By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Spokesperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Monitoring Committee
The so-called talking points of General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. are meant to sabotage the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. With deliberate malice, he has issued these on the eve of scheduled informal talks carefully arranged by the Royal Norwegian Government to bring the two Parties together to find ways on how to overcome impediments and resume the formal talks.
Esperon's talking points grossly slander and insult the people's democratic government, the revolutionary forces and the broad masses of the people. This longtime principal butcher of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) regime proves and exposes himself as saboteur of the peace negotiations in connivance with the GRP National Security Council, General Eduardo Ermita and the Falangist Norberto Gonzales.
Esperon has no shame in resurrecting old lies and false charges against the revolutionary movement of the Filipino people. He remains in a permanent state of denial of the systematic and rampant violations of human rights by the GRP security and armed forces as the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston once observed. Until now, the GRP has failed to carry out the recommendations of the Alston report for ensuring respect for human rights and preventing violations thereof.
Esperon has been a big failure in seeking to destroy the revolutionary forces in the battlefield. In implementing Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, he has been responsible for indiscriminate attacks with the use of weapons of mass destruction in aerial and artillery bombardments of civilian communities in various parts of the country, as well as in the gunfire strafing of houses resulting in the killing and maiming of innocent civilians and in arresting, torturing, detaining and disappearing suspected members of the NPA. In the face of these atrocities, millions of people have been forced to evacuate from their homes and communities to makeshift centers where they suffer hunger, diseases, death and all forms of abuses. Yet, the GRP and Esperon have the temerity to misrepresent as criminal acts the efforts of the NPA to defend and support the people in their struggle for national and social liberation. Such hypocrisy!
After manufacturing so-called cases of alleged use of child soldiers by the New People’s Army (NPA), as in the case of Grecil Buya in Compostela Valley on 31 March 2007, the GRP and Esperon have now raised this issue in order to deflect attention from their crimes of gross and systematic human rights violations and to put obstacles to the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. This, despite the evidence provided by the UNICEF commissioned study in 2007 on how the NPA has been strictly implementing the policy of setting the minimum age of 18 for recruitment to the NPA. And despite the 24 April 2008 report of the UN Security Council that the GRP security and armed forces are the number one violator of the rights of children in the ongoing armed conflict in the country.
The GMA regime is adept at devising all sorts of schemes against the revolutionary movement, such as the so-called child soldiers, fake surrenderees, the filing of false charges, the fabrication of evidence and witnesses, etc. In the case of the alleged use of child soldiers, the intent is to cover up and condone the rampant violations of the human rights of children by the GRP security and armed forces and provide them the license to kill, torture, detain and wantonly abuse the rights of children in military operations against communities suspected to be influenced or under the control of the NPA.
For the edification of the GRP and General Esperon, the revolutionary movement is a belligerent force under international law. It has established the people's democratic government. This has within its scope millions of people, substantial territory, elected local organs of political authority and a people's army operating on a nationwide scale. It has the rights, duties and functions of a revolutionary government, including the social upliftment and defense of the people, taxation for funding social programs, enforcement of laws against tax evaders, military operations against the armed personnel of the counterrevolutionary state and military targets, and protection of the national patrimony and environment from the unbridled exploitation and plunder by local big compradors and foreign monopoly companies on the instigation and collusion of the GMA regime.
Esperon is out of his mind for publicly suggesting that the people and revolutionary forces must first be “disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated” before there are comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms. The NDFP once more reminds the GRP that the end of hostilities and disposition of armed forces are the last item in the agenda of the peace negotiations. The GRP should heed the advice of governments and international organizations that the issue of “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR)” can be brought up only after the issues of social, economic and political reforms shall have been agreed upon by the two Parties.
Esperon attacks the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as something intolerable just because it protects 85 persons with alternative names on their documents of identification. He wants to know the true identifies beforehand so that they can be kidnapped, tortured and murdered as already done after the military made guess work of who these NDFP personnel are. Esperon knows very well that the JASIG protects not only the NDFP personnel involved in the peace negotiations but also the very life and continuity of the peace negotiations.
Clearly, the appointment by GMA of General Esperon is meant to sabotage the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, scrap all previously signed agreements between the GRP and the NDFP since 1992, and kill the peace negotiations unless the GRP can trick the NDFP into surrender under the guise of an indefinite ceasefire. But I assure General Esperon that he would not get from the negotiating table what he failed to get from the battlefield. He only makes a fool of himself by trying to fool the NDFP and the Filipino people.