Solidarity message to the Refoundation Congress of SORTU

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chief International Representative
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
18 January 2017

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines extends its warmest greetings of solidarity to the Abertzale Left and the Basque people on the Refoundation Congress of SORTU. We echo the firm support of the revolutionary people of the Philippines for the continuing struggle for national self-determination and genuine democracy of the Basque people.

Photo: JonB

We salute your efforts in the entire refoundation process in electing a new set of leadership for SORTU, and in uniting on the current political situation, conflict resolution process and SORTU’s political strategy in the coming years. We commend your continued aspirations of being an instrument for freedom and democracy for the Basque people.

The Filipino people are themselves in the midst of a life-and-death struggle for national freedom and genuine democracy. Despite the country’s rich natural resources, the vast majority of Filipinos live in poverty; they suffer landlessness, feudal landlord exploitation, joblessness, slave wages, absent or dismal social services, and extreme social inequality. The country’s riches are plundered by the local economic elite and foreign monopoly corporations led by the US. Local and national government officials earn big money from these corporations in return for keeping down wages and brutally suppressing the people’s rights to decent living.

The NDFP and the revolutionary people of the Philippines have been waging various forms of struggle across the country in nearly five decades. Peasant organizations implement the revolutionary agrarian reform program and build the foundations of the people’s democratic and political power in the countryside. Workers, urban poor communities, the women, youth and other sectors organize themselves in the cities and town centers, demanding democratic reforms, as well as amplifying the revolutionary calls for national liberation and democracy.

Rodrigo Duterte, who became president of the Manila government on 30 June 2016, presents himself as a “socialist” and a “Leftist” president. He has had long friendly relations with the revolutionary forces in the southern island of Mindanao and has expressed willingness to address the roots of the armed conflict. Based on a list recommended by the NDFP, Duterte has appointed personages from the legal democratic mass movement to be part of his cabinet and other government agencies.

Accordingly, the revolutionary movement has issued a policy of alliance and struggle, and the NDFP is now engaging the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in peace talks to address the roots of the armed conflict in the country.

At the same time however, the revolutionary movement is fully aware that Duterte remains to be the president of a reactionary and counter-revolutionary state. In particular, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) remains firmly in the hands of US-trained and US-directed generals and civilian officials. Duterte has allowed the AFP to continue its armed operations in the countryside against the minority and peasant communities, resulting in continued widespread and atrocious human rights abuses. He has also given the Philippine National Police (PNP) and armed criminal gangs a free hand in killing mainly poor drug users and small-time drug dealers, in the name of his “war against drugs”.

His finance and economic policies have been handed over to corporate managers and bureaucrats who staunchly perpetuate the worst of the neoliberal economic policies of the past reactionary regimes. They remain obsessed with attracting foreign investments to own and exploit the country’s natural resources, pressing down wages, suppressing labor rights, and sacrificing food self-sufficiency.

In the ongoing NDFP-GRP peace talks, the revolutionary movement is growing increasingly wary of Duterte’s sincerity. After releasing 19 political prisoners in August, he has refused to release some 400 more languishing in various detention centers in the country, despite twice promising to do so during the First Round of peace talks.

Nevertheless, the NDFP and the entire revolutionary movement remain open to peace talks with the Duterte government. We remain open to discussing and forging agreements on social and economic reforms, and political and constitutional reforms, which can be completed in two years. These agreements, when implemented, are expected to improve the situation of the Filipino people on the road to resolving the roots of the ongoing civil war.

In this regard, we are calling on the solidarity of the struggling peoples of the world to support the Filipino people in our quest for national and social liberation. Especially in this arduous task of confronting the Duterte government across the negotiating table and in the arena of mass struggles. We are hopeful that the bonds of solidarity between the revolutionary Filipino and Basque peoples will continue to strengthen in our common quest. We are hopeful that SORTU will be instrumental in strengthening these bonds and in pushing the struggle forward towards a free Basque Country.

Long live SORTU!
Victory to the struggle for a free Basque Country!
Long live the solidarity between the Filipino and the Basque peoples!
Long live anti-imperialist international solidarity!

LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chief International Representative
National Democratic Front of the Philippines