Author: National EC

BAYAN USA featured on LOUD & CLEAR Radio: Peace Talks Resume in the Philippines: Will it be Different this time?

Talks began in the Philippines this week, between the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, and communist rebels who have been struggling against the government for almost 50 years.

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Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN-USA, about the complicated history of peace talks in Manila and the potential for this round of talks to end successfully.

​Ellorin offered that the National Democratic movement in the Philippines is “very optimistic that the peace process is pushing forward, and we are of course grateful that the political prisoners, some of which have already been released, will participate in peace talks as consultants. It’s a very hopeful time, but a lot needs to be proven in practice, the Filipino government has a lot to prove, in regards to the past agreement from the peace talks, and marching forward sincerely with the peace process”

Loud & Clear host Brian Becker asked, “What’s the history of the peace talks between both sides? What happened to the peace talks in the past? What reasons contributed to the war continuing?”

“The preliminary peace talks began between the two parties; the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, back in the late 1980s,” she said, “after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. Those talks failed after the Mendiola massacre, where the military was ordered to open fire on peasants who were protesting for land reform in the gates of the palace back in the late 90s.”

She added that the Filipino government’s participation in the US War on Terror, and the labeling of the New People’s Army as a terrorist group, also contributed to the deterioration of talks. She said this categorization is counter to the experience Filipino’s have with the NPA.

“… from the point of view of the most impoverished Filipinos in the rural areas and especially the countryside, the New People’s Army is not just an army, it is also a social service organization.”

Ellorin described the NPA’s relationship with poor Filipinos saying, “In the areas of the Philippines where the government doesn’t provide services, the New People’s Army is there to provide those services.” She added, “They are there as medics, they are there as teachers…they are also cultural workers. In many cases when you go to the far flung regions where the New People’s Army is present, the people celebrate them, they don’t see them as terrorist forces whatsoever. And the reason why they’re able to see them that way is because the people are suffering an intense socio-economic crisis.”

Becker asked if the Philippines should expect interference from the US in their peace talks.

“Absolutely,” she asserted. “The mere fact that the US renewed its terrorist listing of the CPP and the NPA is a measure of their attempts to frustrate the peace process. And it must be known that the Philippines is still a US neo-colony and a bastion of US foreign policy in the region. So the US has every interest to sustain its position as the neocolonial master. And the peace process, as manifested by the peace negotiations, is a threat to that.”

Walk the Walk, Talk the Peace Talks: Continue the Path Towards Peace

 

Walk the Walk, Talk the Peace Talks:

Continue the Path Towards Peace

The path towards genuinely resuming the Peace Talks between the Government of the Philippines(GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) cannot be made through ultimatums or demands by President Duterte prior to the formal talks. In his State of the Nation Address on July 25th, 2016, President Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). He swiftly revoked it when he set a deadline by the end of the week for the CPP to reciprocate the ceasefire after an altercation between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which resulted in the death of one AFP member.

It does not make sense for the longest running communist revolution in Asia to simply apply the ceasefire without fully negotiating the terms of such an agreement. Although the militant Left and the CPP have issued statements of hope for the new Presidency, President Duterte must still carry out his pro-people declarations and show the Filipino people the real change that he claims to be. The basic character of Philippine society remains semi-feudal and semi-colonial resulting in the continuance of the vast majority of the Filipino people to be impoverished, landless, and unemployed. Duterte must make meaningful moves to tackle the roots of the armed conflict rather than focus solely on the combat aspect in order to resolve the question of peace in the Philippines.

Despite Duterte’s pronouncements promoting peace, the counter-insurgency program Operation Plan Bayanihan has not been suspended, and the AFP has continued to violently harass and intimidate activists in various provinces, as reported by the participants of the SONA Lakbayan from Bicol. Karapatan, a human rights organization in the Philippines, has also reported the AFP is continuing its military combat operations in Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, Davao City, Isabela, Cagayan, Bulacan, Quezon, Batangas, Camarines Norte, Bohol, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Samar, Surigao, and other provinces, even after Duterte’s declaration of unilateral ceasefire. It will take a seismic shift in the AFP to change their ways since they have carried out such violent counter-insurgency programs from Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya I & II to Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan, which combined resulted in more than 1,500 extrajudicial killings with no prosecutions or justice for the victims.

The Filipino people are waiting to see what the new President will really accomplish during his first 100 days and the world will continue to watch intently if the peace talks will resume as scheduled on August 20, 2016.  If followed through, this bold step could be the first along the path to resolving the roots of the civil war in the Philippines.

For more information on the Peace Talks check out our powerpoint presentation and the recent interview from Loud & Clear with Jose Maria Sison or play below:

 

 

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LOUD & CLEAR Interviews: Jose Maria Sison, historic rebel leader, on war and peace in the Philippines

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.

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President Duterte: Implement the People’s Agenda for Change

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.peace

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.

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3. Demonstrating openness to listening to the masses: After two decades of welded-shut gates, the Department of Agrarian Reform opens its doors. Duterte signed the historic Executive Order on Freedom of Information. The Left was allowed to hold the People’s SONA close to the Batasang Pambansa without police harassment.

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4. Enforcing mining environmental protection standards by shutting down a small mining firm for violations. Duterte also wants to review all mining contracts through Gina Lopez, Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

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5. Before and after he was elected President, Duterte inspired hope of the Filipino people for genuine change.

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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:

 

  1. Economic Development through genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization
  2. Social Policies that prioritize education, healthcare and women’s rights
  3. Eradicating Corruption in Government by putting Aquino and his cronies in jail, ending systemic corruption, and pushing forward pro-people policies
  4. Peace and Human Rights through the resumption of the Peace Talks with the NDFP, releasing ALL political prisoners, and defending human rights
  5. 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.
  6. Protect Overseas Filipino Workers by ending human trafficking and getting rid of the Labor Export Policy (LEP)