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National Democratic Front of the Philippines

In the Bog of Fascist Reaction

in Countercurrent
by Angel Balen

Into his third year in office, Rodrigo R. Duterte increasingly finds himself and his government getting mired deeper and deeper in the bog of fascist reaction, stumbling into one misstep after another.

A year ago he discarded his publicly declared wish to be the first “Left” president of the Philippines (the truth may be that he never had the political will to fulfill that wish). With misplaced hubris, the self-proclaimed erstwhile “socialist” unraveled himself as a fascist, and plunged his administration into this bog—disdaining to entertain the thought it would turn out this way.

Now he is confronted with multiple problems he can’t effectively tackle and properly resolve, no matter the means he employs, before his term ends in 2022. To begin with, many of the problems have sprung from his impetuous, little-thought-out and crudely-crafted policies and decisions.

Among these problems are:

  • the continued implementation of martial law in Mindanao and his threat to impose it nationwide;
  • his unilateral cancellation/termination of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines – National Democratic Front of the Philippines (GRP-NDFP) peace talks. He stopped just when these were promising to produce substantive agreements on social and economic reforms of immediate benefits to the Filipino people. He shifted to “localized” peace talks and unable to find any party willing to participate because the framework is “negotiate to surrender”;
  • his proclamation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorist organizations” and filing before a regional trial court, through the justice department, a petition for proscription that listed names and “aliases” of over 600 individuals presuming them to be “terrorist suspects” sans any vetting, as admitted by his current justice secretary. (Four of such individuals—including Satur Ocampo and Rafael Baylosis, independent cooperator and NDFP consultant, respectively, in the GRP-NDFP peace talks—have succeeded, through written replies to the summons served to them, to get the court to exclude their names from the list);
  • the continually rising incidence of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, particulary among the peasants and
  • indigenous people, due to the implementation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s (AFP) counterinsurgency program, Oplan Kapayapan;
  • the unrelenting pursuit of the “war on drugs” (with 25,000 people so far estimated to have been killed) and the prospect—which Duterte dreads—that the International Criminal Court would decide to investigate and judicially proceed against him for committing crimes against humanity;
  • the campaign to eradicate graft and corruption, over which Duterte recently expressed having become tired and exasperated and threatened to step down from the presidency as he says his regime will rise or fall on the issue of corruption; and
  • Duterte’s shift-to-federalism project (aimed at giving him excessive powers during the interim or transition period), currently snagged in Congress. His own neoliberal economic team says its funding requirement threatens to upend state financing and disrupt the regime’s economic development program. His minions at the Department of Interior and Local Government attempt to push a flagging “RevGov” plan calling for an extra-constitutional “People’s Council” (a parody of “people power”) that would keep Duterte in power until a new form of government would have been installed.

Aside from these problems, pressing for more immediate and long-term solution are the current crisis of sharply rising inflation, the recurrent shortage of rice supply and soaring prices of food and other basic necessities; and the economy’s slowing growth rate. His regime performed poorly in 2017 towards achieving the 257 economic and social development targets for 14 sectors under the Duterte Philippine Development Plan. Here are the figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority: high likelihood of achieving only 111 targets; medium prospect of attaining 29 others; and low probability of fulfilling 117 targets. Also the tracking of various indicators, by research outfits and economists, show the Philippines ranking last (“kulelat,” says economist Cielito Habito) among developing nations of Southeast Asia.


The declared basis for Martial Law (which Duterte and his military and security advisers chose to take while on an official visit to Moscow) was to enable the state security forces to contain and crush a so-called attempt by the Islamic State (IS/ISIS)-inspired, represented by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf “extremist”. This groups had an initial estimated force of 300 fighters, to establish an IS “province” in Marawi by mounting a siege on the only Islamic city in the country.

Originally intended to last five months, the declaration was first extended to end of 2017 (even as its objective was supposedly already attained in October, with the seiging armed groups wiped out and Marawi City devastated). Yet Duterte further extended it till end of 2018, claiming martial law is still needed to complete the suppression/eradication of the violently extremist groups, now tagged as “terrorists”, and to safeguard the security of the civilian population.

In declaring and extending ML, he got the concurrence of a pliant Congress in joint session and the approval of a lenient Supreme Court.

But how is the situation in Mindanao today, almost a year after ending the so-called Marawi siege?

Thousands of displaced Marawi residents, with inadequate supply of their daily needs, remain in crowded evacuation centers in Iligan City and nearby areas or stay in the similarly crowded residences of relatives or friends. The rehabilitation of the devastated city lacks funding to get started. Much of the reconstruction work is to be given to Chinese contractors, which the Marawi residents disapprove of, primarily because they have been excluded from the planning and rebuilding process that they say doesn’t take into account their culture, religious belief and practices. The people of Marawi also resent and protest the construction of a new military camp in the city center and the refurbishing of the previously existing one.

As regards the suppression/eradication of the remaining “terrorist” groups and safeguarding the security of civilians, the martial law extension hasn’t been effective. Just within a month, three bombing incidents occurred in public places (in Lamitan, Basilan on July 31; in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on August 28 and September 1). All together the bombings killed 16 people and wounded 50 others. None of the perpetrators have been arrested.

State security officials have attributed the Lamitan bombing to the IS/Maute-Abu Sayyaf group, and alleged that six foreign IS members allegedly operating in Mindanao have yet to be accounted for.

On the other hand, the same officials blamed the Isulan bombings on elements of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who are opposing the passage and prospective implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL, formerly the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL). They concede that the BOL will not bring about the long-sought peace among the Bangsamoro in the immediate future—a peace that Duterte has repeatedly promised to his Muslim kin (he says his mother has Maranao blood).

The knee-jerk reaction of Malacanang to the bombing incidents, suggesting further extension of martial law in Mindanao, only fueled the Mindanaoans’ cynicism over the government’s promise of a “mantle of security” under martial law.
An oblique rebuke to the martial law proponent-implementors came recently from a US State Department key official, who categorically answered a question of visiting Filipino journalists at the East-West Center in Hawaii: Was martial law effective in combating terrorism in Mindanao? “No. That is the short answer,” replied Irfan Saeed, director of State Department’s Office of Countering Violent Extremism.

“The response to terrorism and our efforts in countering violent extremism,” Saeed added, “cannot be an excuse for an overly aggressive law enforcement approach.” (He referred to martial law as an “overly aggressive” step). He hit the nail on the head when he said that “suppression of basic human rights [a key element of martial law] is a potential driver of terrorism… (because) you’re actually bringing a greater ability to recruit people to violent extremism.”
Saeed apparently spoke out of American experience: the formation of the Islamic State began among the Iraqi political detainees, led by Bhagdadi, who had been held captive, tortured, humiliated and deprived of their rights by the US military in Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq.


Duterte’s chief peace negotiator, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, and his peace adviser, Jesus Dureza, have repeatedly lamented—in the many instances when Duterte hemmed and hawed on the matter—that their principal (the President) was letting slip away the opportunity to leave a “lasting legacy of peace” to the Filipino people.

The failure of the two, who are both Duterte’s bosom friends, to prevail on him to hold fast on his promise to pursue and complete the peace negotiations, would be casting away the precious time and efforts they had invested in the peace negotiations since the mid-1990s. As Duterte lets go the chance to leave a lasting legacy to the people, they too would miss the opportunity to earn popular approbation and prestige as peacemakers. Bello and Dureza would end up as “collateral damage” of Duterte’s abandoning an honorable peace and falling back to wage a dishonorable and unwinnable war.


Recently Duterte threatened to no longer accept “surrenders” from the NPA and incited state soldiers to shoot upon sight NPA suspects and all those he considers as “enemies of the state.” Now this is unconscionably brutal, far worse than the order to the police to shoot dead drug suspects who “fight back” (“nanlaban”).

Jose Ma. Sison, NDFP peace panel chief political consultant, interpreted this to mean that Duterte’s “line of localized surrender negotiations has utterly failed and he has turned his home region into a bigger cauldron of armed conflict.”

On Duterte’s taunt that the Left revolutionary forces cannot control even a single barangay, Sison riposted:

“The local organs of political power of the People’s Democratic Government of workers and peasants are in thousands of barangays all over the country, attending to the needs and interest of the people neglected and abused by the reactionary government.”

“Best proof of this fact,” Sison added,” is that the counterrevolutionary and tyrant Duterte and his military have deployed all their 98 Army maneuver battalions as well as police brigades against so many guerrilla fronts in a futile attempt to suppress the revolutionary forces and communities with [the use of] terror and deception.”

For its part, the NDFP Public Information Office has criticized the Duterte regime’s move to proscribe as “terrorist organizations” the CPP and the NPA. It stated:

“The proscription petition… forms part of the regime’s attempt to strip the Philippine revolutionary movement of legitimacy and recognition as a national liberation movement, thereby denying it and every suspected revolutionary of their rights and protection under International Humanitarian Law and other instruments governing armed conflicts.”

Furthermore, it emphasized, the petition vainly aims “to eliminate the strongest and most consistent opposition against Duterte’s scheme to establish an open fascist rule.” Duterte’s desperation, it added, “grows as the people’s resistance mounts, not only against his tyranny but also against spiralling inflation, low wages, deteriorating social services, onerous taxes, widespread contractualization, trade union repression, landgrabbing and expansion of land monopolies, and other burdens.”

At the same time, the NDFP-PIO noted, the proscription bid is a desperate attempt by the Duterte regime to divert attention from its own human rights record. It elaborated:

“The regime wants to cloak its escalating counterrevolutionary war with the mantle of legality, to imbue with legitimacy the widespread political killings, illegal arrests and detention and the attacks against civilians and other unarmed adversaries and strip the victims of all possible means of redress.

“If to be a terrorist is to systematically use armed violence against civilians and other noncombatants,” it concluded, “then it is Duterte and his fascist forces who answer to this name.” ###

Justice is the Heart of the Revolution

in Mainstream
by Pat Gambao

The reactionary government’s rotten justice system has never been so outrageously unmasked as it is now through the Duterte regime’s blatant travesty.

In Duterte’s controversial “war on drugs”, self-confessed and publicly known drug lords get away unscarred while thousands of petty pushers and users, mostly from the poor communities, are summarily executed. In the plunder cases before the Ombudsman involving pork barrel, the regime’s department of justice is plotting to transform the most guilty scammer into a state witness.
Chief Justice Sereno’s impeachment case exemplifies the crude and desperate way of weeding out perceived obstacles to controlling the judiciary, in Duterte’s bid to monopolize power. Twist the laws, disregard the check-and-balance dictum, and get some stupid, ambitious, hopefuls into the plot.

Vilify, force to resign officials (they succeeded with Comelec Chair Andres Bautista) or file a quo warranto case, for good measure. Many retired military officers complicit in human rights violations, such as enforced disappearances, now occupy high positions in the bureaucracy.

The rotten judicial system

Ka Tato, a lawyer from the Lupon ng mga Manananggol para sa Bayan (Lumaban), an affiliate organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), described the government’s dispensation of justice as muddled, snail-paced, and biased towards the authorities. “This is not surprising because the court is among the instruments of coercion of the ruling class aimed to perpetuate the status quo,” he explained.

He cited Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr., charged and tried for the kidnapping and disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan and peasant Manuel Merino, as “so far the highest-ranking military official to be criminally indicted for human rights violations in recent history.” However, Palparan enjoys the privilege of being detained in the headquarters of the Philippine Army, to which he belonged, rather than in a regular jail.

“Kagyat na panagutin sa iba’t ibang larangan ang mga may pananagutan sa taong-bayan at lansagin ang mga salik na nagbubunsod ng kawalang katarungan.”
Liga ng mga Manananggol para sa Bayan (LUMABAN)

The trial of Palparan and his co-accused, Col. Felipe Anotado, M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario and Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio, has dragged on for seven years due to various dilatory tactics of their defense lawyers. The crime happened more than a decade ago, but the trial was concluded on February 15, 2018. How long it will it take for the court to promulgate its ruling?

The revolutionary justice system

“The main difference between the justice system of the revolutionary movement and that of the reactionary government lies in each one’s standpoint and viewpoint,” Ka Tato pointed out. The NDFP program, he said, embodies the people’s fundamental rights and freedom and takes into consideration the following: 1) the relations between the broad masses and the exploiting class; 2) the relations among party members; 3) the relations among the masses; and 4) the interests of the sectors. Following are his elaboration on these points:

The People’s Democratic Revolution seeks the social and national liberation of the masses long locked in the yoke of exploitation. Its judicial system thus takes the side of the exploited at all times against the interests of the exploiters.

Friendly relationships among the toiling masses and the progressive forces are ensured by resolving any dispute among them amicably. The interests of every sector are given prime consideration over the interests of the ruling classes.

The revolutionary movement has developed standards for the legal and judicial system at different levels and degrees. These are still being codified according to issues and sectoral interests towards crafting a comprehensive code. The three points of attention and eight basic rules of the New People’s Army (NPA) remain as the standards for military discipline. There are also rules and guidelines for agrarian reform, children’s rights, relationship between sexes, treatment of prisoners of war (POW), rules on the investigation and prosecution of suspected enemy spies, among others.

The revolutionary forces adhered to human rights and the principles of international humanitarian law in the course of the armed conflict even prior to the signing of the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the first substantive agenda in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP. The NDFP also crafted a Unilateral Declaration of Undertaking to Adhere to the Geneva Conventions and Protocol 1.

All these laws, rules and guides are being observed in the guerrilla fronts by the organs of political power, which create committees or entities to implement them. These are aimed to establish order and dispense justice in the interest, protection, and defense of the masses.

Ka Tato cited the following example:

In March 1999 when the NPA released prisoners of war (POW) AFP Brig. Gen. Victor Obillo, Captain Eduardo Montealto, PNP Major Roberto Bernal and AFP Sergeant Alipio Lozada, the NDFP took the high moral ground as basis—humanitarian grounds and grant of clemency on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA. It responded positively to the widespread appeals of well-meaning parties and personages such as Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla, Bishop Wilfredo D. Manlapaz, Msgr. Mario Valle, Atty. Jesus Dureza and Rev. Fr. Pedro Lamata, who composed the Humanitarian Mission; Senator Loren Legarda in a parallel personal initiative; Howard Q. Dee, Chair of the GRP Negotiating Panel; Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; Mrs. Obillo and Mrs. Montealto.

The NDFP negotiating panel ordered the release of the military officers in accordance with the authority vested on it by the NDFP National Executive Committee and the laws and and processes of the people’s democratic government (PDG), and in compliance with the CARHRIHL and the NDFP Unilateral Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions and Protocol 1.

Observing the Guidelines and Procedure for the safe release of POW, the NPA custodial force turned over the captives to their immediate families through the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Humanitarian Mission, Senator Legarda, and in the presence of some government officials, human rights advocates, and church people.
Punishing a ferocious enemy of the people

The execution of Bernabe “Bantito” Abanilla in February 2016 by the Front Operations Command of the NPA in the provinces of Cotabato and Bukidnon was the punishment for his involvement in the killing of Italian priest Fausto “Pops” Tenorio and former student journalist Benjaline Hernandez, as well as many human rights activists and indigenous peoples who resisted militarization in their ancestral domains. Abanilla was a member of the Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and the “Bagani Force” paramilitary group in Arakan, North Cotabato.

In October 2011, Tentorio was shot several times inside a parish compound in Arakan Valley, Cotabato. Four years later, a Special Investigating Team for Unsolved Cases found circumstantial evidence against the Bagani Group. Meanwhile, eight years after Hernandez was attacked by the CAFGU and military in April 2002, in Sitio Bukatol, Barangay Kinayawan, Arakan, the UN Committee, where a complaint of the killing was filed, found the government guilty for violating Hernandez’s human rights. Despite these findings, Abanilla continued to enjoy a wicked life in liberty until revolutionary justice finally caught up with him.

The revolutionary movement’s people’s court

In the Guide to the Establishment of the People’s Democratic Government, the justice system is envisioned to have a Supreme People’s Court as the highest judicial authority. It may also create special courts if the situation requires. The Hukumang Bayan (people’s court) is created by the people’s government at the provincial, district, municipal and barrio levels. In small and simple cases, the board of judges is composed of three, while in big and complicated cases, especially if death is the imposable penalty, the board is composed of at least nine judges. Judges are chosen based on merit.

The complaints should be detailed and the preliminary investigations thorough before the trial. The people’s court will study the sides of both plaintiff and defendant. Both sides shall be given sufficient time to be heard and can have a lawyer to present witnesses and evidence.

Usually hearings are done in public and any citizen is free to give his/her opinion regarding the case. If necessary, the people’s court will request the help of the concerned organ of the PDG to provide insights on the issues confronting the court.

The decision in every case shall be voted upon by the judges. Each judge shall explain before the board his/her vote. Usually, the decision on the case needs a simple majority vote of the board. However, in the case where death is the sentence, the vote should be a clear 2/3 majority. All the decisions shall be read and explained by the presiding judge.

The decision of the lower people’s court may be appealed to a higher people’s court. However, the people’s court may accept a motion for reconsideration of its decision. In cases where death is the sentence, these will automatically be appealed to the highest political and judicial authority of the region and automatically filed with the People’s Supreme Court or the standing organ responsible for it.

The people’s court on the ground

At this stage of the people’s democratic revolution, people’s courts are established in the guerrilla fronts. They commonly cover petty crimes and domestic concerns. Should the situation permit, hearings are done in public.

Arbitration is done by the NPA with local residents to strike a balance in the evaluation of the case. Members of the people’s court are chosen based on merit. They should be disinterested parties and not related to the defendants. The people’s court is usually composed of nine people. The defense also should undertake careful investigation to ensure that the rights of the defendant are protected. The case undergoes hearings, sentencing, and appeal, as the case may be. The Party section of the NPA is responsible for taking charge of the trial. The Executive Committee of the Regional Committee acts as the review board.

In the case of enemy spies, any tip will be carefully verified before the arrest and trial. Certain political conditions are considered such as the gravity of the offense, the age (minor) and the relationship of the offender with revolutionary forces. Death sentence is the last resort after one is proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Contrary to the claims of its detractors, the NDFP judicial system is no “kangaroo court” because it follows a judicious procedure: investigation, indictment, hearings, sentencing, pardon, and release.

People in the barrios and even the local barangay councils acknowledge that revolutionary justice system is fair, simple, and swift.


in Cover Story
by Angel Balen

On April 24 the National Democratic Front of the Philippines observes its 45th founding anniversary.

There is every reason for the revolutionary forces, mass base, allies and friends to celebrate the momentous occasion.

Today the NDFP stands justly proud, yet humble, as the veritable embodiment and official political-diplomatic representative of the consolidated national united front of the 18 allied organizations that—in nearly 50 years—have unrelentingly carried on the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation.

As envisioned at its founding, the NDFP over the years has endeavored to become the most consolidated organizational expression of the unity of all the anti-imperialist and democratic forces in the country and among progressive Filipinos working/living abroad as well as solidarity groups in various countries. It is through the NDFP that national unity has been “assiduously, perseveringly developed under the class leadership of the proletariat and firmly founded on the basic alliance of the workers and peasants.”

Over almost half a century the struggle has achieved significant gains infused with the selfless martyrdom and immense sacrifices of revolutionary cadres and Red fighters.

Significant strides since the 70s

Three years ago, on the 42nd anniversary of the NDFP, Ka Oris, then the spokesperson of the NDFP-Mindanao, gave a succinct but comprehensive review of the significant developments in the national democratic revolution’s advance since 1973, with the NDFP and the New People’s Army (NPA) working together closely in 120 guerrilla fronts in strategic areas of the countryside.
Highlighting the interweaving roles of the NDFP and the NPA, under the guidance of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), in building up the revolutionary forces and mass bases Ka Oris, in a video publicly shown at the anniversary celebration on August 25, 2015 at the University of the Philippines Bahay ng Alumni, declared:

“It is imperative that we remember what history has taught us: that in the advance of the NDFP, the NPA also made strides, and when the NPA and the armed struggle gained strength, the NDFP became more prestigious and its capacity to unite various political forces was amplified. This also showed that the NDFP served as the shield in the armed struggle and the NPA, as the sword to cut down the main pillar of the reactionary state. In addition, this demonstrates the NDFP’s role in waging diplomatic struggle as a weapon of [the people’s] war.
“History has shown the inseparability of the NDFP and the NPA under the guidance of the Party in advancing the national democratic revolution. The NDFP played a significant role in broadening the field of operations and the wellspring of recruits of the people’s army and the armed struggle. The NPA for its part made certain that the NDFP had a wide and deep foundation in the basic masses and that it possessed a weapon to achieve complete victory.

“These victories of the NDFP must be consolidated. Let us glean our positive experiences, hold fast to them and build on them, even as we repudiate our negative experiences. We are hopeful that the revolutionary movement will continue to advance nationwide due to the socio-economic and political crisis besetting the country.

“We pledge our readiness to unite and coordinate with all forces and individuals who stand for genuine liberation, democracy, and peace based on social justice. We pledge and stake our entire strength to advancing the people’s war from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate and onward to total victory.”

Since Ka Oris reported on the revolution’s advances, the NDFP has earnestly been training more cadres for deployment in the ever-widening national united front work, even as it has devoted more efforts in pushing the resumption of the long-stalled GRP-NDFP peace talks under the second Aquino government and the incumbent Duterte regime.

Such work has included organizing various types of campaigns to arouse and mobilize the broad masses of the people for the revolution; promoting and building varied forms of alliances among progressive and patriotic forces towards building the broadest alliance possible against imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism; and building underground organizations in the urban areas.

The NDFP also has paid more attention to building revolutionary strength among the national minorities for asserting their right to self-determination and defending their ancestral domains, livelihoods, cultures and traditions. Likewise, it has improved and expanded efforts to arouse, organize and mobilize Filipino overseas migrant workers and other compatriots in various countries to contribute more meaningfully to the advancement of the revolution.

Advances in Mindanao and Visayas

On the 49th anniversary of the NPA last March 29, NDFP-Mindanao provided an update on the advances made by the revolutionary movement in that whole southern part of the country. It lauded the Red commanders, fighters, people’s organizations, and members of the People’s Militia, local guerrilla and self-defense units for “effectively carr(ying) out their revolutionary tasks of defending the people’s welfare by delivering decisive blows against the fascist forces of the US-Duterte regime.”

The Mindanao revolutionary movement, the statement noted, “has taken significant strides to bring the people’s war to a new and higher level, with the end in view of ushering in the victory of the national democratic revolution towards the country’s socialist future.”

Citing the revolutionary masses as the “weavers of the fabric of history,” the NDFP-Mindanao expressed profound gratitude to them for having “offered their good sons and daughters to take conscious and active part in the undertakings of the true army of the people, the NPA.”

With equal fervor towards allies, the NDFP Mindanao said: “We thank all our allies as well, who, throughout the years, despite the all-out vain efforts by the ruling classes and [their] reactionary government to malign and crush the revolutionary movement, have not waivered in their support.”

Backing up with data the advancement of the people’s war in Mindanao, the statement said:

“The NPA in Mindanao continues to surge in an all-round way. Despite the all-out attacks of the US-Duterte regime, the NPA is making headway in 46 guerrilla fronts in Mindanao, where its units are operating in more than 2,500 barrios in over 200 municipalities in 20 provinces in the island. In these areas, hundreds of thousands are directly organized, while tens of thousands are covered by the people’s revolutionary government (PRG) at the barrio level, and a few at municipal levels.”

“NPA platoons and companies in Mindanao are now spread all over their base areas, helping the masses to defend themselves from impending attacks of enemy forces, recovering those (areas) relatively disrupted by enemy troops, and reinvigorating revolutionary mass organizations into launching agrarian reform campaigns and participating in meaningful activities that help advance the people’s war.

“We encourage NPA units in Mindanao to make their every political and military undertaking this year as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the reestablished Communist Party of the Philippines.”

In the Visayas, the CPP Panay regional committee has reported similar advance in the people’s war despite the intensified repressive actions by the US-Duterte regime. Julian Paisano, regional party spokesperson, reported the following:

More youths have joined the NPA, most of them from peasant families who mainly endure the burdens of poverty and class exploitation. In 2017, the NPA in Panay added one oversized platoon to its fighting forces. At the same time, more peasants have joined units of the People’s Militia which principally assume responsibility for defense and maintenance of peace and order in their respective communities and provide direct support to the fulltime units of the people’s army.

Much-improved ideological, political and organizational work within every unit of the NPA, Paisano noted, has resulted in the enhanced spirit of discipline and capacity of the fighting units in carrying out their primary tasks: base-building (done in tandem with the NDFP), agrarian reform, and launching tactical offensives (TO). Consequently, more than 20 TOs were successfully launched in 2017. These resulted in the confiscation of various-caliber firearms from the enemy, inflicting casualties (10 killed and 20 other enemy troops wounded). Three Red fighters sacrificed their lives in the encounters.

The People’s Democratic Government

For the past 32 years, reckoning from the initial GRP-NDFP peace talks in 1986-87, the NDFP has firmly stood for and carried the political authority of the people’s democratic government (PDG), constituting of the organs of political power at the barrio level, in some areas at municipal or section level.

The PDG is painstakingly being built to educate the organized masses on the principles, ways and means of collective self-governance, and to enable their democratically elected local leaders to assume responsibility and hone their leadership capabilities through practice for safeguarding and advancing the people’s welfare, while helping advance the revolutionary struggle. The perspective is for the PDG to ultimately replace the reactionary, oppressive and exploitative rule of the imperialists, the big landlords, and big bourgeois compradors.

Understandably not one of the post-Marcos dictatorship administrations of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines has shown the courage or political will to explicity recognize the PDG’s political authority—and consequently recognize the existence of dual political power in the country. They have all been wary of adopting an attitude, much less taking any action that would enhance the prospects of the revolutionary movement attaining a status of belligerency.

Nonetheless, in varying degrees, the administrations of Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Gloria Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III, and Rodrigo Duterte tacitly acknowledged the political authority of the NDFP when they acceded to sit down with the latter on the negotiating table—based on the principle of parity of status—and hammer out a just and lasting political settlement of the prolonged armed conflict.

Fidel Ramos stands out as the only GRP president who sustained (though with many interruptions) the peace negotiations throughout his term of office. Joseph Estrada (who succeeded Ramos) spurned the peace negotiations and opted for a “total war” policy. Yet he did a signal role (though he didn’t seem to have been aware of it at the time). After assuming office in 1998 Estrada, as principal of the GRP negotiating panel, signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRIHL. The accord, lauded as a “landmark” document by the European Parliament, was negotiated and completed under the Ramos administration.

Rodrigo Duterte could have done better than Ramos had he been hands-on in the negotiation process—as Ramos was. He came close to signing the most substantive agreement in the peace talks that would have addressed the root causes of the armed conflict: the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which could have been followed by the completion and signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR).

However, buckling under the pressure of his militarist advisers, Duterte balked. He completely turned around and arbitrarily “terminated” the GRP-NDFP peace talks in November, through Proclamation 360—although that is not the prescribed mode of formally ending the peace negotiations. Initially, he tried to justify his decision by accusing the NPA of continually attacking and killing “my soldiers and policemen.”

Later Duterte rationalized his action by claiming he couldn’t agree to share power through a “coalition government” with another political authority that he said had no mandate from the Filipino electorate. By that stance he showed a narrow, even erroneous, understanding of certain principles in peace negotiations, specifically that the two negotiating parties shall have joint/shared as well as separate responsibilities in the implementation of signed agreements.

(A “coalition government” could probably come into fruition only after a final peace accord should have been signed—which would entail the cessation of hostilities and disposition of the armed forces of both sides—and the political forces under the NDFP should have decided to participate in the elections for a new government that should see after the full implementation of all the peace agreements.)

Proscribing the CPP/NPA as Terrorist

Beyond seeking to terminate the GRP-NDFP peace talks, Duterte also issued Proclamation 374 declaring the CPP and the NPA as “terrorist organizations.” Again, no matter that it carried the president’s authority, the proclamation by itself is not legally binding. The anti-terrorism law (euphemistically titled “The Human Security Act of 2007”) on which the proclamation is based, requires the government, through its department of justice, to petition a regional trial court to declare as terrorists the two revolutionary organizations.

The procedure is called proscription, wherein the judge must hear both the side of the petitioner (DoJ) and those of the respondents (CPP and NPA). The court must find as sufficient and verified to be factual the documentary or testimonial evidence submitted by the DoJ to satisfy the grounds, specified under the Human Security Act, before it can issue a ruling declaring the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.

The petition has already been challenged, in a motion filed by Saturnino C. Ocampo, one of the persons whose names are listed in the petition as allegedly the “known officers” of the CPP-NPA with known addresses. Besides refuting the imputation that he is a “terrorist” and the allegation he is an officer of the CPP-NPA, Ocampo urges the court to dismiss the petition because it fails to satisfy the stiff requirements of the Human Security Act in determining if an organization is in fact terrorist.

It is important to note that both in Proclamation 374 and in the judicial petition, the Duterte regime isn’t seeking to tag the NDFP as a terrorist organization along with the CPP and the NPA, which are its two leading affiliate organizations. One can only speculate on the reason(s) behind the exclusion/omission.

Reminiscent of Martial Law

Another important point to note is that the NDFP celebrates its 45th anniversary under political conditions eerily reminiscent of those prevailing at the time it was founded: seven months after Ferdinand E. Marcos had declared martial law nationwide and installed himself as fascist dictator for nearly 14 years.

Martial law has been in effect in the whole of Mindanao for over a year now. It was originally intended to enable the reactionary state’s security forces to quell an alleged rebellion in Marawi City by Muslim militant groups which the US and the Philippine governments associate with the Islamic State. After that was accomplished, largely with aerial bombings guided by American spy planes and drones that destroyed much of Marawi, Duterte had the martial rule extended until the end of 2018, adding the NPA as its target for annihilation. He has threatened, should the NPA further escalate its counteroffensives against the state forces, to declare martial law nationwide.

In this regard, the NDF-Mindanao statement on March 28 described the US-Duterte regime as “seething with fascism, employ(ing) militarism and other draconian measures to suppress any and all forms of opposition and dissent.” Leaders and members of legal and legitimate mass organizations have become targets of brutal attacks, warrantless arrests and filing trumped-up charges, detention and torture, surveillance and profiling of targeted individuals, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killing.

Moreover, of the more than 600 names and aliases listed as “officers and members” of the CPP-NPA in the proscription petition filed in court by the DoJ, more than half of them are allegedly from Mindanao.

The regime, the statement added, seeks to wipe out the NPA by the end of 2018 through Oplan Kapayapaan, which employs “vile military and psywar tactics rehashed from previous failed operation plans.”

To create in the public mind a false perception that these tactics have been succeeding, the AFP/PNP has resorted to “subterfuge, perfidy and black propaganda.” They orchestrate the murder of civilians, make it appear like it was executed by “terrorists” and impute the crime on the NPA. Then through trolls, the statement noted, the US-Duterte regime poisons both the social and mainstream media with such false news.

The AFP has also stage-managed the gathering of hundreds of fake surrenderers in Davao City and flew them to Manila aboard military transport planes, for touring at the Luneta and other urban tourist spots, capped by dinners at Malacanang with President Duterte. Duterte has even offered the women “surrenderers” government-funded tours in Hong Kong and China so they could observe firsthand the economic progress supposedly achieved after the former “socialist China” embraced the capitalist road to development.

Following the issuance of Proclamation 374, the statement pointed out, Duterte has gone further to “almost sociopathic proportion” as to offer P25,000 to P100,000 bounty for every NPA fighter killed and to order that women Red fighters who may be captured be “shot in their vaginas to render them useless.”

Also it must be noted that, against strong popular protests, in November 2017 Duterte rammed the political rehabilitation of the deposed dictator Marcos by facilitating the burial of his remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Now he appears to be implacably set to replicate the prolonged Marcos tyrannical rule, using as conveyance, through charter change, a shift in the form of government from the current unitary to a federal type that is yet to be fully defined.

The looming restoration of that reviled fascist dictatorship invests the observance of the NDFP’s 45th anniversary with an urgent popular behest: Resist the rising tyranny of the US-Duterte regime; sustain the gains of the National Democratic Revolution!

Revolutionaries Not Terrorists

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