Communists and revolutionary democrats should salute in the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on the historic occasion of the 50th anniversary on April 24th.Homage should be paid to Jose Ma. Sison, Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria, Fidel V. Agcaoili, Antonio Zumel, Julius Giron, as well as other key leaders of the Party and the NDFP, as well as peace consultants who passed away or were killed by the reactionary state. Gratitude should be given to the countless allies of the NDFP who continue to serve the national democratic revolution.
It is the very need of the hour to invigorate the NDFP as the Filipino people face a worsening crisis of the ruling system and growing threats of getting caught in the vortex of imperialist wars, with the Marcos regime and the AFP being used by the US in its war provocations, while remaining spineless against Chinese aggression.
On the initiative of the CPP, the NDFP was formed on April 24, 1973, less than a year after the declaration of martial law by the US-Marcos fascist dictatorship. On that day, the NDFP Preparatory Commission issued the Manifesto “Unite to Overthrow the US-Marcos Dictatorship” which included its 10-point program. Since then, the Filipino people have possessed three powerful weapons: the Party, the NPA and the NDFP.
During the entire course of the anti-dictatorship struggle, the NDFP and its program served as a weapon to guide the broad masses of the people in their march against the fascist regime and in their overall revolutionary resistance. Through the NDFP, a wide underground network of national democratic forces was knitted which served as fulcrum to sharpen the base and enhance the people’s war.
NDLF has functioned not as mere front organisation of the Communist Party Philippines but even drawn in non –Communist progressive forces, crystallising deep penetration of the democratic mass movement in urban areas, and enhanced peoples striking capacity to confront fascism. Most heroically the NDLF resurrected the banner of struggle when he movement faced mortal blows. It was a model to third world liberation movements in confronting fascism .Demonstrated Leninist mass line methods in regard to coherent relations with CPP.
It initiated most significant solidarity mobilisations, on a wide spectrum of issues, in Phillipines and in Netherlands. Relentlessly lit the flame of Revolution ablaze, in the most adverse circumstances.
Their organ ‘Liberation’ ignited revolutionary fervour amongst with a very wide circulation, in a most no- sectarian manner, encompassing a diverse range of subjects.
The manifesto and 10-point program of the NDFP quickly gained attraction among the broad sections of the Filipino people and galvanized them to get organized and take action against the fascist regime. The NDFP initially brought together a number of organizations of youth and students, women, peasants and other classes and sectors which were forced to go underground with the imposition of open fascist rule. Since 1973, the NDFP gradually expanded and is now composed of 18 underground organizations, namely: Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions, Katipunan ng mga Samahang Manggagawa, Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid, Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan, Kabataang Makabayan, Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan, Makabayang Samahang Pangkalusugan, Liga ng Agham para sa Bayan, Lupon ng Mananaggol para sa Bayan, Artista at Manunulat para sa Sambayanan, Makabayang Kawaning Pilipino, Compatriots – Revolutionary Organization of Overseas Filipinos and their Families, Christians for National Liberation, Cordillera People’s Democratic Front, Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization, and Revolutionary Organization of Lumads.
The NDFP is the most consolidated united front organization of the Filipino people. It welds together all the progressive classes and sectors in support of the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. It is the apex of the various levels and forms of united front organization against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
In the course of waging protracted people’s war, organs of political power at village or inter-village levels, as well as at municipal and inter-municipal and even district levels, were built based on the organized strength of revolutionary mass organizations, the local Party organizations and armed strength of the New People’s Army. These undertook functions including implementing land reform policies and programs, dispensing justice and resolving contradictions among the people, conducting education and health services. They organized and mobilized the people to engulf vast areas to wage armed resistance against the reactionary state.
Taken together, all these comprise the embryo of the future People’s Democratic Government of the Philippines, a united front of all progressive and patriotic classes based on the basic alliance of workers and peasants, and under the leadership of the proletariat. Until it is established on a nationwide scale, the PDG is represented by the NDFP.
Representing the PDG, the NDFP has established political, economic, military and proto-diplomatic relations with other entities. It actively promoted international solidarity among anti-imperialist forces. Directly or indirectly, the NDFP has received quasi-state recognition by other governments or international entities.
Presently, two governments exist in the Philippine countryside: the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the PDG represented by the NDFP. The PDG is Red and revolutionary; while the GRP is White and reactionary. Both sides stand at opposite poles in the civil war of the past 54 years.
The NDFP has been conducting peace negotiations with the GRP since 1987. It has firmly and excellently represented the national and democratic interests of the Filipino people, and frustrated the GRP’s scheme to use peace negotiations as an instrument of deception and pacification. The negotiations have produced important agreements, foremost of which is the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The NDFP has clearly demonstrated its unflinching dedication to addressing the socioeconomic and political roots of the civil war, and in doing so, has drawn the support of broad segments of society to the cause of just and lasting peace.
12 Point Program
The 12-point program of the NDFP is a manifestation of the Filipino people’s collective aspiration for national freedom and democracy.
The NDFP program is the anti-thesis of the neoliberal, anti-Filipino and anti-democratic policies and programs of the ruling Marcos fascist and puppet regime, as well as all previous regimes whether pseudo-democratic or despotic It represents the interests of workers, peasants and all other exploited and oppressed classes of Philippine society as well as all progressive and patriotic forces, which are diametrically opposed to the interests of US imperialism, and the local ruling classes of big bourgeois compradors and big landlords.
The intensifying crisis of the ruling semi colonial and semi feudal system undermines the relevance and urgency of implementing the NDFP’s 12-point program. Fifty years or so since the NDFP’s program was chalked; the semi colonial and semi feudal conditions in the Philippines remain qualitatively unchanged. It has only worsened quantitatively.
In the countryside, the problem of landlessness has escalated in the face of various forms of land grabbing and land dispossession by new and old type landlords, big bourgeois compradors and multinational corporations in mining, plantations, infrastructure, real estate, and so on. All over the country, the broad masses experience increasingly intolerable socioeconomic conditions amid low wages, loss of income, skyrocketing prices of fuel, food and basic commodities, joblessness, and dispossession. The ruling reactionary state has resorted to more brutal fascist measures to suppress the people’s resistance and preserve the ruling system.
Amid their gross economic conditions and political repression, the Filipino people are continually being attracted to the 12-Point Program of the NDFP as the most concrete solution to their pressing problems. The demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization is even more calling in the face of the widespread carnage of productive forces in both cities and rural areas. The demand for a comprehensive and progressive social program is even more relevant amid the aggravation of the crisis of public health and public education. Every other item in the NDFP program is in sharp contrast to the dark facets of the ruling system.
The prospect of establishing a new country where people harbour genuine freedom and true democracy, and where they themselves reap the fruits of their labour, inspires them to wage revolution.
The NDFP’s program is a general reflection of the program for a people’s democratic revolution of the Communist Party of the Philippine. In pursuing the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine national freedom, the NDFP’s 12-point program is historically linked to the old democratic revolutionary program of the Katipunan. It serves to complete the bourgeois democratic revolution, and thus, create the conditions to carry forward socialist revolution and construction.
The de facto Marcos fascist and puppet regime is currently the most concentrated manifestation of the rotten semi colonial and semi feudal ruling system. It champions the interests of US imperialism and that of the ruling exploiting classes; more specifically, that of the Marcos-Duterte ruling clique. Amid the crisis of the ruling system, the ruling Marcos-Duterte clique has become obsessed with monopolizing economic and political power, causing its isolation from the people, and generating rifts and rivalries within.
The current US-Marcos regime is delivering a crippling blow to the day to day lives of the people. Its anti-national and anti-democratic policies are most clearly demonstrated in the following four key issues:
(a) Heightening US military intervention in the Philippines. This is marked by US plans to build at least four more military bases and facilities under the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). (b) Intensifying fascist suppression and state terrorism under the US-directed counterinsurgency operations.
(c) Increasingly aggressive push for neoliberal policies and measures which worsen mass poverty and aggravate the socio-economic conditions of the people.
(d) Deepening crisis of the ruling political system. In the rush to maximize bureaucratic privilege, the ruling Marcos-Duterte clique is aggressively pushing efforts to monopolize political and economic power.
Repression and escalating mass uprising
The revolutionary mass movement is on the road to escalating and blossoming in the coming months and years, inspite the major loss of NDLF leader Joma Sison. After a period of militarist lockdown during the pandemic, there is the elevating trend of workers’ strikes and mass actions to demand higher wages oppose gross working conditions and fight contractualization and other oppressive flexible labour schemes. The urge to end agricultural liberalization and other oppressive neoliberal policies that cause land dispossession, rural bankruptcy and economic dislocation continue to unite and ignite peasant mass struggles alongside their demand for genuine land reform. The struggle against dams and other infrastructure projects, expansion of mining and plantation operations across the different regions continue to intensify. The broad masses of fisherfolk are uniting to resist destructive reclamation plans, and underwater mining by big foreign companies that cause their economic dislocation. The recent strike of jeepney and public utility drivers highlight how the semi proletarian masses are confronting oppressive socioeconomic policies and programs that take away their livelihood. The militant and patriotic students and youth movement is bound to escalate amid rising costs of education and state abandonment, as well as against heightened imperialist intervention.
Political repression and violations of civil and political rights continue at helm to invite the people’s wrath, condemnation and resistance. The responsibility of the US imperialists behind the war of suppression is being exposed to the very core.. The Filipino people’s anger intensifies further against foreign plunder and destruction of the environment and people’s livelihood by multinationals and its local agents, and against widespread corruption by big bureaucrat capitalists led by the Marcos-Duterte clique.
The NDFP and all its allied organizations have pledged to crystallise of all-out efforts to unite, organize and rally all revolutionary, progressive and positive forces to build the broadest united front against US-Marcos regime as the most concentrated expression of all the social evils being suffered by the Filipino people, and to advance the people’s war for national and social liberation.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has undertaken extensive research on National Liberation Movements and attended NDF progamme in Utrecht in 2018.