Sison to come home in connection with peace process or his nomination as National Artist for Literature

NDFP Media Office
Press release
7 April 2017

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said he is open to going home to the Philippines, when there is a highly significant development in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, such as the amnesty and release of all political prisoners listed by the NDFP and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms by the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels in Oslo.

He also said that one more possibility for his homecoming soon could be the result of his nomination as National Artist for Literature (Poetry and Essay). He had just learned that creative writers, performing artists and mass leaders, including a group from the Concerned Artists of the Philippines are nominating him for the National Artist Award. He welcomed the nomination, saying this could also be a “compelling reason” for him to come home. But he modestly said that at this moment, he could not presume to win the award.

Sison brushed off rumors that he is “very sick.” He said he is, in fact, already at the stage of gaining strength after three weeks of thoroughgoing diagnostics and medical treatment and one more week of recuperation in the hospital.
Unlike in the third round held in Rome last January, where Sison skipped the closing ceremonies, he was at every major event of the fourth round this April, including a reception at the residence of the Norwegian ambassador to The Netherlands.

Should a “real milestone of great substance for the Filipino people be achieved in the peace negotiations,” Sison said he would consider visiting the Philippines to join celebrations of the event and touch base with the masses. He said in his opening and closing remarks for the fourth round that he is optimistic that the CASER would be signed within 2017.

Sison is an outstanding poet and essayist, with more than 25 books to his credit. He belongs to the patriotic and revolutionary tradition of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Francisco Balagtas, Lope K. Santos, Amado V. Hernandez and other literary giants of their time. He has contributed greatly to the Filipino sense of nationhood, advocating national sovereignty and independence, democracy, social justice, economic development through land reform and national industrialization, patriotic culture and solidarity with all peoples for peace and development.

He won the Southeast Asia WRITE Award for poetry and the essay in 1986. The award is the highest of its kind in Southeast Asia and is sponsored by the royal family of Thailand. When still the crown prince, the present Thai king handed him the award in a grand ceremony in Bangkok.

His writings have wide influence in the Philippines among his literary peers, the generations of youth since 1959 and in the mass movement for national and social liberation. The works of Sison have also been published abroad by major publishers. He enjoys worldwide recognition as a Filipino patriot and creative writer.

The National Artists are proclaimed by the President, after choosing them from a short list of nominees provided by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Creative writers, performing artists and mass leaders are now urging the CCP and NCAA to announce the guidelines and forms for nomination within April. The awards are given every three years and are due within 2017.###

NDFP rues ‘disconnect’ as AFP kills peasant activist amid fast-tracking of socio-economic reforms pact

NDFP Media Office
Press statement
7 April 2017

“The ink has hardly dried on the documents signifying the advances in talks on agrarian reform, but the military keeps on spilling the blood of farmers.”

Randall Echanis, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) gave this remark as he received word today about the killing by suspected military intelligence elements of a peasant activist in Davao del Norte. The killing took place even as members of the NDFP and GRP RWCs-SER wrapped up their work for the fourth round of formal peace negotiations yesterday.

Sixty-year old Elias Pureza, a member of the Farmers Association of San Isidro was riddled with bullets by six suspected elements of the AFP 60th IB at his residence in Barangay Mamangan, San Isidro, Davao del Norte yesterday, at 8 p.m., Philippine time. It was about an hour before the closing ceremonies for the fourth round of talks held in Noordwijk, The Netherlands yesterday afternoon.

Pureza’s murder demonstrates the urgency of reaching an agreement on much-needed reforms, especially in areas in the countryside embroiled in land disputes, said Echanis.

Negotiations on social and economic reforms are being conducted against a backdrop of mounting killings of peasant leaders and activists. To date, almost 50 farmer-activists have been killed under the Duterte government, about half of them slain since the AFP declared its all-out war policy last February 2.

The RWC-SER of both parties ended the fourth round with a firm consensus on distributing land for free as the “basic principle of genuine agrarian reform.” They also agreed to accelerate the process of concluding the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

The RWC-SERs, however, have identified as many as nine contentious provisions in the NDFP and GRP drafts under the section on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development. These are on coverage (of agrarian reform), confiscation, compensation, lease/leaseback and plantations, international agreements/domestic law, political power/implementation mechanisms, land use, private insurance, and terminologies.

The parties intend to resolve these issues in two bilateral meetings and three exchanges of drafts between April 18 and May 20, said Echanis. They hope to be ready to reconcile the NDFP and GRP drafts by the next round which will be held from May 26 to June 2, also in The Netherlands.

Closing remarks at Fourth Round of Formal Talks

Noordwijk, The Netherlands, April 6, 2017
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front o the Philippines

Her Excellency Elisabeth Slattum, Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process,
Hon. Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process,
Hon. Silvestre Bello, Chairman of the GRP Negotiating Panel,
Dear Compatriots in the Panels and Entire Delegations of the Governmentof Republic of the Philippines and the Natinal Demoratic Front of the Philippines,
Distinguished guests and friends,

The fourth round of formal talks has come to a successful conclusion. As the NDFP Chief Political Consultant, I congratulate both the GRP and NDFP panels and their respective delegations. I thank the Royal Norwegian Government, specially the special envoy and her staff, for having patiently and efficiently facilitated the round.

The Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs-SER) have exchanged their respective comparative color-coded matrices identifying the contentious provisions and those that are acceptable in principle in the NDFP and GRP drafts in order to accelerate the process of concluding a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

The RWCs-SER identified the contentious provisions in the NDFP and GRP draft under Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD), clustered them into nine major topics and have held initial discussions regarding these. Consequently, the RWCs-SER agreed to form and convene Bilateral Teams composed of three members each and supervised by RWC-SER members to work on the sections on the ARRD and National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED).

The bilateral teams are scheduled to hold work meetings in Metro Manila or elsewhere as may be mutually agreed upon in the Philippines. They have agreed on a progression of work meetings, involving discussions and common drafting. They have required themselves to submit reports to the RWCs on SER one week before the fifth round of formal talks.

I propose that the RWCS and bilateral teams to start drafting the executive orders and the legislative bills to be annexed to CASER and aimed at realizing the social and economic reforms required by CASER. In this connection, research has to be accelerated on what is to be done by the public and Filipino private sectors in cooperation o achieve ARRD and NIED. The Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill should should be taken into account in making a new land reform law. The priority industries to be established in order to lay the industrial foundation of the Philippine economy should be listed up in consultation with the industrial experts and prospective Filipino investors.

In the forthcoming round, the RWCs-SER shall discuss and work on the remaining items under the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Part IV), National Industrialization and Economic Development (Part V), Environmental Protection, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Part VI), and the outputs of the bilateral teams.

After devoting so much time to the subject of ceasefire before and during the current round, the GRP and NDFP have agreed to formulate an interim joint ceasefire agreement that will boost trust and confidence in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. They have agreed to direct their respective Ceasefire Committees to meet in-between formal talks “to discuss, formulate, and finalize the guidelines and ground rules for the implementation” of the agreement.

The prospective ceasefire’s guidelines and ground rules shall govern the presence of armed units and elements of both parties in local communities, the creation of buffer zones, the definition of prohibited, hostile, and provocative acts. A ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism is provided for to oversee the ceasefire’s implementation and handle complaints and alleged violations. The Interim Joint Ceasefire Agreement shall be signed immediately after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

Matters concerning a single govermental authority and taxation shall be properly discussed in forging the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR). Such matters can be finally resolved by the GRP and NDFP co-founding the Federal Repubic of the Philippines. Thus, the NDFP will not be capitulating to a pre-existing government but can assume reponsibilities in the new government.

The Interim Joint Ceasefire Agreement shall be valid and effective until a permanent ceasefire or truce is forged as part of the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (CAEHDF) or otherwise terminated by any of the two Parties for any reason we cannot foresee now. The ceasefire agreement is necessary and of high importance. But far more important and decisive in realizing a just and lasting peace is the adoption and implementation of basic social, economic and political reforms that are needed an demanded by the Filipino people.

We look forward to the fifth round of formal talks with high hopes. We all expect that before the forthcoming round a great deal of work has been accomplished by bilateral work meetings under the RWCs on SER and by the Ceasefire Committees of the GRP and NDFP. We aso expect the Reciprocal Working Groups on CAPCR to work in preparation for participation in the fifth round.

Thank you.

Closing speech for the fourth round of peace negotiations

Noordwijk an Zee, The Netherlands, 6 April 2017
By Fidel V. Agcaoili
Chairperson, Negotiating Panel of the NDF

Her Excellency Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum, Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process, and her team of facilitators from the Royal Norwegian Government,
Compatriots in the Negotiating Panels and Delegations of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),
Esteemed guests and friends,

We are concluding a successful fourth round of formal talks. I will not mince words when I say it has been a difficult four days of peace negotiations. We came to this fourth round of formal talks determined as ever to push the forging of substantive agreements on basic reforms, specifically the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms so that both we in the NDFP and the GRP can firmly address – and redress – the chain of issues that lie at the roots of the armed conflict.

But to break the two-month impasse in the peace negotiations that resulted from the lifting of both sides’ unilateral ceasefires, we have decided to exercise maximum flexibility while staying firm on principles and work with the GRP Negotiating Panel to sign an Agreement on Interim Joint Ceasefire. Yesterday, on April 5, 2017, the two parties signed the agreement outlining the objectives, guidelines and ground rules for crafting the interim joint ceasefire agreement.

The document we signed yesterday is not yet a ceasefire agreement but it is a significant step toward making an interim joint ceasefire agreement. Our respective ceasefire committees are expected to immediately flesh out the terms and mechanisms for the interim joint ceasefire agreement. Their work will not be a walk in the park in view of the many concerns relating to escalating militarization and human rights violations in communities.

But what is important is that we continue to talk even while fighting, in view of the absence of any ceasefire declaration. What is important is that we do not lose sight of the substance of peace, which is not equivalent to the silencing of the guns.

It is good that in this round of the negotiations, the Reciprocal Working Committees of Social and Economic Reforms have firmed up free land distribution as the basic principle of genuine agrarian reform. Both parties have agreed to accelerate the forging of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms and formed bilateral teams to work on the draft in a neutral venue in Manila.

The NDF looks forward to further steps by our counterpart to overcome serious obstacles that hamper the progress of the negotiations, which relate to the enforcement of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRIHL and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees or JASIG as well as the standing commitments contained in the previous Oslo and Rome joint statements of the negotiating panels.

Before I end, on behalf of the NDF Panel, I thank again the Royal Norwegian Government for its untiring support for the peace process in the Philippines. The road to peace is not a straight line, and we commend Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum and her team of facilitators for working hard to connect all the dots together to move the peace process forward.

Maraming salamat po. Thank you.

Joint Statement on the Successful Fourth Round of Formal Talks between the GRP and the NDFP

April 6 2017, Noorwijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands

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NDFP, GRP agree to forge interim joint ceasefire agreement

NDFP Media Office
Press statement
5 April 2017

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) today agreed to work together to forge an interim joint ceasefire agreement. They formalized their commitment through a document entitled Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire which was signed this afternoon by NDFP panel chair Fidel Agcaoili and GRP panel chair Silvestre Bello III.

The interim joint ceasefire agreement shall be signed simultaneous to, or immediately after, the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). CASER is expected to be finished within the year.

The interim joint ceasefire agreement (or the Comprehensive Joint Ceasefire Agreement) shall be effective until a permanent ceasefire is forged as part of the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.

Both parties agreed to direct their respective Ceasefire Committees to meet even in-between formal talks “to discuss, formulate, and finalize the guidelines and ground rules for the implementation” of the agreement.

The Comprehensive Joint Ceasefire Agreement is expected to be more stable than the previous unilateral ceasefires that existed from August 2016 to January 2017.

The prospective ceasefire’s guidelines and ground rules shall govern the presence of armed units and elements of both parties in local communities and the creation of buffer zones. They shall include an agreement on what constitutes prohibited, hostile, and provocative acts. They will also provide for a ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism to oversee the ceasefire’s implementation and handle complaints and alleged violations.

The matter of a single governmental authority and taxation shall be discussed and resolved in forging the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms, the third substantive agenda of the peace negotiations.

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NDFP signs agreement to forge interim joint ceasefire, move talks forward

NDFP Media Office
Press statement
5 April 2017

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) signed an agreement on an interim joint ceasefire in order to ensure that negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) on basic socio-economic and political reforms move forward.

In an interview, Wilma Tiamzon, a member of the NDFP ceasefire committee, said that the NDFP exercised flexibility to find a way out of the impasse that resulted from the lifting of both sides’ unilateral ceasefires last February and help regain trust and goodwill between the two parties that prevailed in the first three rounds of the peace talks.

NDFP panel chair Fidel Agcaoili said that the NDFP exercised maximum flexibility without abandoning principles when it signed an agreement with the GRP on an interim joint ceasefire. The interim joint ceasefire agreement takes effect after or simultaneous to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). “This is not yet a ceasefire agreement,” said Agcaoili, “but it is a significant step because it points the road towards making an interim joint ceasefire agreement.”

In a written interview, NDFP consultant Dan Borjal said that both parties’ ceasefire committees will be working hard on the guidelines and ground rules of the interim joint ceasefire agreement so that the prospective ceasefire can be more stable than the previous unilateral ceasefires.

Tiamzon explained that the working out of the guidelines and ground rules to implement the interim joint ceasefire will go hand in hand with the forging of the CASER which is supposed to be finished before the current year ends.

“This will go a long way in building trust and confidence and generating the atmosphere for the acceleration of the negotiations for CASER,” NDFP chief political consultant Jose Ma. Sison said in his remarks during the signing ceremony.

“I think the (ceasefire) negotiators were wise and flexible enough to make provisions for what some people expected would break the negotiations,” he added.

The NDFP expects that the signing of the interim joint ceasefire will likewise be accompanied by the release and grant of general amnesty to all political prisoners listed by the NDFP.

CPP-NPA calls for SOMO for release of POWs

NDFP Media Office
Press statement
5 April 2017

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) today reiterates and confirms the February 19, 2017 statement of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) directing the concerned New People’s Army (NPA) units to expedite the release of the six (6) captured prisoners of war (POWs) still in their custody as a “positive gesture” for the ongoing fourth round of the GRP-NDFP peace talks.

In fact, pursuant to the said CPP directive, the process of releases was immediately initiated. Last March 25, two (2) POWs, paramilitary members Rene Doller and Mark Nocus, captured in Lupon, Davao Oriental on February 14, were already released by their NPA custodial force to the members of the Third Party Facilitators and Independent Humanitarian Mission (TPFIHM) in Mati City, Davao Oriental.

The four (4) remaining POWs

  1. PFC Edwin Salan, captured in Alegria, Surigao del Norte on January 29;
  2. Sgt. Solaiman Calucop captured in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat
    on February 2;
  3. PFC Samuel Garay, also captured in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat
    on February 2; and
  4. PO2 Jerome Natividad, captured in Talakag, Bukidnon on February 9

would  have also been released in earnest but for the continuous and heightened AFP operations  in the provinces where they were captured, which is not only hampering the release but even placing the lives and safety of the said captured combatants and their respective NPA custodial forces as well as facilitators in serious jeopardy.

Yet, despite the difficult circumstances, the NDFP and the respective NPA commands continue to work closely with the members of the Third Party Facilitators and Independent Humanitarian Mission for the release of the remaining four (4) POWs.

For the safe and orderly release of the POWs, as well as to facilitate the safe withdrawal of the concerned NPA custodial forces, the NDFP strongly urges the GRP to order a ten-day Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) for the AFP and Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO) for the PNP in and around the areas where the POWs will be released.

In particular, the said SOMO and SOPO should cover the following areas:

A. Bukidnon

  • Talakag (15 barrios)
  • Lantapan (14 barrios)
  • Baungon (10 barrios)
  • Malaybalay City (Tampi in Mt. Kitanglad, 10 barrios)
  • Pangantucan (10 barrios)
  • Kalilangan (5 barrios)
  • Valencia City (near Mt. Kalatungan, 10 barrios)

B. Surigao del Norte

  • Surigao City
  • Alegria
  • Bacuag
  • Gigaquit
  • Claver
  • Placer
  • Mainit

C. Agusan del Norte

  • Kitcharao

D. Sultan Kudarat (not entire province, areas to follow)
E. Sarangani (not entire province, areas to follow)
F. South Cotabato (not entire province, areas to follow)

The specific details of the releases will be coordinated by the respective NPA units with the members of the TPFIHM.

Again, the positive immediate response by the GRP in this regard will create the necessary favorable condition for the safe, expeditious and orderly release of the POWs, as well as the safety of their respective families and the members of the TPFIHM, and, also the safe withdrawal of the NPA custodial forces.

The positive response of the GRP will also further the positive thrust of the ongoing round of negotiations. ###

The biggest failure is Padilla

NDFP Media Office
Press statement
4 April 2017

Padilla predicts the failure of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

In fact, Padilla is the biggest failure in the history of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

During his stint as head of the GRP negotiating panel, the talks did not progress even an inch.

He wanted to move it backward in negating what had already been achieved by trying to tear apart all the important agreements already signed.

He attacked the all-important document that is The Hague Joint Declaration as being a document of perpetual division because he did not agree with the basic principles stated in the document, that the holding of peace negotiations must be in accordance with mutually acceptable principles, including national sovereignty, democracy and social justice and no precondition shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations.

He did not agree with the principle of mutuality and reciprocity because he wanted to impose the authority of the GRP over the NDFP and the revolutionary movement.

He wanted the NDFP to surrender even without having come to agreement on the necessary reforms.

He said that in fact, the GRP was already implementing socio-economic programs, implying that there was really no need to go into the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), the second item in the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations.

That is why under his watch as head of the GRP negotiating panel, the talks could not proceed on CASER, which even the GRP panel under Silvestre Bello acknowledges as the “heart and soul” of the peace negotiations.

Padilla is spreading intrigue in his claim that the NDFP leaders engaged in the current peace negotiations do not represent the revolutionary movement.

He also implies that President Duterte and the rest of the GRP panel are stupid for talking to these leaders.

Having become irrelevant to the current peace talks, he is now trying hard to be a “spoiler”. ###

Reference:
Dan Borjal
email: dfborjal@gmail.com
twitter: https://twitter.com/dfborjal
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dborjal
viber: +31 643108419
whatsapp: Dan Borjal

Bellicose statements from AFP poisoning the atmosphere

NDFP Media Office | Press statement
4 April 2017

Statements from AFP chief, Gen. Eduardo Año, virulently attacking the NPA is poisoning the atmosphere of the ongoing peace talks in The Netherlands. While the GRP and NDFP panels are trying to negotiate peace, the militarists in the GRP are only talking about war.

Año’s claim that the NPA is anti-development is turning the truth upside down. The NPA has been engaged in socio-economic programs in areas it controls precisely because of the utter neglect and indifference of successive governments in attending to the people’s basic needs.

The NPA carries out programs in health, literacy and improving the living standards of the people through production and marketing cooperatives. This is where much of the proceeds from revolutionary taxation are spent, unlike the GRP where tax money is eaten up by corruption.

The AFP itself is an institution where corruption is rampant. Generals have it so good and some retire as millionaires. Meanwhile, their troops on the ground sometimes go hungry and steal from the peasants their chickens and eggs.

In the countryside, the peasant masses and indigenous people consider the NPA as the army of the poor, while the AFP is the army of the landlords, landgrabbers and other exploiters. The peasants call AFP troops “Hapon,” likening them to the brutal Japanese soldiers during the time of the Japanese occupation.

The NPA has just celebrated its 48th anniversary full of confidence in the bright future of the revolution. The AFP from the time of the fascist Marcos dictatorship to the big-landlord government of Benigno Aquino III has failed to defeat the NPA. The reason for this is the NPA has the support of the people.

No amount of “fake news” and disinformation from the AFP can turn the truth upside down.

Reference:
Dan Borjal
email: dfborjal@gmail.com
twitter: https://twitter.com/dfborjal
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dborjal
viber: +31 643108419
whatsapp: Dan Borjal