By BENJIE OLIVEROS
In a forum at UP Diliman September 15, NDFP consultants Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon explained clearly the need for the national democratic revolution and the peace talks, which, at first glance, may appear contradictory. Wilma Austria traced the historical roots of the revolution, as well as the continuing basis for it: the continuing oppression and exploitation of majority of the Filipino people. That is why, she said, the peace talks should address the roots of the armed conflict and should thus, be based on the principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice.
Benito Tiamzon explained that the reason the resumption of the peace talks was a success is because of the meeting of two congruent intentions: the desire of the NDFP to pursue peace based on justice and the desire of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to pursue fundamental social and economic reforms.
Interestingly, Tiamzon said the government peace panel members, and President Duterte for that matter, who are open to fundamental social and economic reforms constitute the minority in government. Other political forces, he said, whose interest is to maintain the status quo comprise the majority.
So does that mean that the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is doomed to fail once powerful political forces in and out of government, who stand to lose their political and economic power and privileges with the success of the talks, block the agreements on fundamental economic and social reforms?
Tiamzon offers a way to counter this: the people should get involved in the peace talks and push for fundamental economic and social reforms that would result in the betterment of their lives.
After all, the discussions on fundamental economic and social reforms would revolve around solutions to the problems being confronted by the people such as landlessness, low salaries and wages, contractualization and lack of security of tenure, long working hours, exploitative work conditions and heavy workloads and quotas, worsening unemployment and underemployment, lack of gainful livelihood, high costs of basic social services such as education, health, and housing, high rates and the deteriorating state of basic utilities, high prices, the illegal drugs problem, deteriorating state of public transportation and the traffic problem, discrimination on the basis of gender, social status and ethnicity, among others. In other words, the talks would tackle the problems that the people confront daily as well as issues that would impact on the future of our children and the nation.
The peace talks is not merely a battle between the GRP and the NDFP at the negotiating table, as mainstream, corporate media is wont to portray it to be. It is actually a battle between majority of the Filipino people who desire fundamental economic and social reforms on the one side, and the few elite whose interest is to maintain the status quo because they profit from it at the expense of the majority, on the other.
The people have nothing to lose and everything to gain from the success of the peace talks. The perfect time to get involved is now.