No Socioeconomic Justice, No Peace

Three days after the U.S. State Department reinstated that Filipino progressive and revolutionary movements be on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, the Duterte regime followed suit.

Since both parties called off ceasefires following military disobedience and renewed fighting, Mr. Duterte ordered government negotiators to “fold their tents and return home from overseas talks with the rebel leaders.”

Mr. Duterte, as the highest mandated representative of the civilian government, cannot turn his back on the negotiations and run helter-skelter so as to intensify state terror.

The President himself declared before that he is against armed struggle and in that sense he is against a ‘military solution’ in cracking the root causes of the armed conflict. The failed talks with the revolutionary government left Duterte an opening in contributing for just and lasting peace. Instead Duterte fell through the cracks of fascism. He admitted as much he is fearing the ultra-right military might that surrounds him and tries to appease them by injecting higher wages for the rank-and-file, job promotions and making rounds in different camps, despite the gross human rights violations.

Elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, being an outpost of major U.S. imperialist influence, are high in ecstasy to launch their counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan (misleading with its name Operation Plan Peace) ‘in full blast operation.’ Mr. Duterte should realize that he should now only live in fear of losing with his twisted war on drugs and even his tenuous hold over the military establishment.

If peaceful legal means, albeit bourgeois, worked perfectly in resolving conflicts, there would not be wars nor would there be the existence of the State to carry out its interests.

If the end of the peace negotiations is just to lay down arms, there would be no need for the armed forces (the police and its standing army).

On the other hand, the Reds, even without salaries and sufficient resources, draw continued strength from the people they serve and defend. They wage war to end the social and economic roots of poverty, landlessness, subservience to foreign interests and environmental destruction.

The peace talks has always been bigger than Duterte. If the government is really serious, progress can be achieved first without the talks being dragged on. Free land distribution, free irrigation, national minimum wage, free education and health care, free day care centers, nurseries and milk banks, free internet and low taxes for the poor, are just some of the doable reforms that the government can already act upon at the policy level.

If the second agenda concerning socioeconomic reforms would be agreed upon, the Filipino people would benefit from negotiating a just peace. Aren’t these reasons compelling enough to pursue negotiations despite the breakdown of ceasefires?

Now more than ever, we the people should seek the continuation of sessions and our collective voice should reach Duterte’s courts.

The millions of common Filipinos who installed him to be the head of the state and who gave him his mandate, should be heard and heeded; not the AFP, not the US.

Let us express our common quest for just peace!

In love and in war, dialogue is key.

Let us stand together for those who sit down at the table, and as we remember those who were felled before us, address the roots of armed conflict in the Philippines.

We push forward with hope for the homeland.

Liberation is calling us. Self-determination is our fate.

We will not let the warmongers win.###