THE Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will resume negotiating for peace on Aug. 20 in Oslo, Norway. Many people are hoping that the talks would lead to a resolution of the rebellion waged since 1968. But reality bites, as shown by the short verbal exchange between President Rodrigo Duterte and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison following the ambush on government troops by a New People’s Army (NPA) unit in Davao del Norte. Forging a lasting peace isn’t easy.
The war waged by the NDF is a different one from that currently waged by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or the one earlier waged by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). It is “easier” (I use that in a relative sense) to resolve and was even resolved in the case of the MNLF in the ‘90s and is about to resolved in the case of the MILF currently. Full autonomy via the Bangsamoro Basic Law or the setting up of a Moro federal state may do the trick.
But the revolution waged by the NDF and the CPP-NPA is difficult to resolve because its goal strikes at the very heart of the country’s “semi-feudal and semi-colonial” system and its control by the “comprador” and “landlord” classes. And it does not even stop after that.
As I stated earlier, the NDF’s relationship with the CPP is tricky because while the CPP claims to be under the NDF umbrella its cadres are at the core of the NDF leadership. But I also noted that there is a difference between between the NDF and the CPP in terms of goals. The NDF is focused on the current Philippine situation while the CPP is focused on the goal of socialism and communism. What the peace talks aim to resolve is the NDF goal.
The NDF, through its web site, www.ndfp.org, is explicit in its intention. It is waging a national democratic revolution through people’s war. But to understand the ND (national democratic) nature of the struggle the rebel group is waging is to know what it considers as the root of this country’s problems: United States imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. For the NDF, until these problems are addressed the country would never break free from the backwardness it is wallowing in.
The NDF sees US imperialism as the reason for country’s economic backwardness, blocking genuine industrialization and making us a dumping ground for its commodities and a mere source of raw materials.The “imperialists” are not the American people or even the American government alone but US big business or monopoly capitalists. They are able to do this through their local surrogates, primarily the “comprador” class or local big business.
Then you have feudalism. For the NDF, genuine land reform precedes genuine industrialization. Only by freeing the peasants from the chain of feudalism can the country’s agriculture be modernized and its economy moved forward. It sees the land reform programs initiated by Ferdinand Marcos and later Corazon Aquino as bogus. Genuine land reform means giving the land to the tillers, essentially abolishing the landlord class.
Bureaucrat capitalism needs no further elaboration. It is simply the profiting by a person from his government position, or using that position as capital to gain profit later on. The setup not only diverts money from public coffers to the bureaucrat’s pocket but also makes him or her an instrument of oppression and exploitation by US monopoly capitalists and the comprador and landlord classes.
In short, what the NDF wants is a total overhaul of the country’s economic, political and socio-cultural setup, or turning it on its head with the masses ousting the ruling classes from their perch. Is there a middle ground there for the GPH and the NDF? We will find that out as the peace talks unfurl.
(firstname.lastname@example.org/ twitter: @khanwens)