Robert Reid | Chairperson FFPS
Friends of the Filipino People in Struggle (FFPS), a global alliance that supports the movement for national and social liberation in the Philippines, welcomes the recent pronouncements made by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines of informal talks held with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the signing of a Joint Statement in Oslo, Norway on 23 November 2023.
The Oslo Joint Statement, signed by representatives of the NDFP and the GRP and witnessed by a representative of the Royal Norwegian Government acting as third-party facilitator, acknowledges “deep-rooted socioeconomic and political grievances” and the “socioeconomic and environmental issues, and the foreign security threats facing the country”. According to the NDFP, it is a declaration of intent to create conditions favorable for the resumption of formal negotiations that have been stalled since 2018 under the administration of then President Rodrigo Duterte.
The breakdown of talks was followed by the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated by GRP forces including the killing of civilians and persons hors de combat, the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the designation of the NDFP, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as well as NDFP consultants and members of the negotiating panel as “terrorists”.
Revolutionaries are not “terrorists”
FFPS fully supports efforts to achieve peace by directly addressing the root causes of the armed conflict. It is a positive development that the Oslo Joint Statement recognizes the political and socioeconomic context of the war, in stark contrast to attempts to portray Filipino revolutionaries as “terrorists”. Such rhetoric from the GRP, particularly the NTF-ELCAC and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has been an obstacle to meaningful negotiations or even a proper understanding of the conditions that fuel the revolution.
Only by acknowledging the self-evident truth that the exploitative and unjust political and economic system in place in the country drives countless Filipinos to take up arms can one hope to arrive at a just resolution of the conflict.
Reject empty amnest, support genuine peace
The FFPS joins the call of many organizations and individuals on respecting previous agreements already entered into by the NDFP and the GRP, and for the release of hundreds of political prisoners, especially imprisoned NDFP consultants. It also calls for the recinding of the “terrorist” designation against the NDFP, the CPP and the NPA, halting the continuing attacks against civilians and communities and counterinsurgency operations.
FFPS also joins the Filipino people in rejecting the recently-publicized Presidential Proclamation No. 404 issued by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., offering amnesty to members of the CPP-NPA-NDFP, which can only be seen as a proposal of surrender that undermines the peace process even before it gains momentum.
The amnesty proclamation is nothing more than a thinly-veiled effort to induce surrender without tackling the root causes of the conflict through negotiation on the substantive agenda agreed to by the parties. Furthermore, its explicit reference to the so-called “front organizations” of the CPP-NPA-NDF, whose members are supposedly entitled to apply for amnesty, forebodes a continuation in the red-tagging and persecution of activists and members of cause-orientated groups and people’s organizations as part of the GRP’s counterinsurgency campaign.
Support the Filipino people’s struggle
Peace cannot be achieved without recognizing and confronting head-on the legitimate cause for which the Filipino people, represented by the NDFP, continue to fight. Even as it remains hopeful that the peace talks will progress, FFPS will continue to assert and advocate for the people’s right to take up arms in their struggle for national democracy, to vanquish imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, and to build a truly just and democratic society. ###