The most notorious and most aggressive of the Right and ultra-Left opportunists have found jobs in the regimes of Cory Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo and Noynoy Aquino and the very worst of them have even joined even the intelligence agencies. They would be most hostile to any suggestion of reconciliation or unity with the CPP. But many of those they have misled are known to have returned to the revolutionary movement or have dropped out to mind their own private lives.
7. What have been the chief obstacles to a negotiated settlement between the NDFP and the government?
The Manila government and NDFP have their respective constitutions, governments and and armies. To lay the ground for peace negotiations, they issued The Hague Joint Declaration to define the framework for peace negotiations. They agreed to address the roots of the armed conflict or the civil war by negotiating and forging agreements on human rights and international humanitarian law and on social, economic and political reforms. They also agreed that they are guided by the mutually acceptable principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice and that no precondition shall be made by any side to negate the inherent character and purpose of peace negotiations, i.e. no side can demand the surrender of the other side.
Under the current Aquino regime, his presidential adviser and his negotiating panel want to undermine and nullify the aforesaid declaration by asserting that it is a document of perpetual division. They are practically demanding the immediate surrender of the revolutionary movement. They do not respect the agreement on the sequence, formation and operationalization of the reciprocal working committees that are to negotiate and work out the agreements on reforms. The question of what kind of authority will be formed to implement the comprehensive agreements on reforms shall be settled when the time comes for negotiating the political and constitutional reforms.
The Benigno Aquino III regime has shown no respect for and has in fact violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) by refusing to release some 14 political prisoners who are NDFP negotiating personnel and are therefore JASIG-protected. It has not called to account those military and police personnel who have abducted, tortured and murdered NDFP consultants who are JASIG-protected. Also, it has violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law by condoning violations of human rights of suspected revolutionaries and sympathizers by the Arroyo regime and by his own troops and by refusing to release 350 political prisoners who are unjustly imprisoned on trumped up charges of common crimes.
The regime keeps on demanding ceasefire in order to distract public attention from the agreement to address the roots of the civil war though basic reforms. The NDFP has offered truce and alliance on the basis of a general declaration on common intent on ten points, including the assertion of national independence, empowerment of the working people, land reform and national industrialization, immediate assistance and employment for the impoverished and unemployed, promotion of a patriotic, scientific and popular culture, self-determination of national minorities and independent foreign policy for peace and development.
The biggest obstacle to the peace negotiations is US political and military intervention. The US has upset the peace negotiations by unjustly designating the CPP, the NPA and the NDFP chief political consultant as terrorists. It has dictated upon the Aquino regime to draw up Oplan Bayanihan under the US Counterinsurgency Guide, which considers peace negotiations as a mere psywar device for outwitting, isolating and destroying the revolutionary movement. Oplan Bayanihan is a campaign plan of military suppression. But it masquerades as a peace and development plan. It regards peace negotiations only as a means to enhance the triad of psywar, intelligence-gathering and combat operations. Many people think that the US does not allow the puppet regime to make the overall agreement for a just and lasting peace with the NDFP.
8. Optimally what would a settlement between the NDFP and the government look like? What is the vision of the NDFP for a future Philippines?
Answer: The Communist Party of the Phlippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines have declared that their line in the peace negotiations is no different from their line of struggle for national liberation and democracy in the people’s war, whose ultimate goal is a just and lasting peace. Through peace negotiations, they seek to forge agreements with the Manila government on social, economic and political reforms in order to pave the way for a just and lasting peace.
The NDFP is desirous of a settlement in which the national sovereignty of the Filipino people and territorial integrity of the Philippines are upheld and unequal treaties, agreements and arrangements with foreign powers are done away with. The workers and peasants who compose the majority of the people must be empowered in order to have real democracy. Land reform and national industrialization must be carried out in order to have real development and realize just social relations. A national, scientific and mass culture and system of education and information must be promoted. An independent policy must be carried out in order to promote development and world peace.
The vision of the NDFP is for the Filipino people to enjoy far better conditions when they have national independence, democracy, economic development and social justice. They can aspire for still better conditions in a socialist society. The protracted and worsening crisis of global capitalism is resulting in the resurgence of the anti-imperialist movement as well as the socialist movement. An increasing number of people are saying that it is not enough to fight against capitalism and imperialism. It is necessary to fight for socialism.
9. Are you optimistic that negotiations can result in a just settlement?
Frankly speaking, I am not optimistic that negotiations can result in a just settlement. Like its predecessors, the Aquino regime is too servile to US imperialism and stands as the current chief representative of the local exploiting classes, the comprador big bourgeoisie and landlord class. It has shown no inclination to assert national independence and undo unequal treaties, agreements and arrangements that keep the Philippines semi-colonial. It also has shown no inclination to realize democracy through significant representation of workers and peasants in government and through land reform and national industrialization.
It has become clear that the reactionary government is not seriously interested in peace negotiations as a way of addressing the roots of the armed conflict through agreements on basic reforms. Especially under the Aquino regime, the negotiators are always trying to lay aside the substantive agenda and to push the NDFP towards capitulation and pacification. Failing to accomplish their vile objective, they paralyze the peace negotiations by refusing to comply with obligations under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
10. What has been the role of the USA? And, have US policies towards the Philippines changed under President Obama? If so, how? What is your overall assessment of the Obama administration?
The USA has not been helpful to the peace negotiations. In fact, it has obstructed these. The US designation of the CPP, NPA and myself (the NDFP chief political consultant) as terrorists is meant to intimidate and put pressure on the NDFP in the peace negotiations. The US Counterinsurgency Guide actually tells the Philippine reactionary government that peace negotiations are dispensable but are useful only for purposes of psywar to mislead the people, possibly split the revolutionary forces and make the reactionary killing machine more efficient. But the US policy against peace negotiations with the NDFP has served to make the revolutionary force and people more vigilant and more resolute in opposing US intervention in the internal affairs of the Philippines.
From the Bush II to the Obama regime, there has been no change in US policy towards the Philippines. Obama continues the policy of serving the interests of the US imperialists in the economic, political, military and cultural fields, collaborating with the big compradors and landlords, manipulating the puppet regime and its military forces, preventing land reform and national industrialization, controlling the fundamentals and direction of the Philippine cultural and educational system and stationing US troops in the Phil ippines and maintaining a permanent relay of US military forces under the US-RP Mutual Defense Pact and the Visiting Forces Agreement. Obama is a good servant of US imperialism. He used his glibness to make himself look better than the brazenly brutal Bush. But he is using the same glibness to cover many acts as bad as or even worse than those that made Bush infamous.
11. How did the CPP and NPA end up on a list of terrorist organizations? How did you end up on a list of supporters of terrorism? What steps are being taken to remove this label from you, the CPP and the NPA?
Answer: During the November 2001 visit of then Philippine president Gloria M. Arroyo to Washington, she requested then US President Bush to have the US agencies (State Department and the Office of Foreign Asset Control of the Treasury Department) designate the CPP, NPA and myself as “terrorists”. When US state secretary Colin Powell visited the Philippines in the early days of August 2002, he was reminded of the request and he assured Arroyo that he would act on it immediately upon his return to the US. Indeed, within August 2002 the CPP, NPA and I were designated as “terrorists.”
The Philippine and US governments connived to take advantage of the terrorism scare that followed 9-11. They themselves engaged in terrorism by deciding to undertake harmful actions against the CPP, NPA and myself. The designation of the CPP and NPA as “terrorist” is absolutely absurd because they have carried out revolutionary actions strictly within the Philippines, have not engaged in any cross-border attacks against the US and up to now have not been discovered to keep bank accounts in the US or anywhere else outside of the Philippines.
In my case, I have been falsely accused of being the current CPP chairman and being responsible for the alleged terrorist acts, in fact the revolutionary actions, of the NPA despite the fact that I have been out of the Philippines since 1986 when I was released from nearly a decade of detention under the Marcos fascist dictatorship. The malicious intention of the US and Philippine governments is to pressure the entire NDFP negotiating panel and me as its chief political consultant. Like the Arroyo regime, the Aquino regime uses the terrorist designation as a kind of lever against the NDFP in the peace negotiations.
It is impossible for the CPP, NPA or myself to begin any legal process for undoing the terrorist designation in the US or in any other country tailing after the US in the so-called war on terror, without proving first the legal personality and material interest of the plaintiff. In my case, I could take legal action against the Dutch government for putting me in the terrorist list because I live in The Netherlands. After my administrative complaint, the Dutch government repealed its decision to put me in its terrorist list but took the initiative in having me put in the terrorist list of the European Union in October 2002. I went to the European Court of Justice and I succeeded in having my name removed from the EU terrorist list in December 2010 after eight years of legal struggle.
12. Has the “terrorism” designation made it difficult for NDFP supporters in the Philippines and in other parts of the world? If so, how? Have civilian political activists faced increased government-inspired violence as a result of this terrorism designation?
Answer: The “terrorism” designation is an incitation to hatred and violence and various forms of discrimination and harassment against known or suspected NDFP supporters in the Philippines and other parts of the world. Although the NDFP is not designated as terrorist, everyone knows that the CPP and NPA are the most important components of the NDFP. In the Philippines, the incitation to hatred and violence is quite deadly because the military, police and their death squads are emboldened to go on terrorist-hunting and are assured that they can abduct, torture and kill people with impunity.
Abroad, the EU, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have followed the US in labelling the CPP and NPA as terrorists and there are adverse consequences to Filipinos who oppose imperialism and the puppet government in the Philippines. The overseas Filipinos are vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, nonrenewal of work contracts and denial of residence permits.
The Dutch authorities have advised the Norwegian government not to give any assistance to the NDFP negotiating panel for maintaining office and staff in The Netherlands on the claim that such assistance would be for building the infrastructure of “terrorists”. They have also raided the NDFP office and houses of NDFP panelists and consultants and seized documents and equipment needed in the the peace negotiations.
13. Periodically the US media discuss alleged Muslim fundamentalist terrorism in the Philippines. What is the situation? In Mindanao there have been efforts at autonomy and self-determination. What has been the stand of the NDFP on these efforts? What is your take on allegations of Muslim terrorism?
Answer: The NDFP supports the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination, including the right to secede from an oppressive state or opt for regional autonomy in a non-oppressive political system. The Moro people have long been oppressed by the Manila government and by local reactionary agents. They are not free in their own homeland and are victims of Christian chauvinism and discrimination. They have been deprived of their ancestral domain. They have been robbed of agricultural land as well as forest, mineral and marine resources.
The Moro people have all the right to fight for national and social liberation. The NDFP has therefore found common ground for alliance with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and subsequently with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after the MNLF capitulated to the Ramos regime in 1996. By fighting well against their common enemy, the NDFP and the MILF gain better conditions for growing in strength and advancing in their respective struggles.
The US government and the US media exaggerate the threat of Muslim fundamentalist terrorism because they wish to promote the entry of US corporations for the purpose of plundering the rich natural resources of Mindanao, especially oil, gold and deuterium. They also wish to justify the current stationing of US military forces and eventually the basing of larger US military forces for the purpose of strategic control over Islamic countries in Southeast Asia and strategic countervailing of China and the DPRK in Northeast Asia.
Like Al Qaida, Abu Sayyaf was originally a creature of CIA and the intelligence agency of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to counteract the MNLF. It has become a bandit gang since the capitulation of MNLF. It has also been convenient for the US and Manila government to depict the Abu Sayyaf as a Muslim fundamentalist group and as an extension of the A Qaidda, since 2001 when Bush declared Moro land as the second front in the so-called global war on terror. There are indications that the US and Philippine governments continue to arm and finance the Abu Sayyaf in order to block the advance of the MILF in Sulu and to provide the pretext for US military intervention in the Philippines.
14. In the 1990s there were several splits from the CPP. There were charges and counter-charges regarding sectarianism and militarism. Some who split seemed to have chosen to engage primarily in electoral politics. Some former CPP members have suggested that the CPP/NPA has attempted to kill/silence political opponents. Please give us your take on this and on these allegations.
Answer: In answer to a previous question, I discussed the subjectivist ideological line that the Philippines was no longer semi-feudal. Such line emerged in 1981 and induced the political currents of ultra-Left and Right opportunism among a few members of the CPP. Eventually in the early 1990s, there would be splinters, not big splits, initiated by grouplets who opposed the Rectification Movement which was launched by the Central Committee of the CPP in early 1992.
The rectification movement was an educational movement inside the CPP to repudiate, criticize and rectify the major errors of ultra-Left and Right opportunism that had caused serious damage to the CPP and the revolutionary mass movement since 1981. But there were elements, whose connections with enemy intelligence were eventually exposed, who stridently attacked the rectification movement as a bloody scheme of “Stalinist purge” and who tried to spread the fear that those found in error would be terribly punished.
The rectification movement was undertaken precisely to rectify the sectarian and military adventurist line of the ultra-Left opportunists who tried to accelerate ill-prepared tactical offensives and the unsustainable formation of companies and battalions supposedly to back up the impending urban uprisings of the armed city partisans and spontaneous masses as the leading force. No such armed urban uprisings ever occurred. But mass work in the countryside was neglected and the rural mass base decreased by 15 per cent by 1988 and by 60 per cent in 1991.