By Dan Borjal
NDF Political Consultant
It is to the credit of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte that even before formally taking office he has already sent his trusted team to meet with NDFP representatives in Oslo to prepare for the resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations as he had promised. One of the qualities that has won over the overwhelming majority of the people to vote for him was his straight-forward no-nonsense manner of speaking. He has convinced the people that he means what he says. As a result of the preliminary talks in Oslo with the team sent by president-elect Duterte, the NDFP has expressed its optimism and hopeful expectations that it can work out an agreement that is beneficial to the Filipino people with the incoming Duterte government.
But there can be spoilers, lurking in the dark corners waiting for every opportunity to strike, because they do not want to see the success of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. One such potential spoiler is Norberto Gonzales, National Security Adviser and Defense Secretary under the unlamented Gloria Arroyo regime. This dyed-in-the-wool anti-communist remains stuck emotionally and intellectually in the bygone era of the Cold War. His shameless defense of the rotten status quo goes against the fresh wind that has come with the electoral victory of Duterte by the biggest margin in Philippine history given him by the people who are aching for change.
His article in the Manila Times “The Philippine Roadmap to Communism” may just be his opening salvo in a wrecking operation by the most reactionary elements in Philippine society who still maintain enormous power and influence in the GPH armed forces, the Catholic Church and the business community.
I have been involved in the GPH-NDFP negotiations since 1998 and I personally think that the two GPH presidents that have done the most harm to the GPH-NDFP negotiations have been Arroyo and Aquino III. But between the two of them, Aquino did harm with his notorious “noynoying” or doing nothing during his six years except to allow OPAPP head Ging Deles and GPH panel head Alex Padilla to wage a media war against the NDFP. On the other hand, Arroyo was very much pro-active in sabotaging the negotiations. And I am quite sure this rabidly reactionary anticommunist Norberto Gonzales who was Arroyo’s National Security Adviser and Defense Secretary had everything to do with it.
Displaying her canine devotion to the US, Arroyo pledged adherence to the US “war on terror” and pleaded with her imperialist masters to put NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in the US “terrorist list.” Her agents also openly campaigned for the European Union (EU) to follow the example of the US to put Joma, the CPP and NPA in the EU “terrorist list.” This clearly showed the treachery and bad faith of the Arroyo regime. It was pretending to talk peace with the NDFP while stabbing the latter in the back with the so-called “terrorist listing”.
Furthermore, in a high level national security meeting in late 2004 attended by Arroyo, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales proposed the assassination of Joma, perhaps emboldened by their “success” in lobbying for Joma to be put in the US and EU “terrorist lists.” It has been standard operating procedure for the US to first demonize its victim before going in for the kill. Their puppets in the third world are wont to copy such methods from their mentors. Accordingly, the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (COCIS) instructed an interagency intelligence staff to prioritize as “high impact projects” the assassination of CPP spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal and Joma.
In 2006 Norberto Gonzales was instrumental in pushing the request of the Philippine government to the Dutch government to file murder charges against Prof. Jose Maria Sison. In the same year, he caused the filing of an omnibus rebellion charge against Prof. Sison and 50 others, including members of Congress and anti-Arroyo military officers. After gathering false testimonies in Manila against Prof. Sison, the Dutch prosecution office caused his arrest in August 2007 and the police raids on his home, on the NDFP office in Utrecht and the homes of NDFP negotiators and consultants. The Arroyo regime and Gonzales practically turned the Dutch authorities into fools by supplying them with false testimonies and disinformation that were described as rubbish by the Philippine Supreme Court when it ruled against the aforesaid rebellion case against Prof. Sison in June 2007.
We have to thank Gonzales for revealing the treacherous stratagem that was adopted by the Arroyo government in the peace negotiations. From his article it is now clear that it was Gonzales who pushed for the rearranging of the agenda so that the 4th item, “End of hostilities and disposition of the armed forces of the two sides” (what he prefers to call DDR – Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration) would be placed ahead of the discussion on socio-economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms originally agreed upon as the second and third items of the substantive agenda as provided for in the Hague Joint Declaration. The logic of the original sequence is that the necessary socio-economic and political reforms must first be discussed and agreed upon before the permanent end to the armed hostilities can be assured.
Straight from the horse’s mouth:
“The Arroyo government launched an enhanced campaign during its last two remaining years, with an end-objective of “softening” the communist threat. The military component of this campaign succeeded in neutralizing more than 50 percent of all communist guerrilla fronts. Significant is the fact that neutralized guerrilla fronts are mostly in areas where the communists were supposedly most influential. With this gain, it was deemed then that peace talks with the communists could be resumed with the DDR framework as the prevailing mode.”Again straight from the horse’s mouth:
“A clear agreement on DDR of the armed component of the insurgent group is an essential pre-condition to the discussion of possible political accommodations.”In the twisted logic of this defender of the rotten status quo, the revolutionary forces must first be so weakened that they will be forced to surrender according to the terms of Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration. The victorious GPH would then be in a position to dictate the terms and decide on “possible political accommodations” it was willing to grant to the defeated “insurgents.” This fellow is daydreaming!
The “enhanced campaign” that Gonzales speaks so highly about is the notorious Oplan Bantay Laya that was infamous for targeting unarmed civilians, activists, labor leaders, human rights workers, anti-mining activists among the indigenous people, among others. It never achieved the false claim of “neutralizing more than 50 percent of the communist guerrilla fronts.” But it certainly succeeded in committing the worst kinds of human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances among others.
It was during this period that the bloodthirsty Gen. Jovito Palparan had his heyday and distinguished himself by his brutality in ordering the summary killing of unarmed activists. Among his victims were the two UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan who were tortured, raped and disappeared upon his orders. These atrocities prompted the United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston to urge Arroyo to stop “targeting and executing individuals working with civil society organizations”. The EU was also obliged to express concerns over the scandalous human rights situation in the country.
And yet, Gonzales has the gall to make an arrogant demand for leniency for Arroyo and Palparan! I cannot fathom such moral depravity. In fact, Gonzales is as guilty as Arroyo and Palparan for the atrocities committed during this period. But under the present unjust social system, criminals like him can continue to walk scot free and even enjoy the freedom to sabotage efforts intended to work out the necessary societal reforms for the benefit of the people.
Norberto Gonzales tries to employ the overused scare tactic of raising the communist bogey. To dispel the willful ignorance of Norberto Gonzales, I have to point out that communism is not even on the agenda of the current peace negotiations. Communism needs the emergence of more advanced material conditions to become realizable. The Philippines remains underdeveloped with no real industries to speak of and the peasantry who comprise the majority of our people are still mired in feudalism. There can be no talk of communism with such backward material conditions.
The socio-economic reforms that the NDFP has put forward still lie within the ambit of bourgeois or capitalist reforms. The complementary programs of national industrialization and genuine land reform are bound to result only in the creation of a modern industrial economy which will basically solve the problem of economic backwardness and widespread poverty.
I am tempted to advise the incoming President to just ignore such wackos as Norberto Gonzales and proceed to do what needs to be done. But it is probably wiser to advise the president-elect to also watch his back against such elements as the traditional oligarchs and their agents like Norberto Gonzales who will surely fight with all their might to maintain the oppressive status quo. These oligarchs still pack considerable influence and power in the GPH armed forces, the Catholic Church hierarchy and the business community. They retain a big potential for making trouble and they can always get the support of the US for their trouble making.
But the president-elect has oftentimes surprised many of us with his unconventional ways. I hope he shall surprise us again by going against the deeply entrenched vested interests in Philippine society and carry out together with the NDFP and other progressive forces the long-awaited reforms being demanded by the Filipino people.