Contribution to the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

The Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation
July 21, 2013

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26 December 1968 marked the historic event whereby the Filipino people acquired a proletarian revolutionary leadership with the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Guided by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought, the CPP declared its program for the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. Three months later, it founded the New People’s Army (NPA) and in 1973 the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The re-establishment of the CPP was the culmination of an accumulated revolutionary tradition of the Filipino people. They launched more than 200 revolts against Spanish colonialism. Then, led by Andres Bonifacio, they waged the armed struggle for independence against Spain. When US imperialism invaded the country in 1898, they fought against the US war of aggression from 1899 to1913. More than 20% of the population then, that is, 1.5 million Filipinos died in that war of resistance.

The tradition of resisting foreign exploiters and oppressors continued during US colonial rule, also against the Japanese invasion and occupation from 1942 to 1945, and has continued since 1946 against US neocolonial rule and the local exploiting classes of landlords and big compradors. The revolutionary movement is aimed at realizing the national and social liberation of the people.

The revolutionary forces survived the massive attacks of the US-backed Marcos dictatorship from the early 1970s up to 1986. They grew through valiant struggle. They built mass organizations and organs of political power. By 1980, they had established 29 guerrilla fronts throughout the country.

In February 1986, the dictator Marcos was overthrown by a people’s uprising. Through dint of hard struggle, the revolutionary movement established its presence throughout the country in urban and rural areas with a mass base running into millions and an armed force operating nationwide under the guidance of a central political authority that functions within the framework of the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government.

Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Sessions on the Philippines

In 1980, revolutionary organizations in the Philippines and abroad organized the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) Session on the Philippines in Antwerp, Belgium. The 10-member international jury, headed by Nobel laureate, US Professor George Wald, declared the NDFP “legitimate representative of the Filipino people”. While judging Marcos guilty of crimes against the people and unfit to govern, the jury declared that the armed struggle of the Filipino people enjoyed the status of belligerency and deserved the support of the international community.

A Second PPT Session on the Philippines was held in The Netherlands in March 2007. The jury headed by Prof. Francois Houtart condemned the US backed-Arroyo regime for crimes against humanity and numerous crimes against the people. Human rights and peace organizations in the Philippines provided compelling evidence based on meticulous research and testimonies of courageous victims of human rights violations.

The Second Great Rectification Movement

The revolutionary forces of the NDFP also survived major internal errors committed by elements among their leadership, many of whom became renegades. The Communist Party of the Philippines launched the Second Great Rectification Movement (SGRM) in July 1992. Its aim was to identify, repudiate and rectify the major errors of subjectivism and opportunism, especially what caused the most damage, namely, insurrectionism, prematurely building big NPA formations and, upon failure of the incorrect line, carrying out an anti-informer hysteria.

The rectification movement was an educational campaign. It was embraced by the masses and the broad membership of the revolutionary movement. It was completed in 1998 and reinvigorated the revolutionary movement. It was reminiscent of the success of t he First Great Rectification Movement from 1965 to 1971, which gave birth to the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as a consequence of criticizing and repudiating the major errors of the old communist party and the old people’s liberation army.

After the success of the SGRM, the revolutionary movement has been able to consolidate and expand. It is now rooted in 70 provinces, out of a total 81 provinces. It has built mass organizations of workers, peasants, women and youth, children, indigenous people, urban poor and fisherfolk. The NPA is now operating in more than 110 guerrilla fronts wherein organs of political power form the backbone of the people’s democratic government.

Program of Genuine Land Reform

The people’s democratic government carries out programs of genuine land reform, health, education and literacy and culture.

With 75% of the 100 million population consisting of the exploited and oppressed peasantry, the program for agrarian revolution is the main content of the revolutionary program. It responds to the basic aspirations of the peasantry.

The revolutionary movement’s minimum land reform program consisting of lowering land rent, elimination of usury, and raising of farmworkers’ wages is carried out widely. There are also campaigns to increase agricultural production through mutual aid teams in planting, harvesting and distribution of produce, in developing irrigation, vegetable farming, poultry and husbandry. The program is benefiting millions of the rural population.

The maximum program of confiscation of land and free distribution to tillers is carried out where feasible in certain areas where the revolutionary movement is sufficiently strong. The vision for the future, upon nationwide victory, is the free distribution of land to the peasantry with the provision of support services like irrigation, farm to market roads, assistance for mechanization and building of cooperatives and collectivization towards greater productivity for the benefit of the peasantry and the entire population. Nationwide implementation of land reform will be coupled with national industrialization to lift the backward agrarian economy to a developed and prosperous one.

Educational and Health Programs

Revolutionary education on the history of the Filipino people and their culture is widely carried out. So are programs of literacy and numeracy which are enthusiastically welcomed by the masses. Revolutionary schools have been set up benefiting many thousands of peasants and national minorities, especially children and youth. Educational materials and works of art and literature have arisen from the revolutionary struggle. The revolutionary movement has promoted the use of Pilipino as the national language, and regional languages among the people.

Health programs popularize the use of acupuncture, herbal and traditional medicines culled from the age-old practices of the masses. Western medicine is also utilized. These programs respond to vital health needs of the people. Health campaigns like proper sanitation, building outhouses, anti-malaria and people’s health clinics have been successful. Health professionals have been encouraged to serve the people in the countryside and in the urban slum areas. They have also trained paramedics to provide first aid and treatment for common illnesses.

Special Office for the Protection of Children

In April 2012, the NDFP National Council set up its Special Office for the Protection of Children (SOPC). It proclaimed a comprehensive program for the protection of rights and welfare of children. A committee has been appointed to carry out and monitor the implementation of the program all over the country. The NDFP has frustrated the repeated attempts of the imperialists and local reactionaries to misrepresent its policy regarding children. In a statement on

July 1, 2013, the SOPC Head, Coni K. Ledesma declared the reports of the UN Office of the Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict on the so-called recruitment and use of children by the NPA as “false, biased and baseless”.

Revolutionary Justice System

The revolutionary movement has a justice system far superior to the corrupt anti-people justice system of the reactionary government. It has won the support not only of legal experts in the Philippines, but also international lawyers. In November 2012, the International Legal Advisory Team (ILAT), was set up to advice the NDFP on international legal matters. It is composed of more than a dozen experts in international law from different parts of the world.

There is a growing number of cases wherein the victims of human rights violations by the regime approach the revolutionary forces to obtain justice. Recently, a teenager was a victim of gang rape by three soldiers of the reactionary army, filed her case before the justice system of the revolutionary forces. She had been denied justice by the soldiers’ officers. Furthermore, she and her family were subjected to threats. Hence, she, her family and supportive organizations filed the criminal case of rape against the soldiers before the people’s court.

Peace Negotiations

The NDFP has forged twelve bilateral peace agreements with the reactionary government with the aim of addressing the roots of the armed conflict. These agreements, in particular, The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) are of the highest standard and widely appreciated by peace advocates in the country and abroad. In 2004, the Joint Secretariat (JS) of the Joint Monitoring Committee under the CARHRIHL was set up. It holds office in Metro Manila, with both Parties represented in the JS. It is supported by the Royal Norwegian Government, the Third Party Facilitator in the peace negotiations between the Manila government and the NDFP.

The aim of the NDFP in peace negotiations is to address the roots of the armed conflict through fundamental economic, social and political reforms. But the Manila government only wishes to impose capitulation and indefinite ceasefires. Despite the widespread calls of peace advocates, the Aquino government has paralyzed the peace talks after failing to impose its unjust wishes on the NDFP..

Nevertheless, the NDFP Negotiating Panel has declared its openness to continue peace talks. It demands respect for and compliance with The Hague Joint Declaration, the JASIG (1995), the CARHRiHL (1998) and other bilateral agreements. Therefore, it demands the release of political prisoners in accordance with the CARHRIHL and the NDFP Consultants arrested and detained in violation of the JASIG. It also calls for the independent investigation of the killing and disappearance of NDFP Consultants, family and staff

The NDFP also welcomes the positive actions and recommendations of peace and human rights advocates for the resumption of the peace talks.

Overseas Filipinos

The NDFP firmly supports the just struggles of the millions of overseas Filipinos. Their struggles for their rights and welfare, to organize themselves, to work and be treated fairly, not to be subjected to racism and xenophobia, to understand well the roots of their migration, and to return to their home country and serve the nation. These deserve support and solidarity. The NDFP is firm in upholding their right to voluntarily return to the Philippines and contribute their skills and talents in land reform and national industrialization, in building a free, prosperous, democratic and peaceful Philippines.

International Solidarity

The revolutionary Filipino people have won the international solidarity and support of revolutionary, anti-imperialist and progressive organizations and individuals from different parts of the world. They are also contributing their solidarity to the just causes of other peoples’ struggles in the spirit of proletarian internationalism and anti-imperialist solidarity.

From strategic defensive to strategic stalemate of people’s war

The revolutionary forces led by the CPP are intensifying their revolutionary armed struggle. They aim to advance in the coming few years from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate of people’s war. The US-directed reactionary government is hell-bent on seeking the destruction of the revolution for the benefit of US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. Thus, the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces are justified to persevere in the revolutionary struggle.

In celebrating the glorious victories and achievements of the Filipino people over the last 44 years of revolutionary struggle, we must render honor to the many martyrs and heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the people’s struggle for national and social liberation and for a just and lasting peace. The revolutionary masses must be honored. As the great Chinese revolutionary, Mao Zedong, declared: “The masses, and the masses alone are the makers of history!”

But there are some individual revolutionary heroes and martyrs, we wish to especially honor today: Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, NPA Commander and CPP Spokesperson, Antonio “Manong” Zumel, journalist, first Chairperson of the NDFP, and Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, the Chief Legal Counsel of the NDFP.