensive agreement on basic reforms as required by The Hague Joint Declaration. He merely wants to paralyze the revolutionary movement and erode its strength through some dole-out schemes to the revolutionaries and communities in focus areas under his military control, surveillance and psywar operations.

4. He has no economic program different from that of his reactionary predecessors: retention of the semifeudal character of the economy along the neoliberal line. He emulates the Marcos line of build, build, build infrastructure, borrow, borrow, borrow and steal, steal, steal. The making of CASER would have supplied him with an economic program of national industrialization, genuine land reform and wise utilization of the rich natural resources of the Philippines but he has no real interest in these.

5. He has practically declined the offer to agree on a federal system of government that is not merely a vehicle of Duterte´s scheme of fascist dictatorship emulative of Marcos. He wants an overcostly and turbulent federal system of exploiting classes, regional dynasties and warlords.

6. He is not interested in an independent foreign policy. He retains the treaties, agreements and arrangements that make the Philippines subservient to US imperialism. At the same time , he is enamored of private gains for his family and cronies from the traitorous sell-out of the West Philippine Sea and its rich mineral and marine resources, from high interest loans from China and overpriced infrastructure projects with Chinese corporations and even from the China-based illegal drug trade.

7. Since May 2017, he has terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP three times and fouled up every attempt to resume these through back channel talks. At the third termination in November and December 2017, he issued Proclamation 360 to terminate the peace negotiations and Proclamation 374 to designate the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations and filed a case before the Manila regional trial court (RTC) to seek the proscription of the CPP,NPA and 600 individuals as terrorists. These are definitely obstacles to the resumption of peace negotiations with Duterte regime.

8. The aforesaid actions of Duterte would have been enough basis for the NDFP to conclude that he is not at all interested in peace negotiations. But in response to the demands of peace advocates, the NDFP persevered and worked out a number of agreements with GRP representatives in back channel talks from March to June 2018. The most important of these would have constituted the Interim Peace Agreement at the resumption of formal talks in Oslo from June 28 to 30.

9. The real reasons why Duterte has canceled the resumption of peace talks in Oslo are:

  • the AFP and PNP wish to carry out to the end of 2018 their campaign plan to supposedly to finish off the NPA and;
  • to change the venue of peace talks to Manila so that these can come under the control, surveillance duress and manipulation by Duterte and the military.

10. By his pronouncements. Ðuterte pretends to review in three months the entire process and all agreements in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations since 1992. By all indications, he will try to change the entire peace process and waste previous agreements. At any rate, he will try to impose on the NDFP changes that the NDFP will certainly reject.

II. Prospects of the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks
1. Based on the implications drawn from the current impasse, the NDFP can no longer negotiate with a GRP that is headed by Duterte. So long as he heads the GRP, the Filipino people, especially the oppressed and exploited, cannot expect any benefit from negotiating with the Duterte regime.

2. It is relatively easier and more productive for the NDFP to participate in the Oust-Duterte movement and to prepare for peace negotitions with the prospective administration that replaces the Duterte regime.

3. The broad united front of patriotic and democratic forces has become strong enough to call for and cause the ouster of Duterte. While the urban-based Oust Duterte movement is growing, the CPP, NPA and the people have to fight and defeat the offensives of the AFP and PNP being unleashed by the Duterte regime.

4. Nothing goes to waste in the work and drafts of agreements already done by the NDFP. They can be carried over to the negotiation with GRP under a new administration. The room is open for the further improvement of the drafts in the meantime .

5. The agreements and drafts already produced in the GRP-NDFP peace talks can be used by peace advocates and people´s organizations for information and education campaigns among the people and for consultations with them. Many of the reforms can be promoted and developed even without peace negotiations,

6. In a desperate effort to retain power and establish his fascist dictatorship, Duterte will threaten or actually use bloody campaigns of suppression against the people in the urban and rural areas. The broad masses of the people and the revolutionary forces must be prepared to fight the Duterte regime in various forms of struggle.

7. Despite claims of everlasting popularity, the Duterte regime is already isolated and hated by the people because of its brutality, corruption, involvement in the drug traffic, the rising prices of basic goods and services, continuance of contractualization, rising unemployment and low/inadequate incomes the treasonous sell-out of Philippine territory and sovereign rights to China, disrespect for the religious beliefs of Catholics and Christians, and so on.

8. The Duterte regime is on record as having terminated the peace talks so many times. It is indubitably responsible for the termination of peace negotiations. It is therefore just for the revolutionary forces and the people to wage people´s war for national liberation and democracy.

9. It is well and good if Duterte withdraws finally from the peace negotiations with the NDFP. Thus, he deprives himself of the opportunity of creating false illusions that he is for peace. He stands isolated and ripe for ouster by the broad united front of patriotic and democratic forces.

10. By trying to destroy the NPA in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon all at once, the Duterte regime is practically debilitating and destroying itself. The deployment of his military and police forces for offensives are extremely costly, overextended and overstraining. His troops have been overworked and and exhausted by fighting on the rough terrain of the indigenous peoples and the Bangsamoro. Many of his officers and troops curse him for their rising casualties and hardship.