Robert Reid | Chairperson FFPS
In president Marcos Jr.’s first command conference of the new year, he ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “reconfigure their approaches” and think of “innovative ways” in dealing with the Philippine revolutionaries to “be more effective”.
As Friends of the Filipino People in Struggle (FFPS) we echo the call of the Filipino people for a just and lasting peace. As clearly pointed out by the millions of people that join and support the Philippine revolution, this is a peace that can only be brought about by genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, and an end to all foreign domination in the Philippines.
However, Marcos Jr’s assertions on a “need for a whole-of-nation approach” and “need for support of international allies” in the same command conference raise substantial doubts on any positive “reconfiguration”.
Under the whole-of-nation approach, all aspects of the state are geared towards becoming an instrument in its “war against terror” and integrated under the military’s decision-making. As such, the whole of the government and civilian bureaucracy is subsumed under the goal of defeating “the enemy” by militaristic means.
Adding to this, with the US being the principal ally of the Marcos Jr. regime, the comment for the “need for support of international allies” points towards the danger of the US further escalating it’s imperialist military intervention in the Philippines. As part of consolidating its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region, it already pushed the GRP for the expansion of the number of US military bases in the Philippines, and is ensuring its strong hold on the Philippine military.
If the Marcos Jr. regime and the AFP were genuinely interested in finding effective ways to resolve the armed conflict, they would need to address the root causes that give rise to the conflict. The NDF has already declared its willingness to engage the GRP in peace negotiations in this framework and, in previous negotiations, pushed for substantial steps in advancing people’s rights such as with the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which has yet to be signed by the GRP. However, despite the initial Oslo Joint Statement on the intention of exploring such talks signed by both NDF and GRP, the GRP has had several attempts to misrepresent the negotiations as surrender talks.
There is a need for the GRP to address the aspirations of the Filipino people rather than simply pursuing capitulation. Therefore it cannot forego previously signed agreements such as the The Hague Declaration, Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), that comprehensively lay out the process of the peace negotiations, respecting the safety of the negotiators and the respect for human rights in following the rules of war.
As long as the root causes of the suffering of the Filipino people are not solved, the revolutionary struggle is bound to persist. Even the AFP’s chief of staff had to admit that the revolutionary forces are still very much present in most parts of the Philippines and contradict Marcos Jr’s earlier statement on there being no more fronts left. The AFP once more promised that this year they will be able to defeat the persisting revolutionary forces, underscoring not only the inconsistency in the GRP’s lies about the strength of the revolutionary movement, but also the continuous failure of their militaristic and fascist approach in tackling the root causes of the armed conflict.
As the Filipino people continue to exercise their right to take up arms, we as FFPS call on all pro-people forces of the world, to rally behind the NDF as representative of the Philippine revolutionary forces and of the Filipino people’s aspirations for a just and lasting peace. We fully support and highlight the NDF’s emphasis on the need for the framework of a just and lasting peace for any peace negotiations, and the comprehensive Philippine revolution that is advancing the rights of the vast majority of the Filipino people.