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Carol Pagaduan Araullo’s STREETWISE: Duterte and the Left

The right is always the party sector associated with the interests of the upper or dominant classes, the left the sector expressive of the lower economic or social classes, and the center that of the middle classes. Historically this criterion seems acceptable. The conservative right has defended entrenched prerogatives, privileges and powers; the left has attacked them. The right has been more favorable to the aristocratic position, to the hierarchy of birth or of wealth; the left has fought for the equalization of advantage or of opportunity, for the claims of the less advantaged. Defense and attack have met, under democratic conditions, not in the name of class but in the name of principle; but the opposing principles have broadly corresponded to the interests of the different classes.Robert M. MacIver, The Web of Government (1947) 

Rodrigo Duterte, longtime mayor of Mindanao’s premier city, Davao, will be the sixteenth president of the Republic of the Philippines upon his inauguration on 30 June 2016. He is a conundrum to many people both to the left and right of the Philippine political spectrum.

For those on the Right who support him — who comprise the socio-economic elite, the dominant classes, the status quoers, the political conservatives, and reactionaries — Duterte is what the ruling system needs to “fix” what is broken and in so doing maintain and strengthen it further.

During the campaign, they lapped up his diatribes against rampant criminality especially drug abuse. They applauded when he railed against corruption in government. They cheered when he denounced incompetence and the lack of political will to crack down on both. They jeered with Duterte when he spat out the Aquino administration’s “Daang Matuwid” catchphrase.

For the Rightists who believe in Duterte, he is just what the system needs at this time. Not so much to bring about any substantive changes, but to act as the charismatic demagogue who can make the people believe that the system can still be fixed and that he is the one to do it.

Whether they are gleefully cheering Duterte on or warily accepting his ascent to the presidency despite his pedestrian language, controversial record, and association with the Left, it is mainly because he appears to have succeeded more than any of the other presidential candidates in doing so.

For one, his law and order tag line, while neither new nor original, resonated with even the lower to middle income classes. Those who live hardscrabble lives are much more vulnerable to being victimized by the anarchy, violence and rough-and-tumble of the mean streets of the country’s cities. The upper and elite classes who live in exclusive subdivisions, work and play in highly-secured environs, and travel using tinted, air-conditioned luxury vehicles are relatively spared the aggravations of petty criminality and street-level lawlessnes.

The Leftists, more specifically the Makabayan bloc of progressives in Congress, officially supported Duterte’s closest rival, Senator Grace Poe, but saw many of its avowed constituency either gradually shifting to Duterte or, as was the case in Davao City and most of Mindanao, stubbornly backing Duterte from the very beginning.

It didn’t help that Poe’s campaign failed to energize Makabayan’s mass base and other staunch oppositionists to Aquino’s rule with its weak and halting critique of the outgoing administration. Poe’s fairly progressive platform she shared with Makabayan was not highlighted during her campaign and did not quite make its mark in the public consciousness. Poe’s slogan “Puso at Galing” could not sustain its feel-good vibe as the campaign polemics heated up and rivals had to starkly differentiate themselves from the Aquino-backed candidate, Mar Roxas.

In the thick of his campaign, Duterte agreed to a high-profile role in the release of policemen held captive by the New People’s Army (NPA) or what the latter calls their prisoners-of-war. This was followed by his well-publicized Skype conversation with Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman.

Duterte said he would immediately resume peace talks with the underground umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) representing the CPP, NPA and 16 other revolutionary organizations should he win. He has even stated that he is open to entering into a “coalition” with them. He has also unabashedly described himself as a “Leftist” and “socialist.”

Upon his victory in the presidential race, he announced his willingness to set aside four Cabinet positions — labor, agrarian reform, social work and environment and natural resources — to be filled by nominees of the CPP.

These pronouncements taken together with his record of non-antagonistic and, even more so, friendly ties with the New People’s Army in Davao City, as well as support for the Leftist movement in general, underscore three aspects of Duterte that distinguish him from other run-of-the-mill bourgeois politicians.

First, he does not harbor a rabid, anti-communist bias having had exposure to revolutionary concepts and organizations since his youth. He does not consider revolutionaries as terrorists nor traitors but as patriots who are seeking radical societal change for the good of the majority of the people. While his views may not coincide completely with the communist-led movement, he recognizes that the objective conditions of social injustice and vast inequality are the fertile ground on which the entire national democratic movement thrives. He shows respect for the movement’s leaders; he acknowledges the CPP-NPA-NDFP as a significant force to contend with.

Second, because he acknowledges the deep socio-economic and political underpinnings of armed conflicts, he knows these cannot be resolved by military means alone. Thus, he has publicly-announced his commitment to resume peace talks with the NDFP until a negotiated political settlement or, even much earlier, an agreement for immediate truce and cooperation is reached.

He has also repeatedly declared his intention to release all political prisoners, most specially the 18 NDFP consultants covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the sick, women and elderly, for humanitarian reasons.

Third, Duterte has a strong, idiosyncratic character manifested in his refusal to kowtow to conventional ideas and norms about how a presidential aspirant or an elected president should behave towards the country’s former colonizer, the US of A; or how the presumptive president should relate to the pillars of the reactionary system — Congress, the Supreme Court and the judiciary, the civilian bureaucracy, and the military, the hierarchical church foremost of which are the bishops of the Catholic Church, the big landlords and big business including multinationals and their local comprador partners and dummies.

More than a month away from his inauguration as President of the Republic, Mayor Duterte has stepped up the momentum for change during the transition with statements and decisions no one had expected or predicted. The difficulty in anticipating these lie partly in their being apparently inconsistent or contradictory and irreconciliable, such as continuing the neoliberal economic policies of the Aquino government while offering socio-economic cabinet posts to the communists. But these could also be seen as bold, if unorthodox, yet carefully calibrated measures towards his vision of a reformed “socialist” society while maintaining the tenuous equilibrium between the status quo and reform.

Mayor Duterte has displayed exceptional brinksmanship in proving that an avowed Leftist and Socialist can win and wield the Presidency while reassuring the Right that he will keep his oath to preserve the system. So far, these are positive signs of how well, how fast, and how far he will and can go towards instituting genuine change with the Left behind and alongside his Presidency.

–Carol Pagaduan-Araullo is a medical doctor by training, social activist by choice, columnist by accident, happy partner to a liberated spouse and proud mother of two.  Her column STREETWISE  is originally published by BusinessWorld. http://www.m.bworldonline.com/m_content.php?section=Opinion&id=127956)

 

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Ka Roger and Ka Soly laid to rest

Here is a video of the funeral march of Gregorio and Soledad Rosal who were finally laid to rest in Ibaan, Batangas last March 31.

Ka Roger died due to a heart attack last 2011 while his wife Ka Solly was killed in an encounter in Southern Tagalog in 2013.

Roger acted as Communist Party of the Philippines spokesperson until his death. His remains were hidden for five years due to security threats.

CONTRIBUTED VIDEO: ‘Ka Roger’ feted anew at UP

Five years after the Communist Party of the Philippines announced his death, the ashes of its late spokesperson Gregorio ‘Ka Roger’ Rosal was brought to the University of the Philippines for another grand tribute on the occasion of the New People’s Army’s 47th founding anniversary.

Hundreds of CPP members audaciously paraded on Metro Manila’s major streets to pay homage to one of its legendary leaders who throughout his life in the underground eluded arrest and death at the hands of government forces despite unceasing manhunts.

Among those paying tribute at the U.P. Theater are broadcasters Ed Lingao and Deo Macalma who both recalled their interviews with the charismatic rebel. Lingao and Macalma said they were surprised to learn that Rosal was a fellow broadcaster, having pioneered the underground station Radio Sierra Madre in the 80s. #

Revolutionary women’s organization celebrate NPA’s anniversary

Members of the underground revolutionary group Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Makibaka) held a “lightning rally” last March 17 in downtown Manila to mark the coming 47th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ New People’s Army (NPA).

Makibaka said it is right for women to join the revolution to emancipate themselves from poverty and other abuses as well as help in liberating Philippine society.

Members of the Philippine National Police were surprised as the women revolutionaries gathered and marched on the narrow streets of Manila’s Binondo area.

The NPA was founded in Tarlac Province in March 29, 1969 and has since been waging one of the world’s longest-running Maoist guerilla war.

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VIDEO: Northeastern Mindanao celebrates CPP 47th founding anniversary

Despite checkpoints by the Philippine Army and threats by a paramilitary group that it will kill attendees, thousands of members, supporters and invited guests attended the grand Communist Party of the Philippines 47th founding anniversary celebrations in Northeastern Mindanao last December 26.

Here is a video of the singing of the communist hymn “Ang Internasyunal” led by a company  of New People’s Army fighters.

NDFP-Mindanao on the CPP’s 47th anniversary (w/ English subtitles)

National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos delivers their statement on the 47th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Madlos says the New People’s Army in Mindanao has doubled its tactical offensives against the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 250 in 2010 to more than 500 in 2015 as the Benigno Aquino administration is about to end. He also announced that the NPA has increased its guerrilla fronts from 40 in 2010 to 46 in 2015. Furthermore, NPA operations has increased from 1,850 barrios in 2010 to 2,500 barrios in 2015.

Madlos did not attend the anniversary celebrations held in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte because of the heavy military presence in the adjacent Zapanta Valley. Philippine Army checkpoints did not deter the thousands of guests from attending the celebrations, however.

NPA in Mindanao grows, leaders say

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The Internationale. Part of a company of NPA guerrillas presenting arms as they sing the communist hymn “Ang Internasyunal” at the start of the CPP’s 47th founding anniversary.

 

Kitcharao, AGUSAN DEL NORTE—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) further gained strength despite more than five years of brutal counter-insurgency operations by the Benigno Aquino government, a top rebel leader said during their 47th founding anniversary celebrations in this town last December 26.

National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge ‘Ka Oris’ Madlos said that the New People’s Army (NPA) now has six more guerilla fronts from 40 at the start of the Aquino administration in five regions of Mindanao.

Madlos added that the NPA’s operations in Mindanao now cover 2,500 barrios from 1,850 five years ago.

“These ever expanding and deepening bases render great advantage to the NPA’s maneuver, the launching of tactical offensives (TO), the recruitment of Red fighters, the implementations of widespread agrarian revolution and the launching of mass struggles,” Madlos in a video message said.

A company of uniformed guerillas presented arms while the communist hymn “Ang Internasyunal” was sung to start a three-hour program marked with speeches, songs and skits that delighted the thousands of supporters, well-wishers and guests who attended the event.

The fact that a single NPA Front can organize and successfully hold a big public event despite threats and harassments by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Magahat paramilitary group is proof that Oplan (Operation Plan) Bayanihan 1 and 2 have failed, Guerilla Front 16 spokesperson Ka Utok said.

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Uniformed and fully armed. A platoon of red fighters in their uniform and high-powered arms such as AK-47s and M-16s with grenade launchers. They say most of their guns were won through victorious battles with Philippine government forces.

 

Threats and harassments

Government troops set up checkpoints on roads leading to the venue of the celebrations but were ignored by convoys of vehicles carrying visitors to the guerrillas’ celebrations.

More than a dozen journalists also covered the event despite threats by the Magahat paramilitary group that they would kill those who will cover the anniversary celebrations.

In a press conference after the main program, Utok and Front 16 political officer Ka Edroy condemned threats made by Magahat leader Loloy Tejero as part of a single act by the paramilitary group, the Philippine Information Agency and the Aquino government.

“It was the PIA who disseminated Tejero’s threat to kill journalists who will cover our celebrations and it is proof they are colluding in this criminal act,” Ka Edroy said.

Philippine Army public information officer Col. Benjamin Hao however belied the NPA’s accusation as well as claims of increased strength and influence.

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Loved and welcomed. A cultural presentation showing how the NPA guerillas are welcomed and loved by the masses.

No SOMO violations by Philippine Army

“The threat of the Magahats, if it is true, is of their own doing.  We do not have anything to do about it,” Hao said.

“If journalists have problems on that, we will provide necessary assistance if they request from us, the PNP (Philippine National Police) or they can file an appropriate case,” Hao added.

The government army spokesperson belied their checkpoints were directed against the NPA and their supporters. He said no operation is conducted to violate the suspension of military operations (SOMO) with the NPA. The checkpoints, Hao claimed, were for the tower posts of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

There were no reports of NGCP towers under threat of attack in Kitcharao town where the NPA held their celebrations, however.

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A big celebration. A huge crowd of supporters, well-wishers and guests attended the anniversary celebrations despite being organized and hosted by a single NPA front, the Guerilla Front 16 in Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte. Insiders say GF 16 now has at least five full-sized companies.

 

AFP records

Hao also dismissed Madlos’s statements as “highly exaggerated”.

He said that based on AFP records, the NPA strength of 2,035 has gone down to 1,691 followers this year. He added that the NPA’s most significant decline is in the number of their guerilla fronts, which used to be 29 but is now down to 24.

Hao said further that out of the 547 NPA-influenced barangays, it is now down to 413.  On firearms count, he said the NPA lost 101 firearms this year.  “They also lost a lot of leaders, especially Commander Parago,” Hao added.

“These are contrary to what are being claimed by the NPA spokesman of Mindanao (Madlos)…So wherever he got his number, he is now accountable to his boss in The Netherlands,” Hao said, referring to CPP founder Jose Maria Sison.

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Huge crowd. Part of the crowd who braved the difficult trek up and down the mountainous village, Philippine Army checkpoints and the Magahat threat of murder against attendees.

Festive mood

Despite threats by the Magahat and the presence of checkpoints on roads leading to the venue, the celebrations started on time this year.

To the delight of the crowd, the performers did not mind rolling on the ground rendered muddy by the intermittent rains.

Unlike last year, tents were put up to protect the crowd from the sun and the rain.

Before lunch time, dozens of lechon (whole roast pig) arrived strapped on “skylab” motorcycles that were served with fried chicken and rice.

Youthful NPA fighters took over the stage and sang as their guests started trekking back down to the main roads at around two in the afternoon.

On spots along the mountain roads, skylabs laden with big canisters were parked and ice cream was offered for free to the visitors.

The Philippine Army checkpoint at the corner of the provincial road and the national highway was gone by the time the main body of the attendees made their way back home. # (News and photos by Raymund B. Villanueva)

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Ready to fight. While saying the Magahat group is not present in their area, Guerilla Front 16 said they are willing to face the paramilitary and the Philippine Army if they dared to disrupt their celebrations.

 

Revolutionary orgs stage lightning rally on eve of APEC

REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATIONS under the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) staged a “lightning rally” as world leaders are due to arrive in the country for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit starting Monday.

Hundreds of revolutionaries marched on Manila’s crowded downtown area to condemn APEC as an imposition on poor countries like the Philippines.

“(We) vigorously condemn the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) as an imperialist instrument of plunder and greed,” the NDFP National Council said in a statement.

“The Filipino people have long suffered under the economic policies and multilateral agreements aggressively pushed by the APEC which have only ensured the interests of the advanced capitalist economies, especially that of the United States,” the underground alliance said.

Police officers in the area were caught flat-footed by the swift mobilization, which proceeded to march from the Carriedo area and dispersed at the corner of Recto Avenue and Quezon Boulevard.

The Benigno Aquino government has been implementing street-clearing operations and raising security alerts as it welcomes heads of states from dozens of countries, including United States president Barack Obama.

The revolutionaries distributed leaflets and painted slogans on walls as many of bystanders—mostly ambulant vendors—cheered from the sidelines.

The NDFP and its allied organizations are waging a “national democratic revolution” for nearly five decades, said to be the longest running revolution in Asia. #