Duterte's talks with NDF: The meat of the matter


In contrast, the GRP has proposed a generalized set of “Desired Outcomes” to include the following: 

No details were given as to how the desired outcomes would be achieved. These could very well have been lifted from any policy paper churned out by the neoliberal-oriented technocrats in the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) or undergraduate students in the UP School of Economics.

The great debate

In the last round of talks last October, both panels were able to come up with a common outline for CASER which basically merged the outline of the NDFP’s draft agreement with the GRP’s list of desired outcomes (see Annex A of the October 9, 2016 GRP-NDFP Joint Statement). But there is much work to be done and acrimonious debates are expected before a final agreement is forged, hopefully within the year. Even as the talks progress, both sides are expected to continue consulting with stakeholders to further refine their proposals at the same time generate public support for their positions.

The government side will, of course, insist that there is nothing inherently wrong in its existing social and economic policies and that problems of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment can be solved by simply implementing current neoliberal, market-oriented policies at a faster and more efficient manner. The government’s official response to any challenge to its economic dogma is to say that on the contrary, we liberalized our economy too little and too late. 

Just like previous governments, the Duterte administration aims to further open up the economy to foreign trade and investments, privatize public assets and utilities, and remove all constraints on private businesses. In other words, allow private (ideally foreign) capital to rule and relegate government's role to keeping the peace, ensuring the rule of law, and providing safety nets for the poor.

The NDFP, on the other hand, rejects neoliberalism, repeatedly points out its failures even in advanced capitalist countries, and offers a diametrically opposed framework for development. It will insist on developing local, Filipino-owned industries, massive public spending for development, greater government control over the economy, and comprehensive programs for wealth redistribution and social welfare.

The GRP will probably concede on some items – like increasing wages, ending contractualization or lowering income taxes. But they will resist key proposals on limiting foreign investments, the nationalization of key sectors, genuine agrarian reform and the re-establishment of state-run enterprises and utilities.

Many may not be aware of it, but what is at stake in the peace talks is the economic future of the country. The implications of CASER will be felt not only by constituents of the NDFP but by all Filipinos. – Rappler.com


Teddy Casiño served as the partylist representative of Bayan Muna for 3 terms, from 2004-2013. Prior to his stint in Congress, he was secretary-general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and was a columnist for BusinessWorld. He earned his degree in sociology from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños in 1993.