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Duterte’s “surrender” program is a scam

in Countercurrent
by Iliya Makalipay

Alde “Butsoy” Salusad is a leader of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-backed paramilitary group New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR). He is a murderer—the killer of anti-mining activist Datu Jimmy Liguyon—with two warrants of arrests on him that remain unserved by the Bukidnon Philippine National Police because he has been coddled by the AFP since 2012.

In August 11, 2017, five years after he killed Liguyon, Salusad was presented by the AFP as “NPA surrenderee” and was awarded Php100,000 in cash. Then in March 2018, the military included Salusad in the list of more than 600 names and aliases of alleged members of the CPP and the NPA in a petition for proscription filed at a Manila regional trial court.

Filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in compliance with the Human Security Act of 2007 (the Philippine anti-terrorism law), the petition seeks to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations. The court initially ordered the names of four individuals, who had challenged their inclusion in the petition, excluded for lack of evidence that they were officers or members of the CPP and the NPA. After others similarly questioned their inclusion, the DoJ revised the petition by dropping the long list.

The charade about Alde Salusad is among the many ways the Duterte regime tries to cover up its failure to defeat the revolutionary movement led by the CPP-NPA and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), through vicious military operations launched in areas they consider as NPA guerrilla fronts.

Elsewhere in Mindanao, where martial law has been imposed for two years now, farmers and indigenous people—individually or collectively—have become targets of the fake/forced surrender campaign of the AFP. The trend is also noticeable in other parts of the country as the AFP keeps resetting its target date for “neutralizing” the armed revolutionary forces.

Will the real NPA surrenderees stand up?

Interviewed by Liberation, Julieta, a woman community leader from Bukidnon, revealed that one AFP battalion commander had summoned community leaders listed as “NPA terrorist supporters” from 31 barangays for a three-day “peace building seminar”. Each barangay had 10 names on the list. Julieta and her husband were among those listed from their village.

While her husband attended the event, she refused to go, declaring: “I am not a terrorist. I am a leader who defends our ancestral territory. We organize to protect our lands, we attend rallies so our voice could be heard, and to seek justice for those who were killed by the military and paramilitary groups.”

She quoted those who attended the seminar as complaining that “the military refused to answer our questions on how to protect our ancestral lands from the land grabbers.” Instead, they said, the military offered the more than 1,000 suspected “NPA terrorist sypathizers” seed money to grow mushrooms, ginger, coconut, and coffee trees. The seminar was in May 2018. As of October, not one of those who attended was given any seed money.

What alarmed the participants during those three days were the individual “interviews” conducted among them, which largely dealt with why they supported the NPA. At the end of the seminar, the participants were made to sign a document stating they would no longer participate in rallies. Ironically, they were herded to a rally immediately after the signing, and ordered to carry anti-NPA placards.

In the community, the soldiers have continued to convince the youth to join the military service, “so you will earn money.” They also egged on the community members, especially the youth, to search for firearms and turn them over to the military in exchange for money. Julieta said pictures of guns were distributed among them with corresponding price tags: AK-47 for Php 75,000 and handguns, Php 35,000. There were other guns priced at Php 65,000 and Php 45,000, but Julieta could not remember what sort of firearms they were. “They are teaching us to lie,” said Julieta, obviously irked by the military’s modus operandi.

There was a time when goons of the plantation owner who occupy their ancestral lands harassed them. Julieta said these belonged to the group of goons that killed a tribe member. The community reported the incident to the soldiers deployed in the area. Six goons were “arrested” but were brought to the military headquarters instead of the police station. Later, the six men were presented as “NPA surrenderees”.

For a few months after the “seminar”, fear and apprehension reigned among the community members. The specter of the Lianga massacre, where two indigenous leaders and one school executive were killed, always came back into their minds. After four months, however, they were again joining rallies.

“We are insulted by how the military treats us,” declared Julieta. “The military arbitrarily stops children to ask them if there are armed men in the community. When children pointed to the goons and security guards of the plantation, the soldiers would tell them ‘gahi na kaayo ka’ (you have been toughened).”

Similar stories have been recorded and made public by an international fact-finding mission held in Mindanao early last year. Likewise, the human rights alliance Karapatan reported more than 600 cases of forced/fake surrender since the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016 to March 2018.

A victim of forced surrender in Northern Mindanao recounted, “From morning, noon, until night, the 29th Infantry Division [went] around the community forcing us to surrender. I did not go with them because I am not an NPA. That night they strafed our house.” Other communities were threatened with bombing or were actually bombed.

Worn-out tactics of deception and coercion

In early 2018, the AFP claimed about 4,000 people to be “NPA surrenderees.” By the end of the year, the number “surrenderees” varied, from a total of almost 8,000 to 11,000. The AFP cited those numbers, whereas it had previously claimed that the NPA had already been reduced to 3,000. Embarassed, the AFP has interchangeably called the “surrenderees” as NPA members, sympathizers, mass base or militia members.

It matters not for the military whether the line between unarmed civilians and NPA red fighters is blurred. In fact, they have arbitrarily removed the distinction. The point, for them, is to picture to the public a weakening revolutionary movement. But, one thing is certain—almost all of the so-called surrenderees who were herded in public venues and presented to the media were victims of threat, coercion, and deception. Most often, the “surrenderees” are later forced into joining paramilitary groups such as the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and other similar armed auxiliary groups.

As practiced in the past regimes, the military conduct “house-to-house visits” and “surveys”. They circulate a “wanted list” of people in the community and summon them to military headquarters to “clear their names”. During interrogation, the military try to sow disunity among the community members by telling the “accused” person that his neighbor had ratted on him. But many times, people were simply rounded-up and forced to attend “surrender ceremonies”. At the end of each ceremony or event, all those who attended were tricked to sign blank documents that would later be presented as “proofs of surrender”.

Government agencies are also used to deceive other victims. In Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, some 60 farmers were supposed to attend a gathering called by the Department of Agrarian Reform to discuss land distribution but were later presented as NPA surrenderees. Others were compelled to “cooperate” because of threats of arrests, detention, or cancellation of their benefits from the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

Aside from the unarmed civilians, the AFP also hunts down former commanders and members of the NPA who had returned to civilian life. They too were coerced to “surrender”.

And there are the posers. Alde Salusad is a poser. And so were the 16 members of the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group of Calpit Egua that was responsible for the massacre of school principal Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in 2015. Like Salusad’s NIPAR, the Magahat-Bagani group is backed by the AFP, in this case the 4th Infantry Division.

The AFP used these posers for propaganda against the revolutionary movement and also in the AFP’s psywar cum money-making venture called E-CLIP or the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

There’s money in (psy)war

The E-CLIP now embodies the Duterte regime’s campaign to induce the members of the NPA to surrender—and one of the identified core projects in the “12 pillars of the whole-of-nation” approach to end the “communist insurgency”.

See Editorial

Along with the “localized peace talks”, the government pushes E-CLIP as part of the psywar operations to deodorize the government’s bloody “counterinsurgency” program which, since the time of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been patterned after the 2009 United State’s Counterinsurgency (COIN). The COIN follows the the triad operations combining psywar and intelligence gathering with combat operations.

As the AFP launches sustained brutal military operations, the E-CLIP, supposedly one of the civilian components of the operation, complements the campaign against the NPA. It aims to coopt NPA members into surrender. Thus, the offer of livelihood programs, medical insurance coverage for one year through the PhilHealth, housing, safety and security, and other “amenities”. A portion of the budget is used to give gifts and bribes to the families of NPA members so they may, in turn, convince the NPA member in their family to surrender. Each “NPA surrenderee” supposedly gets Php 65,000 cash for assistance.

See E-CLIP Briefer

Granting there had been 8,000 to 11,000 “surrenderees” by the end of 2018, the government would have spent a total of Php 520 million to Php 715 million. Since there has never been many real surrenderees as the military would want the public to believe, the budget allocation for the program logically ends up in the pockets of military officers and their cohorts.

Getting nowhere

Assuming the E-CLIP and other psywar tactics succeed in attracting members of the revolutionary movement to surrender, this, in all certainty, is but temporary. Why? Because it does not get into the root causes of the armed conflict.

Oppression, exploitation, and social injustices breed revolutionaries who will pursue a free and democratic society. Thus, there will always be one, or two, a hundred, and then thousands and hundreds of thousands who will surely take up arms for their national and democratic interests. Until then, the reactionary government and its killing machine will just have to content themselves with unsustainable cheap gimmicks that are only meant to please their egos—their fascist egos.

On the ground, for every defeat of an AFP unit inflicted by the NPA, the AFP gets back at the civilians. Every time they can’t find the NPA members, they vent their ire on the civilians. An eight-year old Lumad child who was witness to military abuses and atrocities in their community described the soldiers as “pula ang nawong sa kasuko kung mga Lumad ang kaatubang pero luspad na kung makakita na ug NPA (their faces turn red in anger when in front of the Lumad but become ashen pale when they face the NPA).”

The regime continues to be on the losing end as it opts to engage in its useless war against the revolutionary movement and the masses, resorts to dirty tactics, and evades peace negotiations that would tackle the issues of why, in the first place, there is an ongoing war in the Philippines.

 

THE TYRANT DENIES THE PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO JUST AND LASTING PEACE

in Countercurrent

 

by Leon Castro

Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte announced last August 14 that he has terminated the peace process with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). It came weeks after he, his spokesperson, and his peace adviser separately declared again suspending the peace negotiations. There was a need, the GRP said, to review the achievements of the GRP-NDFP peace talks, including all agreements between both parties since 1992 when The Hagu e Joint Declaration was signed.

“I have terminated the talks with the Reds—with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), with Sison—because in the series of agreements before, even [during] the time of [GRP President Benigno] Aquino, they entered into so many things that they scattered the privileges and power which they wanted,” Duterte said in his usual rambling way. We summed it all and it would really appear that it was a coalition government [they wanted] and I said, “I cannot give you an inch of that even. I cannot give you what is not mine,” Duterte added.

Duterte went on to declare yet again that his government would instead resume the fight against the revolutionary movement. “We have suffered and—in numbers. And I think it would not be good [to continue with the peace process]. We will just have to continue fighting,” he added.

Duterte’s latest announcement of the termination of the peace process is actually nonnews, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Maria Sison said. Sison explained it was not the first time Duterte terminated the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. The first time was actually in February 2017, as he again did on November 2017 with his Proclamation 360 that he followed with Proclamation 374 accusing the CPP and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorist” organizations. Sison said Duterte’s proclamations had the malicious intent of making doubly sure that he had killed the peace negotiations.

Either Duterte was lying or ignorant of what he was saying. There had only been one formal round of talks throughout the Aquino regime and the agreements signed in The Oslo Joint Statement of February 2011 the reactionary government tried to abrogate with full malevolent intent. In addition, Prof. Sison had repeatedly denied the NDFP asked or wanted a coalition government with Duterte’s own murderous regime.

But beyond Duterte’s unfounded accusations that the NPA—and not his bloodthirsty military and police—is on a rampage in both rural and urban areas, the question of why is he bent on throwing away the substantial gains achieved by the peace negotiations with the NDFP begs to be asked. If he claims his regime is suffering from the attacks by the NPA, why would he think that to continue fighting with the revolutionary army is the best and only solution? If he still claims he is for peace and development, why can he not admit that agrarian reform and national industrialization—prospective agreements of which are already submitted to him by his own peace negotiators for approval—are tangible efforts to addressing the roots of the armed conflict?

TYRANT AND DICTATOR

GRP President Duterte has completely unmasked himself and his regime as a tyrant and dictator in the mold of Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Duterte made a complete turnaround from proclaiming himself as the country’s first “leftist” president to being the chief executive of a cabal that rules through terror, tyranny, and corruption. His Senate is presided by, like him, a misogynist. His Speaker of the House of Representatives—manouvered into place by his daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte—is herself a tyrant, cheat, plunderer and human rights violator of the worst kind. He has replaced the Supreme Court Chief Justice with one who has voted to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Members of his own personal and official families are involved in smuggling, graft and corruption, and influence-peddling. They have lifestyles that could rival Imelda Marcos’s. Recently, investigative reports have shown that Christopher “Bong” Go has profited billions in government contracts as his most trusted assistant and operator.

The number of extrajudicial killing victims of Duterte’s drug war, mostly poor, has breached 20,000. The reign of terror remains unabated despite increasing opposition and condemnation in the Philippines and abroad. Despite all these deaths, Duterte’s so-called war has only succeeded in allowing tons of illegal drugs into the country while bigtime drug lords, including presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, remain at large or are being exonerated publicly by no less that Duterte himself.

Like his idols Marcos and Arroyo, Duterte is succeeding in running the country’s economy to the ground. From the get-go, Duterte’s anti-people Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) measure caused inflation rates that overtook so-called growth rates and hit 6.4 percent last August. While the Philippine Peso lingers at around P53 to P54 to the US dollar, hot money from the speculative market is leaving the country, making the Philippines one of the worst performing economies in the world. The country’s foreign debt has also increased dramatically under Duterte and has gone beyond P7 trillion. As a result of all these, oil prices and prices of basic commodities have drastically gone up and continued to do so, angering more and more Filipinos. Duterte’s approval rating has also consistently taken a dive since the start of the year, one that could no longer be fixed by his totally discredited propaganda machine.

Meanwhile, poverty alleviation measures promised by Duterte the presidential candidate and Duterte the newly-installed president were exposed to be nothing but hot air and lies. Labor contractualization remains the main mode of employment for workers while genuine agrarian reform is still a dream under his regime.

But are these developments really surprising, more so that no one among the NDFP-nominated progressives remained in Duterte’s Cabinet while the most reactionary disciples of neo-liberalization are still well-entrenched? Barely a year after progressives were rejected by the Commission on Appointments, corrupt practices have returned with a vengeance at the Department of Social Work and Development at the behest of corrupt politicians across the street at the House of Representatives. At the Department of Agrarian Reform, more and more agricultural lands are being handed to landlords and land grabbers. And more than a year after the National Anti-Poverty Commission has published a progressive anti-poverty roadmap, not a single recommendation is being implemented.

In the absence of honest to goodness pro-people policies and programs by the Duterte government, the NDFP-GRP peace process was among the very few avenues for genuine social change. Alas, Duterte is determined to deny the people their right to just and lasting peace.

NATIONAL INDUSTRIALIZATION AND AGRARIAN REFORM

Last June 16, the NDFP released backchannel documents it crafted with the GRP Negotiating Panel. The documents represented weeks of hard work not just by the NDFP and its consultants and resource persons but the GRP Negotiating Panel, advisers and staff, not to mention the Third Party Facilitator, The Royal Norwegian Government. These consisted of The Stand-Down Agreement; Guidelines and Procedures towards an Interim Peace Agreement, and the Resumption of Talks, with an attached timetable; The Initialled Interim Peace Agreement; and, The NDFP Proposed Draft of the Amnesty Proclamation, which was given to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator. These documents were all ready for approval by both panels on the fifth round of formal talks last June 28. Four rounds of informal talks throughout April to June 2018 preceded the scheduled formal in June.

The “Stand Down Agreement”—a temporary cessation of hostilities—between the NDFP and the GRP, was in fact signed and approved by the chairpersons of the negotiating panels and witnessed by the Third Party Facilitator. It was due for announcement and implementation on June 21, a week before the formal talks.

The GRP-NDFP peace negotiation has been postponed, canceled, and terminated by Duterte several times. Duterte thinks nothing of the hard work by everyone involved in crafting agreements already hailed as real solutions to the worst evils of Philippine society: poverty, corruption, and subservience to foreign interests. Instead of signing the initialed drafts of agrarian reform and rural development, as well as national industrialization and economic development agreements, he listened to militarists in his regime—especially defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and interior and local government and interior secretary Eduardo Año—who were all bred during the last years of Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law and wantonly let loose upon the people during Gloria Arroyo’s own reign of terror. With bloodthirsty officials like these three as his most trusted hatchet men, is it surprising that Duterte’s way of addressing the roots of the armed conflict in this country is heightened fascism and terrorism?

The NDFP and all its allied revolutionary organizations, led by the CPP and the NPA, on the other hand, said they condemn how Duterte waylaid the peace process. While they are not intimidated by Duterte’s bluster and threats and are ready to continue defending the Filipino people, they have expressed willingness to resume peace negotiations with any reactionary government serious in negotiating basic reforms that address the roots of the armed conflict. The NDFP said it is hopeful that a genuine peace negotiation shall contribute to the liberation of the Filipino people from the bondage of poverty, neglect and plunder by foreign and local ruling elite.

Perhaps Duterte is not ready to admit the NDFP’s seriousness and sincerity in negotiating peace. Perhaps he was surprised when he was shown by his own negotiating panel that the NDFP has initialed national industrialization and economic development as well as agrarian reform and rural development draft agreements. Perhaps he himself was not ready to implement peace even when the NDFP publicly announced it is ready to sign a stand down agreement between the NPA and the AFP and PNP, even an interim peace agreement deal. Perhaps Duterte was not really sincere when he promised he would release all political prisoners. Whatever the case may be, his repeated pronouncements to terminate the negotiations defy logic if he really wanted peace.

The question begs to be asked and asked loudly, “Why is Duterte afraid of peace?”

But, then again, is peace possible with a tyrant?

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.

On the NDFP’s 45th anniversary, the resounding call: RESIST TYRANNY, SUSTAIN THE GAINS OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION!

in Mainstream
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!

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