By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Since The Hague Joint Declaration was signed on September 1, 1992, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has caused numerous delays in the peace negotiations, amounting to more than eight years and six months. These delays arose through unilateral suspensions, declaration of collapse or indefinite recesss or even termination by the GRP. There were also long delays due to GRP violations of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) when the GRP arrested NDFP Consultants Sotero Llamas in May 1995 and Dan Borjal in November 1996. President Joseph Estrada declared all-out war and terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP by written notice on May 31, 1999.
One of the longest delays is the indefinite recess declared by the Macapagal-Arroyo regime since June 13, 2001. The GRP has refused to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), signed and approved in 1998. It has not been willing to set up the Joint Monitoring Committee Its unilateral declaration of indefinite recess has left the negotiations on Social and Economic Reforms hanging. The NDFP had agreed at the April 2001 talks in Oslo to exert best efforts to work with the GRP in finishing the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) in six months.
The GRP mission headed by GRP Negotiating Panel Chairman Silvestre H. Bello III must be reminded of the GRP's accountability for wasting more than eight years. It cannot seek to press the NDFP to sign a so-called final peace agreement in six months or blame the NDFP for slowness in the peace negotiations. The facts demonstrate clearly that it is the GRP that is responsible for wasting more than eight years, thus preventing a more efficient use of time in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
The NDFP Negotiating Panel is nevertheless ready to have exploratory talks with the GRP delegation in order to discuss and find ways to resume the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations on the basis of The Hague Joint Declaration and other previously signed and approved agreements.