End war with social and economic reforms, Duterte urged

A National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiator urged President Rodrigo Duterte to resume formal peace negotiations if he wants to end civil war in the country.

In an interview, NDFP consultant Allan Jazmines said revolutionary groups would not agree to an open-ended bilateral ceasefire with the Duterte government unless it signs agreements on substantial reforms to benefit the Filipino people.

“If the peace talks resume and would be accelerated, it would end the civil war faster. Peace would happen after social and economic as well as political and constitutional reforms are signed and implemented,” Jazmines said.

Jazmines added that Duterte would only cause more trouble on his administrations if he pushes through with his threat to go after the New People’s Army (NPA) after the Marawi crisis is over.

“He is talking nonsense. The NPA is stronger, the revolution is stronger,” Jazmines said.

Duterte cancelled the fifth round of formal negotiations with the NDFP in The Netherlands last May after failing to force the Left into an open-ended bilateral ceasefire agreement.

Jazmines said NDFP and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiators were very close to signing Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) agreements before the cancellation.

The veteran negotiator said the GRP has already committed to distributing one million hectares over five years for free, which would include both public lands and property under private ownership.

“The parties are very close to inking the ARRD under the social and economic reforms agenda of the negotiations. For the first time, our farmers have hope. The details have already been threshed out. Duterte would be wasting all the hard work if he does not go back to the negotiating table,” Jazmines said.

Jazmines said such gains from the peace talks show the sincerity of the revolutionary forces in the negotiations.

The NPA would not fall into the trap of extended ceasefires without substantial reforms, he added.

“If the NPA and other revolutionary forces surrender or capitulate as Duterte wants, then goodbye to reforms the Filipino people demand.  That is why we will never do it,” Jazmines said.

“Duterte should not allow himself to be influenced by the enemies of genuine social reforms. The military and the United States of America are pressuring him to choose war over the peace talks,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP dismisses Duterte’s demand for NPA surrender

BANGKOK, Thailand–The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) dismissed President Rodrigo Duterte’s demand for the New People’s Army (NPA) to declare another ceasefire and for guerrillas to surrender and work for his government as paramilitaries.

In a statement Saturday, the CPP Information Bureau said Duterte’ demand for an NPA ceasefire as a precondition for the resumption of formal peace negotiations is unacceptable, adding the Armed Forces of the Philippines is conducting all-out war against their forces and civilians throughout the country.

“This is unacceptable. Does Duterte really take the revolutionary forces as fools?” the CPP asked.

In his speech on the 17th anniversary of Digos’ cityhood Friday, Duterte said there will be no talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) until the Reds declare a ceasefire.

“If you want to resume the peace talks, you declare ceasefire or nothing. And if you say you want another war, be my guest,” Duterte said.

Duterte cancelled the fifth round of formal peace negotiations between his government and the NDFP last May after the NDFP spurned his demand for another ceasefire “as a goodwill measure and create a favourable climate” for the negotiations.

The NDFP, however, said a ceasefire is unacceptable while Duterte is implementing a “triple war” through his so-called war on drugs called Operation Plan (Oplan) Double Barrel/Tokhang, counter-insurgency program called Oplan Kapayapaan, and martial law declaration in Mindanao.

“Duterte has lost all moral grounds to make such a demand. Recall that the NPA declared a ceasefire on August 19, 2016 which lasted for close to 160 days as a response to Duterte’s signed commitment to release around 500 political prisoners through an amnesty proclamation,” the CPP said.

“Duterte, however, wasted the goodwill of the NDFP when it failed to fulfil its commitment and took advantage of the NPA ceasefire to deploy his soldiers and conduct military offensives,” the group added.

No NPA capitulation

The CPP said NDFP-GRP negotiations will no longer be fruitful while Duterte demands NPA capitulation and surrender.

“Surrender. I will make you soldiers of this republic. Just CAFGU (Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit) for the moment,” Duterte in his speech said.

Duterte added there would be no preconditions for the surrender and promised to give them firearms and houses once they turn themselves in to a mayor or the military.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison scoffed at Duterte’s latest statement and said his former student has gone truly insane.

“He wants to convert surrendered NPAs into his soldiers? Duterte has truly gone insane,” Sison said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Sison said that, early on, Duterte has been proven to be a liar and untrustworthy.

“The line has been drawn to separate, fight and overthrow the US-Duterte regime. Duterte would have a hard time to act convincing again,” Sison said.

More NPA offensives

The CPP said it is the people who clamor for the NPA to mount more and more tactical offensives.

“Victories of the people’s army inspire resistance amid widespread killings and the climate of fear imposed by the Duterte regime,” the CPP in its statement said.

“The NPA launches tactical offensive to bring to account the Duterte regime and its soldiers and police for thousands upon thousands of Oplan Tokhang killings, the successive killings of peasants, national minorities and youths, military occupation of civilian communities, aerial bombings and shelling, the near-genocidal war against the Maranaos of Marawi, arbitrary arrests and detention, and so on,” it added.

The CPP also dismissed Duterte’s threat to 50 more years of civil war.

“By the looks of it, Duterte may not even last his term. He has roused the anger of the Filipino people and caused his increasing isolation. The revolutionary movement will surely outlast the US-Duterte regime,” the CPP said.

“The Filipino people and their revolutionary forces have waged close to 50 years of people’s war. They do not tire. They are determined as ever to wage revolution because they seek to end the unbearable sufferings of workers and peasants under the oppressive and exploitative system,” it added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)


NPA’s Celso Minguez Command ambushes gov’t troops on the day fallen comrades are buried

CASIGURAN, SORSOGON—On the day of the funeral of two of their fallen comrades, the Celso Minguez Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) ambushed a patrolling unit of the Philippine Army Monday, killing a lieutenant and a sergeant and wounding seven government troopers in neighboring Gubat town.

As thousands of family members and supporters were preparing for the five-kilometer funeral march for Andres “Ka Magno” Hubilla and Miguel “Ka Billy” Himor, the Red fighters waylaid a unit of the Philippine Army using a command-detonated explosive at past five o’clock in the morning in Barangay Casili, Gubat.

Sources said the injured troopers were rushed to Sorsogon Doctors Hospital but reporters were prevented from entering the facility.

Both the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the NPA have still to issue statements on the incident.

Units of the Philippine National Police set up checkpoints on roads leading to the site of the incident.

Hubilla and Himor, on the other hand, were buried at a private memorial park in downtown Casiguran after a long march led by red banners and streamers.

The caskets were borne on top of a flat-bed truck with honor guards standing on both sides as the march snaked around the town.

Activists and supporters from all over Sorsogon and the Bicol provinces joined the march, making the funeral the biggest seen by this town in decades.

Thousands of townsfolk also lined the streets as the funeral made its way to the cemetery, seemingly amazed at the banners of underground organizations being openly displayed.

In his homily during the funeral Mass, Monsignor Francisco Monje said Hubilla and Himor offered their lives in the service of the poor and should be remembered for selflessly offering their lives to bring genuine social change.

“Because we have all been promised change. But where is change? It is the likes of Andres and Miguel who give us alternatives for effecting change for the poor,” the priest said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Police officer killed in clash with NPA

BAGUIO CITY — A police officer was killed and another was wounded in an encounter between the Regional Police Safety Battalion (RPSB) and New People’s Army (NPA) fighters in Pangasinan Friday.

According to the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPO), Police Officer 2 Aries Tamondong was killed and PO2 Joneilon Marius Bagcal was wounded in a fire fight with an undetermined number of NPA guerrillas along areas of Camps 3 and 4 and boundaries of Barangays Sta. Maria and Barangay Malico of San Nicolas, Pangasinan.

The police said the encounter started at around 9:20 AM and lasted for almost two hours.

Police launched a pursuit operation after extricating their dead and wounded colleagues from the site.

The police received reinforcement from the Provincial Police Safety Company (PPSC) and the 84th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) during the pursuit operations.

The police said they saw blood stains at the possible escape route of the NPA fighters that may indicate there are wounded guerrillas.

Police and army forces are still conducting pursuit operations against the NPA.

The NPA still has to issue a statement on the incident. # (Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol)

NPA blasts Lepanto mine facilities

BAGUIO CITY— The Chadli Molintas Command (CMC) and Jennifer Carino Command (JCC) of the New People’s Army (NPA) claimed responsibility over the attacks on Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company facilities in Mankayan, Benguet late evening of June 7 and early dawn of June 8.

In a joint statement sent to the media, the NPA commands said the attacks were part of their continuing campaign to punish destructive and large scale mines like Lepanto as well as government troops for acting as the company’s security guards.

The CMC operates in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions while the JCC operates in Benguet Province.

The Philippine National Police in Mankayan earlier said that the gates of the LCMC Tailings Dam were attacked by armed men at 10:36 p.m., followed by a 10:46 p.m. attack on a chemical and mineral laboratory in Colalo village.

At 4 a.m., the police discovered that the armed men detonated explosives to destroy a police outpost, a backhoe and a copper processing machine.

Lepanto security personnel and soldiers claimed they drove back the rebels after the attackers succeeded in blasting a lime mixing plant and a bulldozer.

Police said two explosive devices attached to two dump trucks failed to set off.

Workers who witnessed the attack there said 7 armed men and a woman raided the facility.

Residents heard gunfire ring out followed by blasts near the mine site after midnight, Mankayan Mayor Materno Luspian for his part said.

Luspian said he was also informed of the firefight in Colalo.

According to the NPA, Lepanto land grabbed tens of hectares of rice fields in 1990 between Cabiten and Colalo villages where it built its Tailings Dam 5A despite widespread protest.

Second attack

In April 25, 2013 the NPA also torched Lepanto’s drilling machine in Colalo village. At the time, Lepanto was planning to build its Tailings Dam 5B.

The NPA said they attacked soldiers under the 81st IB of the Philippine Army stationed near Tailings Dam 5A.

They claimed the government troops were being used to violently quell people’s opposition against the raising of the tailing dam’s embankment.

Aside from the attack at the tailings dam area, the NPA also destroyed the carbon-in-pulp (CIP) cyanide processing plant owned by Colalo Barangay Captain Ambino Padawi.

They also burned a backhoe and other equipment in the said plant.

The guerillas also blasted the Community Police Action Center (Compac) beside the CIP.

The NPA accused Padawi of taking away the ancestral land of a clan and built the CIP on it despite the protests by other residents. # (Kimberlie Quitasol of Northern Dispatch for Kodao Productions/Featured photo by Raymund B. Villanueva)

Socio-economic reforms: Forgotten part of the 4th round?

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands—President Rodrigo Duterte’s “barest conditionalities” have put the limelight on the ceasefire agenda in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) fourth round of formal talks in this seaside town.  While the NDFP repeatedly tries to underscore it should be the substantive socio-economic reforms agenda that should take center stage in this round, it almost cannot be helped that greater interest is shown on Duterte’s demand for a signed bilateral ceasefire agreement.  This round’s opening ceremony was in fact postponed twice to resolve the snags created by Duterte’s eleventh hour instructions to GRP negotiators.

At the end of the third day of negotiations last night, negotiators from both parties can be observed exchanging notes and consulting on what can only be surmised as issues related to Duterte’s conditionalities. To observers, there seems to be a greater sense of urgency among the negotiators to come to an agreement on Duterte’s demands.  It also seems that this round’s success would be measured on whether the President’s four conditions are met or not and the possibility of the fifth round of formal talks in June are hinged on satisfying them.  The heightened interest on negotiations for a new ceasefire agreement—be it bilateral, joint, reciprocal or unilateral or interim or indefinite—is of course helped along by journalists constantly fielding questions related to the prospective ceasefire agreement.

Meanwhile, the Reciprocal Working Committees on Socio-Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) are mostly left alone to go quietly on with their work.

Unprecedented gains

Within just two days of formal negotiations, RWC-SERs have already met three times.  According to reports, they have built on the unprecedented gains of the third formal talks in Rome, Italy last January where both parties “agreed on principle” on free land distribution.

At the RWC-SER’s second bilateral meeting yesterday morning, the committees identified enough number of concurrences in each other’s draft they are already looking at reconciling the first part of a prospective Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER): agrarian reform and rural development (ARRD).  With four more RWC-SER bilateral meetings scheduled until tomorrow, the NDFP is optimistic that apart from finalizing ARRD, discussions on national industrialization could begin before this fourth round ends.

NDFP Jose Maria Sison predicted this momentous achievement in his opening remarks last Monday.  “I have read and studied the drafts of the proposed agreements from the GRP and NDFP and I have also examined the comparative matrices. I observe that there are enough concurrences and similar positions as common ground for forging the agreements,” Sison said.  “I continue to be optimistic that within this year, it is possible for the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels to forge and sign the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and the consequent joint ceasefire agreement,” he said.

Sison said the RWC-SER can proceed to unify their respective drafts at an accelerated pace during rounds of formal talks and work meetings of bilateral teams and even between rounds of formal negotiations. After an “ultimate common draft” is signed by the panels and principals, it may even serve as guide and framework of executive orders and legislation “to carry out genuine land reform, lay the foundation of national industrialization, ensure the protection of the environment and wise utilization of natural resources, uphold the people’s rights, improve the wage and living conditions, expand the social services (especially free public education at all levels and free public hospitals and clinics) and develop international economic relations within the context of an independent foreign policy.”

What Sison described is practically what government and what a just society should be all about.  More importantly, these are the concrete steps in addressing the roots of the armed conflict, the reason why the 48-year old CPP waged its revolution in the first place.  Even GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III described the socio-economic reforms agenda as the “heart and soul” of the peace negotiations.

Most important

A ceasefire agreement is, of course, important.  But, as NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili in his own opening remarks said, it is (only) “for the creation of conditions conducive to reaching agreements on basic reforms.”

There have been countless ceasefires (bilateral, joint, or unilateral) in the 48-year old revolution and in the 31-year history of the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations.  The most recent reciprocal unilateral ceasefire declarations (August 2016 to February 2017), in fact, being the longest. There is one common denominator in all of them, however: they all end, sooner or later.  Ceasefires in the Philippines always have a way of being violated, as when the Armed Forces of the Philippines attacked an NPA encampment in Makilala, North Cotabato when the GRP and the NDFP were in the midst of a very productive formal round last January.

The GRP-NDFP peace panels are very nearly halfway through forging a comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms.  It is befuddling why this fact is lost on many minds, including, it seems, Duterte’s. Beyond the issue of ceasefire, what all Filipinos must focus on are the achievements on socio-economic reforms negotiations.  When completed and implemented, it will effectively end the nearly-five decade civil war in the Philippines.

Because no temporary ceasefire could ever match a permanent end to the hostilities ushered in by a just and lasting peace. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Peace negotiations necessary to address roots of armed conflict’–Joma Sison

Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison delivered the first remark for the NDFP in the opening ceremony of the fourth round of formal peace negotiations with the GRP, calling the peace talks as necessary in addressing the roots of the armed conflict.

As expected, Sison in his remarks laid down a most comprehensive blueprint in pushing forward the peace negotiations.

“I continue to be optimistic that within this year, it is possible for the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels to forge and sign the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and the consequent joint ceasefire agreement,” Sison said. (Featured photo by Nwel Saturay)

Underground groups celebrate NPA’s 48th anniversary

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)-member organizations in Metro Manila held a “lightning rally” in Quezon City in observance of the 48th founding anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Hundreds of revolutionaries called on the people to join the NPA and be part of its revolution against United States of America imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism. Read more

Revolutionary women’s organization take to Manila streets

The revolutionary Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Makibaka) took to the streets of downtown Manila last March 17 to commemorate International Women’s Month in a “lightning rally.”

Denouncing the continuing poverty and injustices suffered by Filipino women under the Rodrigo Duterte government, the underground group called on women to join the national democratic revolution.

Makibaka is one of the founding allied organizations of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which also includes the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. Read more

Veteran activists commemorate 47th anniversary of First Quarter Storm

Bonifacio Ilagan, artist and activist, recalls the historic First Quarter Storm of 1970 that helped spark the struggle against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Last January 26, dozens of FQS activists gathered at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani to commemorate the days when youth and students battled against the dictatorship. Read more