By Raynan F. Javil

CPP clarifies stand on Duterte

Posted on May 09, 2016

THE COMMUNIST PARTY of the Philippines (CPP) issued separate statements last week, one of them addressed to Senator and presidential candidate Miriam Defensor-Santiago, saying it does not “endorse or support any of the presidential candidates in this year’s general elections.

The CCP, however, also said it “acknowledges with keen interest [Davao City] Mayor Rodrigo [R.] Duterte’s promise to immediately declare a ceasefire in order to pave the way for peace negotiations if ever he wins the upcoming presidential elections.”

“[The CPP] does not participate in the elections of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines nor does it endorse or support any of the presidential candidate,” a statement by the CPP dated May 6 said in response to Ms. Santiago’s statements on May 5 that Mr. Duterte is the “official candidate” of the New People’s Army (NPA), the military wing of the underground communist movement.

In another statement dated May 4, the CPP said: “Duterte’s promise [on peace tals], indeed, strikes a chord with the Filipino people who have long aspired for substantial progress in NDFP-GRP [National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Government of the Republic of the Philippines] peace negotiations after more than 15 years of being stalled by GRP and AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] obstructionism.”

In that statement, the party noted efforts by the “regimes” of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno S.C. Aquino III to block the peace negotiations.

“A Duterte presidency can push forward peace negotiations by upholding all previous agreements from the foundational The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law...of 1998 and complying with the GRP obligations under the JASIG [Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees]by ordering the release of all NDFP consultants and political detainees,” the May 4 statement also said.

“Speaking before NPA Red fighters last week,” the CPP said, evidently referring to the May 3 release of two soldiers held hostage by the NPA, “Duterte declared he will be the first ‘Left President’ of the Philippines if he wins the elections.

“In the hope of boosting his chances of gaining popular support, he issues radical soundbytes about destroying the government and setting-up a new one,” the party said.

“Talk is cheap, however, especially during the electoral campaign. If he ever wins, he will still have to prove himself in practice: Will he be like Venezuela’s Chavez who stood up to the bullying of the US government and promoted nationalization, a social welfare state and the arming of the people in Venezuela? Or will he be like Greece’s Tsipras who defended the welfare state in political debate but who later acceded to IMF and EU austerity policy-impositions?”

The CPP said Mr. Duterte “has, in fact, yet to espouse any fundamental shift from the general run of neoliberal economic policy of the past 30 or so years. On the contrary, he has promised to expand privatization and deregulation and declared plans to provide state funds to Lucio Tan and his ilk of big bourgeois compradors; and liberalization of trade by allowing the dumping of surplus steel from China.”

In its statement to Ms. Santiago, the CPP said Mr. Duterte “has also advocated such counter-progressive neoliberal economic policies as expanding the public-private partnership program, prohibiting unions and strikes, providing big bourgeois compradors with state-guaranteed profits, liberalizing trade and providing foreign investors with even more incentives.”

“Duterte has mostly styled himself an anti-crime crusader, a socialist and radical in an effort to win over the people who long have been disillusioned with the rotten ruling system.”

The party also noted the US “ambassador[’s]...displeasure with Duterte over a joke he made at the expense of a rape and murder victim in 2009 recently exposed in social media.”

“Such a remark, in fact, expresses the anxiety of US officials over Duterte who, with his shoot-from-the-hip statements, might prove a bit too unwieldy and unpredictable for the US.”

Both Mr. Duterte and CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, who is on exile in The Netherlands, have been rather openly flaunting their claimed ties, including showing a recent video chat of theirs.

But in a recent forum with Makati businessmen, Mr. Duterte clarified to reporters, in response to a BusinessWorld question, that he was “left of center.”

Sought for comment, University of the Philippines political science professor Clarita R. Carlos said there is “nothing wrong” with being labeled “left,” as “left means reforms and seeking change.”

“This campaign is so dirty... we have miseducated the public voters by recklessly throwing words like socialism, fascism, communism, and dictatorship,” the professor said.

“Mayor Duterte is a walking satire of our politics. Maybe he has seen all the faults in our [political] system.”

Ms. Carlos also said Mr. Duterte “is a breakaway with oligarchs.”