We, the members, consultants and staff of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) wish to convey our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and loved ones of Rep. Jose V. Yap on his untimely passing.
We salute Rep. Yap for his great contribution to the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), and cherish all the moments we shared with him as co-negotiator, fellow Filipino, and true friend.
Most of us first met and came to know Rep. Yap, whom we fondly call “Mang Apeng”, when he was sent as an emissary of GRP Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos, to explore the possibility of peace negotiations with the NDFP.
In August 1992, we were privileged to observe firsthand Rep. Yap’s broadmindedness, reasonableness and flexibility when he succeeded in crafting, jointly with then NDFP representative Luis Jalandoni, the Joint Declaration of The Hague, which has since served as the framework or foundation agreement for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
From then until 2004, we had the further pleasure and privilege of dealing with Mang Apeng both on and off the negotiating table. As a member of the GRP Negotiating Panel from 1995 to 2004, he made numerous important contributions in finding ways to surmount obstacles in the talks. It helped in no small way that he enjoyed a large measure of trust and confidence from both panels. It also helped that whether around or away from the negotiating table, Mang Apeng was always congenial and had an ever-bright disposition. In his jolly yet no-nonsense way, he would exude optimism that a mutually acceptable solution could be found out of a seeming impasse.
Mang Apeng had the advantage of knowing how to present the position of the GRP while displaying an understanding of and respect for the NDFP position. He acknowledged the need for fundamental reforms to address the roots and thereby end the armed conflict. Whenever he spoke or dealt with us, we knew and felt that he was seeking in earnest to negotiate a peaceful and just resolution of the conflict and not seek our capitulation or surrender.
In fact, it was in those times when the talks were recessed or suspended due to some unresolved issue that Mang Apeng’s role as a sounding board and “informal channel” between the two panels was most crucial and significant. (And this amounted to about eighty percent of the time.)
It is no coincidence that when Mang Apeng was pulled out of the GRP Negotiating Panel and relegated to a marginal role as adviser to it, the GRP also decided to suspend the formal peace talks, violated the provisions of the JASIG and refused to convene the Joint Monitoring Committee. Privately, Mang Apeng objected to and rued all these unilateral moves by the GRP which threatened to undo all that has been achieved in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations since 1992.
Looking back, we can see that Mang Apeng’s great contribution to the peace negotiations sprang from his ability to see what is objectively necessary for the negotiations to prosper and achieve a just and lasting peace. We mourn his loss, but remain hopeful that he had set a worthy example that others can learn from.
|LUIS G. JALANDONI|
|Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON|
Chief Political Consultant
|FIDEL V. AGCAOILI|
|JOSE DANILO BORJAL|
|JULIETA DE LIMA|
|RUTH DE LEON|
Head, NDFP Panel Secretariat
|CONI K. LEDESMA|