Every field and mountain in the vast Philippine countryside is marked by poverty and hunger. The poor peasants, farm workers and toiling masses suffer relentless exploitation and oppression. Theirs is an intense aspiration to end more than one century of semifeudalism which are virtual fetters of the past and barriers to social liberation.
The peasant masses’ fervent spirit of resistance to assert their well-being, defend their rights and advance their struggles for land reform permeate across the country. The land is becoming more fertile for the people’s war to advance more rapidly and extensively in the coming period.
The peasant masses could no longer endure the reign of big landlords and giant capitalists who own large plantations and mining and logging companies. They are filled with indignation over the fascist attacks of reactionary state’s armed forces to suppress their struggle for land and social justice.
Landlessness and landgrabbing are worsening. After almost seven decades of fraudulent land reform programs, large landholdings and plantations remain in the hands of a few. To survive, millions of peasants enter into extremely exploitative tenancy relations or become farm workers with inordinately low wages. This feudal setup is worse in wide swathes of ricelands, coconut farms and sugarcane lands. The peasant masses carry the burden of high costs of production. They are bound to such type of crops requiring expensive pesticides and other chemicals sold by big foreign agribusiness.
Farm work is back-breaking. The system of individual and small-scale farming remain backward where one wrestles with simple hand tools and farm animals and depend on rain water. Mechanization is limited and yield is low. This year, almost 750,000 agricultural jobs
Wealth produced by the peasant masses is expropriated by landlords who contribute not even a drop of sweat in enriching the land. They appropriate 30, 50 up to 90 percent of the peasants’ harvest as land rent. Peasants are forced to mortgage their land or tenancy to borrow money from loan sharks, ariendadors, rural banks or microfinance agencies at exhorbitant interest rates to finance the next planting season and their daily consumption. Out of 10 tenants paying amortization, seven have been forced to surrender their titles.
Land rent and loan interests jack up the costs of production. Peasants are left with peanuts after traders buy their harvests of palay, copra, abaca or corn cheaply. Their lot this year has worsened in the face of skyrocketing prices after tax impositions by Duterte.
There are widespread cases of evictions of peasants, fisherfolk and minority people from their farms and ancestral land. Duterte is clearing hundreds of thousands of hectares to pave the way for the expansion of mining operations, real estate, tourism, energy and infrastructure projects, and plantations of pineaple, banana, oil palm and other export crops in association with foreign big capitalists.
Under the Duterte regime’s Oplan Kapayapaan, and with US imperialist backing and support, the AFP, PNP and paramilitary groups are employed persistently to lay siege and occupy hundreds of rural communities, including those in Moro land. Human rights abuses are rampant, especially in Mindanao which has been under martial law for one year. People are arbitrarily indicted and treated as outlaws and supporters of the armed movement. More than 4,000 have been forced to parade themselves as “NPA surrenderees.” There are now 13 cases of massacres. No less than 170 peasants have been killed under Duterte. More than 500,000 have been forced to evacuate.
The US-Duterte regime’s all-out war of suppression against the masses has, however, failed. Instead of being intimidated and forced to bow their heads, the peasant masses are raising high their chins and clenching their fists, knowing that worse oppression and exploitation await them if they surrender to the tyranny and terrorism of big landlords, big foreign corporations and their rotten bureaucrat capitalist and fascist cohorts.
The countryside is fertile ground for waging armed revolution more vigorously. Take stock of the objective situation and subjective strength to advance the people’s war across the country with unprecendented speed and breadth. Resolutely advance the struggles of the peasant masses. Firmly advance their antifeudal, antifascist and anti-imperialist struggles and mobilize the rural toiling masses in their millions. Carry out careful and widespread investigation into the masses’ situation and problems and identify solutions and measures to address their welfare amid worsening economic crisis and deteriorating social conditions. Wage all forms of struggle to assert and defend their land rights, from the simple right to plant food crops up to land ownership.
Rouse the peasant masses, especially the youth, to join the people’s army in their numbers to further strengthen the NPA as their army. Perseveringly expand and intensify guerrilla warfare on the basis of a widespread support and mobilization of the masses. Mount extensive tactical offensives against the brutal fascist enemy troops.
Further expand and strengthen the revolutionary mass organizations and revolutionary committees from the village level up as organs of political power. At every level, carry out programs for mass education, culture, public health, defense and protection of peace, economy and other fields to address the people’s problems. Creatively resist the enemy’s all-out war and campaign to illegalize the masses.
Carry forward and expand the implementation of the Party’s minimum program for land reform to reduce land rent, eliminate usury and improve farmgate prices and raise production and peasant income. Carry out the maximum program of land confiscation where such can be defended by the NPA. At every stage, undertake the systematic planning of the economy to ensure production of food, raise the income of the peasant masses and support the further expansion of the people’s army.
In all this, the Party’s expansion and strengthening is key. Further deepen and widen the Party’s roots among the rural toiling masses in order to effectively train leaders in line with the proletarian viewpoint, standpoint and method. Further expand, strengthen and increase Party branches and sections.
Bring rural issues and struggles into the factories and schools. City-based Party cadres and members and activists are encouraged to go to the countryside and help in advancing the people’s war. More than ever, cadres from the working-class and intellectuals are needed to contribute their knowledge and skills in advancing the peasant struggles and agrarian revolution, establishing and administering the people’s government, and strengthening the army and advancing the armed struggle.