By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
The Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has not requested the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President to mediate in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP. It is the firm policy of the NDFP not to entrust any entity with the power of mediation in the peace negotiations. Such power to make decisions arbitrarily and impose them on the Parties to the peace negotiations could mean grave danger to the revolutionary movement and people. Hence, the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), which has been requested by both the GRP/GPH and the NDFP to help in the peace negotiations, is asked only to be a Third Party Facilitator.
When the CBCP President speaks of “the request to mediate in the government-NDF dialogue”, such a request has never come from the NDFP. The request to any third party to play a role in peace negotiations must be done by both Parties. Both Parties also have to agree to the type of role the third party will fulfill in the peace negotiations.
It should be made clear to the CBCP President that the revolutionary leadership is based in the Philippines. The NDFP Negotiating Panel is mandated by the revolutionary leadership to carry out peace negotiations on behalf of the revolutionary forces. The command and leadership of the revolutionary struggle are carried out in the Philippines.
In connection with the peace negotiations, when an agreement for a temporary ceasefire to promote the peace talks is proposed, the NDFP Negotiating Panel does recommend to the revolutionary leadership the implementation of such a ceasefire. For example, on December 18, 2012, both Parties in a meeting in The Hague with the presence of the RNG facilitator, there was a proposal to have a mutual ceasefire for 27 days. The NDFP Negotiating Panel conveyed this proposal to the revolutionary leadership in the Philippines. Thus, the 27 day ceasefire starting December 20, 2012 was carried out.
The CBCP President, in alleging that the New People’s Army (NPA) is a burden to the people in the countryside, commits a grievous error. The NPA and other revolutionary forces carry out pro-people programs of land reform, health, education including literacy and numeracy, culture and self-defense, among others. These programs result in the improvement of the lives of the people, in their millions. Hence, the people cherish the NPA as their army, defending their rights and programs. Such allegation stemming from the GPH peace panel is a distortion of reality. Church leaders and other Church people close to the struggling people in the countryside would know that the allegation from the GPH peace panel is false.
We strongly dispute the allegation that the peace negotiations have had no substantial fruit. The Hague Joint Declaration as framework of the peace negotiations, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other basic agreements are very significant results. Internationally these have won recognition, such as two European Parliament resolutions endorsing these agreements.
The NDFP Negotiating Panel expresses its appreciation for church leaders in the Philippines who have hosted us when we visit our homeland. We welcome their friendly gesture. When they visit our NDFP International Office, we likewise welcome and host them. We believe this kind of friendly exchange is beneficial to both sides and helps in fostering a spirit that is conducive to advancing the efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace in our country.
We have appreciated the persistent efforts to strive for a just peace by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF), the Pilgrims for Peace, the Sowing Seeds for Peace and KAPAYAPAAN Campaign for Just and Lasting Peace, which have prominent and significant Church leaders. The call of these peace advocates acting as “bridge builders for peace” to resume peace talks, honor all agreements, and address the root causes of the armed conflict, is a welcome positive impetus to foster the peace negotiations to achieve a just and lasting peace.