JV asks JMS: On the First Six Months of the
Duterte Presidency and the Continuing Quest for Real Change
By J.V. Ayson - Dec 1, 2016
Reposted from www.manilatoday.net
Communist Party of the
Philippines (CPP), Kabataang Makabayan (KM) founding chairman and National
Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose
Maria Sison gave an analysis on the goings-on in the Rodrigo Roa Duterte
presidency. Prof. Sison surely knows that the Filipino people would
continue to quest for national liberation and social emancipation and to
push President Duterte to carry out his campaign promises and bring
genuine and meaningful social change, thus emulating the eternal example
of Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
his sixth month in office, the tough-talking president is pressed to
deliver his promise in his inauguration address that real change would be
his government’s battle-cry. He also promised to ensure a clean and
transparent government, to forge a government that cares for the poor and
the defenseless, and to address bureaucratic corruption, rampant
criminality, and prohibited drug proliferation as symptoms of this
nation’s social disease (in line with his strongman image). The
populist-oriented Duterte presidency has represented a new ray of hope
that the Filipino nation’s basic socio-economic and moral issues could be
addressed, that those status quo injustices such as corruption,
business-as-usual and abuse of power could be put to an end, and that
there would be real change, national healing, and lasting peace.
Prof. Sison pointed out that it was not fair to compare the past six years
of former President Noynoy Aquino and the less than six months of Duterte.
He said that the six years of Aquino have well proven that he is corrupt,
brutal, incompetent and subservient to United States (US) and other
“It is also not fair to make predictions and make conclusions on such
basis about the entire term of Duterte. Let us talk about some of the
major promises and initial actions of Duterte,” he said.
“Duterte promised to fight corruption and go after the corrupt and put
them in prison. But Noynoy Aquino, Butch Abad and other big fish in grand
corruption related to illegal discretionary funds and pork barrel are
still scot-free,” Prof. Sison offered on the president’s promise of a
“Duterte has made a few appointments of progressives to his cabinet and
has expressed a strong desire to make peace with the revolutionary forces
by addressing the roots of the armed conflict. We hope that he can fix the
obstacles that his subordinates in the peace negotiations seem to be
putting up,” he commented on the presence of progressive personalities in
Asked about the present ‘war’ against illegal drug operations, he said
that President Duterte himself had hyped his campaign against the drug
problem and many people have welcomed this. But an increasing number of
people are wondering why the biggest drug lords and their supply system
continue to operate while only a few municipal level drug lords and
thousands of street level addict-pushers are being killed.
“Indeed, Duterte should pay more attention to solving the big social and
economic problems, let the police go after the drug lords and other
criminals in accordance with the law and due process and refrain from
making threats about suspending the writ of habeas corpus or declaring
martial law,” he reacted on the president’s recent threats of suspending
the writ of habeas corpus privilege and of declaring martial law would he
fail to get his way in carrying out his promise of curbing illegal drug
operations, criminality, and lawlessness in a short time-table.
He explained further that these threats offend the people who had a bad
experience with the Marcos dictatorship.
“He promised to industrialize the Philippines. But his key officials
responsible for economic and finance policies belong to the neoliberal
standpoint and are proud to continue the economic and finance policies of
Aquino,” he commented on the president’s 10-point socio-economic agenda.
According to him, “Duterte still needs to respond positively to the
demands of the patriotic and progressive forces for basic reforms. He
should pay attention to the proposals being made by the patriotic and
progressive organizations for reforms and by the NDFP now being made in
connection with the negotiations for a Comprehensive Agreement on Social
and Economic Reforms.”
He said that it remained to be seen whether Duterte will agree to the
proposals of the NDFP regarding national industrialization and land
reform, expansion and improvement of social services and increased
opportunities for low-income people, and small and medium enterprises.
Prof. Sison reiterated that
President Duterte could easily show through the peace negotiations with
the NDFP his political will and sincerity in responding to the people’s
clamor for real social change.
But even right now, as he surmised, there are problems and roadblocks in
the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
According to him, “The Duterte promise of granting amnesty to and
releasing all the current political prisoners has practically become a
mirage. The subordinates of Duterte, if not Duterte himself, are making
the partial releases as a way of subordinating the NDFP to the legal and
political system of the GRP and pressuring the NDFP to fall for an
indefinite bilateral or joint ceasefire agreement by which the GRP can
subsequently ignore the demands of the NDFP and the people for basic
social, economic and political reforms.”
He elaborated that it was still the same old scheme of the GRP to effect
capitulation and pacification through a prolonged or indefinite ceasefire
“The next six months will show more clearly what direction is the Duterte
presidency is taking. But even now, I can say that it is best for Duterte
to maintain and develop a viable alliance and cooperation with the
revolutionary forces if he truly wants to serve the national and
democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people,” he surmised on
the future prospects of the temporary alliance between the president and
“He should know that his adversaries are already charging him within human
rights violations and will certainly take advantage of the aggravation of
the economic crisis,” he said regarding the present criticisms against the
Prof. Sison stressed out that the people should continue to praise the
good acts of Duterte and criticize his bad acts.
“Whenever he talks against the violent and plundering record of US
imperialism, the patriotic and progressive forces applaud him but also
urge him to abrogate the unequal treaties, agreements and arrangements
that have allowed the US to dominate the Philippines,” Prof. Sison reacted
on President Duterte’s previous anti-US tirades.
He pointed out that the trend was for the crisis of the world capitalist
system and the crisis of the domestic ruling system of big compradors and
landlords to worsen. Together with that point, he said that the armed
revolution as well as the progressive legal struggle will have more
fertile ground to grow and gain strength; but the same crisis conditions
can induce serious peace negotiations if the Duterte presidency will
remain interested in these.
According to him, “There are Leftist, Centrist and Rightist elements in
the Duterte cabinet, thus there are self-contradictions within the Duterte
presidency. We hope that it becomes more inclined to reform rather than to
In this regard, as he implied, the Left is the most reliable ally of
Duterte against the imperialists and the oligarchy of big compradors and
“Before it is too late, Duterte should strengthen his alliance and
cooperation with the forces of the Left and the toiling masses of workers
and peasants. Otherwise he becomes isolated by the sustained propaganda of
the yellows and their imperialist backers. His own following can be
drastically eroded within the next six months if he does not have allies
for effecting social, economic and political reforms and improving the
living conditions of the people,” he warned on the dangerous prospects and
consequences of apparent destabilization attempts against the president.
Prof. Sison said that the legal mass movement that takes the national
democratic line and such revolutionary forces of the CPP, NPA and the NDFP
would last longer than the Duterte presidency which has a maximum life
span of six years. With that comparison, he warned that the imperialists
and ultra-reactionaries might even cut short the life of this presidency
if in the future this becomes extremely unpopular and isolated.