The Filipino left desparately needs a new voice

In a disturbing turn of events, the Communist Party of the Philippines’ armed wing New Peoples’ Army announced a termination of their unilateral ceasefire starting Feb.10. The stated reasons were the government’s refusal to comply with their demands of the release of more than 400 political prisoners and the military’s withdrawal from their “territories”. 

As a response, President Rodrigo Duterte announced a lifting of the Armed Forces’ own unilateral ceasefire, citing incidents involving the capture and murder of soldiers in separate incidents in Bukinon, North Cotabato, and an NPA raid in Batangas. In an apparent tone of exasperation, Duterte said “peace cannot be realized with communists at this time”.

It is truly sad to hear of these developments but if there’s one thing we should learn with this experience, it is that more moderate forces on the left must begin to be heard.

Peace talks have become impossible mainly due to the NPA’s demands to free all of their political prisoners as a condition to further peace talks when in fact it should be an outcome, numerous violations on their side (they accuse the military of committing atrocities when they shoot unarmed and off-duty soldiers, on the part of the military, if validated, they should be put into court martial). And on the so-called “encroachment of their territory”? It’s as if having a state within a state. 

Now that the mutual unilateral ceasefires have been lifted and that Duterte has ordered peace negotiators to come home, now it really is the time to rethink and a new long-term program to implement socialist-oriented reforms which the Philippines needs to truly succeed. 

Over time, the Maoist strategy of protracted people’s war has become obsolete, factors include the downfall of the Marcos regime and subsequent economic growth over the succeeding decades (though poverty and income inequality has still remained, along with a focus on service-oriented jobs instead of manufacturing and agriculture). 

Add to that is the still unresolved issue of land reform and contractualization, which if unresolved will continue to build a base of support to these Maoist guerillas. The conditions creating the roots of armed conflict must be solved through peaceful means.

The urban front groups, some of which are elected in our Congress, though they may have legitimate concerns but have instead used methods like burning effigies, vandalizing, and others have only earned them the ire of the public instead of support.

Complicating these are the still-lingering negative mindset of Filipinos towards left-wing politics, given the absence of more moderate voices and the effects of Cold War-era propaganda. 

Now, the Filipino left must reinvent itself in order to look more like social democratic or green parties in Europe, or like the movement Bernie Sanders have built in the United States.

That is engaging in people-to-people contact, engaging in social work, building grassroots community organization to earn trust and support (which I think the partylists are hopefully doing).

The burning of effigies and other disruptive stuff will do nothing. We would prefer direct action, that is actually doing something to get things done. 

To fill this void, the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-1930 must be reinvigorated. It is the Philippines’ legal communist party (it has abandoned armed struggle in 1974 in exchange of achieving legal status after the defeat of the Huk rebellion and the ideological split of the 1960s). It’s time for us to follow the suit of Japan, Russia, and countries in Latin America and Europe, all of which have elected communist representatives in their respective legislatures. 

If we are to follow a communist path, Yugoslavia is the best example. It has supported equal rights for its various nationalities and workers’ self-management. The Maoist model the CPP-NPA-NDF and front organizations will simply won’t work in the Philippines and (sorry to say this) most likely we’d end up like Venezuela. (Even the FARC has given up arms.)

The radicals might not like this but we have to accept this fact. It really is the time for more moderate voices of the left to rise up. You may think we already have Duterte, but he’s only a catalyst for things to come (as his administration also has it flaws, i.e. the war on drugs). 

We rest our case. (In case being tagged as ‘revisionst’, we’ll tell them they’re no different to fascists. Their failure to adapt and their treatment of socialist concepts as if it were religious dogma are making them become what they have hated.)

(photo credit: cprf.ru)

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Why not a new trade bloc with Latin America? 


(Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shaking hands with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kucyznski during the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru last November 18-20, 2016. Photo credits: Philstar)

As part of the Philippines’ ongoing push to pursue a foreign policy independent from the West, we would like to suggest why don’t we consider establishing stronger links with the Latin American nations? 

Previously this blog has discussed the possibility of direct air links with the continent, this time we will discuss closer political and economic cooperation.

We all know the Philippines and Latin America has shared cultural links thanks to three centuries of Spanish colonization. We have had the Acapulco galleon trade from 1565 to 1821, when the Latin American counties declared independence from Spain one by one.

American influence in our culture had somehow diminished centuries of common heritage, but why can’t we rekindle these? For example, we have something in common when it comes to religiosity, telenovelas, and populist politics to name a few.

In keeping with modern challenges, this proposes that a new regional bloc with these countries could help us cope with common problems such as poverty and income inequality, a common approach in combating illegal drugs (PNP Dir. Gen. Bato dela Rosa has visited Colombia to study their approaches), and reestablishing cultural links, including reintroduction of the Spanish language.

We can also heavily promote tourism and trade opportunities, generating revenue and creating jobs.

There’s a lot of work to be done and this is a big gamble which if handled efficiently will generate huge benefits for both sides.

Long-distance flights from Manila to Latin America?


(A Boeing 777-300ER plane. Photo credit: http://www.philippineairlines.com)

Has anyone thought of direct flights from the Philippines to countries in Latin America?

We may share something in common when it comes to culture, traditions, heritage, among others, but why isn’t there such a thing?

Considering the long distances (17-18 kilometers, 17hrs of flying, and the need for stopovers as airliners such as Boeing 777 could not have the capacity to fly non-stop, unless) and whether it could be financially viable or not, but who knows?

If both sides boost cultural ties, rekindling the common colonial heritage, and promote tourism, maybe this won’t be a far-fetched idea after all.