Peace Talks ED

March 23, 2024

Last month, CPSO’s Friends of the Filipino People in Struggle committee and Anakbayan Toronto organized an educational discussion on the Peace Talks process in the Philippines. Our event, hosted at the Parkdale Toronto Public Library, featured a musical performance by members of Pantayo, a queer Filipinx ensemble combining traditional Kulintang music with contemporary influences and experimental sound. The musical performance was followed by a letter-writing workshop for political prisoners in the Philippines. 

Members of Pantayo speaking before their performance featuring Kulintang, a gong and drum ensemble indigenous to the Sulu and Mindanao islands in the southern Philippines.

We also collected donations for the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) happening May 17-18 in Belgium. The IPT will investigate war crimes and International Humanitarian Law violations in the Philippines, providing groundwork for future education and legal action.

Information provided (left to right) on the IPT, opposition to Charter Change, International Workers Day and Migrant Rights Network.

In our discussion on the economic and political conditions in the Philippines, speakers from ABTO highlighted that despite the Philippines being agriculturally rich, its people remain poor because of US imperialism’s extractive and exploitative hold. With public debt in the trillions, the comprador Philippine government continues to sell out to foreign investors with its Charter Change motion, allowing for 100% foreign ownership of public utilities, educational institutions, and advertising.

Anakbayan Toronto members speak on the social, economic, and political conditions in the Philippines.

The ruling Marcos family came back into power after the illegitimate 2022 election, continuing a legacy of political repression. De facto Martial Law exists in regions like Bohol, Samar, Panay, Negros Orientale, and Mindanao. Union organizers and activists are targeted and red-tagged by the Marcos Jr government as “communists” and “terrorists.” Entire rural communities are being bombed under the guise of “countering terror.”

CPSO member speaking on the history of the Peace Talks in the Philippines.

These human rights violations are not new. Under the Marcos Sr dictatorship, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), formed and came together to demand the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) address the root causes of the Filipino people’s suffering. It took almost 10 years for the Marcos government to even consider coming to the table and hearing their demands. 

Various agreements have been signed between the GRP and the NDFP since the peace talk process began, but the GRP continues to violate them. Agreements which should guarantee NDFP peace consultants and their supporters freedom of movement and freedom from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution, interrogation, or any other similar punitive actions are routinely violated by the GRP. 

The government frames the conflict as one of terrorism and criminal insurgency. Its goal is to force the NDFP to surrender arms and submit to the Constitution. Meanwhile, the NDFP is a sovereign force representing a competing government in the Philippines that is holding the GRP accountable to the laws of war as a co-belligerent.

Social and economic reforms have consistently been the point at which the government cuts off peace talks, despite these being fundamental forces behind the armed struggle. Does the government want to address the basic problems, or to just repress the people and hope the problem will go away on its own?

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