Ermita’s threats expose gross ignorance of JASIG and his malicious and brutal character

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

As chairperson of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), I have declared that there is no point in holding formal talks with a regime that has long placed obstacles on such talks and is now in the process of crumbling under the pressure of the people outraged by its high crimes.

The NDFP is extending its postponement of the peace talks until a new reasonable regime of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) replaces the collapsing Arroyo regime. While the formal talks remain postponed, the peace negotiations are validly going on because no side has yet given a notice of termination to the other side in accordance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

As chairperson of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), I have declared that there is no point in holding formal talks with a regime that has long placed obstacles on such talks and is now in the process of crumbling under the pressure of the people outraged by its high crimes.

The NDFP is extending its postponement of the peace talks until a new reasonable regime of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) replaces the collapsing Arroyo regime. While the formal talks remain postponed, the peace negotiations are validly going on because no side has yet given a notice of termination to the other side in accordance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

The NDFP has not issued the notice of termination to end the peace negotiations. The formal talks are postponed but the work of the Joint Monitoring Committee is continuing in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

We distinguish the outgoing regime of Arroyo from the incoming new regime. We also distinguish the dying Arroyo regime from the GRP with which the NDFP has negotiated and made 12 agreements since 1992.

But if the Arroyo regime acts in the name of the GRP and wants to terminate the peace negotiations, there is nothing we can do about it but to expose and oppose the bellicose and cruel character of the regime.

The termination of peace negotiations becomes effective only after 30 days from the date that the NDFP receives the notice of termination from the GRP. Within those 30 days the NDFP personnel continue to enjoy safety and immunity guarantees and are allowed to secure their physical safety. Moreover, the panelists, consultants, staffers and other persons duly authorized to participate in the peace negotiations are never held liable for any act of participation in the peace negotiations.

GRP Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita is dead wrong in presuming that the postponement of formal talks amounts to termination of the peace negotiations and in claiming that the GRP’s military and police forces are allowed to go after JASIG-covered personnel because there are no formal talks between the GRP and the NDFP. We wonder how Ermita ever became the head of OPAPP despite his gross ignorance of the provisions of JASIG.

Even while the formal talks are postponed, the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP are still ongoing. The Hague Joint Declaration, the JASIG, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the Oslo Joint Statement of February 14, 2004 and the Second Oslo Joint Statement of April 3, 2004, continue to be binding and effective.

The formal talks between the Negotiating Panel of the NDFP and the Negotiating Panel can be resumed as soon as the new regime arises, complies with the aforesaid agreements and cooperates with the NDFP in removing obstacles to the formal talks. The Arroyo regime has consistently sabotaged the peace negotiations since the last quarter of 2001 when it recommended to the US to designate the CPP, NPA and the NDFP chief political consultant as “foreign terrorists.”

Since August last year, the NDFP has been calling on the Arroyo government to comply with its obligations as stipulated in the two Oslo Joint Statements with regards to the unjust and baseless “terrorist” listings, the release of political prisoners and the indemnification of almost 10,000 victims of human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship. The Arroyo regime has not complied with its obligations up to now.

Because of the obstinate refusal of the Arroyo regime to fulfill its obligations and the present conditions in which the Arroyo regime is fast disintegrating, the holding of formal talks with the Arroyo regime has remained postponed and has even become pointless. Formal talks require a measure of stability, besides the necessary political will and sincerity.

The threats issued by Secretary Ermita have no basis. They indicate a jittery reaction of an insecure, unstable and deeply isolated regime. They also expose the malicious and brutal character and propensities of the highest officials of the Arroyo regime.

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