Duterte’s dialogue with Bayan shows: change would only come from the people

Press Statement
19 July 2017

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (NDFP RWC-SER) is gravely concerned with the statements made by GPH Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in his dialogue with leaders of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) last July 18.

Duterte’s decline of Bayan’s reasonable plea for the end of martial law and, on the contrary, his push for the further extension of martial law in Mindanao and relatedly the GPH’s insistence for a “prolonged ceasefire” as a precondition for the continuation of the GPH-NDFP peace talks – all these do not at all bide well for the peace negotiations.

All these indicate that the GPH is just looking at the military angle of the crisis in Marawi and of the problems of the whole country, and that the GPH lacks interest to work out with the NDFP fundamental agreements towards solving the socio-economic and also the political-cultural root causes of the armed conflict with the objective of achieving real and lasting peace in the country.

The RWC-SER bilateral teams of both parties have just recently met, and have gradually been making actual headways towards forging an agreement that would break up the age-old feudal land monopoly and pave the way for genuine agrarian reform throughout the country. The talks on socio-economic reforms should even be further accelerated, if only the GPH would take discussions on the NDFP’s proposed draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) more seriously.

Duterte’s supposed openness to other reform measures would eventually all be rendered meaningless, as he tends to scuttle the peace talks and gives in more and more to the interests of and pressures from the military fascists in government and from the US imperialists behind these fascists.

He had earlier said that he would also like to terminate labor contractualizaton, push for free school tuition and for more practical reform measures. None of these would find reality any longer, if the GPH keeps on insisting only at the military aspects of and apparent solutions to the country’s problems, and does not even look at the abuses made by the GPH’s military and at the intrusions of the US troops that have exaggerated and even further worsened the Marawi crisis.

We are calling on the Filipino people to intensify their struggles for real and significant reforms, raise their revolutionary consciousness, strengthen their organized strength, fight for genuine social change, and press for real peace efforts. Let us seek to mobilize hundreds of thousands, and up to millions, to push for progressive reforms that are pro-people – and against policies that are pro-US, fascist, militarist and neoliberal.

Let us intensify struggles for genuine land reform, for the junking of labor contractualization, for the grant of free tuition in schools, and for the release of all political prisoners.

Let us intensify calls to soonest end martial law in Mindanao and to prevent it from being declared throughout the country, to seriously continue with the peace talks, to end the militarization of Lumad communities and other victims of oppression in the countryside, and to junk the Visiting Forces Agreement and other one-sided military treaties with the US.

Genuine change – whether in the form of significant reforms within the current system or of the latter’s revolutionary overthrow – will only come from the collective actions of the Filipino people.###

Alan Jazmines
Vice-Chairperson, NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms
Contact Number: + 63 949 137 7260