Reds dismiss Marcos offer of amnesty as ‘treachery’

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) dismissed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s amnesty proclamation announcement in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) before Congress yesterday, July 24.

CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said their group and the New People’s Army (NPA) firmly reject Marcos Jr.’s “treacherous offer of amnesty and surrender” as an additional instrument of deception and oppression.

The CPP added communists and revolutionary fighters remain true to the aspirations of the Filipino people and that their cause is genuine freedom and social justice is far greater than any offer of amnesty.

“Revolutionaries are motivated not by the selfish desire for some personal gain, rather by the selfless devotion to serve and struggle with the people,” Valbuena said.

In his SONA, Marcos claimed the government’s Barangay Development Program (BDP) and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) are solving the root causes of armed conflict in the country.

“Through community development and livelihood programs, the barangay development and enhanced comprehensive local integration program have been effective in addressing the root cause of conflict in the countryside,” Marcos said.

“To complete this reintegration process, I will issue a proclamation granting amnesty to rebel returnees and I ask Congress to support me in this endeavor,” he added.

The CPP however said that Marcos is being grossly insolent and is seriously mistaken to think that NPA fighters will line up to gain a few individual concessions in exchange for giving up the cause they have committed themselves to.

“Marcos’ offer of amnesty for those who will surrender is duplicitous, considering that close to 800 political prisoners remain in jails, and every day, people are being arrested and persecuted for their political beliefs and social commitment,” Valbuena said.

Persistent landlessness

Valbuena also scored Marcos’ claim that government is effectively addressing the root cause of conflict in the countryside.

”[These] are utterly devoid of the truth and completely out of touch with reality,” Valbuena said.

The CPP officer said government’s community development and livelihood programs, farm to market roads as well as its newly-signed New Agrarian Emancipation Act only perpetuate the basic problems of social injustice and poverty that are rooted in the problem of landlessness.

“The Marcos regime ignores the outstanding clamor of the peasant majority population for genuine land reform, and the Filipino people’s demand for national industrialization,” Valbuena said.

He added widespread economic dislocation and agricultural crisis in the countryside continue in the countryside under the Marcos Jr. government.

Valbuena pointed out that hundreds of thousands of farmers and minority people are being dispossessed of land and their means of production.

“Agricultural and ancestral land are being grabbed by the expansion of plantations and mining operations, real estate, construction of dams, ecotourism, ‘green’ energy and other foreign-funded infrastructure projects. Millions of peasant tillers and fisher folk are being forced to bankruptcy by wanton importation of rice, sugar, vegetables and other agricultural and aquatic produce,” he said.

Since he took office in June 30, 2022, Marcos Jr. had been concurrent secretary of the Department of Agriculture which struggled with smuggling and agricultural product price manipulation controversies.

Police violently arrest agrarian reform beneficiaries and supporters in Concepcion, Tarlac. (Altermidya photo)

Worse, Valbuena said, peasant masses are daily subjected to worsening forms of oppression and exploitation, particularly those who voice grievances and choose to assert their demands who are subjected to political repression by government agents.

“Military and police abuses, summary killings, torture, unlawful detention, enforced disappearances and other violations of human rights are most rampant in the countryside, and are being carried out with utmost impunity,” Valbuena complained.

‘Remember Sakay’

The CPP said amnesty offers to those who take up arms had only been sugar-coated bullets against revolutionary forces.

 The group recalled United States of America’s colonial government in the Philippines offered amnesty to Filipino freedom fighter Macario Sakay and his government in 1905 only to publicly execute him in 1907.

In 1946, some leaders of the Hukbalahap were baited by the amnesty program of President Elpidio Quirino only to be murdered a few months later.

The Hukbalahap (Hukbong Mapaglaya Laban sa Hapon) was a Communist guerilla army that fought the invading Japanese Imperial Army during World War II and is regarded as forerunner to the NPA.

The CPP also cited Presidents Corazon Aquino and Gloria Arroyo’s amnesty programs but under whose respective governments several killings and massacres of farmers would occur.

Valbuena said Marcos Jr.’s government is similar to his predecessors in its drive for ‘localized peace talks’ and ‘surrender drive’ in which rural communities are subjected to military occupation, psychological warfare and intelligence and combat operations.

Many of these communities are later declared as “insurgency free,” characterized by well-publicized “mass surrender” ceremonies.

Valbuena also cited the mass filing of charges against mass organizations and activists under the Anti-Terrorism Law.

The government’s draconian measures against all forms of resistance make their struggle just and necessary, Valbuena said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CASER may be approved by July or August—Joma

Jose Maria Sison said a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) may be approved between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in about two months.

In response to yet another assurance from GRP President Rodrigo Duterte for his safety should he come home to the Philippines, Sison said both parties are a few weeks away from completing the most substantial of issues in the peace negotiations.

“For sure I shall return to the Philippines after the signing of the interim peace agreement, which is already being prepared for June, and the subsequent mutual approval of the comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms by the GRP and NDFP either in July or August,” Sison said.

The NDFP and the GRP are set to meet in June in Oslo, Norway for the resumption of the fifth round of formal talks that has been cancelled by Duterte three times in the past 12 months.

The parties are reportedly set to sign an interim peace accord via a coordinated unilateral ceasefire agreement as well as a general amnesty proclamation for NDFP-listed political prisoners and the signing of the agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development components of the CASER in late June.

Earlier, Duterte again assured Sison he will not be assassinated should he decide to come home for a face-to-face meeting between them.

“Walang [Benigno] Aquino style na patayan na barilin ko sa likod. (There will be no Aquino-style assassination where I’ll shoot someone at the back). It’s not my [style],” Duterte said Wednesday in a speech in Manila.

Aquino was assassinated on August 21, 1983 upon landing at the Manila International Airport after years of exile in the United States of America.

“I welcome the assurance of safety by President Duterte. It is much better that there is such an assurance,” Sison said in reply.

“The most important thing is that we can dialogue and agree on how best we can serve the interest of the Filipino people, especially the toiling masses of workers and peasants through the peace negotiations and cooperation under the principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice,” Sison added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma explains the status of the ongoing peace nego after 2nd day

The parties determined they have the political will to continue with the peace negotiations, maganda lalo na on the side of the GRP. They have a president who said he is a left president. We appreciate the release of theJASIG-protected consultants.  But I also pointed out that a big incentive to accelerate the peace process ay iyong promise to amnesty and release of all political prisoners. It was a promise that originated from President Duterte in his conversations with Fidel Agcaoili.  So, I said, the amnesty and release of all political prisoners would be a good incentive for the signing of a joint or bilateral ceasefire agreement that is more stable than this ceasefire through unilateral declaration—which happen to be holding, huh. It will also be a strong incentive for the accelerated peace talks on socio-economic and political and constitutional reforms. Read more

GRP-NDFP negotiations on social and economic reforms, release of political prisoners face delay

Oslo, Norway–Negotiations on social and economic reforms (SER) as well as amnesty for political prisoners faced delays prompting the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to conclude their second day of negotiations early.

The parties’ reciprocal working committees for SER adjourned by midday after failing to unify their differing draft outlines while earlier GRP-NDFP panel discussions also failed to agree on the conduct of release of more than 400 political prisoners. Read more

Panels announce six agreements on 4th day of talks

OSLO, Norway—The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels have already agreed on six major issues barely into the fourth day of their scheduled five-day talks.

Moving with surprising dispatch, both panels already initialled their joint drafts of the affirmation of previously signed agreements, reconstitution of NDFP’s list of Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)-protected personnel, acceleration of the peace negotiations, the mode of interim ceasefire, general amnesty of NDFP-listed political detainees, and the convening of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

All six agreements are currently being combined and will be issued as a Joint Statement at the closing ceremony scheduled at eleven o’clock in the morning of Friday, August 26.

Natutuwa kami sa naging resulta ng pag-uusap ngayon.  Itong anim na punto ay magandang produkto na ng pag-uusap. At mahusay ang atmosphereVery friendly at cordial,” NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni said.

“It turned out that both panels did not have many differences in opinion, so we reached an early consensus,” GRP negotiating panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III for his part said.

Bello said they will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte the issuance of a general amnesty to all political detainees included in the list submitted by the NDFP.

Both panels have also agreed to hold their next round of formal talks in the second week of October in this city. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)