“There are several compelling reasons to continue the peace talks between the GRP and NDFP. It is unacceptable that President Duterte is easily giving up in attaining just peace by listening to the saboteurs like the imperialist US and its lapdogs in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)”.
This is the statement of League of Filipino Students (LFS) national spokesperson JP Rosos on Monday following the pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte on Peace talks.
Rosos recalled that after the US State Department refused to delist the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) from their terrorist list, the Duterte regime has announced the termination of its unilateral ceasefire the next day. The youth leader added that President Duterte also tagged the revolutionary armed groups as terrorists the following day and has even ordered the re-arrest of the NDFP consultants coming from the peace negotiations in Rome, Italy.
“This is a calibrated plan by the US-Duterte regime. While Duterte and the GRP peace negotiators are engaging in peace talks, the lapdogs of the imperialist US in AFP are hindering the release of more than 400 political prisoners even if it is part of the mutual agreements between GRP and NDFP. Worse, the state military is relentless in their violations of their own ceasefire,” said Rosos.
“With the socio-economic reforms as one of the substantive agenda in the peace talks, the imperialist US and its lapdogs in the government does not want to engage in the peace process simply because addressing the roots of the armed conflict will remove the bases of their exploitation and oppression on the Filipino people,” Rosos added.
Release of Political Prisoners
Rosos pointed out that the unconditional release of political prisoners is consistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL), which the Duterte regime agreed to recognize. The youth leader noted that Duterte should comply with this obligation as they have signed upon such agreement.
Rosos also recalled that Duterte was expected to declare a general amnesty to immediately free all political prisoners as agreed upon during the first round of peace talks last August. The youth leader noted that this has prompted the CPP-NPA-NDFP to issue their own interim unilateral ceasefire.
Rosos added that the prolonged detention of political prisoners due to charges with unbailable trumped-up criminal offenses such as murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives also violates the Hernandez political offense doctrine.
“The release of political prisoners that Duterte adamantly refuse to execute is in itself a violation of the agreements during the peace talks. How can one trust the Duterte regime in upholding the resolutions for resolving the roots of armed conflict when the first agreements of the peace panel can be easily discarded by Duterte,” said Rosos.
Ceasefire Violations and Militarization
Rosos also slammed the heightened military offensive against the people even during the Duterte’s regime unilateral ceasefire. The youth leader noted that since the start of the formal peace talks, AFP and its paramilitary troops did not stop from their violent military actions.
“From day 1 of the peace talks to present, there are already 14 political killings and 439 illegal arrests of leaders and members of peasant groups, indigenous people, human rights activists, and different people’s organizations,” Rosos said.
“Even with AFP’s unilateral ceasefire, the horrors in countryside intensified. Military occupied several schools, day care centers, chapels, and other community facilities in around 500 baranggays. The harassment and human rights violations did not stop,” Rosos added.
The youth leader pointed out that the continued implementation of Oplan Bayanihan and the new Oplan Kapayapaan is the testament that the counter-insugency program aimed at the people continues. Rosos added that even the war on drugs and Oplan Tokhang are used against the leaders of different progressive organizations.
Duterte: No Interest in Addressing the Roots of Armed Conlict
“When the CPP-NPA-NDFP announced that they are planning to end its unilateral ceasefire if the Duterte government does not comply to its obligation of releasing all political prisoners and ending the wide-spread militarization in the countryside, Duterte is quick to react negatively against the peace process. It shows one thing – like the previous regimes, Duterte is not interested in addressing the roots of the armed conflict. He is only after the laying down of arms by the revolutionary groups,” said Rosos.
“It is not because Duterte does not see the compelling reasons for the continuation of the peace talks. Rather, he chose not to address the issue of social injustices, poverty, and hunger that pushed other groups to take arms in order to forward genuine social change,” Rosos added.
Rosos pointed out that while the main topics of the substantive agenda include genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization, and different social-economic reforms that will benefit the people; the imperialist US and its local puppets in the country refuse to allow these changes. The youth leader pointed out that Duterte being the chief representative of the landlord class and big business men who are the few ruling elite in the country, protects their anti-people interests. By doing so, Rosos added, it is necessary for them to terminate the peace process.
Intensified fascism and state terror
“The previous pronouncements of the Duterte regime is a signal for all state machinery to have an all-out offensive not only against the armed groups but also against the whole Filipino people. Following the dictates of the imperialist US, Duterte has shown its leanings to more human rights violations and acts of state terrorism,” Rosos said.
Rosos noted with the breakdown of the peace negotations and the termination of their bogus ceasefire, the fascist attacks against the people will be more openly brutal. According to the youth leader, the signal of President Duterte of an all-out military offensive in the countryside, the continued implementation of war on drugs, the proposals to revive the militaristic Philippine Constabulary, and the threats of Martial Law are all acts against human rights and civil liberties. Rosos pointed out that the acts of the Duterte regime shows that he will be no different from Marcos.
“We call for the resumption of peace talks and demand to address the social and economic cause of the civil war in the country. But while demanding for peace, we warn the Filipino people that Duterte is showing signs that he is ready to go all out in the name of maintaining a semi-colonial, semi-feudal Philippine society. We must be prepared,” said Rosos.
“With our numbers, we, the Filipino people, must strengthen our unity to fully fight with all our might the foreboding acts of Duterte that will bolster the fascist rule and domination of imperialist US, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism,” Rosos ended. ###