Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Posts Tagged ‘CPP’

On the Offer of Four Cabinet Posts

Posted by butalidnl on 25 May 2016

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has offered four cabinet posts to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). They are that of : DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment),  DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform), DSWD (Department of Social Work and Development) and DENR (Department of the Environment and Natural Resources). During the election campaign Duterte had promised to make peace with the CPP and bring them into government.

The Departments
Duterte chose four departments which the CPP could offer to the CPP. While these departments are important, they are not essential politicial, economic or security tasks of the government.

DAR. This department fits best with both the interests and the skill set of the CPP. The Philippines has already had two DAR secretaries from the Left: Ernesto Garilao (1992 – 1996) and Horacio Morales (1998 – 2001).  There are already several lower-level DAR officials who used to be leftist activists.

DOLE. The KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno, May First Movement) and the rest of the progressive labor  movement.may probably be able to provide suitable candidates for labor Secretary. The most left-leaning labor secretary so far was Augusto Sanchex, who was a prominent human rights lawyer before serving as Labor Secretary in 1986 -1987.

DENR. The CPP has a mixed record when it comes to environmental issues. While it sometimes condemns mining companies and loggers for their various violations of environmental laws; the CPP often allows them to operate in their areas as long as they pay ‘revolutionary taxes’. At the same time, the government has a terrible record in appointing Environment Secretaries. Having a CPP nominee in the position may be a welcome change.

DSWD. Corazon Soliman, who served as Welfare Secretary from 2001 to 2005 and again from 2010 to 2016, was a moderate-left activist before becoming Secretary. She has been credited with the successful implementation of the landmark Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program – which gives a modest subsidy to poor families on the condition that their children attend school and avail of medical services. About 4.4 million people benefit from the CCT Program.

Possible Problems
CPP leader Jose Maria Sison has declared that they would accept the offer, and will come up with names of ‘left’ personalities as nominees for the Secretary positions.

The process of actually coming up with nominees could prove difficult, though. In the past years, the CPP had been busy ejecting people from the party who could qualify for such positions;  condemning them for being ‘reformist’ or something similar. Now, the CPP would have to pick candidates from the few cadres it has left who  would qualify for these positions.
If the CPP cannot source nominees from among its ranks, they may be forced to nominate people from outside its immediate circles – maybe even people whom it had previously condemned as reformist.

An even bigger hurdle to the CPP coming up with nominees the  matter of fitting the appointing of four cabinet secretaries into its overall strategy.  It may be too easy to say  that this  is a matter of temporary tactics. However, it would mean a major adjustment in how the CPP does things. Specifically, it has to do with the role of the armed struggle to achieve its goals. While Duterte has not spelled it out explicitly, he expects a quid pro quo for the cabinet positions – that of having a ceasefire and peace talks. A six-year ceasefire would wreck havoc within the New Peoples Army; if it does not have anything to do, its ranks will fade away.

Then there is the matter of the CPP strategy for finally achieving power. Will the CPP accept a negotiated route to achieving its goals? or would it be just a temporary detour from the armed struggle? And what is the use of armed struggle if they could gain a governmental role simply by a political route? Their rationale for engaging in armed struggle is that the ruling classes would violently oppose efforts to change the political and economic system. Questions of strategy are a point of tension within the CPP. The balance between ‘legal’ struggle and armed struggle, and their relationship, has been a topic of internal debate and even splits for decades. The question of the cabinet positions will surely increase these tensions within the party.

Duterte’s policies could also be a sticking point. Bayan (a CPP-influenced mass organization) has already denounced Duterte’s economic policies. A more problematic issue is Duterte’s plan to have the dictator Ferdinand Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Burial Place for Heroes). This would also mean some kind of rehabilitation for him. The CPP may not want to be part of a government that rehabilitates Marcos.

Then comes the problems with security. If the DSWD includes peasants from the CPP mass base in the CCT program, the government will know who they are. After the 6-year period, they may be attacked for being communist sympathizers. Also, having a DAR Secretary may mean that the government military entering CPP-controlled areas to implement DAR orders.And what about the security of the Secretaries themselves and their staffers? They may all need to go underground after Duterte’s term.

Choosing a Response
Sison may have declared acceptance of the four cabinet posts; but this does not necessarily mean that the CPP really accepts the offer. It is the actual leaders of the CPP in the country who really call the shots. Sison was only given authority to hold peace talks with the government; actual concessions would need to be made by the leaders in the Philippines.

The CPP’s Central Committee, or more specifically the Secretariat of its Executive Committee, would be the one to make the final decision. Before doing so, they would need to consult some of the lower party organs e.g. the United Front Commission, which will probably be tasked to produce the nominees,  as well as the New People’s Army’s high command. I suspect the NPA will balk at the prospect of having a 6-year ceasefire.
After careful consideration the Secretariat will issue its decision on this matter.

The decision could be within the following range:
Full acceptance of Duterte’s offer. Four nominees will be chosen from among the ranks of its ‘influenced’ organizations.  Peace talks with the government will be started. A ceasefire of limited duration will be declared, as a possible prelude to an extended ceasefire.
The CPP will decline the offer. Disagreement on ssues e.g the proposed burial of Marcos and/or other portions of Duterte’s policies will be deemed incompatible with participation in his government.
Something in between.

I suspect that the CPP leadership will neither fully accept nor fully reject Duterte’s offer. Perhaps it could nominate someone for DAR or DOLE from within its ranks,  but nominate outside progressives for DENR and DSWD. It could agree on a partial ceasefire – i.e. that no large-scale military operations will be undertaken, but that ‘police actions’ by both sides would be allowed (this may be done to appease the NPA leadership). Also, the peace talks could be held both in the Philippines and with Sison’s team abroad.

The way the CPP handles this offer could determine its prospects of building peace with the govenment, including for the period after Duterte’s presidency.






Posted in NDF, Philippine politics, Philippines, politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Invest in the Philippines?

Posted by butalidnl on 11 July 2010

Why would foreigners invest in the Philippines? That’s a good question, especially since there are lots of other countries which are trying to attract foreign investors.

Here are some reasons.

Large Population, Big Market
The Philippines has a large population. It is the 12th largest country in the world, with a population of about 96 million people. This is a lot of people, and they can mostly be reached by advertisements in the media. So, this means that, whatever your product, it will probably pay to try selling it to Filipinos. And in turn, this would probably mean that they will need to open at least a sales office in the country. And, for many kinds of products, it will also pay to manufacture these goods in the country itself.

Large Pool of World Class Labor that Speaks English
This is going to probably be why foreign companies would like to set up shop in the Philippines. If they do, they only need to import a few foreign experts, and then avail of the local labor pool. And the labor pool is quite deep, with lots of universities churning out graduates every year, and lots of Filipinos experienced in almost anything (of course, some of these may be abroad).  And  all these have been educated in English. This is not simply English as a subject in school, but English as the medium of instruction in school. We can see this in the fact that we are one of the main countries for call centers; our accent is relatively easy to neutralize.

This means that the Philippines will make a great center for their customer service (as shown by the growing call center industry in the country), and also for things like accounting back-office, or as regional office. The fact that you can source practically all your personnel locally makes it quite attractive. And salaries are still relatively cheap.

Good Infrastructure
The Philippines has relatively good infrastructure. We have a good system of airports  and ports. Our roads are quite good. We have urban mass transit (i.e. LRT, MRT). Electricity supply is regular, with some outages especially during the summer.

The IT infrastructure is also good. High-speed internet is available in our major cities. It is affordable for a lot of middle class families. Mobile telephone availability is practically universal.

Politically Stable
Believe it or not, the Philippines is politically stable. It only looks unstable, specially for those living in the Philippines – with all the rumors and other things you read in newspapers. For one, the homegrown communist movement is more of a nuisance rather than a threat. [See CPP-NPA Helps Maintain Status Quo in the Philippines ] As for the Moro rebels, the government is constantly having a ceasefire with the MILF, while they negotiate a peace agreement.

Military rebels? Kidding? What kind of threat to stability do they pose, when they mostly resort to occupying hotels when doing a “coup de etat”. What kind of coup is that? Besides, the present Aquino government has good relations with a number of military rebel leaders; I don’t expect them to go against the government now.

No major threat to the interests of foreign investors are on the horizon. It is safer to invest in the Philippines, than to do so in places like Thailand or Indonesia. Of course, this doesn’t cover all the country – take the case in point of Western Mindanao, with its Abu Sayyaf – but it is generally peaceful, and stable in the rest of the Philippines. So, for foreign investors: just keep out of the Abu Sayyaf areas, and it’s alright.

Posted in NDF, Philippine economics, Philippine politics, Philippines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Before talking peace with the NDF

Posted by butalidnl on 14 May 2010

President-elect Noynoy Aquino has declared that he aims to reopen peace talks with the NDF and the MILF during his first 100 days of office.  For its part, the NDF is  also indicating their willingness to reopen peace talks. Provided, however, that the Philippine government tell the EU and the US to drop the terrorist tag on them. Well, the government should present its own peace proposal. I would like to point out some things that the government needs to consider in formulating its proposal.

Terrorist Tag
This seems to be a staple in the NDF’s list of conditions for peace talks.  [see:NDF wants new admin to remove terror tag on NPA, GMA News, May 12 ] Unfortunately, there is nothing that the Philippine government can do about this. Contrary to the propaganda, the Philippine government was not responsible for putting the tag on the NDF in the first place. The responsibility for this rests with the Dutch government, which put the CPP and Joma Sison on the list. The Dutch did this because of “personal links between Joma (and the CPP) with known terrorists”. And this is not only the position of the Dutch Justice Ministry, it was also upheld by the Raad van State, the highest court in the Netherlands; which goes to show that the Dutch government must have physical proof (probably including pictures provided by Interpol) of CPP representatives talking to terrorists. And by terrorists, they mean “groups that undertake armed struggle in Europe”, such as the Basque ETA (I personally believe that the ETA is one of these groups). It’s the CPP-NDF’s own fault – they shouldn’t be relating to the ETA and other terrorists in the first place; but to make things worse, they got caught while doing so. So, that’s why the Dutch put Joma and the CPP on the terrorist list.

And when the EU ministers of Justice met to approve a black-list of terrorist organizations in Europe, the Dutch proposed to include Joma et al, and of course all the other ministers agreed.  It’s true that the Philippine government sent an emissary to Europe to “lobby” for the inclusion of Joma/CPP in the list before the meeting; but it was academic by then, the Dutch had already proposed it, it was only a formality to be accepted by the other countries.

There is nothing that the Philippine government can do to remove the “terrorist”  tag from the CPP/NDF/NPA.

If we take from previous rounds of talks between the NDF and the Philippine government, we know that they will propose forming “peace panels” for both sides, even before a ceasefire is declared. This is rather irregular, if you really look at it. Both sides will be free to attack each other (as in ambushes), even while they are talking. Wouldn’t it be much better to agree to a ceasefire, however temporary, before talks start. This way, we will know that the NDF is sincere in wanting peace. And we will know that the Philippine government is restrained from arresting or attacking the NPA while the talks are going on.

The Philippine government declared a ceasefire with the MILF when they held their talks, why is the NDF any different?

The NDF has a sneaky practice of declaring arrested NPA commanders as “consultants” for the peace talks, freeing them from jail in the process. And these “consultants” leave the country to join the negotiating team based abroad. In the meantime, there is no real progress in the talks, which drag on forever, while the NDF’s “consultants” are free to roam the country, or go abroad, and they are immune from arrest. And the war simply goes on…

The peace talks should lead towards peace. A ceasefire should be declared before real talks begin.

It is alright for peace talks to be held abroad (after all the MILF talks are held abroad) but it is strange that the “negotiating panel” is headed by people permanently based abroad.  Isn’t the NDF supposed to be a home-grown insurgency? Isn’t it that its real leaders are based inside the Philippines? Why then are the talks with people permanently based abroad? Joma Sison has been outside the country since 1986 (24 years) and Louis Jalandoni since 1980 (30 years). They have been away for so long, and have been so detached from the day-to-day leadership of the movement in the Philippines for all this time.

We can only conclude that the Philippine-based leadership is not really serious about peace talks; that these talks are nothing but a scheme to get NPA leaders released, and to let Joma Sison have his day in the spotlight. The Philippine-based leaders don’t even think highly enough of the talks to honor it with a ceasefire; in other words, “they can go on talking all they like, but we will continue with our armed struggle”.

Perhaps the Philippine-based real leaders of the CPP/NDF want to continue the myth that Joma Sison is the chairman of the CPP, so as to confuse the enemy. But the Philippine government should know better – they should talk with the real leaders, for they are the ones who can really talk peace with them. Talking with Joma Sison et al will just be a public relations exercise that will end nowhere.

The government should talk to the real, Philippine-based, leadership of the CPP-NDF in its peace talks. Talking with foreign-based “spokespersons” will get them nowhere.

Posted in Philippine politics, Philippines, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Looking forward to 2010

Posted by butalidnl on 30 December 2009

I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions. So, I will just make projections of what I think will happen in the coming year.

The Philippine peso will appreciate to around PhP32:$1 by the end of the year. BPO income and remittance will be strong during the whole period, and of course, the elections will help to raise the exchange rate of the peso.

The US economy will not really recover, although it is nominally out of the recession. Unemployment will remain high.

Oil prices will exceed $100/barrel. This will be due mainly to the growth in consumption in places like China and India, but also due to production problems in some other places.

Noynoy Aquino will win in the presidential elections. The CPP and its above-ground organizations will be in disarray, as a result of  internal struggles; perhaps it would split.

No climate-change deal among governments will be made during this year, inspite of valiant attempts at doing so.

Iran will have a change in government, probably into a toned-down theocracy (i.e. much more democratic). Big strides will be made in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but peace will not yet be attained.

Posted in peso-dollar rate, Philippine economics, Philippine politics, Philippines, World Affairs | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bayan Muna ang BongBong Marcos

Posted by butalidnl on 15 December 2009

It is a done deal. Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza are running under the Nacionalista Party banner as senatorial candidates.  So, it seems that the representatives of the Maoist left are accepting the fact that they would be in the same list as Bongbong Marcos. It must have taken all  kinds of ideological gymnastics  to pull off  this kind of thing.

Why are they doing it? Well, in short, they want to  become senators. Running as independents would not get them enough votes to become senators. Besides, I think they will be able to get campaign money with the alliance with NP. They will just have to swallow some of their principles by running together with Bongbong Marcos.

They would have wanted to run under the LP with Noynoy and Mar Roxas. But the problem was that the LP did not want them. So, it had to be the NP. Because outside the LP and NP, the choices would have been either Lakas-Kampi of GMA or Erap’s PMP. And these choices would have been even worse for them.

It is a case of the “politics is addition” principle.  Villar calculates that the voters for Marcos, and that of Makabayan, don’t have to vote for each other, but that they may vote Villar for president. And that means that Villar has something to gain from having both in his ticket.

All this is fine, except that Ocampo and Maza are supposedly representing the revolutionary left. What happens to the revolution then? I think this is simply a case of sealing the fact that Makabayan (and Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Anakpawis) have long ceased to be revolutionary. That they are in fact, propping up the very system that they supposedly want to overthrow. That they not only benefit from the status quo, but actively support it.

For the CPP bosses that decided on this matter, watch out: when Ocampo and Maza become senators, they may be too powerful, and too much part of the status quo to go against it. Their election as senators may signal their leaving the “centralism” of the party line.

Posted in Philippine politics, politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »