June 18, 2018 | Statement
Ka Joaquin Jacinto
President Rodrigo Duterte’s cancellation of the formal peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Philippine government (GPH) shows that his interests lie not on achieving a just and lasting peace. Instead, he is deliberately sabotaging the negotiations and setting the stage for its eventual failure.
Duterte is solely to blame for jeopardizing the talks. Using “consultations with stakeholders” as an excuse, he capriciously reneged on mutual agreements already signed by both panels in the back channel talks and disregarded previously upheld doctrines.
His proposal to hold the formal talks in Manila is a blatant violation of the Hague Declaration. His insistent demand for the New People’s Army to “lay down their arms” belie his posturing and further expose his ulterior motive. Duterte has shown that he cannot be trusted whilst treacherously and cowardly attempting to backtrack from the GPH panel’s earlier commitments.
Provisions of the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) and the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) continue to be grossly violated by the GPH. The NDFP’s calls for a general amnesty and the release of political prisoners as goodwill and confidence-building measures are constantly being beset with legal impediments and delaying tactics.
Even now the Duterte government is insolently propagating a so-called “final peace agreement” aimed to distort and misrepresent the initial “interim peace agreement (IPA)” agreed upon by both parties. The IPA states clearly in its guidelines the upholding of the Hague Declaration and the CARHRIHL, as well as both parties’ commitment to advance the common drafts of the CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms) in the interest of ensuring the progress of the formal talks.
Duterte is hallucinating if he thinks that a “final peace agreement” can be achieved pending any mutual agreement on socio-economic, political and constitutional reforms. The biggest stakeholders of the ARRD (Agrarian Reform and Rural Development) and NIED (National Industrialization and Economic Development) provisions in the CASER are none other than the peasant and working classes, the broad masses of the people that the NDFP represents.
Duterte is consciously sabotaging the peace talks to twist the arm of the NDFP into capitulation or surrender. It is but empty bravado for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to boast that it can “wipe-out” the NPA in a few months, even as both panels have already agreed to enter into a “stand down agreement” a week before the supposed resumption of the peace talks on June 28.
Since Duterte declared an “all-out-war” policy against the CPP-NPA in February 2017, the AFP has launched ceaseless military operations all over the country. The ongoing martial law in Mindanao has further emboldened the military, police and their paramilitary units to wage a more ruthless and fascistic attack on the revolutionary movement and the people not only in the region but nationwide.
Offensive operations under the AFP’s Oplan Kapayapaan are ever-worsening and continue to terrorize innocent masses and legal and progressive forces in urban cities and localities, especially among the peasantry and national minorities. Through psy-op and combat military tactics such as the PDT (Peace and Development Teams), COPD and CSP (Community Support Program), the AFP is able to disperse as many of its battalions in barrios and communities nationwide under the pretext of “peace and development”, “medical missions”, “relief and disaster missions”, “war on drugs” and such. Also included in the AFP’s psy-op tactics are the staging of forced or fake surrenders of alleged NPA rebels disguised under the banner of its Development Support and Security Plan “Kapayapaan”.
Countless complaints have been received by the NDFP of the AFP’s human rights abuses in localities: military occupation of schools and communities, theft of farm animals, rape and molestation of women, abductions and extrajudicial killings of activists and suspected members of the NPA, some of whom were assassinated for being included in the PNP’s “drug watch list”.
A de facto nationwide martial law has been put in place, and more military abuses can be expected with the postponement of the peace talks. The AFP and PNP are further given license by Duterte himself to exploit, terrorize, kill, harass, rape and instill fear on the people in the objective to annihilate or force the revolutionary movement into capitulation or surrender.
Indeed, Duterte is setting the stage for a one-man tyrannical rule. Even his fake federalism is aimed at further consolidating his control over the bureaucracy. His wars against the people – Oplan Kapayapaan, Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Double-Barrel Reloaded, “all-out-war”, martial law and “war on terror” – are all intended to ensure a favorable climate for maximum profit and benefit for the local ruling elite and foreign capital and to preserve and protect the interests of exploitative classes of big compradors and despotic landlords.
Duterte’s “campaign for peace” is not motivated by genuinely seeking for substantial solutions to basic economic, political and social demands of the people, namely, genuine land reform, national industrialization, an end to contractualization, free housing, free education and many others. Only the puppet US-Duterte regime, not the Filipino people, stands to benefit if the NDFP-GPH peace talks fail to prosper.
Duterte’s treachery leaves the revolutionary movement and the Filipino people no other choice but to exert all efforts to further intensify the people’s war, put an end to his fascist rule, and attain a just and lasting peace. ###