Communist Party confirms talks with PH government
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – On their 46th anniversary on Friday, December 26, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced there are "ongoing peace negotiations" with the Aquino government, adding that it's looking forward to a truce with the military.
The CPP said that while it does not expect a meaningful outcome in the near future, it believes the talks could pave the way for the party to eventually lead government, the ultimate goal of the 46-year-old communist movement. (READ: Hope springs eternal for talks with Reds)
"There should be no illusion that the ongoing peace negotiations with the reactionary government will soon lead to comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political problems as basis for a just and lasting peace," the CPP said in a statement published on its website on Friday.
“What is good about the peace negotiations is that the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) is able to broadcast the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution and help bring about the victory of the revolution in the long run or before then help bring about truce and cooperation with a government that is not led by the Party but which adopts patriotic and progressive policies to deal with the severe crisis brought about by imperialism and reaction," the statement added.
The CPP's political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), is returning to the negotiating table after two years of impasse in the talks, a government source earlier told Rappler. This was earlier confirmed by CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, who said this may happen after Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines in January.
During this period, the CPP called on its members to step up its "protracted people’s war against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords." (READ: AFP to communist rebels: End senseless attacks)
The CPP dismissed the country's much celebrated economic growth as a bubble and opposed moves to amend the 1987 Constitution to scrap foreign ownership limits.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita "Ging" Quintos-Deles, meanwhile, also confirmed that there have been efforts to reach out to the CPP.
"It is true...that friends of the process have been shuttling between the two parties to explore possible parameters for restarting talks at the earliest time possible. So far, feedback has been positive but there remain matters to be clarified in order to ensure that, if ever we do resume talks, it will not go the same way of an early, major impasse that has happened too often in the past."
She also said, "As we have repeatedly stated since the special negotiations track broke down in February 2013, we want to resume talks on the basis of a doable and time-bound agenda."
The CPP is behind Asia's longest-running insurgency. It has weakened from its 25,000 armed regulars in the '80s to its current 4,000 – based on military estimates – but occasional violence in the countryside has kept investors away from the rural communities, mostly in eastern Mindanao where the communist movement has strongest presence.
Deles has been vocal in saying what she wants is to end the violent attacks by the CPP's armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), against government troops and businesses.
However, how this is going to be implemented on the ground still needs to be seen. Among the reasons the talks collapsed in 2013 was the refusal of the NDF to agree to a ceasefire and the refusal of the government to terminate programs that the CPP opposed – the Conditional Cash Transfer program and the military's Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency campaign plan – and the release of detained NDF consultants.
"The biggest obstacle in the peace negotiations is the anti-national, anti-democratic and anti-people character of the reactionary government and its current officials who regard the negotiations as the means for the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary forces and the people," the CPP said in its statement.
While it supports the truce, the CPP called on its members to work harder in recruiting and indoctrinating more people.
"The Communist Party of the Philippines must be able to expand and strengthen itself substantially in the next year or so in order to shoulder the task of carrying forward the revolutionary struggle to new heights," it said.
"The students and intellectuals must be mobilized in a big way in order to wage a propaganda war against the political, ideological and philosophical line promoted by the apologists of imperialist neo-liberalism.The Party must lead in efforts to study the history of US colonization and aggression in order to fire up the spirit of patriotism among the current generation of youth," it added.
'Aquino is worse than Arroyo'
In its anniversary statement, the CPP also criticized President Benigno Aquino III, saying he is worse than former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in violating existing agreements.
"The Aquino regime is definitely far worse than the Arroyo regime in imprisoning far more people on trumped-up multiple charges of rebellion and common crimes in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Hernandez political offense doctrine," the CPP said, citing the detention of 14 political consultants.
"The Aquino regime is fundamentally as bad as the Arroyo regime in allowing illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial killings, forced evacuations, landgrabbing from the peasants and repression of workers and their trade unions," it added.
The CPP continued to attack his policies and celebrated ouster calls against him.
"The Filipino people must wage ever-intensifying mass struggles in order to muster enough strength to force Aquino out of power." it said.
"The corruption of the Aquino regime knows no limits. It extends to all supply contracts with the civilian and military agencies of the reactionary government, the finances and operations of the government-owned corporations, the infrastructure projects under the Private-Public Partnership Program and the Conditional Cash Transfer and PAMANA doleouts," it added.
The CPP also vows to be active in the 2016 presidential elections by exposing the Aquino government as a "farce," but at the same time take advantage by getting more seats in Congress and local governments. – Rappler.com