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Support the positive overtures of the incoming Duterte regime and assert the people’s interests

A press statement by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines - Eastern Visayas
June 20, 2016

A new ruling regime will be in place on June 30 with the proclamation of president-elect Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. On that day, the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas calls on the people to come out to support the positive overtures of the incoming Duterte regime, as well as to present their basic problems and assert their interests.

Rodrigo Duterte has stirred great expectations by appointing progressives to some posts in his Cabinet, promising to release all political prisoners and resume the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and crusading against crime and corruption. At the same time, the NDF-Eastern Visayas is mindful that Duterte’s election does not mean doing away with the reactionary ruling system, and that he is surrounded by reactionaries of various stripes as well as US imperialism.

Nevertheless, the revolutionary movement is open to alliance with the Duterte regime so the people can avail of benefits that can improve their conditions, as well as allow them to organize and strengthen the democratic mass movement. The revolutionary movement in Eastern Visayas furthermore supports the NDFP’s efforts to secure the release of the detained peace consultants and all political prisoners, resume the peace talks, and reach with the Philippine government an agreement on socio-economic reforms.

Human rights advocates, peace advocates and the church people in Eastern Visayas have the moral high ground to call on the incoming Duterte regime to honor its vow to release all political prisoners and resume the peace talks with the NDFP. The political prisoners in Eastern Visayas have been languishing in jail for years on trumped-up charges that treat them as common criminals and not as prisoners by reason of the armed conflict. Eastern Visayas also continues to struggle with militarization and the culture of impunity for human rights violations including media killings under the outgoing Aquino regime.

The survivors of super typhoon Yolanda must avail of the incoming regime to strengthen their struggle for justice against the criminal negligence of the Aquino regime, as well as demand the junking of the corruption-ridden Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction program that favor the big business cronies of the outgoing regime and not the urban and rural poor who suffered the most. They and the victims of other calamities can call on the incoming progressive social welfare secretary, Dr. Judy Taguiwalo, for the long overdue assistance that were denied them under the previous administration. In the latest calamity to befall the region, at least 44 people recently died from a mere diarrhea epidemic – a bitter reminder of the reactionary government’s historical neglect of Eastern Visayas.

The peasants of Eastern Visayas welcome the appointment of the progressive Rafael Mariano to the agrarian reform department of the incoming Duterte regime, and assert their calls for genuine agrarian reform. They are also calling for the return of the coconut levy funds stolen by the Marcos regime, irrigation, and other agricultural support such as against pest infestations that currently afflict coconut, abaca and rice in the region.

Meanwhile, the workers and government employees in the region look forward to the incoming Duterte regime’s commitment to end labor contractualization, while pushing for the ending of other anti-labor policies such as the two-tier wage system. They also assert the P16,000 wage and salary increases and P25,000 for teachers, and the social security pension increase that was denied by the Aquino regime.

The youth and students must urge the incoming Duterte regime to scrap the K+12 program that is leading to massive dropouts. They must call for greater subsidies to state universities and colleges and a free, nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education system.

Furthermore, the people of Eastern Visayas call on the incoming Duterte regime to scrap the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, Visiting Forces Agreement and other unequal agreements with the US. These have only allowed the violation of our national sovereignty and give license to increasing US military intervention. The people in the region remain vigilant over the possible entry of US troops after the launching of US-backed psywar projects, such as the recently concluded Millennium Challenge Corporation road network as well as other projects by the US Agency for International Development.

It is also fine and well that the incoming Duterte regime vows to campaign against crime and corruption, especially the menace of illegal drugs. The NDF-Eastern Visayas urges Duterte to live up to his tough words and crack down on the Ong political dynasty in Northern Samar that, according to investigation by the New People’s Army, is behind the widespread illegal drugs trade in the province. The newly elected second district congressman, Edwin Ong, is believed to be the biggest drug lord in the province, with the backing of his uncle, the reelected governor Jose Ong, Jr. If the Duterte regime wishes to curb the illegal drugs trade, it is best to go after big fish like the Ong dynasty and their police and military protectors, which will effectively also do away with the small fry.

In the final analysis, it is not enough for the people to passively take the incoming Duterte regime’s words and actions. They must continue the tasks of arousing, organizing and mobilizing to press for as well as defend their basic democratic rights. The armed revolutionary movement must also remain steadfast, take advantage of any ceasefire to consolidate and to conduct propaganda and education to win over the masses to the national democratic cause, and intensify the people’s war at every opportunity. After all, having peace talks with the incoming Duterte regime is not an end in itself, but still a long and arduous journey towards a just and lasting peace.