by Ka Julie De Lima, interim chairperson, NDFP Peace Negotiating Panel
Keynote Address, 50th Anniversary of the NDFP
Den Haag, The Netherlands
22-23 April 2023
Dear comrades and friends,
I am greatly honored to address the 50th anniversary celebration of the of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Let me give an overview of the development of the NDFP since the Preparatory Commission for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP Prepcom) issued its 10-point manifesto on the rationale that there “can be no end to the ever intensifying oppression and exploitation of the people, unless the people themselves unite to overthrow the US-Marcos dictatorship.”
The Manifesto states: “A three-fold task now faces the Filipino people: unite to oppose and overthrow the US-Marcos dictatorship; liberate themselves from US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism; and establish a coalition government based on a truly democratic system of representation. The main form of struggle in carrying out this task is armed struggle. This struggle, founded on the alliance of the workers and peasants, is already being waged in the countryside. The people are advancing from victory to victory even as the dictatorship is unleashing its armed forces to “wipe out” the people’s armed detachments and is desperately using every conceivable method of suppression. “
To accomplish the task the NDFP Prepcom issued 10-points for revolutionary action:
1. Unite all anti-imperialist and democratic forces in order to overthrow the US-Marcos dictatorship and work for the establishment of a coalition government based on a truly democratic system of representation;
2. Expose and oppose US imperialism as the mastermind behind the setting up of a the fascist dictatorship, struggle for the nullification of all unequal treaties and arrangements with this imperialist power, and call for the nationalization of all its properties in the country
3. Fight for the reestablishment of all the democratic rights of the people, such as freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, movement, religious belief, and the right to due process;
4. Gather all possible political and material support for the underground and the armed resistance against the US-Marcos dictatorship;
5. Support a genuine land reform program that can liberate the peasant masses from feudal and semifeudal exploitation and raise agricultural production through cooperation;
6. Work for the improvement of the people’s livelihood, guarantee the right to work and protect national capital against foreign monopoly capital;
7. Promote a national, scientific and mass culture and combat imperialist, feudal and fascist culture;
8. Support the national minorities, especially those in Mindanao and the mountain provinces in their struggle for self-determination and democracy;
9. Punish after public trial the ringleaders of the Marcos fascist gang for their crimes against the people and confiscate all their ill-gotten wealth; and
10. Unite with all peoples fighting imperialism and seek their support for the Philippine revolutionary struggle.
The 10-point program was accompanied with a call for international solidarity which was circulated in all parts of the world where the CPP had relations and contacts. The Manifesto and the call for solidarity was widely published internationally.
Subsequently the NDF Prepcom met to elaborate on the 10-point program. This was done at one of the villas of the Magsaysay family in Zambales, where a CPP cadre girl friend of the disappeared comrade Carlos Tayag was kidnapped by the intelligence forces of the Marcos fascist dictatorship immediately upon the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Among those present in the 5-day working meet were Edgar Jopson, Satur Ocampo, Antonio Zumel, Monico Atienza and Herminigildo Garcia IV. I was there, too. For relaxation, the men played basketball where Joma and Edjop excelled.
Further, Joma and I edited the elaboration, which we issued in 1977 just before we were captured and imprisoned. The elaboration stressed the urgent tasks of the national united front.
“1. Unite all anti-imperialist and democratic forces to overthrow the US-Marcos dictatorship and work for the establishment of a coalition government based on a_truly democratic system’ of representation. We must build a broad unity of patriotic and progressive classes, groups and individuals all for the purpose of overthrowing the US-Marcos dictatorship.”
The NDF Prepcom issued the elaborated 10-Point program and this was also issued and published worldwide.
In the meantime, in 1983, the National United Front Commission issued in 1981 a New Katipunan Draft Program of the NDF with the supposed objective of attracting more of the middle forces into the anti-Marcos dictatorship struggle. It proposed silence on the leadership role of the Party in the united front and that the Katipunan Draft Program would replace the Party’s Program for a Democratic Revolution (PPDR).
I brought a copy of the this to Joma in prison and upon reading it he found it to be a counterrevolutionary piece. So he made a counterdraft, which I smuggled part by part out of prison, and this was adopted as the new draft in 1985.
It had the following headings:
I. People’s War and the National Democratic Front
II. The General Program of the NDF
The general program consists of the NDF’s long-term tasks. These remain valid and binding on all members of the united front for the entire course of the national democratic revolution and provide the strategic guidance and direction for the implementation of the immediate tasks.
1. Unite the Filipino people to overthrow the tyrannical rule of US imperialism and the local reactionaries.
2. Wage a people’s war to win total, nationwide victory.
3. Establish a democratic coalition government and a people’s democratic republic.
4. Integrate the revolutionary armed forces into a single national revolutionary army.
5. Uphold and promote the free exercise of the people’s basic democratic rights.
6. Terminate all unequal relations with the United States and other foreign entities.
7. Complete the process of genuine land reform, raise rural production through cooperation, and modernize agriculture.
8. Carry out national industrialization as the leading factor in economic development.
9. Guarantee the right to employment, raise the people’s living standards and expand social services the soonest after establishing democratic state power.
10. Promote a patriotic, scientific and popular culture and ensure free public education.
11. Respect and foster the self-determination of the Moro and Cordillera people and all ethnic minorities.
12. Adopt and practice a revolutionary, independent and peace-loving foreign policy.
It set forth four tasks: political, military, economic and cultural and educational, and foreign relations. Under each were the elaboration consisting of ten points under each heading.
Later in April 1998, Joma wrote “Requirements of the Revolutionary United Front”of which he enumerated six: which I quote verbatim:
“First requirement : The class leadership of the proletariat is upheld in the revolutionary united front. The proletariat is the most productive and progressive political force now and in the future. In the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, no other class can lead the revolutionary united front.
Second requirement: The foundation of the revolutionary united front is the basic alliance of the working class and the peasantry. By this basic alliance, the strength of the proletariat is augmented by the strength of the peasant majority of the people. There can be no revolutionary united front without the basic worker-peasant alliance.
Third requirement: With the worker-peasant alliance assured, the revolutionary united front involves the development of the alliance of the basic revolutionary forces or progressive forces. These forces are those of the working class, peasantry and the urban petty-bourgeoisie.
Fourth requirement: So long as the alliance of the basic revolutionary forces is assured, the revolutionary united front can be expanded in the form of the alliance of the positive or patriotic forces. This adds the middle bourgeoisie to the toiling masses and the urban petty-bourgeoisie.
Fifth requirement: The revolutionary forces take advantage of the contradictions among the reactionary forces of the big compradors and landlords. By themselves, these contradictions weaken the entire ruling system. But to further weaken the ruling system, the united front can be expanded as to involve formal or informal alliances with the lesser reactionaries opposed to the enemy at every given time, so long as the worker-peasant alliance, the alliance of the basic revolutionary forces and the alliance of positive or patriotic forces are being developed.
Sixth requirement : The different types of alliances are all intended to weaken, isolate and destroy the enemy. An alliance with reactionaries opposed to the enemy is done in accordance with the principle and policy of defeating the reactionaries one by one, defeating the enemy one after the other and in the process strengthening the revolutionary forces until they can overthrow the entire ruling system and establish the people’s democratic government.”
Since the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on December 26, 1968, it has always been clear to CPP cadres and members that the three weapons of the Filipino people in carrying out the new democratic revolution are the Party, the people’s army and the national united front in accordance with the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the founding documents of the Party.
The CPP is the advanced detachment of the modern industrial proletariat and is the leading class in the people’s democratic revolution and the consequent socialist revolution. The New People’s Army is the main instrument, based on the worker-peasant alliance, for overthrowing the semicolonial and semifeudal state and establishing the people’s democratic state. And the national united front is for arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses in their millions.
In the concrete conditions of the Philippines, the Party assumed the duty of the building the basic alliance of workers and peasants as the foundation of the national united front, winning over the urban petty bourgeoisie and the middle bourgeoisie and taking advantage of splits among the reactionaries in order to isolate, weaken and destroy the power of the worst reactionaries in a civil war or the imperialist aggressor in a war of national liberation.
At the base or foundation of the national united front, the Party is required to rely mainly on the poor peasants and farm workers, win over the middle peasants, neutralize the rich peasants and take advantage of the contradictions between the enlightened and evil gentry in order to isolate, weaken and destroy the power of the despotic landlords. The point is to accomplish the agrarian revolution as the main content of democratic revolution through a series of land reform measures and to mobilize the peasant majority of the people to engage in protracted people’s war in concert with the working class.
The Party often finds it necessary to explain that the national united front is mainly for promoting and advancing the revolutionary armed struggle because of the common notion that it is mainly or solely for carrying out all legal forms of struggle, including commonplace expression of political views, electoral competitions and peace negotiations. But in carrying out the people’s democratic revolution, the Party wields the national united front as a weapon for strengthening the armed struggle by gaining political allies who can deliver arms to the NPA or can coordinate with the NPA in military operations.
Despite enemy campaigns of military suppression against the armed revolution, soon after the founding of the New People’s Army on March 29, 1969, the revolutionary cadres and members succeeded in three years’ time to build in several regions Party branches, units and auxiliaries of the NPA, revolutionary mass organizations and organs of political power. There was ample basis for issuing the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government in the countryside in 1972.
Also in direct response to the declaration of martial law of September 21, 1971, the National Democratic Front was established on April 24, 1973 by representatives of the Party, NPA and mass organizations who were forced by the enemy to go underground and join the revolution. The allied forces of the NDFP helped greatly in the expansion of the armed revolutionary movement. The national united front was expressed in the combative terms of anti-fascism, anti-imperialism and anti-feudalism.
The Marcos fascist dictatorship was fully supported by US imperialism. But by 1976 the latter advised its puppet to “normalize” the situation and avoid human right violations which had become rampant. Despite the continuing fascist and martial law strictures, legal democratic groups in religious, academic and professional institutions became assertive of human rights. By November 1977 the NDFP could anticipate the weakening and eventual overthrow of the Marcos fascist dictatorship and made an elaboration of the Ten-Point Program of the NDFP to further rouse and rally and the people.
But by 1980 there were Right opportunist elements in the Party who thought that Marcos had industrialized the Philippines and made the economy industrial capitalist and no longer semifeudal. This erroneous line of thinking led to attempts to revise the program of the NDF and turn the NDF into a reformist kind of New Katipunan with references to the working class deleted supposedly to attract more people. The same line of thinking deprecated the line of protracted people’ war and favored various types of urban insurrectionism.
By 1981 Marcos pretended to lift martial law and staged a sham presidential election which he won. At any rate, new patriotic and progressive organizations and alliances arose among the workers, the students, women and the professionals. On August 21, 1983, Marcos committed the fatal mistake of having his chief political rival assassinated. This ignited gigantic anti-fascist mass actions and demands for overthrowing Marcos.
In the spirit of the anti-fascist united front, alliances were formed and activated, like the following: League of Filipino Students, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela, Justice for Aquino Justice for All, Congress for the Restoration of Democracy, Kongreso ng Mamamayang Pilipino (KOMPIL), National Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy, National Convention of the Muslim-Christian Alliance and other alliances. All of them condemned the propaganda of Marcos that he was irreplaceable. And the Kompil Congress listed Cardinal Sin and me among those capable of replacing Marcos.
The US became afraid that the persistence of Marcos would prejudice the entire ruling system and the US dominance over it. Thus, in 1984 it decided definitively to junk him and compel him to call for a snap presidential election by which to remove him from office. As expected, he cheated in the elections and he would be overthrown by the gigantic mass actions at Edsa, around the presidential palace and elsewhere in the Philippines in February 1986. You can read from the book in your hands contents that analyze and explain the overthrow and consequence thereof.
Since 1986, it has been proven that the legal united front tactics can rouse a broad range of forces to converge against a fascist dictatorship and overthrow it. This would be proven again in the overthrow of the corrupt regime of Estrada in 2001. But it takes more than legal united front tactics and gigantic mass actions to overthrow the entire semicolonial and semifeudal system. If the Party and the Filipino people were to win total victory in the new democratic revolution, they would have to combine the armed struggle and the united front in advancing the people’s army from the current of strategic defensive to the further stage of the strategic stalemate and further on to the strategic offensive.
After the overthrow of Marcos in 1986, the Aquino regime went through the motion of having ceasefire negotiations and agreement with the NDFP in representation of the revolutionary movement. But after consolidating its power and obtaining support from US imperialism, intrasystemic rivals, it followed the political, economic and military dictates of its master and unleashed a campaign of military suppression against the armed revolution.All post-Marcos regimes have followed the path of armed counterrevolution even as each of them has used peace negotiations for a stretch of six months to one year in attempts to disorient, confuse, seek the capitulation of or draw intelligence information about the revolutionary movement. There has yet been no regime that has sought alliance and truce against a bigger enemy or carry out social, economic and political reforms for achieving the national independence and development of the Philippines.
The NDFP and the legal patriotic and democratic forces have always come to the conclusion that every post-Marcos regime is merely a tool of US domination and the local exploiting classes and have called for the ouster of the regime. Duterte has been so far the worst. In 2016 he proclaimed himself as a Leftist and socialist and pretended be interested in peace negotiations and in coalition government but turned out to be the worst as a traitor, tyrant, butcher and plunderer. In most of his six-year term, he has engaged in state terrorism and in the mass murder of revolutionaries and impoverished people.
In connection with the 2022 elections, Marcos junior wants to restore the brutal and corrupt regime of his father, Marcos senior, and the Duterte daughter wants to continue the same kind of rule by her father. They misrepresent themselves as the better versions of other political dynasties that torment the Filipino people.
Fortunately, the people’s democratic revolution continues to grow in strength and benefits from the ever worsening chronic crisis of the ruling system. The escalating conditions of oppression and exploitation have become intolerable. In increasing numbers, the people are bound to join and support
the Communist Party of the Philippines, the advance of the New People’s Army, the expansion of the revolutionary mass organizations, the strengthening of he National Democratic Front and the establishment of the People’s Democratic Government in ever wider areas of the countryside.
As the ruling system of big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists grow increasingly rotten, anti-national and anti-democratic, they deserve to be thrown into the dustbin of history by the full development of the people’s democratic revolution with a socialist perspective. The intensifying inter-imperialist contradictions augur the resurgence of the world proletarian revolution and validate the people’s aspirations for national liberation, democracy and socialism.#