5 July 1996
In accordance with Article 96, paragraph 3 of Protocol I, we, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, hereby address ourselves to the Federal Council of the Swiss Government as official depositary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the 1977 Protocol I additional thereto.
The New Peoples Army We are the political authority representing the Filipino people and organized political forces that are waging an armed revolutionary struggle for national liberation and democracy, in the exercise of the right of self-determination within the purview of Article 1, paragraph 4, of Protocol I against the persistent factors and elements of colonial domination and against national oppression, including chauvinism and racism, victimizing the entire Filipino nation and particular minorities in the Philippines.
Our revolutionary armed struggle is the continuation of the Philippine Revolution of 1896 against Spanish colonialism and subsequently against US imperialism. We are waging a people's war for national liberation and democracy against the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), our current adversary in the armed conflict, continues to suppress the sovereign will of the Filipino people in order to perpetuate the interests of the foreign and domestic oppressors and exploiters, despite the US grant of nominal independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946.
The persistent foreign domination and national oppression are carried out through the GRP as a puppet government in the service of the United States government, which controls and uses it by means of US strategic planning, command, personnel (including military advisors, trainors, intelligence and psychological warfare personnel and basic personnel for rapid deployment forces), supplies, extraterritorial access to the entire Philippines and other forms of US military intervention and extraterritorial privileges and by means of unequal treaties and agreements perpetuating in essence the factors of US colonial domination over the Philippine economy, politics, security and culture.
Since the beginning of the civil war, the GRP has in one essential respect maintained the character of the armed conflict as an internationalized internal conflict through subservience to US domination and GRP dependence on US military and other forms of intervention and assistance in the armed conflict. The civil war between the GRP and the NDFP involves the struggle for self-determination and the people's war for national liberation and comes within the purview of Article I, paragraph 4 of Protocol I and within the international customary law pertaining to armed conflicts.
The abovementioned revolutionary forces of the Filipino people are the following:
- All the fourteen allied revolutionary organizations in the NDFP, which include those of workers, peasants, youth, women, national minorities, teachers, health workers, church people, scientists and technologists and artists and writers and which are the consolidation of the revolutionary mass base running into millions of people in rural and urban areas.
- The organs of political power constituted under the Guide for Establishing the People's Democratic Government as the basic law and established in a significant portion of territory in the Philippines, including scores of guerrilla fronts.
- The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as the ruling party in said organs of political power and the leading party in the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as the united front of democratic forces, and
- The New People's Army (NPA), which consists of thousands of full-time troops and is augmented by tens of thousands of men and women in the people's militia and self-defense units, is under an effective and responsible command as main armed force of the aforesaid organs of political power, the CPP and the NDFP and exercises such control over a significant portion of territory in the Philippines as to be able to carry out sustained and concerted military operations and to implement the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Protocols of 1977 additional thereto.
For your further information on the abovementioned forces, we attach hereto the following:
- Annex A-1 — Program of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
- Annex A-2 — Constitution of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
- Annex A-3 — List of Revolutionary Allied Organizations of the NDFP
- Annex B — Guide for Establishing the People's Democratic Government
- Annex C — Basic Rules of the New People's Army
All the abovementioned revolutionary forces have been engaged in a civil war for a protracted period of time since March 29, 1969 against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), a High Contracting Party to the Geneva Conventions and Protocol II. The great intensity of the civil war has been made manifest by the GRP's brutal use of the regular forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the imposition of martial rule on the people from 1972 to 1986, the great magnitude of US military involvement in the form of military funds, materiel and personnel, and the continuing brutal campaigns of suppression under a policy of total war against the aforesaid revolutionary people and forces.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, the Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists and other respected international human rights organizations have extensively documented since the 1970s the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the military, police and paramilitary forces of the GRP and involving the forced displacement of millions of people, ethnocide against minorities, indiscriminate bombardments and strafing, massacres, assassinations, summary executions, torture, illegal detention of tens of thousands of people and wanton destruction of property and the people's livelihood. In the human rights class suit against the Marcos estate in the US Federal District Court in Hawaii, there is the documentation of at least 10,000 victims of torture, murder and involuntary disappearance.
The consistent pattern of gross and systematic violation of the Filipino people's civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights is tantamount to a denial of their sovereign right to freely determine and realize their just aspirations. On behalf of the United States as neocolonial power and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords, the GRP has used all forms of deception and violence in order to suppress the people and the forces that aspire for national liberation and democracy.
In the course of the civil war, the enemy has inflicted tens of thousands of casualties, both killed and wounded, on the civilian population and a few thousands on the troops of the NPA. In revolutionary resistance, the revolutionary people and forces herein represented by the NDFP have inflicted tens of thousands of casualties on the enemy side since 1969. The dimensions of the war are great enough to include currently more than sixty (60) battle fronts in the length and breadth of the Philippines.
The people and forces represented by the NDFP have withstood the brutal military campaigns of suppression carried out by the enemy and have gained strength in the process. They have gained the status of belligerency by virtue of their just revolutionary armed struggle and hard work in building the organs of political power.
The aforesaid people and forces have established and developed a political organization that has sufficient governmental character. This political organization has sufficient control over a substantial area, population and resources in the Philippine archipelago. If said political organization were left to itself, it has the capability of reasonable and effectively discharging the duties of a state. In fact, it has established organs of political power which comprise the people's democratic government and which administers the people's civil, political, social, economic and cultural life in significant portions of fourteen (14) regions, more than 500 municipalities and more than 60 provinces of the Philippines.
It has deployed the New People's Army in accordance with the civilized rules of warfare and has informed and trained it accordingly. Even before this declaration, it has complied with the rules of war under international law. It has consciously followed international humanitarian law, like Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and Protocol II. It has declared accession to Protocol II since 15 August 1991 (cf.: Annex D) and is now resolved to assume in good faith rights and responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I. The instruments of international humanitarian law must apply on the armed conflict between the GRP and the NDFP for the protection of the civilian population and combatants hors de combat because the NDFP has proven itself as a belligerent force and does not accept as applicable the GRP constitution and laws inasmuch as the GRP does not accept as applicable to itself the constitution and laws of the revolutionary movement.
In their ongoing peace negotiations, the GRP and the NDFP have acknowledged by mutual agreement since 25 June 1996 that the prolonged armed conflict in the Philippines necessitates the application of the principles of human rights and principles of international humanitarian law. Said negotiations formally started on 26 June 1995 in Brussels, Belgium with the Royal Government of Belgium as official host and resumed on 19 June 1996 in The Hague, Netherlands, with the Royal Government of the Netherlands as official host. (cf.: Annex E, consisting of the five joint agreements of the GRP and NDFP that have led to their ongoing formal peace negotiations.)
Being a party to the armed conflict, civil war or war of national liberation and authorized by the revolutionary people and forces to represent them in diplomatic and other international relations and in the ongoing peace negotiations with the GRP, we the National Democratic Front of the Philippines hereby solemnly declare in good faith to undertake to apply the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I to the armed conflict in accordance with Article 96, paragraph 3 in relation to Article 1, paragraph 4 of Protocol I.
The NDFP is rightfully and dutifully cognizant that this declaration, upon receipt by the Federal Council of the Swiss Government, shall have in relation to the armed conflict with the GRP the following effects:
- the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I are brought into force for the NDFP as a Party to the conflict with immediate effect;
- the NDFP assumes the same rights and obligations as those which have been assumed by a High Contracting Party to the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I; and
- the Geneva Conventions and this Protocol are equally binding upon all Parties to the conflict.
By virtue of this unilateral declaration of the NDFP, duly deposited with the Swiss Federal Council, the GRP is bound as before by the Geneva Conventions and henceforth by Protocol I in accordance with Article 96, paragraph 3(c) of Protocol I.
With the NDFP invoking and exercising the people's right of self-determination, both the GRP and the NDFP are likewise bound by international customary law pertaining to humanitarian principles, norms and rules in armed conflicts.
The NDFP undertakes to respect the provisions of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977, regarding the conduct of hostilities and the protection of the civilian population and the combatants hors de combat in the armed conflict with the GRP and to regard its obligations under the aforesaid instruments of international humanitarian law as having the force of law among its forces and in the areas under its control.
The NDFP and the forces it herein represents accept the principle of command responsibility for the system of discipline to ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law and punish those who break them.
The NDFP regards as legitimate targets of military attack the units, personnel and facilities belonging to the following:
1. The Armed Forces of the Philippines
2. The Philippine National Police
3. The paramilitary forces; and
4. The intelligence personnel of the foregoing.
Civil servants of the GRP are not subject to military attack, unless in specific cases they belong to any of the four abovestated categories.
The NDFP will treat any captured personnel of the military, police and paramilitary forces of the GRP as prisoners of war and demands that the GRP likewise treat as prisoners of war any captured personnel of the NPA and other forces represented herein by the NDFP.
The NDFP forthwith disseminates this declaration and the rules of the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I to its forces and asks for the assistance of the ICRC with regards to suitable materials. The NDFP will welcome any offer of services from the ICRC.
The NDFP calls upon High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I to ensure that the GRP and the NDFP respect their obligations.
The NDFP hereby requests the Federal Council of the Swiss Government to circulate copies of this declaration to all parties to the Geneva Conventions and the Protocols additional thereto and to all organizations interested in the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law.
Any entity interested in taking up any matter pertinent to the aforesaid effects may communicate with the NDFP International Office at Amsterdamsestraatweg 50, 3513 AG Utrecht, The Netherlands or Postbus 19195, 3501 DD Utrecht, The Netherlands and other offices as may be designated by the NDFP in the Philippines and abroad.
This declaration is forthwith transmitted to the Federal Council of the Swiss Government as official depositary of the Geneva Conventions and the Protocols additional thereto and likewise to the International Committee of the Red Cross as official guardian thereof.
Done on 05 July in the year 1996.
For the National Democratic Front of the Philippines:
NDFP National Council
NDFP National Council
Luis G Jalandoni
NDFP International Representative
Fidel V. Agcaoili
Committee on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law
For the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army and Organs of Political Power:
Chairman CPP Central Committee
Chairman CPP Military Commission