By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Member, NDFP National Executive Committee
Secretary Deles wishes to avoid the Aquino regime’s obligation to comply with binding peace agreements which the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH) signed with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Her lame excuse is to call compliance with the 1995 Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as mere “procedural matters”.
Compliance with The Hague Joint Declaration (1992), the JASIG (1995), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) is not mere “procedural matters”. These agreements bind both parties and are essential to achieving a just peace through negotiations. It requires being true to one’s word of honor. Who would trust a government that does not comply with agreements and contracts it has entered into?
Hence, the release of detained NDFP consultants and JASIG-protected personnel is essential for the trust between both Parties. This is necessary to advance the formal peace negotiations.
Since 16 March 1998, upon the signing of the CARHRIHL in The Hague, the NDFP has presented to the GRP the NDFP Draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). The Chairperson of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms, Julieta de Lima, exchanged drafts with Congressman Jose V. Yap of the GRP Negotiating Panel. This was witnessed by the Royal Norwegian Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires.
The NDFP is willing to target the completion of the CASER in six months. The NDFP proposes to take up the issues regarding Hacienda Luisita within one month. We propose to deal with an effective and comprehensive rehabilitation program for Yolanda affected areas within two months, with the help of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
We propose the taking up and forging of an agreement on the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, and its effects on demolitions of urban poor communities, within three months. Likewise, we want to take up the issue of skyrocketing prices of gas and oil, food, electricity, water, and other basic commodities within three months. We can also take up within three months the issue of privatization of the Fabella and Orthopedic hospitals, and related issues.
We propose to take up the issue of foreign destructive mining, the displacement of indigenous peoples and peasants, and destruction of their livelihood within four months. We can ask for the help of the Norwegian Refugee Council which has published a document on the Lumads.
All other issues such as health, housing, and rights of women, children and elderly, to be included in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, can be taken up within six months.
A two-week meeting of both sides, facilitated by the RNG, can be held in Oslo for the formal resumption of peace negotiations. This can be prepared by informal talks or consultations in Oslo in the last week of May.
These concrete proposals of the NDFP are a challenge to GPH President Benigno S. Aquino III. Does he take seriously the people’s demands for a just peace, or is his priority the imprisoning of NDFP consultants and political prisoners?