Interview with LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
By Ms. Celerina del Mundo-Monte
Associate Editor, The Daily Manila Shimbun
LUIS G. JALANDONI (LGJ): Before I answer your questions, I wish to give the following preface.
It is the standing policy of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to be willing to engage in peace negotiations with any administration of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) that is willing to hold peace negotiations for a just and lasting peace, which address the roots of the armed conflict. The negotiations should work for fundamental social, economic and political reforms for the benefit of the people.
Since 1992 more than ten significant peace agreements have been signed and approved by the Principals of both Parties. Among these are The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG, 1995) and The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL, 1998).
Two Agreements were signed in 2004, The Oslo Joint Statement (February 2004) and The Second Oslo Joint Statement (April 2004)
Now we come to your questions:
Kindly describe the current situation of the peace talks between the GPH (government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, National Democratic Front of the Philippines).
LGJ: Since last April the talks have been at a standstill. The Aquino government declared through media that it is terminating the peace negotiations with the NDFP This followed talks in Amsterdam last February, wherein the Aquino representatives rebuffed the NDFP offer of truce and cooperation and instead wished to impose pacification through a demand for indefinite, unilateral and simultaneous ceasefires. The NDFP offer for truce and cooperation was to be realized through a declaration of common intent to uphold national independence and carry out land reform and national industrialization. The truce and cooperation would help accelerate talks on social, economic, and political reforms as stipulated in the substantive agenda stated in The Hague Joint Declaration.
The NDFP reiterated its willingness to hold peace negotiations on the basis of respect for and compliance with past agreements. Such compliance would mean release of NDFP Consultants and political prisoners detained in violation of the CARHRIHL and JASIG. CARHRIHL stipulates that political prisoners charged, detained or convicted for common crimes in violation of the Hernandez political offense doctrine ought to be released. The JASIG guarantees immunity from surveillance, arrest, detention and other punitive activities to all participants of both sides in the peace negotiations.
The Aquino government furthermore attacked The Hague Joint Declaration as “a document of perpetual division” in talks held in Oslo in 2011. Subsequently, it declared the JASIG “inoperative” in 2012. In its Counterinsurgency plan, OPLAN BAYANIHAN, it aims to render the NPA inconsequential through the triad of psywar, intelligence and combat operations.
What are the prospects this year of the peace process between the Philippine government and the CPP-NPA-NDFP?
LGJ: Because of the Aquino government’s refusal to comply with the JASIG and CARHRIHL, its attack against The Hague Joint Declaration and declaration of JASIG as “inoperative” and its rebuff of the NDFP offer of truce and cooperation, the prospects this year of the peace negotiations between the Aquino administration and the NDFP are dim. The Aquino government is responsible for stopping the peace process.
What should the Philippine government do in order to resume the peace process with the CPP-NPA-NDFP?
LGJ: It should respect the agreements signed. Former GRP Chief Negotiator. Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, declared in an interview, “ The Aquino government must respect the past peace agreements. Otherwise, who would trust a government that does not respect agreements or contracts it has entered into. It should release NDFP Consultants and political prisoners in accordance with CARHRIHL and the JASIG. It should withdraw its attack against The Hague Joint Declaration as “a document of perpetual division”. It should heed the call of many peace advocate organizations not to follow the US Counterinsurgency Guide and not to rely on the triad concept of psywar, intelligence and combat operations. It should cease daydreaming about destroying the NPA or rendering it inconsequential. It should aim for a just and lasting peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict.
What should the CPP-NPA-NDFP do in order for the peace process to move forward?
LGJ: The NDFP must continue upholding, defending and advancing the rights of the peasants, workers, women, youth, indigenous people, and other sectors. It has to develop further its capacity to defend their rights and programs. The overall strength of the people and the revolutionary forces is the firm basis for negotiating fundamental social, economic, and political reforms that are needed to achieve and just and lasting peace.
The NDFP continues to cooperate with the Royal Norwegian Government, the official Third Party Facilitator of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations, in conveying its willingness to resume peace talks on the basis of past agreements. It continues to work with peace advocate organizations in the Philippines and abroad. It upholds the validity of the agreements made in the peace negotiations.
Are you still hopeful with the peace process under the Aquino administration? Why or why not?
LGJ: Because BS Aquino has not shown any political will to seriously negotiate a just peace with the NDFP, we are not hopeful about peace negotiations under the Aquino administration. He has not shown respect for The Hague Joint Declaration, the JASIG, and the CARHRIHL He has not shown any respect for the Hacienda Luisita workers and farmers and following his landlord class position, he is against land reform. He follows the US Counterinsurgency Guide and its militarist aim of defeating or rendering the NPA inconsequential.
What is the current strength of the CPP-NPA-NDFP?
LGJ: With broad and deep support of the people, the revolutionary forces are active in 71 out of 81 provinces of the country. They are operating in more than 110 guerrilla fronts, with a typical guerrilla front having the strength of a company with three platoons. These areas are run by organs of political power, alternative people’s governments, supported by mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth, cultural groups and children. The NPA fighters are assisted by the people’s militia and self-defense units of the people’s organizations. The CPP leads the NPA and the organs of political power. The NDFP is the united front organization of the revolutionary forces.