Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Kabataang Makabayan (KM) founding chairman and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison gave an analysis on the goings-on in the Rodrigo Roa Duterte presidency. Prof. Sison surely knows that the Filipino people would continue to quest for national liberation and social emancipation and to push President Duterte to carry out his campaign promises and bring genuine and meaningful social change, thus emulating the eternal example of Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte gives his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa. (Ace Morandante/PPD)
President Rodrigo R. Duterte gives his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa. (Ace Morandante/PPD)

 

Entering his sixth month in office, the tough-talking president is pressed to deliver his promise in his inauguration address that real change would be his government’s battle-cry. He also promised to ensure a clean and transparent government, to forge a government that cares for the poor and the defenseless, and to address bureaucratic corruption, rampant criminality, and prohibited drug proliferation as symptoms of this nation’s social disease (in line with his strongman image). The populist-oriented Duterte presidency has represented a new ray of hope that the Filipino nation’s basic socio-economic and moral issues could be addressed, that those status quo injustices such as corruption, business-as-usual and abuse of power could be put to an end, and that there would be real change, national healing, and lasting peace.

Prof. Sison pointed out that it was not fair to compare the past six years of former President Noynoy Aquino and the less than six months of Duterte. He said that the six years of Aquino have well proven that he is corrupt, brutal, incompetent and subservient to United States (US) and other foreign interests.

President Duterte (left) with Former President Benigno Aquino III during a meeting with local government unit leaders in Davao City in 2013. (Ryan Lim/Malacañang Photo Bureau)
President Duterte (left) with Former President Benigno Aquino III during a meeting with local government unit leaders in Davao City in 2013. (Ryan Lim/Malacañang Photo Bureau)

 

“It is also not fair to make predictions and make conclusions on such basis about the entire term of Duterte. Let us talk about some of the major promises and initial actions of Duterte,” he said.

“Duterte promised to fight corruption and go after the corrupt and put them in prison. But Noynoy Aquino, Butch Abad and other big fish in grand corruption related to illegal discretionary funds and pork barrel are still scot-free,” Prof. Sison offered on the president’s promise of a clean government.

“Duterte has made a few appointments of progressives to his cabinet and has expressed a strong desire to make peace with the revolutionary forces by addressing the roots of the armed conflict. We hope that he can fix the obstacles that his subordinates in the peace negotiations seem to be putting up,” he commented on the presence of progressive personalities in the cabinet.

Asked about the present ‘war’ against illegal drug operations, he said that President Duterte himself had hyped his campaign against the drug problem and many people have welcomed this. But an increasing number of people are wondering why the biggest drug lords and their supply system continue to operate while only a few municipal level drug lords and thousands of street level addict-pushers are being killed.

“Indeed, Duterte should pay more attention to solving the big social and economic problems, let the police go after the drug lords and other criminals in accordance with the law and due process and refrain from making threats about suspending the writ of habeas corpus or declaring martial law,” he reacted on the president’s recent threats of suspending the writ of habeas corpus privilege and of declaring martial law would he fail to get his way in carrying out his promise of curbing illegal drug operations, criminality, and lawlessness in a short time-table.

He explained further that these threats offend the people who had a bad experience with the Marcos dictatorship.

Young and elderly activists take center stage at the protest rally in Luneta Park on November 25, 2016. (Manila Today photo/Shane David)
Young and elderly activists take center stage at the Marcos’ burial protest rally in Luneta Park on November 25, 2016. (Manila Today photo/Shane David)

 

“He promised to industrialize the Philippines. But his key officials responsible for economic and finance policies belong to the neoliberal standpoint and are proud to continue the economic and finance policies of Aquino,” he commented on the president’s 10-point socio-economic agenda.

According to him, “Duterte still needs to respond positively to the demands of the patriotic and progressive forces for basic reforms. He should pay attention to the proposals being made by the patriotic and progressive organizations for reforms and by the NDFP now being made in connection with the negotiations for a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.”

He said that it remained to be seen whether Duterte will agree to the proposals of the NDFP regarding national industrialization and land reform, expansion and improvement of social services and increased opportunities for low-income people, and small and medium enterprises.

First round of formal peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in August 2016. (Photo from NDFP)
First round of formal peace talks between the GPH and NDFP in August 2016. (Photo from NDFP)

 

Prof. Sison reiterated that President Duterte could easily show through the peace negotiations with the NDFP his political will and sincerity in responding to the people’s clamor for real social change.

But even right now, as he surmised, there are problems and roadblocks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

According to him, “The Duterte promise of granting amnesty to and releasing all the current political prisoners has practically become a mirage. The subordinates of Duterte, if not Duterte himself, are making the partial releases as a way of subordinating the NDFP to the legal and political system of the GRP and pressuring the NDFP to fall for an indefinite bilateral or joint ceasefire agreement by which the GRP can subsequently ignore the demands of the NDFP and the people for basic social, economic and political reforms.”

He elaborated that it was still the same old scheme of the GRP to effect capitulation and pacification through a prolonged or indefinite ceasefire agreement.

“The next six months will show more clearly what direction is the Duterte presidency is taking. But even now, I can say that it is best for Duterte to maintain and develop a viable alliance and cooperation with the revolutionary forces if he truly wants to serve the national and democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people,” he surmised on the future prospects of the temporary alliance between the president and the Left.

“He should know that his adversaries are already charging him within human rights violations and will certainly take advantage of the aggravation of the economic crisis,” he said regarding the present criticisms against the president.

Prof. Sison stressed out that the people should continue to praise the good acts of Duterte and criticize his bad acts.

“Whenever he talks against the violent and plundering record of US imperialism, the patriotic and progressive forces applaud him but also urge him to abrogate the unequal treaties, agreements and arrangements that have allowed the US to dominate the Philippines,” Prof. Sison reacted on President Duterte’s previous anti-US tirades.

He pointed out that the trend was for the crisis of the world capitalist system and the crisis of the domestic ruling system of big compradors and landlords to worsen. Together with that point, he said that the armed revolution as well as the progressive legal struggle will have more fertile ground to grow and gain strength; but the same crisis conditions can induce serious peace negotiations if the Duterte presidency will remain interested in these.

According to him, “There are Leftist, Centrist and Rightist elements in the Duterte cabinet, thus there are self-contradictions within the Duterte presidency. We hope that it becomes more inclined to reform rather than to reaction.”

In this regard, as he implied, the Left is the most reliable ally of Duterte against the imperialists and the oligarchy of big compradors and landlords.

Progressives led by Sandugo, alliance of indigenous peoples groups, call to end US Imperialism at Liwasang Bonifacio. (Chantal Eco/Manila Today)
Progressives, led by Sandugo – alliance of indigenous peoples groups in the Philippines, call to end US Imperialism at Liwasang Bonifacio. (Chantal Eco/Manila Today)

 

“Before it is too late, Duterte should strengthen his alliance and cooperation with the forces of the Left and the toiling masses of workers and peasants. Otherwise he becomes isolated by the sustained propaganda of the yellows and their imperialist backers. His own following can be drastically eroded within the next six months if he does not have allies for effecting social, economic and political reforms and improving the living conditions of the people,” he warned on the dangerous prospects and consequences of apparent destabilization attempts against the president.

Prof. Sison said that the legal mass movement that takes the national democratic line and such revolutionary forces of the CPP, NPA and the NDFP would last longer than the Duterte presidency which has a maximum life span of six years. With that comparison, he warned that the imperialists and ultra-reactionaries might even cut short the life of this presidency if in the future this becomes extremely unpopular and isolated.

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