A special episode of Loud & Clear with Brian Becker spends the full hour dealing with the dramatic new developments in the Philippines, including a discussion with Communist Party founder Jose Maria Sison, where the new government of Rodrigo Duterte and the New People’s Army are making moves to put an end to the country’s civil war.
The new President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has said it is his dream to end of the nearly fifty year armed conflict in the country. Last week, he declared a unilateral ceasefire with the New People’s Army, but withdrew it just days later. Still, the Communist Party has said that it expects to declare a truce along with the government on August 20th, the same day that peace negotiations are due to begin in Oslo.
Brian is joined by Jose Maria Sison, who is the senior political adviser to the National Democratic Front, which is the organization that will begin peace talks with the Duterte government on August 20. Brian also speaks with Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN-USA, and Rhonda Ramiro, vice-chair of BAYAN-USA in addition to Anakbayan-USA chairperson Adrian Bonifacio and Nap Pempeña, Vice-Chairperson of Anakbayan-USA.
President Duterte: Implement the People’s Agenda for Change
5 Achievements During Duterte’s First 25 Days in Office:
1. Advancing the Peace Talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
2. Appointing Progressives to his Presidential Cabinet: Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, Liza Maza as the head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Judy Taguiwalo as Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
5. Before and after he was elected President, Duterte inspired hope of the Filipino people for genuine change.
This year’s People’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) organized by BAYAN in the Philippines featured murals depicting the people’s vision for the social and economic justice and peace that we want, rather than an effigy of what needs to be overthrown. With vigilant optimism, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to present the 15-Point People’s Agenda for Change, and to call for the immediate resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the release of all political prisoners, and an end to militarization of the countryside and counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.
President Duterte was elected into office because the Filipino people truly desired a massive shift from the decades upon decades of rule by thoroughly corrupt political dynasties. His popularity was especially felt amongst the poor and working class Filipinos, who bear the brunt of the impact of the widening gap between the wealthy elite and the poor and who have been forced to leave the country in droves to work abroad in order to survive.
We urge President Duterte to continue walking the progressive path towards genuine change in the Philippines. We urge his administration to end the rash of extra-judicial drug-related killings and to investigate the big-time drug dealers and their counterparts in the government and multinational corporations who exploit and abuse the people, instead of “taking out” smaller drug dealers and users, many of whom come from poor families.
“There is so much to be done, and one president alone will never achieve the fundamental change the Filipino people desire,” stated Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA. “It is the mass movement that will take the lead in advancing towards a better Philippine society. We’re off to a good start with concrete plans to resume the peace talks between the GPH and the NDF, and the signing of the Executive Order on Freedom of Information. Now, we look forward to working with the new Duterte Administration most immediately for the release of all political prisoners, and to implement the social and economic reforms that will begin to address the root causes of the country’s widespread poverty, landlessness and unemployment.”
BAYAN USA is pushing forward the 15-Point People’s Agenda created by the People’s Summit participants and delivered in Malacanang during President Duterte’s inauguration. We urge President Duterte to take action on the following six major priorities during his first 100 days in office:
Economic Development through genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization
Social Policies that prioritize education, healthcare and women’s rights
Eradicating Corruption in Government by putting Aquino and his cronies in jail, ending systemic corruption, and pushing forward pro-people policies
Peace and Human Rights through the resumption of the Peace Talks with the NDFP, releasing ALL political prisoners, and defending human rights
Defend Philippine Sovereignty by terminating lopsided agreements with the U.S. such as the Enhanced Defense and Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and the Mutual Defense Treaty to name a few, and pursuing diplomatic resolution of the territorial conflict with China in the West Philippine Sea.
Protect Overseas Filipino Workers by ending human trafficking and getting rid of the Labor Export Policy (LEP)
In solidarity with thousands of people around the country, BAYAN-USA joined protests at the Republican National Convention this week, adding Filipino voices to the growing movement against the rising fascism promoted by US elites represented by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“The Republican Party is convening here in Cleveland, Ohio to discuss how they can further promote their neoliberal agenda – an agenda that includes policies that are racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-women. Billionaire politicians like Trump are the reason we continue to see poverty, homelessness, refugees, and forced migration,” cried BAYAN-USA Deputy Secretary General Nikole Cababa during a protest in front of the convention center on opening day.
“The #1 threat to genuine peace, unity, and equality is U.S. imperialism. Donald Trump reminds us of how U.S. imperialism is the root problem – imperialism thrives on racism, patriarchy, and Islamophobia to divide the community and distract us from the billionaires robbing us every single day,” continued Cababa.
In his acceptance speech for the party nomination reminiscent of a Hitler diatribe, Trump confirmed his commitment to a Nazi-esque approach to maintaining and expanding U.S. hegemony which he had been preaching all along the campaign trail. In a fear-mongering speech filled with half-truths and outright fallacies aimed at scapegoating migrants, black people, the poor and anyone opposed to his agenda, Trump declared, “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo. Nobody knows the system better than me. Which is why I alone can fix it.” He went on to describe his plans to build a “great border wall” and “completely rebuild our depleted military,” despite the reality that the U.S. military is exponentially larger than the seven next largest countries’ combined.
In a clear instance of double-speak, Trump denounced free-trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), yet at the same time declared his commitment to one of the cornerstones of such agreements: deregulation. Trump stated that he would “deal with the issue of regulation…we will end it very, very quickly” and “lift the restrictions on the production of American energy.”
At the end of the Republican National Convention and on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, BAYAN-USA also criticizes presumptive Democratic Party Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “From Honduras to Afghanistan, Clinton’s aggressively pro-military, pro-Wall Street track record while Secretary of State intensified conflicts and destabilized regions throughout the world,” said BAYAN-USA Secretary General Jessica Antonio. “Clinton was also one of the proud architects of the ‘Asia Pacific Pivot,’ which aims to pour 60% of the U.S. military into the Philippines and neighboring countries despite massive protests against the building of new U.S. military bases and expanded military exercises. We already know this has increased military-related human rights violations. We expect to hear more of the same from Clinton during the DNC next week.”
“BAYAN-USA denounces both the openly fascist and the status-quo pro-Wall Street, pro-military agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties. Millions of people throughout the U.S. have demanded an alternative to the business as usual politics of these parties because they are the very ones which caused the massive income inequality, global war zones, and systemic violence and repression we face today,” said Antonio. “We agree with Mumia Abu-Jamal’s analysis when he said ‘The two major political parties are the abject servants of Wall Street and American empire uber allies. They each support militarism at home and abroad. They each support the indiscriminate murder of civilians from drones. They each support the worldwide archipelago of secret prisons. They each support mass incarceration of poor people, the suspension of habeas corpus and torture. It is only their talk that is different,’” stated Antonio.
BAYAN-USA reiterated its commitment to organizing for genuine, fundamental change in solidarity with the 99% as the only lasting solution to the current economic and political crisis in the world. “We rise up because we can’t afford to sit down. We rise up for immigrant rights, we rise up with our Muslim allies, we rise up with all women, LGBTQ & trans people, and we rise up because Black Lives Matter. The only way to smash U.S. imperialism and to rid ourselves of a Trumped Up economy is by organizing and strengthening our international solidarity,” ended Cababa.