CPP ready for national polls; peace talks depend on GRP willingness

ANTIPOLO CITY, Philippines – The Communist of Party of the Philippines (CPP) celebrated its 41st founding anniversary last December 26.

Photo courtesy of Jakarta Post

From a handful of cadres, it has gone on to lead the longest-running communist insurgency in Asia.

Whether it can succeed in achieving its goal of wresting power, the CPP has nevertheless helped shaped recent Philippine history, its ideological framework influencing in large part how the root causes of poverty and underdevelopment of the country are viewed and analyzed.

Dateline Philippines emailed a series of questions intended for the CPP leadership. Here are the answers sent through the CPP Information Bureau.

On the 2010 elections

Noel Sales Barcelona (NSB): A few months from now, the whole nation will decide who will be president of this Republic. What is the pulse of the CPP on the upcoming elections? Will it be a peaceful one or bloodier one?

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP): All reactionary elections held in the country, since the establishment of the reactionary neocolonial republic, have been dirty and violent. Competing factions of the ruling elite have historically and increasingly resorted to dirty maneuvers and the use of gold, guns and goons in their rivalry for political power, privilege and plunder amidst the continually shrinking resources of the country. And whenever they participate in reactionary elections, progressive parties, candidates and their organizers and campaigners have even become the principal victims of violent attacks by fascist state agents and diehard warlord politicos threatened by progressives’ winning of seats in government.

The upcoming May 2010 elections may become even more violent and bloody than past reactionary elections. The Maguindanao Massacre has signal-fired the violence in the current reactionary elections. Since then, more election-related violence has been occurring. This stems from the deep-seated and worsening political crisis of the rotten ruling system made more volatile by the acute socio-economic crisis. The ruling regime’s most reprehensible, deceitful and violent maneuvers with the use of the powers and resources of the reactionary state to perpetuate its reign, suppress its critics and resist being made to pay for its already too numerous hideous crimes against the people have further worsened the violence in reactionary elections. It has engaged in repeated massive and glaring electoral fraud and terrorism to hold on to power amidst strong opposition and the rejection of the mass of the Filipino people.

Gloria Arroyo and her ilk’s dogged power-perpetuation schemes have only further incensed the people and heightened their yearning to get rid of her corrupt and brutal regime. They have moreover intensified the desire of rival ruling elite factions to bring down a regime that remains a threat to their own political and economic interests.

Many view the upcoming elections as an opportunity to remove Arroyo from the presidency, given especially the record plunge of her poll ratings, making her the most hated of all the country’s presidents. Vying for presidency is, however, only one facet in the current electoral rivalry. The Arroyo ruling clique has prepared a multi-front power-perpetuation scheme, which includes her running for a congressional seat, assuming the Speakership of the House, sidelining whoever will be president, gunning for Cha-cha (charter change) and ending up prime minister. Failing this, the ruling regime is poised to resort to emergency rule and “transition government” with “failed elections” or “no proclamation of president and other national officials” scenarios as probable pretexts.

As reactionary electoral violence escalates in the heat of the election fever, the fascist forces of the reactionary state under the Arroyo regime are preparing even fiercer vicious attacks against the opposition within the system, and most especially against the revolutionary and progressive forces critical of the system.

The contradictions of the ruling elite political system are coming to a head. The upcoming 2010 elections are only bound to escalate the political antagonisms of rival factions of the ruling elite, the persecution of the progressive forces and the counterrevolutionary war.

NSB: Is an automated election possible in 2010? Or does the Party see otherwise?

CPP: While the automated poll may still push through, there is widespread skepticism that it will succeed. All throughout, the project has been marred with controversies and doubts.

In the first place, the Comelec has commissioned a foreign firm of questionable integrity to set up and manage the automation. There are strong suspicions of deals made between Malacañang and the foreign firm. It has refused to open the source code of its software to public technical scrutiny. There is, thus, no assurance that poll automation will eliminate, or minimize electoral fraud in the upcoming elections. On the contrary, suspicions are all the more raised that the automation project will only be used by the ruling regime to make electoral cheating more systemic and concealed.

There have also been too many anomalies, foul-ups and delays starting from the contract and its design, up to the implementation of the poll automation system. There are the big gaps in voter understanding leading to confusion, conflicts with existing systems, failure to accommodate new voters, overly long lists of candidates, re-clustering of precincts and many other problems.

The widely expected mayhem may be exploited as a convenient excuse for the Comelec to declare a “failure of elections,” paving the way for Arroyo to impose “emergency rule” and remain as “transition president.” This fallback is being readied by the Arroyo clique to be set into motion once it is confronted with massive electoral losses at all levels, thus endangering the plan to install Arroyo as Speaker, proceed with Cha-cha (Charter change) and have her elected as Prime Minister.

But whether the automation of the 2010 elections pushes through or not, it will not change the nature of the reactionary elections as a dirty and violent contest primarily among rival cliques of the elite ruling classes, marginalizing progressive, pro-people and hoi polloi candidates.

NSB: What tactics does the Party think the current administration will use just to ensure that its candidates will win these coming polls?

CPP: Gloria Arroyo is expected to make use of all the resources within her reach to ensure that she and her candidates will “win” in the upcoming elections. Her enormous election kitty, accumulated in the past years through graft, corruption, bribe-taking and diversion of tens of billions of pesos in public funds will be utilized to the hilt to buy votes, bribe election officials and military officers and make a 2010 version of “Hello, Garci” to rig the results in her favor.

NSB: What is the assessment of the Party on the candidacy of the Bayan Muna Rep. Satur C. Ocampo, a former comrade-in-arms  of the CPP and Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza L. Maza—do they have the share for the win in the senatorial race?

CPP: Judging by the results of previous elections, Makabayan senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza are expected to enjoy the solid support of at least a three million-strong voting bloc just from their party-list following. They can increase this so much more by mobilizing the constituency and network of the Makabayan organizations which are deeply rooted among the people and attract a wide following. Moreover, they can reap benefits from Makabayan’s electoral alliance with presidential candidate Manny Villar and his Nacionalista Party and from also forging alliances with various other positive forces, thus further extending their reach.

We can thus say that the Makabayan candidates have a reasonable chance in the senatorial race.

However, they will still have to contend with the steep requirements of launching their senatorial campaign in terms of electoral machinery, finances and logistics that only the elite politicos and their rich financiers can afford. They will also have to face the determined efforts of the Arroyo regime and its fascist armed forces, security agencies and “dirty tactics department” to prevent the progressive movement from winning bigger victories in the parliamentary struggle. Since 2001, the progressive parties, leaders and activists have been targets of stepped-up armed attacks and repression by state agents, who seek to suppress these progressive forces, terrorize their supporters and impair their election campaign.

NSB: On the issue of non-listing or de-listing of progressive party-lists COURAGE, ACT and Migrante, what is the opinion of the Party on this matter?

CCP-CC: Migrante, ACT and COURAGE have denounced the Comelec for acting unfairly in delisting their sectoral party-list groups. These progressive party-list organizations represent sizeable followings and have a proven history of advancing the cause of their oppressed constituencies. By delisting them, the Comelec has served as an active instrument in the fascist and elitist campaign to prevent the progressive movement and people’s candidates from garnering more parliamentary seats and representing the downtrodden in the elitist Congress.

In stark contrast, the Comelec has accredited party-list organizations which are of dubious origin and representation. These organizations are clones and adjuncts of the Arroyo dynasty and other elite parties, politicos and dynasties. We have learned that Comelec officials were paid up to P12 million each for the accreditation of these elitist and dubious “party-list” groups.

NSB: Are the members of the CPP, National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the revolutionary New People’s Army ready for the upcoming elections?

CPP-CC: The upcoming elections are bound to further worsen the political crisis of the ruling system and open more grounds for the revolutionary movement and the progressive people’s movement. In doing so, the situation is made favorable for advancing the revolutionary cause. The revolutionary movement is ready to take advantage of the worsening crisis and volatile situation in order to strengthen itself and advance the people’s war by carrying out more tactical offensives, further expanding and deepening the revolutionary mass base in both the cities and countryside, intensifying the agrarian revolutionary movement and all forms of revolutionary struggle.

The revolutionary forces are tasked with exposing the fundamental rottenness of the reactionary elections, mobilizing the people to oppose the ruling regime’s dirty and violent maneuvers to cling to power, and countering the dirty tactics and violence of other diehard reactionaries. While the CPP and other revolutionary organizations are fighting for a new democratic system and thus do not participate in the rotten reactionary elections, they are supportive of the people’s effort to have progressive and propeople candidates and parties elected into parliament and other governmental positions so that they can expand opportunities in the legal arena of struggle to pursue the people’s patriotic and democratic demands.

On the peace process

NSB: Now that Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo steps down as chief executive, does the CPP see the continuation of the rebuffed peace negotiations between the revolutionaries and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines?

CPP: As pointed out in the December 26 statement of the CPP Central Committee, “The worsening crisis of the ruling system would compel prospective ruling cliques either to escalate counterrevolutionary violence or to seek truce and alliance with the revolutionary forces against the US and the worst of the local reactionaries if in the first place the armed revolutionary movement grows in strength, delivers lethal blows on the weak points of the ruling system and advances to a new and higher stage of development.”

The revolutionary movement expects and is prepared to face the continued campaigns of fascist military suppression even after the 2010 elections.

At the same time, the revolutionary movement always remains open to the resumption of the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the reactionary government. However, such a possibility rests on the willingness of the post-Arroyo regime to talk peace and reach substantive agreements with the revolutionary movement in an effort to address the roots of the armed conflict.

NSB: Does the enactment of the Anti-Torture Bill help to speed up the negotiation?

CCP: We view the enactment of the Anti-Torture Law as a legal victory for human rights advocates and victims of rights abuses. It can serve to protect the rights of victims of human rights violations to some limited degree.

However, by itself it cannot stop torture and other human rights violations. It was not the absence of such a law that has made torture and other forms of human rights abuses so rampant in this country. It is rather the through and through fascist character of the existing puppet reactionary state that has made human rights violations a standard practice of the state agents in dealing with critics of the ruling system.

Add to that the overriding US-inspired dogma of “all-out war” that has been ingrained in the consciousness of state agents and that has produced the prevailing culture of impunity against activists and critics. The reactionary state and specifically the US-Arroyo regime’s “all-out war” have removed the distinction between combatants and non-combatants and have regarded civilians as fair targets of fascist attacks by government armed forces and security units.

NSB: What is the situation on the field?

CCP: It can probably be said that US-Arroyo regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya campaign and the revolutionary response to it mainly define the situation in the field.

The AFP prates non-stop about fictitious victories, declaring that so many guerrilla fronts have been dismantled, so many areas have been “cleansed” of NPA and that the NPA ranks have been drastically decimated. The fact, however, is that the entire OBL (including its more brutal second phase since 2007) has turned out to be an utter failure. The NPA has continued to expand and strengthen, and has in fact established more guerrilla fronts in several regions. Its aim now is to further increase its more than 120 guerrilla fronts to 180, and thus be able to cover most rural congressional districts.

The CPP, NPA and the revolutionary movement in many areas under OBL focus quickly learned to adjust to the initial shock of the AFP’s fascist campaigns of suppression and eventually render it ineffectual and inutile. Even in areas where government forces have been concentrated, the revolutionary forces have been able to outmaneuver the enemy and attack its scattered forces. In the last several years, the NPA has launched an average of at least one tactical offensive a day against government troops. In most cases where NPA units have been caught in defensive battles, they were able to reverse the situation and gain the upper hand. The nine-year OBL of the US-Arroyo regime has only caused more casualties on the enemy side and gained weapons from the enemy forces.

Failing to hit the NPA, the OBL’s terror campaign has victimized mainly activists in the open, legal arena; suspected supporters of the revolutionary movement; other unarmed critics and even innocent civilians. These victims have been subjected to extrajudicial killings, abductions, illegal incarceration, torture, forced mass evacuations, harassment and other human rights violations. However, the regime’s terror campaigns have only induced more recruits into the ranks of the revolutionary movement and the NPA.

Steeled by the Arroyo regime’s nine year all-out counter-revolutionary campaign, the entire revolutionary movement under the leadership of the CPP has emerged stronger. It has become even more tempered and ready to advance in great strides in the coming years. It now looks forward to advancing the people’s war from the current stage of strategic defensive to the stage of strategic stalemate in the coming years. To reach this, however, requires much more effort and work, including faster and wider expansion in terms of recruits and fronts, and more solid consolidation of existing and new forces. (a Dateline Philippines exclusive)