The Philippines ranks high in the priority areas for military intervention by the US Special Operations Command. This was contained in the testimony of General Raymond A. Thomas, III, U.S. Army, Commander of the United States Special Operations Command, testifying before the US Senate Armed Services Committee last May 4, 2017. The testimony came just three weeks before the siege of Marawi City in southern Philippines.

US Special Operations Forces are said to be involved in direct military intervention against so-called ISIS-inspired groups in Marawi. US provides local commanders with “situational awareness” through its exclusive control of high-tech surveillance equipment. This allows the US to practically direct military operations in Marawi City.

Marawi is just one of the many fronts where the USSOCOM is engaged in throughout the world. According to Thomas,”on a daily basis, we sustain a deployed or forward stationed force of approximately 8,000 across 80 plus countries.”  US Special Operations Forces “are conducting the entire range of missions in both combat and noncombat situations with a wide variety of Joint, Interagency, International, and Multinational partners.”

 Thomas categorized ISIS as a “Violent Extremist Organization”, the threat of which “remains the highest priority for USSOCOM in both focus and effort”.

“Special Operations Forces are the main effort, or major supporting effort for US VEO-focused operations in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, across the Sahel of Africa, the Philippines, and Central/South America – essentially, everywhere Al Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are to be found.  Our priorities are disrupting external attack capability, destroying/neutralizing AQ and ISIS, developing a long-term approach to defeat and/or counter VEOs, and building partner capacity – helping our partners stabilize their environment and secure gains,” Thomas said.

Echoing the US counterinsurgency doctrine, Thomas said that their methodology “is more comprehensive than simple counter-terrorism and is an important part of an overarching whole-of-government approach to advance broader national security objectives”.

The Philippine’s national internal security plan Oplan Bayanihan and Oplan Kapayapaan are patterned after the US counterinsurgency doctrine and also involves a “whole-of-government’ approach as part of the psywar against and co-opting of insurgents.

The USSOCOM also looks forward to long-term military intervention in the priority regions. “Organizations such as ISIS and AQ are trans-regional threats that require the Joint Force to work with partners across the US government as well as coalition partners. It requires focused effort to secure and hold our gains by empowering local entities within and among the populations that terrorists exploit,” Thomas said.

Thomas added that they have the capability “ to fight in contested areas, often leveraging and enhancing the capabilities of indigenous partner forces.  Accordingly, we continue to invest in ways that allow SOF to assist our partners better: command and control; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Building Partner Capacity (BPC); and Aviation Foreign Internal Defense. An enhanced ability to leverage local relationships will ultimately help us better influence regional outcomes.”

US Special Forces in Marawi claim to be helping Philippine forces through so-called “technical assistance”. They have been photographed flying surveillance drones in the conflict area. US P3 Orion planes have also been spotted in the area.

Two years ago, US Special Foces were also involved in the botched Mamasapano operation in the province of Maguindanao which saw 44 Philippine Special Action Force troopers die in an attempt to neutralize a US target in the area.


Operation Gallant Phoenix

There are indications that the US wants a bigger role in Mindanao following the events in Marawi. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, testifying before the Senate last June 13, said that the US ended its anti-terrorism task force too soon, “out of perhaps a premature view that we were gaining success.” At its peak, the US had 600 SOF elements operating in Mindanao.

The US had previously wanted to establish de facto bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA. They continue to maintain a small force of SOF operatives who “assist” the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They have maintained a permanent military presence in Mindanao for the last 15 years.

The Philippine government should disclose if it is part of Operation Gallant Phoenix, an SOF-led activity that is “designed to empower, support and integrate the efforts of our international, interagency, and Joint Force partners involved in US “counter-terror” campaign. Southeast Asian nations have reportedly been integrated into Gallant Phoenix. Thomas said that they have reportedly 19 foreign partners into the program. What is the extent of the Philippines involvement in this program as well as the extent of US meddling in our internal affairs?

For example, was Gallant Phoenix used by the US to provide the AFP with the intelligence on Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi, which triggered the armed conflict last May 23? Was the AFP operation so timed that it would scuttle Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s Russia visit? With Gallant Phoenix, how much did the US already know of the operations of the Maute-Abu Sayyaf group in Marawi?

Asserting sovereignty

Bayan has consistently opposed US military intervention in the Philippines. There is nothing benevolent in the continuing US role in Mindanao and other parts of the country. The US intervenes to advance its own economic and geopolitical interests in a region. These are interests which lie at the root of US destabilization of the Middle East, particularly the destruction of sovereign countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and LIbya. These countries have been plunged into chaos as a result of US bombings and regime-change operations. US intervention has also given rise to extremist groups such as ISIS or Daesh. When it suits US interests, these so-called terrorist groups are supported by the US to destabilize or bring down a regime such as the one in Syria.

In the Philippines, the US used the Abu Sayyaf threat in 2002 to gain a permanent foothold in Mindanao, establish de facto bases and engage in direct military intervention. US military presence in the region also helps US economic interests as US forces protect US investments. Fifteen years after the US Special Forces were first deployed in Mindanao, the Abu Sayyaf remains a serious security threat.

The US role in the disastrous Mamasapano counter-terror operation that cost the lives of 44 Filipino troopers is a prime example of the folly of US military intervention. Filipino lives were sacrificed so that the US can get its target, alleged Indonesian terrorist Marwan. National sovereignty was violated when US Special Forces directed the entire operation.

As we have seen in Mindanao, US cannot protect us from the terrorist monster it created in the first place. The US however will continue using this monster as pretext for its military intervention in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte said it best, US historical misdeeds “are the reason why Mindanao continues to boil.” His allowing of US intervention in Marawi however is in direct contravention of this and everything he said last year. ###


12909478_10154068804996740_7847045706941493788_oAng Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights – UP o STAND UP, ay isang progresibong alyansa ng mga estudyante ng UP Diliman na itinayo noong Hulyo-Agosto 1996 sa panahon ng paglahok sa halalang pang-kampus. Makabayan at demokratiko ang oryentasyon nito. Pinangunahan ito ng mga pambansa demokratikong organisasyong tulad ng LFS, CNS, PSC, SCM, Gabriela Youth, Alay Sining at CSJP at mga progresibong fraternity at sorority tulad ng Sigma Kappa Pi, Sigma Delta Pi, Gamma Sigma Pi, Lambda Sigma Pi, EMC2 at Astrum Scientis at mga progresibong regional organizations tulad ng Ibalon. Marami sa mga unang kasapi ng STAND UP ay nagmula pa sa naunang alyansa na Sandigan para sa Mag-aaral at Sambayanan o SAMASA.


Ang STAND-UP ang nagpatuloy ng progresibong tradisyon ng mga naunang alyansa sa UP tulad ng Partisans at Sandigang Makabansa noong dekada 60-70 at SAMASA noong dekada 80-90. Bahagi tayo ng militante at makabayang tradisyon ng kilusang kabataang estudyante sa UP mula pa sa panahon ng SCAUP noong 1959 at Kabataang Makabayan noong 1964. Hindi mabubuo ang STAND UP kung wala ang mga naunang organisasyon at progresibong alyansa ng naghawan ng landas para sa atin. Mahalaga na hindi natin malimot ang kasaysayan at hindi natin ihiwalay ang sarili sa naging pag-unlad at pagsulong ng kabuuang kilusang estudyante sa UP Diliman.


Ang mga naunang progresibong alyansa noong 60’s-70’s ay lumaban para sa demokratikong karapatan sa kampus at kontra sa gerang interbensyon ng US sa Vietnam. Kasama ang UP student movement sa mga lumahok sa makapangyarihang Sigwa ng Unang Kwarto na nagtambol ng linyang pambansang demokrasya. Tampok din sa kasaysayan ang Diliman Commune noong 1971. Ang UP student movement ay nasa unahan ng paglaban sa martial law at diktadurang US-Marcos. Marami ang lumahok sa armadong pakikibaka at itinanghal na mga martir ng bayan.


Ang SAMASA ay itinayo noong 1980 bilang sentro ng militanteng pakikibaka para sa pagbabalik ng demokratikong karapatan sa kampus, kabilang ang mga campus publications at student councils. Kalahok din ito sa pagpapabagsak sa pasistang diktadurang US-Marcos. Binuo ito nang mahigit 100 organisasyong estudyante. Matapos mapabagsak ang diktadurang US-Marcos, ikinampanya din nito ang paglalansag sa mga base militar ng Kano noong 1991. Nilabanan nito ang total war ni Cory Aquino at ang unang pagpapatupad ng mapanlinlang na STFAP/TFI noong 1989 at TFI noong 1992.

Katunggali ng SAMASA noon ang Tugon na mas kiling na soc-dem, gayundin ang ISA na ang ilang miyembro ay nagmula pa sa SAMASA. Matapos ang ilang taon, lumiit din ang SAMASA mula sa orihinal nitong bilang.


Sa panahon ng dekada 90, umigting ang tunggalian sa loob ng SAMASA matapos mabahura ito sa repormismo, lokalismo at kompromiso. Kinuwestyon ng ilang namumuno ang halaga ng militanteng paglaban. Pinagdudahan ang kapasidad ng mga estudyante na maunawaan ang ating pagsusuri sa mga problema ng lipunan at ang makabayang alternatibo dito. Sa halip na ibasura ang STFAP, naghanap ng paraan para i-reporma ito. Sa halip na ipaglaban ang dagdag na badyet sa edukasyon mula sa estado, nagkasya na lang sa paghahanap ng alternatibong pagkukunan ng pondo. Sa halip na ipaglaban ang radikal na pagbabagong panlipunan, naghahanap lagi ng kagyat at kongkretong tagumpay, kahit na nauuwi sa hindi prinsipyadong kompromiso.


Marahil pamilyar sa atin ang mga konseptong ito dahil buhay pa rin ang repormismo, bagama’t naghihingalo na at ilang ulit nang itinakwil ng masang estudyante. Nandyan pa rin ang repormismo bagama’t ibang mga partido na ang nagdadala nito sa ngayon. 


Mahalagang ipunto na palagian ang tunggalian sa repormismo sa UP dahil itinataguyod ito ng mismong pamantasan na may reaksyunaryo at kolonyal na oryentasyon. (Halimbawa, sa panahon na ipinapasa ang STFAP noong 1989, itinaguyod ng UP admin ang repormistang linya na maaaring magkaroon ng tunay na democratization sa UP nang hiwalay sa pagbabago ng sistema sa edukasyon at sistema ng lipunan).


Sa bahagi ng SAMASA, nang naging malinaw na tumigas na ang repormismo sa pamunuan nito, nagpasya na ang mga progresibong grupo na umalis na sa alyansa upang magtayo ng bagong grupo.


Kung susumahin ang kasaysayan, dapat pa ring kilalanin ang malaking positibong ambag ng SAMASA sa kilusang kabataang estudyante at kilusan ng mamamayan, habang pinupuna naman ang mga naging kahinaan at kamalian nito, lalung-lalo na ang repormismo. Dapat ding patuloy na itanghal ang mga martir mula sa mga kasaping organisayson ng SAMASA tulad nina Lean Alejandro, Alvin Dulfo at Joselito Ame.


Tunggalian at paghihiwalay


Ang STAND UP ay produkto ng matinding tunggalian laban sa repromismo sa loob ng SAMASA. Ang pagtatayo ng STAND-UP ay kongkretong tugon sa lumamalang krisis ng malakolonyal at malapyudal na lipunan at sa mahigpit na pangangailangan abutin ang mas malawak ng masang mag-aaral at pakilusin sila para ipaglaban ang kanilang pambansa at demokratikong interes.


Hindi naging madali ang pagtatayo ng bagong alyansa. Dumaan tayo sa isang awkward period noong 1995 kung saan tinawag natin ang sarili bilang SAMASA TMMA o Tunay, Militante at Makabayang Alyansa. Siyempre nakakalito ito sa masang estudyante dahil nga naman parehong gamit ang pangalang “SAMASA”. Tila hindi pa tayo maka-let go at maka-move on.


Noong 1996, ang mga organisasyong bahagi ng TMMA ay nag-inisyatiba na bumuo ng malapad na alyansang elektoral. Ito ang magiging unang STAND UP. Nakuha pa nito ang suporta ng mga organisasyon tulad ng SAMASKOM, UJP, Ibarang at iba pang fraternity, sorority at academic organizations. Ngunit sa kabila ng lapad na inabot, nabigo ang STAND UP na maipanalo ang mayorya ng kanyang pinatakbong kandidato sa unang sabak nito sa eleksyon. Malaking disbentahe na walang napatakbong chairperson ang STAND UP. Biiruan noon, “kaya nag-stand up kasi walang chair”. Hindi rin masiglang naisulong ang mga lokal at pambansang pakikibakang masa na siyang mag-iiba sa atin sa iba pang alyansang pangestudyante. Pero sa halalang ito ay nakapagpundar ng pangalan at ugnayan ang ating alyansa. Ipinagpatuloy ang pagbubuo at pagkokonsolida ng STAND UP lagpas sa eleksyon.


Rally sa Malacanang, taong 1999 para itaas ang budget sa edukasyon. Sa larawan ay mga mag-aaral ng UP na kabahagi ng STAND UP. Marahas na dinisperse ng pulis ang rally matapos umabot sa Gate 7 ng Malacanang ang nagpo-protesta. Apat na student leaders ang inaresto.

Lilipas pa ang ilang taon ng pagpupunyagi at sunod-sunod na pagkatalo sa eleksyon. Sa kabila ng kabiguan, hindi bumitiw sa linya ang STAND UP. Kahit wala sa pamunuan ng konseho, ilang taong nilabanan nito ang Commonwealth Property Development Plan o CPDP. Inilatag nito ang pagsusuri kaugnay ng komresyalisasyon ng “idle assets” at ang ugnayan nito sa kolonyal at komersyalisadong oryentasyon ng edukasyon sa UP. Patuloy nitong tinutulan ang STFAP at pagtalikod ng estado sa responsiblidad nito sa edukasyon. Nilabanan nito ang mga mapanupil na patakaran sa kampus. SInuportahan nito ang mga pakikibaka ng mamamayan tulad ng People’s Caravan laban sa APEC sa Subic, mga welga ng manggagawa ng SM, Manila Hotel, Grand Boulevard Hotel at LRT. Kasama ito sa kampanya laban sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, all-out war sa Mindanao at laban sa pagpapatibay ng RP-US VIsiting Forces Agreement.


Kinikilala natin ang mga naging kahinaan sa panahon ng 1996-1999 sa usapin ng pagsusulong ng lokal na pakikibaka, pag-uugnay nito sa mga panlipunang usapin, pagdadala ng tamang political line at mass line, wastong pakikipag-alyansa sa mga progresibo at positibong pwersa sa kampus, at mahigpit na pakikipagkapit-bisig sa aping mamamayan. Nagsikap ang STAND UP at ang militanteng kilusang estudaynte sa UP na lutasin ang mga problema at lagpasan ang mga kahinaan.


Makabuluhang pagsulong


Magaganap ang malaking pihit nang pangunahan ng STAND UP, kasama ang iba pang sektor sa pamantasan, ang pambansang pakikibaka laban sa budget cuts at komersyalisasyon sa UP noong 1999. Mula Kamara, Senado hanggang Palasyo, nagmarka ang mga militante at papalaking pagkilos ng mga mag-aaral ng UP. Nauna nang pinangunahan ng STAND UP ang pagbubuo ng malapad na alyansang Ugnayan ng Mag-aaral Laban sa Komersyalisasyon o Umaksyon at ang multisectoral na KilBac o Kilusan Laban sa Budget Cuts.


Ang sigla ng lokal at sektoral na pakikibaka ay sinabayan pa ng pagtindi ng krisis sa pulitika sa panahon ng rehimeng Estrada. Humugis na ang malawak na hanay kontra-Estrada at lumaganap ang mga protesta. Naubo na rin sa panahong ito ang komprehensibong organisasyon ng kabataan, ang Anakbayan.

Sa taong 2000 ay natamo ng STAND UP ang unang landslide na panalo sa konseho. Lahat nang tumakbo sa university-wide slate ay nakapasok. Sa pagbabalik ng militansya sa konseho, pinamunuan ng STAND UP ang ang mas malawakang pagkilos kontra sa budget cuts at komersyalisasyon ng edukasyon. Mangunguna din ang STAND UP at USC sa pagpapakilos ng libo-libong estudyante sa pag-aalsang EDSA 2.


Protesta at die-in ng mga UP students kontra sa budget cuts sa panahon ng deliberasyon sa Senado.

Masusundan ito ng ilang taon ng dominanteng pagkapanalo sa konseho at matatagumpay na kampanya tulad ng pagbabasura sa ROTC. Mangunguna ang STAND UP sa student strikes, walk out at mga martsa para sa demokratikong karapatan sa edukasyon. Kalahok din ang STAND UP sa malawak na kilusang nanawagang patalsikin si Gloria Macapagal Arroyo dahil sa pandaraya sa eleksyon, kurapsyon at pasismo. Hanggang sa panahon ni Aquino, hindi tumigil ang STAND UP sa pagbibigkis ng mga mag-aaral para ipaglaban ang pagbabago.


May mga panahon din na nalasap ng STAND UP na sunod-sunod na pagkatalo sa konseho. Sa mga panahong ito ay nagkaroon ng kahinaan sa pagsusulong ng pakikibaka ng estudyante at mamamayan, kahinaan sa pagdadala ng linyang makabayan at demokratiko, pagdadala ng wastong linyang masa, kahinaan sa gawaing alyansa at maging kahinaan sa usaping pang-organisasyon.


Kadalasan natatalo tayo kapag hindi natin napanghahawakan ang mga isyu’t pakikibaka ng estudyante at mamamayan. Kadalasan natatalo tayo kapag hindi natin sapul ang pangunahing mga isyung kinakaharap ng mga mag-aaral at kung gayon ay hindi malinaw ang dalang mensahe o linya ng ating kampanya. Kadalasan natatalo tayo kapag makitid ang ating balangkas ng pagpapakilos o kapag hindi natin nabubuo ang malapad na pagkakaisa ng mga estudyante para ipaglaban ang kanilang mga interes at interes ng mamamayan. Natatalo tayo kapag walang solidong base na aasahan nating magsulong ng laban.

Natatalo tayo kapag hindi natin mapagpasyang nailalantad ang repormismo at mga grupo at institusyon na nagdadala nito sa kampus.  Natatalo tayo kapag hindi malinaw na naiguguhit ang linya para sa makabuluhang pagbabago at kapag hindi napagkakaisa ang pinakamalawak at pinakamalapad para sa layuning ito. 


Susi kung gayon ang walang-humapay o buong-taong pagbubuo ng malawak na pagkakaisa ng masang estudaynte at kanilang patuloy na paglaban sa iba’t ibang isyung lokal at pambansa. Sa halalang pangkampus, mahalaga na may simple at matalas na mensahe na kayang pagkaisahin ang pinakamarami. Susi din ang mga taktikang alyansa para abutin at pakilusin ang iba’t ibang tipo ng suporta. Maraming organisasyon ang sumusuporta sa STAND UP tuwing eleksyon kahit hindi sila pormal na kaanib ng alyansa. Lubhang mahalaga ang mulat na pagbaka, kapwa teoretikal at praktikal, sa mga repormistang ideya at mga gawi ng mga katunggaling partido. Pinakamabisang paraan ng paglalantad sa repormismo ay ang militanteng pagsusulong ng mga laban nga mag-aaral at mamamayan. Sa aktwal na pakikibaka, sa pagkakaroon ng karanasana sa pulitika, nagiging malinaw sa masang estudyante ang kaibahan ng linyang militante at repormista. 

Sa tinagal-tagal ng paglahok natin sa eleksyon, nakahalaw din tayo ng maraming aral sa pagbubuo at paglalatag ng makinarya sa iba’t ibang kolehiyo at departamento. Nasapol na rin natin ang wastong kumbinasyon ng mga kandidatong may subok na track record sa pamumuno at popular na suporta. Siyempre pa, tayo lang ang alyansang nagtatamasa ng suporta mula sa iba’t ibang sektor ng pamantasan, mula sa mga guro, kawani, komunidad, tsuper at manininda.


Sa pagpupurisge ng mga kasama– sa pamamagitan ng puspusang pakikibaka at matatag na pamumuno kahit wala sa konseho– nakakabawi ang STAND UP mula sa mga pagkatalo.


Tumatanaw na ang STAND UP sa ika-21 taon nito ngayong 2017. Halos lahat ng katunggaling alyansa ng STAND UP nang ito ay itinatag ay hindi na lumalahok sa eleksyon. Marami sa dating kasaping organisasyon ng SAMASA ay matagal na ring sumanib sa STAND UP.


Sa ngayon, ang STAND UP ang pinakamatagal o longest-standing university-wide student alliance o political party na lumalahok sa eleksyon sa kampus. Hihigitan na nito ang dalawang-dekadang kasaysayan ng SAMASA. Aabutan pa nito ang ika-30 taon ng socialized tuition sa UP sa 2019. Ito na ang inabot ng 20 taon ng militanteng pakikibaka at puspusang paglilingkod sa sambayanan.


Sa loob ng 20 taon, maraming alumni ng STAND UP ang tumampok sa iba’t ibang larangan ng pakikibaka at iba’t ibang propesyon sa lipunan. Nagpupugay tayo sa mga martir na nagmula sa mga kasaping organisasyon ng STAND UP, silang nag-alay ng panahon at buhay para sa pagpapalaya ng sambayanan. Sa bawat anibersaryo ng alyansa, marapat na alalahanin sila at ipagbunyi bilang mga huwaran para sa mga kabataan.


Sa pasupusang pakikibaka at sa di matitinag na pananalig sa lakas ng masa, tiyak na aani pa ng mas maraming tagumpay ang STAND UP sa susunod na dekada. ###

*Ang may akda ay naging lider ng LFS UP Diliman at bahagi ng SAMASA mula 1992-94. Kabilang siya sa mga nagtatag ng STAND UP noong 1996. Naging unang tagapangulo din siya ng Anakbayan.


March 29 marks the 48th anniversary of the establishment of the New People’s Army. It is recognized as Asia’s longest running armed rebellion, with an army composed mainly of poor peasants, joined by workers and educated youth.

The fact that the NPA has outlasted several regimes, including the Marcos dictatorship and two Aquino regimes, shows the need to seriously address the root causes of the armed conflict in the Philippines.

Many military campaigns have been launched by previous regimes, all supported and funded by the United States, yet the AFP has been unable to decisively defeat the revolutionary forces. President Rodrigo Duterte himself has acknowledged many times that the NPA is supported by the poor and thus could not simply be defeated militarily. Duterte somehow understands the basis for the armed rebellion being waged by the revolutionary forces. This has led him to engage the revolutionary forces in peace negotiations.

At the core of the demands of the revolutionary forces are land reform, national industrialization, genuine democracy and freedom from foreign dictates.

The peace talks is an arena where both the GRP and the revolutionary forces represented by the NDFP, can address the root causes of the armed struggle by forging substantive agreements.

The talks have made significant achievements over the past seven months and is expected to move forward with the scheduled 4th and 5th rounds. There is a possibility that agreements on socio-economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms can be signed by this year and next year.

Signining the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms can pave the way for a more stable bilateral ceasefire between the GRP and NDFP.

Successful negotiations on economic reforms will lead to negotiations on political reforms. The possibility of the GRP and NDFP working together for a federal republic has been raised. This entails providing safeguards against puppetry to foreign interests, political dynasties, fascist dictatorship and guarantees on civil liberties.

Duterte can choose to push the peace talks to a favorable and just conclusion through the forging of substantive agreements. This will lay the foundation for a just peace. He may also choose to abandon the talks and take a more reactionary position towards the revolutionary forces.

All things considered, he is compelled by the current economic and political crisis to choose the path of achieving a just peace. Should he choose otherwise, so long as the roots of the armed conflict remain, the forces of revolution will most certainly persist and outlast his administration.

The 4th round of formal peace talks starts on April 2 in The Hague, Netherlands. ###

​If there’s anything we learned since 1992, it’s that the road to peace will always be long and arduous. 

With both the GRP and NDFP lifting their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations, the people continue to call on both parties to persevere in peace negotiations on substantive issues such as socio-economic reforms as well as political and constitutional reforms. 

Both parties are within their rights to terminate their respective ceasefire declarations. The ceasefire however is not the entirety of the peace talks. Peace talks in the past have been conducted even without a prolonged ceasefire declaration. Signed agreements were forged and the talks moved forward. Talking while fighting is better than not talking at all. 

It is clear by now that the AFP is a major stumbling block to peace as it insists on conducting military operations in communities, disguised as “peace and development” operations. The AFP is poised to unleash more fascist attacks with the lifting of the government’s unilateral ceasefire. 

Is there still a chance for a return to ceasefire mode? Yes there is, if the conditions are favorable. This means fulfilling the commitment to release all political prisoners and the demilitarization of communities. There is a scheduled meeting between the two parties on February 22 in the Netherlands to discuss a bilateral ceasefire.

The President should realize that his most important base of support should be the people, not the military. The AFP should not be able to dictate the terms of the peace negotiations, including the release of poltical prisoners. The President must listen to the clamor of the people, not the generals. 

To our friends who are Duterte supporters, we ask you to help in calling on both parties to persevere in peace negotiations and oppose on principled grounds, those officials who are out to undermine the talks. We urge you to support negotiations on socio-economic as well as talks on political reforms, which now includes Federalism and safeguards against fascist dictatorship and foreign intervention.

We all have a stake in the success of the talks. That the talks are becoming difficult should not be a surprise anymore. It’s but the reflection of the complex and intense class struggle and the competing interests which form the basis of the armed conflict. Hindi simple and batayan ng digmaaan, kaya’t hindi rin simple, bagkus ay masalimuot, ang resolusyon nito; kahit sa peace negotiations. Magpapatuloy ang pagkamit ng makatarungang kapayapaan, kahit sa labas ng peace talks. Malawak ang mga larangan nito.

Kaya mga kaibigan, kapit lang. Laban lang. 


Ano ang ibig sabihin ng unilateral ceasefire? 

Ang unilateral ceasefire ay deklarasyon ng tigil-putukan ng isang panig sa armadong labanan nang hindi nangangailangan ng kasunduan ng magkabilang panig o katugon (reciprocal) na deklarasyon sa katunggaling panig. Ginagawa ito para mabigyan ng paborableng klima ang usapang pangkapayapaan. 

Maaaring magdeklara ng sabay na unilateral ceasefire and dalawang panig. Kanya-kanyang kautusan sa kanya-kanyang mga tropa ang inilalabas para sa implementasyon ng kanya-kanyang unilateral ceasefire. Kanya-kanya ding monitoring kung naipapatupad ba ang tigil-putukan ayon sa kautusan o gabay (guidelines).

Sa nakaraan, nagdedeklara ang Gobyerno ng Republika ng Pilipinas (GRP) at ang National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) ng kani-kanyang unilateral ceasefire pagdating ng panahon ng Pasko at Bagong Taon.

Nang magbukas ang pormal na peace talks sa panahon ng administrasyong Duterte noong nakaraang taon, nagdeklara ng magkahiwalay na unilateral ceasefire ang GRP at NDFP.

Ano ang status ng unilateral ceasefire ng NPA?

Pebrero 1 nang magdeklara ang NPA na tinatapos na nito ang unilateral ceasefire, epektibo sa Pebrero 10. Bunsod ito ng kabiguan ng GRP na tuparin ang pangako ni Pangulong Duterte na palayain ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal, at resulta ng nagpapatuloy na operasyong militar ng AFP sa mga komunidad. Ito ang pinakamahabang ceasefire na pinasok ng mga rebolusyonaryong pwersa, tumagal ng higit 150 araw. Sa loob ng panahong ito ay nagpatuloy ang mga operasyong militar at psy-war sa ilalim ng Oplan Bayanihan. Nagpatuloy ang mga pagpatay sa mga magsasaka at Lumad ng mga pinaghihinalaang militar at paramilitar. Ayon sa NDF, aabot sa 500 barangay ay sumailalim sa operasyong militar ng AFP. 

Sa pagtatapos ng unilateral ceasefire ng NPA, magpapatuloy ang labanan. Aktibong dedepensa ang NPA kontra sa mga operasyong militar ng AFP.

Ano ang status ng unilateral ceasefire ng GRP?

Pebrero 3 nang ianunsyo ni GRP President Rodrigo Duterte na tinatapos na rin nila and unilateral ceasefire sa NDFP. Pinag-utos ni Duterte sa AFP na maghanda para sa labanan.

Ibig bang sabihin nito na tapos na ang usapang pangkapayapaan?

Hindi sa pagtatapos ng ceasefire natatapos ang peace talks. Maaaring magpatuloy ang peace talks at magbuo ng mga kasunduan kahit walang ceasefire. Ganito ang karanasan sa mga nagdaang rehimen. 

Hindi ba sa ceasefire nasusukat ang sinseridad sa peace talks?

Hindi ang ceasefire ang sukatan ng sinseridad at kaseryosohan sa peace talks. Mas mahalagang sukatan ang pagtataguyod ng mga napirmahang kasunduan at pagbubuo ng bagong mga kasunduan sa repormang sosyo-ekonomiko, pulitikal at konstitusyunal. 

Samantala, maaaring may ceasefire nga pero kung wala namang makabuluhang pagbabago para sa mamamayan, mauuwi din ito sa wala. 

Ano ang pagkakaiba ng “bilateral” at “unilateral ceasefire”? 

Ang “bilateral ceasefire” ay isang pormal na kasunduan sa pagitan ng dalawang magkatunggaling panig na itigil muna ang digmaan/labanan sa loob ng isang takdang panahon at batay sa mga tinakdang kaisahan o kundisyon. Magkaiba ang “bilateral” at ang “unilateral ceasefire”.

Maaari pa bang humantong sa bilateral ceasefire kung sa unilateral ceasefire ay nagkaproblema  na?

Ayon sa NDFP, handa itong pumasok sa isang istableng bilateral ceasefire kung tutuparin ng GRP ang pangakong palayain ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal at kung mareresolba ang isyu ng militarisasyon ng mga komunidad. 

Ang pagpapalaya sa mga bilanggong pulitikal ay usapin ng hustisya at obligasyon ng GRP sa mga napirmahang kasunduan. Hindi dapat gawing baraha sa negosasyon ang mga bilanggong pulitikal. 

Ano ang hinaharap ng peace talks ngayon?

Dapat magtuloy ang peace talks kahit walang ceasefire. Sa Abril 2-6 ang susunod na round para ituloy ang pag-uusap sa repormang sosyo-ekonomiko. Malaking pakinabang sa mamamayan kung mabubuo ang kasunduang ito dahil nakatuon ito sa paglutas ng mga ugat ng armadong tunggalian.

Ano ang maaaring gawin ng mamayan?

Dapat nating patuloy na suportahan ang peace talks. Dapat ipanawagan sa magkabilang-panig na magpursige sa paglutas ng ugat ng armadong labanan. Sa labas ng negosasyon, tuloy ang pakikibaka para sa tunay na pagbabago. Makakatulong ito sa pagpapatingkad ng mga usapin sa negosasyon. Maging mapagbantay din tayo sa mga nais isabotahe ang peace talks. Dapat silang ilantad at labanan. ###

It has been a year full of unexpected and interesting developments. The year 2016 will be defined by the rise of the Duterte presidency and the people’s response to its policies and pronouncements. It was a year of militant struggle even with the Left’s alliance and cooperation with Duterte. The Left’s relationship with the incumbent regime continues to be tested through different issues.

Here are 10 important events that happened in 2016 related to the people’s movement for national freedom and democracy. These are 10 events that made a great impact in national politics and consciousness and whose effects will be felt in the years to come.

1. Duterte becomes president – The year 2016 gave us the Duterte regime, a presidency swept into power by 16 million votes, borne out of the crisis of the ruling system, and buoyed by the promise of “change”. The new regime shook the poltical landscape with many firsts, but also continues to encounter serious challenges from forces opposed to change. It remains to be seen if  Rodrigo Duterte will go beyond the “change” rhetoric and engage in serious, wide-ranging reforms that will go against the interests of the ruling elite. For example, just recently, workers have criticized the DOLE for failing to really put a stop to contractualization of labor with the new Department Order 168.

Image result for duterte oathtaking


2. Resumption of the peace talks – Duterte has accomplished more for the peace talks with the NDFP in his first 100 days than the entire 6-year term of Benigno Aquino III. Previously signed agreements were reaffirmed, NDFP peace consultants were released on bail, and separate unilateral ceasefires were declared by both sides. For the revolutionary movement, the unilateral ceasefire was the longest yet in its 48-year history. The talks are now entering discussions on social-economic reforms. The ceasefire however is continuously undermined by the government’s failure to release all political prisoners and by the AFP’s continuing militarization of the countryside. Last December 26, revolutionary forces held a show of force in different guerrilla fronts nationwide, most notable of these are the battalion-sized formations in Mindanao. They have expressed readiness to face the consequences of continuing fascist aggression against the people.

3. The War on Drugs – Even before he assumed the presidency, many had feared Duterte’s planned war on drugs now that it would have a nationwide scope. While Duterte succeeded in exposing the magnitude of the drug problem and how it ties up with corruption in government including the police and military, it is the rising death toll and impunity which people will remember most. The stories of the victims are heartbreaking. Innocents have been killed with impunity. State forces have gone on to kill even persons already detained. There are no indications that the President will back down on his declared war on illegal drugs, and we can only expect the people’s opposition to increase as the death toll rises.


4. The Left joins the Cabinet – In an unexpected move, Duterte opened his cabinet to the revolutionary forces of the CPP. However, since the roots of the armed conflict had yet to be resolved, the revolutionary forces couldn’t yet be part of the Duterte government. The NDFP instead nominated progressives to several government posts. Despite being a minority in a Cabinet dominated by pro- US neoliberals and militarists, the progressives continued to push pro-people reforms within the limits of the reactionary government. Ka Paeng continues to uphold the interest of poor peasants and farm workers struggling for land reform. Judy Taguiwalo has steered the DSWD to meet the demands of the most vulnerable sectors. Liza Maza is working hard at the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Image result for rafael mariano judy taguiwalo liza maza left cabinet

5. Kidapawan: Bigas Hindi Bala – On April 1, police opened fire on unarmed North Cotabato farmers protesting in Kidapawan City. The drought-stricken farmers demanded rice but got bullets instead. Two were killed and scores were injured. Around 80 were arrested. The incident called attention to the plight of farmers all over the country who were reeling from the effects of prolonged drought and landlessness.


6. Huge SONA rally and Lakbayans – This year saw a huge rally that marked Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address. For the first time, contingents from Mindanao and Bicol joined rallyists from Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon. More than 30,000 marched very near the Batasang Pambansa in another first under the Duterte regime. After the SONA, the President meet with rally leaders including Lumad and Moro representatives. Previously, the President also met with Bayan leaders who held a really coinciding with his inauguration. There would be three inter-regional Lakbayans (SONA, Mindanao, Visayas) for 2016, also another first.


Image result for SONA 2016 duterte meets with militants

7. The violent dispersal at the US embassy – It was an incident that shocked the world. A police car rammed unarmed protesters in front of the US embassy in Manila. Scores were injured. A jeepney driver was nearly beaten to death. More than 40 were arrested. In a time when the Philippine president was announcing his separation from the US, Philippine police forces violently attacked protesters after the police complained they had “lost face” with the US embassy after protesters breached the police line.

Image result for US embassy dispersal 2016

8. Assertion of an independent foreign policy – Many progressives and patriots applauded the speeches of the President criticizing US foreign policy and history of colonialism in the Philippines. Duterte brought the issue of US atrocities in the Philippines to the international stage. He threatened to terminate the VFA and EDCA. He said that he wanted the US to know that “there is such a thing as the dignity of the Filipino people”. He has also rejected any US criticism of his human rights record, often pointing out US hypocrisy. The most serious threat yet to the Duterte regime may still come from the US and its reactionary allies in the Philippines. During this year, the Philippines also won a landmark case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration which voided China’s 9-dash line claim and upheld Filipino fishermen’s rights to the waters within our EEZ.

9.The Marcos burial – The issue that sparked a direct confrontation between a broad array of forces on one side and the Duterte regime and the Marcoses on the other; the burial of the dictator Marcos triggered street protests across the country. The SC decision, the ensuing burial and Duterte’s justification thereof, were roundly criticized. If there is one good thing that came out of the incident, it was the rapid political awakening of the youth, who despite being several generations removed from Martial Law, were still able to grasp the implications of the formal honors accorded the dictator. Stay vigilant because the fight against the Marcos restoration will continue all the way to 2022.


10.Tuition-free SUC’s – Congress has approved appropriations that is supposed to make tuition free in all state colleges and university. The move is a product of the assertion of the student movement and a vindication of the historic position against commercialization of education. The development has been described as a “game-changer” and will likely usher a new wave of mass struggles on campus and in the streets next year. The fight is by no means over and a new round is just starting.

There were many other issues that made 2016 “memorable” and challenging. We had the tanim-bala scam, MRT-LRT commuter woes, horrible traffic, the continuing agrarian disputes in Luisita, the filing of corruption cases against Aquino and his officials, the acquittal of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her officials, the SC declaration of EDCA as constitutional, the Save Fabella campaign, the mining audit and suspension of destructive mining companies and many more.

One event that should be watched closely at the start of the new year is the third round of formal piece talks between the GRP and NDFP which will say a lot on how the Left’s relationship with Duterte will be the rest of the year, and perhaps for the rest of his term. The talks would be an important indicator of the direction the Duterte government will ultimately take: whether it veers more to the Right and protects the status quo or it stays true to the President’s pronouncement that he is Left, thus ushering progressive change.

The next round of formal peace talks are set on January 19, 2017.

In all these events, the people are not mere spectators waiting for the next big revelation. More than ever, the people must weigh in and wage militant mass struggles for national democracy. Unless the Duterte regime addresses the root causes of the armed conflict, the basis for revolutionary struggle will remain. The militant mass movement will continue to march in the streets. The struggle continues

We welcome the new year, the only way we can: with a firm resolve to fight for the liberation of the people.

A happy and militant new year to all!


​Nobyembre 18, 2016

Larawan mula sa Philippine Collegian

Magandang gabi mga kababayan, mga kapatid. Nais ko munang magbigay-pugay sa mga tunay na bayani. 
Sa mga biktima ng Martial Law na hanggang ngayon ay patuloy na lumalaban para sa hustisya. Sila ang mga tunay na bayani. 
Sa mga martir ng UP at iba pang unibersidad, sa mga kabataang sumapi sa New People’s Army (NPA) at nag-alay ng buhay para labanan ang diktadura. Sila ang mga tunay na bayani. 
Sa mga naghain ng kaso sa Korte Suprema para labanan ang paglibing. Natalo man sila sa kaso, bayani rin sila sa ating puso. 
Sa kabataan at mamamayang patuloy na lumalaban. Kayo ang mga tunay na bayani. 
Nais ko namang banggitin ang mga may kasalanan kung bakit tayo naririto ngayon. 
Ang pamilya Marcos, na hanggang ngayon ay ayaw aminin ang kanilang kasalanan sa bayan at ginagawa ang lahat para baluktutin ang kasaysayan at makabalik sa Malacanang. 
Ang Korte Suprema na naggawad ng desisyong pabor sa paglibing at naghahawan ng daan para linisin ang rekord ni Marcos, na siya daw ay hindi purely evil at tulad din natin na nagkakamali din. Neknek nyo!
Si Pangulong Duterte, at ang kanyang pakikipag-alyansa sa mga Marcos, pag-utos sa paglibing, at pagiging instrumento ng pampulitikang rehabilitasyon at panunumbalik ng mga Marcos. Anong klaseng “change is coming” yan?
Ang lahat ng gobyerno matapos kay Marcos na nagtaguyod ng bulok na sistema sa pulitika, ng political accommodation at burukrata kapitalismo, na hindi nagpursige para panagutin ang mga Marcos at igawad ang hustisya sa mga biktima. Kasama na dyan ang 2 rehimeng Aquino. Kayo ang lumikha ng mga batayan para makabalik sa poder ang mga Marcos. Si Imelda naging congresswoman. Si Imee naging congresswoman at gobernador. Si Bongbong naging senador, muntik pang maging bise-presidente. 
Ngayon, lalong napatunayan kung gaano kabulok ang ating sistema. Ngayon mas naging malinaw na dapat itong  baguhin. Sa mga kabataan, kayo ang pag-asa ng bayan at inaasahang mangunguna sa pagbabagong ito, kasama ang sambayanan. Kayo din ang magtitiyak na hindi nila mababago pa ang hatol ng kasaysayan at mananaig ang katotohanan.
Wala na po sa Korte ang laban. Nasa kalsada na, sa mga classroom ng mga kabataan, sa mga komunidad, sa mainstream at social media, sa kamalayan ng bawat isang Pilipino. Patuloy tayong lumaban para sa hustisya, para itaguyod ang hatol ng kasaysayan at para baguhin ang ating lipunan. 
Mabuhay kayo! Mabuhay ang sambayang Pilipino!