NDFP vows continuation of agrarian reform campaigns, ‘with or without peace talks’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it continues to pursue agrarian reform to free poor farmers from exploitation and oppression even if the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration refuses to resume peace negotiations.

In an interview with Liberation International, the group’s global version of its magazine, NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julie de Lima said peasant movements in certain areas of the Philippines launch campaigns from land rent reduction to confiscation of land for free distribution to landless tenants.

De Lima said these struggles are the main content of their national democratic revolution, which is also set in their social and economic reforms proposal in the suspended formal negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

In the interview, De Lima also dismissed GRP Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr.’s claim the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) is obsolete.

Earlier, Galvez Jr. was quoted by a government website saying “CASER is based on an obsolete framework and is no longer relevant since it is largely based on the pre-industrialization and pre-globalization era.”

“Galvez does not know what he is talking about and is irrelevant to the issue of what is the character of the Philippine economy. We know for a fact that the Philippines is nonindustrial,” de Lima said.

De Lima pointed out that agriculture remains a major base of the Philippine economy, one that remains afflicted by “traditional feudal relations of production, by backward, non-mechanized, non-irrigated, and with low output.”

Composed mainly of two programs, namely agrarian reform and rural development as well as national industrialization, NDFP and GRP negotiators have actually agreed on substantial points such as free land distribution before former President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his administration’s  withdrawal from the negotiations in June 2017.

Various groups as well as former government negotiators have urged the current Marcos Jr. government to consider resuming peace negotiations with the NDFP.

The president has yet to officially issue any response to the demands, letting former generals in his administration to disavow peace talks resumption.

The NDFP for its part has consistently said it is always open to the resumption of peace negotiations with any GRP administration sincere in resolving the 54-year old civil war in the country. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)