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Interview with Fidel V. Agcaoili, of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines

“We are fighting for national and social liberation of the Filipino people”
Interview by staff |
August 25, 2017
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Fidel V. Agcaoili,of NDF of the Philippines with Fight Back! editor Mick Kelly
Fidel V. Agcaoili,of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines with Fight Back! editor Mick Kelly (Fight Back! News/staff)

Fight Back! interviewed Fidel V. Agcaoili, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ Peace Panel chairperson, August 19, in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The interview was conducted by Fight Back! editor Mick Kelly, who is also responsible for the international work of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO).

Fight Back!: What is the National Democratic Front for the Philippines (NDFP) and what do you want?

Fidel V. Agcaoili: The National Democratic Front for the Philippines is the formal alliance of underground organizations that is carrying out the struggle for national and social liberation of the Filipino people.

It includes the Communist Party, the New People’s Army, and other organizations, such as MAKIBAKA, which is the organization of women and Christians for National Liberation, which is the organization of Christians believing in the liberation theology. Then we have the organizations of the Moro, the Cordilleras, the Lumad, government employees, migrants, teachers, students, youth, Kabataaang Makabayan, and then health professionals, etcetera - 17 organizations in all.

What do we want? As I told you we are fighting for national and social liberation of the Filipino people. In the current period, we say that we would like to liberate the Filipino people from its semi-feudal and semi-colonial situation, so that we will be able to break the chains of feudalism that has enslaved the peasantry which constitutes about 75% of our people, and also to be able to bring about national industrialization in the country.

The Philippines is a rich country; we have about 20 of the basic metals in the world and we have a lot of them. We can transform these natural resources into finished products in our own country, and use our own capital and human resources to develop them, so we can move forward - establish a society that is more just, equitable and independent.

Fight Back!: You have been engaged with peace talks with the government. Why?

Agcaoili: You see, we view peace negotiations as a form of struggle also, where we can be able to amplify and explain the objectives of the liberation struggle. We engage the government formally, but we always say that the objective - we are guided by the program for a people’s democratic revolution, the program of the National Democratic Front of Philippines - in carrying out peace negotiations, in dealing with the government. That means we will not be engaging in the surrender of the arms, but for a political settlement.

We would be able to engage the government in peace negotiations that would come up with agreements on social and economic reforms, on political and constitutional reforms - then we can bring about a situation where we will be able to achieve the objectives of the front.

Fight Back!: So where are the talks at right now? And where do you see them going?

Agcaoili: Right now, the talks are in a situation of suspended animation. Suspended animation because the government of Duterte, and Duterte himself declared that he is no longer interested in the peace negotiations, and would continue to fight for 50 more years if necessary.

But then they have not yet, they have come out with this officially, even Duterte, they have not yet sent us a formal letter terminating the peace negotiations in accordance with the joint agreement on safety and immunity guarantees, where it is stated that if one side wants to break negotiations then all he has to do is send a formal letter to the other side. The other side, upon receipt of the letter, has 30 days to withdraw all of its forces from in the open by disengaging in peace negotiations, so that they would be safe, and then the fighting can continue.

So, they have not yet sent us the formal letter of termination. For us the implication is that they would like to, while there is fighting, they would like to perhaps ‘cool off’ for a while across the table, while in the field the situation remains the same.

Under the current regime, we were able to at least come out with certain points of agreement, especially with respect to land reform, carrying out general land reform. And we had both agreed, in principle anyway, that the land should be distributed freely to the tillers. The government is the one that has the resources, would be the ones to set aside the amount necessary to acquire this land from the landlords, through various means. It could mean that the landlords would be given bonds which they could retrieve over a period of time, with interest of course. Or they could put these bonds, what monies they would get, into the industries set up in connection with the carrying out of national industrialization. So, encourage them to become bourgeois [laughs], from being landlords.

So that’s I think, a major breakthrough, to the credit also of current regime, but also of course because of the demand that has been put forward by the National Democratic Front to give concrete expression to the aspirations of the Filipino peasantry for the destruction of landlordism and feudalism of the country.

Fight Back!: Anything else the you would like to say?

Agcaoili: Oh, well! We would like to ask our friends abroad if they could continue to support the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation. And, as part of this struggle, to support the continuation of the peace negotiations, towards achieving a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.