By NDFP International Information Office
The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panels held preliminary talks on 14-18 January 2011 in Oslo, Norway and agreed to resume formal peace talks. Formal talks could not be held for six years during the regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because of the latter’s conspiracy with the US to put the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison on the US terrorist list and its refusal to resolve the socio-economic roots of the armed conflict.
The two Panels signed a joint communiqué announcing the resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway on 15-21 February 2011. They also agreed on the agenda of the formal talks.
The main points of the agenda are the reaffirmation of all previous agreements signed in the course of the peace negotiations, negotiations on socio-economic reforms, and the reconvening of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
The NDFP delegation was composed of Panel Chairperson Luis G. Jalandoni and Panel members Fidel V. Agcaoili, Coni Ledesma and Asterio Palima. Other members of the delegation were Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison, Political Consultant Danilo Borjal, Consultant Rey Casambre, NDFP Peace Panel legal consultants Rachel Pastores, Edre Olalia and Francis Principe, Marie Hilao Enriquez, Independent Observer of the NDFP-Monitoring Committee, and Ruth de Leon, head of the NDFP Panel Secretariat.
Atty. Alexander A. Padilla headed the GRP Panel composed of Atty. Pablito Sanidad, Ednar Dayanghirang, Lulu Tison and Jurgette Honculada. The GRP delegation also included Carla Munsayac-Villarta, Danilo Encinas and Oscar Bathan.
Special Envoy Ture Lundh headed the facilitation team of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) that included Amb. Knut Solem, Aina Holm, Ida Marstein and Frederik Steen. Deputy Director General Tomas Stangeland attended the opening session of the preliminary talks and affirmed the continuing commitment of the RNG in performing its role as 3rd party facilitator in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
NDFP Panel chairperson Luis Jalandoni said that he was aware of the high interest and expectations from the public both in the Philippines and abroad on the GRP-NDFP peace talks and that the NDFP was ready to exert serious efforts to reach a negotiated solution to the armed conflict. He said, however, that the diffiiculties ahead could not be underestimated because of the wide divergence in the two parties’ current positions on such issues as land reform, national industrialization and assertion of national sovereignty.
GRP Panel Chairperson Alexander Padilla stated that the administration of Benigno Aquino III does not consider the CPP-NPA-NDFP terrorist. He also said that he was happy that the Christmas ceasefire generally held notwithstanding a few incidents of reported ceasefire violations.
The two Panels agreed on the importance of carrying out confidence-building measures to create a favorable atmosphere for the peace negotiations. The NDFP put forward the need to get justice for the numerous victims of human rights violations under the Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo regime and the release of political prisoners.
The NDFP Panel asked the GRP side to comply with its obligations under the JASIG, by stopping or suspending criminal proceedings against NDFP consultants and other JASIG-protected persons so that they can participate in the peace negotiations. Many of these consultants were victims of trumped up charges under the so-called “legal offensive” against supposed “enemies of the state” orchestrated by Arroyo’s National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.
The GRP Panel gave the assurance that Rafael Baylosis and Randall Echanis, who are members of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms, and NDFP consultant Vicente Ladlad, are covered by the JASIG and are free to participate in the formal talks in February.
The GRP Panel also promised to work for the expeditious release of detained NDFP consultants and JASIG-protected persons, including Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara, Emeterio Antalan, Jovencio Balweg, Edwin Brigano, Pedro Codaste, Edgardo Friginal, Angelina Ipong, Randy Malayao, Alfredo Mapano, Glicerio Pernia, Maria Luisa Pucray, Eduardo Sarmiento, Eduardo Serrano, and Jaime Soledad.
The NDFP Panel brought to the attention of the GRP Panel a report that Ka Bart was being handcuffed to his hospital bed 24-hours a day which was causing him great pain in his gunshot wounds he suffered upon his arrest. The handcuff is unnecessary as he is being kept in a room that is securely grilled and under 24-hour watch by armed soldiers.
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NDFP International Information Office