Second round ends with some progress but uncertainties remain

NDFP Media Office | Press Release

The second round of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations ended with some progress but uncertainties remain that serve to dampen the initial optimism on the part of the NDFP negotiators and consultants. There is now growing uneasiness and impatience among the NDFP delegation over the snail’s pace in the steps being taken to effect the release of the remaining political prisoners despite repeated promises and assurances coming from the GRP panel.

There are more than 400 political prisoners still languishing in various jails nationwide. The issue of their continued detention came up early in the talks as the new NDFP Panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili cited the pledge made by President Rodrigo Duterte himself last May to issue an amnesty proclamation to speed up their release. So far, the GRP has released only 22 political prisoners, most of them NDFP consultants. There have been no other releases since August.

In response to the appeal from GRP Panel Chairperson Silvestre Bello for patience, Agcaoili said that if the GRP could effect the speedy release of the 22 JASIG-protected NDFP consultants why the seemingly excruciating difficulty in releasing the rest of the political prisoners?

Under pressure from the consistent pressing of the NDFP on this issue, the GRP Panel once again promised “to do their best”. But cynicism is now growing among some of the NDFP negotiators and consultants as well as among the remaining political prisoners on account of so many unfulfilled promises.

Aside from the issue of political prisoners, reports have been coming in from the field about continuous military operations by AFP forces in NPA territory. According to NPA commands from various regions, the reason why there has been no firefights so far is mainly because NPA forces have been maneuvering to avoid armed encounters. But tensions are rising because the AFP military operations appear more and more to be taking the form of base-denial operations targeting the mass base of the NPA.

According to NPA national spokesperson Jorge Madlos, “All NPA units have strictly abided by its own unilateral ceasefire declaration. Aside from maintaining defensive posture, NPA units are conducting counter-maneuvers to avoid armed skirmishes with the AFP.” But not a few NPA units are having difficulty holding back amid threats from the AFP in its counter-insurgency intelligence operations, Madlos said.

From Northern Luzon to Southern Mindanao, Madlos claimed, there were reports of AFP units telling civilians that the ceasefire is no longer in effect to justify their operations and presence in their communities. The NPA’s Agustin Begnalen Command based in Abra said the Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion have been telling civilians in Sallapadan town that the ceasefire has ended.

Madlos said the AFP has yet to observe the advice of President Duterte to be friendly to the NPA adding that the AFP continues to conduct hostile operations against the NPA, “even using the drug campaign as pretext to conduct anti-NPA operations.”

In one instance, when confronted by peasants on why the soldiers were continuing with military operations despite the GRP ceasefire, the AFP officer leading the operation reportedly answered that they would then have nothing else to do adding that the NPA would not attack them anyway because the NPA has declared its own ceasefire. To have a stable ceasefire AFP forces must “return to barracks” at the level of the battalion headquarters.

In addition, reports have come in regarding political assassinations and attempted assassinations of leaders of people’s organizations such as the case of the secretary general of the Compostela Valley Farmers Association (CFA), Jimmy Saipan, who was killed in cold blood by two motorcycle riding gunmen yesterday, October 10. Saipan was a Lumad anti-mining activist opposing the exploration by the Agusan Petroleum Mineral Corp. in 12,000 hectares of Lumad lands. The CFA has also been conducting dialogue with the 66th IB for the latter to stop occupying their community. The AFP has falsely accused the CFA as a communist front organization.

Showing some impatience, the NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison and the NDFP Panel Chair Fidel Agcaoili have served notice to the other side that continued non-compliance on the issue of the remaining political prisoners can have serious consequences in the continuation of the current ceasefire and forward movement in the peace negotiations as a whole. On the other hand, compliance will boost the prospects for forging a bilateral ceasefire agreement and acceleration of the peace process.

There has been some progress in the work of the RWCs-SER, RWGs-PCR and RWGs-EHDF with agreements reached on their respective common framework and outline for the tentative draft agreements that are to be fleshed out in later rounds.

The Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms RWC-SER took the longest to come up with a common framework and outline. NDFP negotiators sensed an apparent attempt on the side of the GRP to confine the discussion to existing programs of government agencies as the “solutions” without first arriving at a well thought-out understanding of the problems. This prompted NDFP RWC-SER head Juliet de Lima to remark that this was “putting the cart before the horse.”

A great chasm between the two sides exists in the appreciation of what the NDFP considers the age-old problems of rural landlessness and poverty due to the persistence of feudalism, and the absence of real industrialization that has failed to create jobs resulting in massive unemployment which forces 2,000 Filipino workers to go abroad every day to seek for work. Previous government programs have consistently failed to address the problems of rural poverty and urban mass unemployment precisely because these have been based on a superficial and faulty analysis of the deeply-seated problems.

The panels agreed to meet again in the third week of January 2017 in a foreign neutral venue with many uncertainties remaining to haunt the peace process. ###

Reference:

NDFP Media Group

Dan Borjal

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Closing Remarks at the Second Round of Formal Talks

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

Hon. Special Envoy Elisabeth Slattum and other officials of the Royal Norwegian Government
Hon. Silvestre Bello III and Fidel Agcaoili
Beloved Compatriots in the GRP and NDFP Panels and Delegations
And all dear friends present,

As NDFP chief political consultant, I congratulate both the GRP and NDFP panels and delegations for the successful conclusion of the second round of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

The most essential success that has been achieved is the agreement on common outlines of prospective comprehensive agreements on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

The schedule for fleshing out of the outlines, and eventual exchange of drafts and bilateral meetings to forge the tentative comprehensive agreements has been further firmed up.

There is mutual understanding on the rendering of justice to the unjustly imprisoned political prisoners accumulated during the Arroyo and Aquino regimes through prompt compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

I reiterate that the amnesty and release of all political prisoners will be a big incentive to the attainment of a more stable joint or bilateral ceasefire and to the acceleration of the peace process.

The success of the second round of formal talks has been possible because of the mindful, caring and efficient facilitation provided by the RNG and in particular Special Envoy Elisabeth Slattum and her entire team and by the Norwegian Peace-Building Resource Center (NOREF). We thank all of you.#

JOINT STATEMENT ON THE SECOND ROUND OF TALKS BETWEEN THE GRP AND THE NDFP

We, the Negotiating Panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), successfully held the second round of talks from 6 to 9 October 2016 in Oslo, Norway, facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG).

At the opening ceremonies, RNG Special Envoy to the Philippines Peace Process, Ambassador Elizabeth Slattum, welcomed the GRP and NDFP delegations. She reiterated the continuing commitment of the RNG to support the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, GRP Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) reiterated the commitment of the two Parties in the peace negotiations toward resolving the armed conflict.

NDFP Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Maria Sison thanked the RNG for its caring and efficient facilitation. He stated that the amnesty and release of all political prisoners are a matter of justice and compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and will be a big incentive to the forging of a more stable ceasefire as well as to the acceleration of the peace process.

GRP Panel Chairperson Silvestre Bello III congratulated Fidel Agcaoili for being the newly-designated Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel and reiterated the determination of the Duterte administration to bring the peace negotiations to a successful conclusion as soon as possible. He also extended his deepest appreciation to former NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Luis G. Jalandoni for his invaluable contribution to the sustained conduct of the peace talks through the years.

NDFP Panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili thanked the GRP Panel Chairperson for his congratulations. He narrated the need to expeditiously pursue the work for the grant of amnesty and the release of prisoners (as listed by the NDFP).

NDFP Panel Chairperson Agcaoili announced the appointments of Mr. Jalandoni as NDFP Senior Adviser and Benito E. Tiamzon as new member of the NDFP Panel.

The Chairpersons of the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels, Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and Fidel V. Agcaoili, introduced their respective Panel Members:

On the side of the GRP: Panel Chairperson, Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and Panel members, Hernani A. Braganza, Atty. Rene V. Sarmiento, Atty. Angela L. Trinidad, and Atty . Antonio B. Arellano.

On the side of the NDFP: Panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili and Panel Members Julieta S. de Lima, Coni K. Ledesma, Asterio B. Palima and Benito E. Tiamzon.

Both sides also brought along the heads and members of their respective Reciprocal Working Committee-Socio and Economic Reforms (RWCs-SER), Reciprocal Working Groups-Political and Constitutional Reforms (RWGs-PCR), Reciprocal Working Groups-End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (RWGs-EHDF), Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) under the CARHRIHL, respective ceasefire committees, advisers, consultants, cooperators, experts, resource persons, technical personnel and observers.

The Parties noted the presence of the six-person delegation from the House of Representatives headed by Hon. Ruby M. Sahali as well as Tarlac Gov. Susan Yap. The other members of the House delegation are: Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra S.A. Sema, Hon. Leopoldo N. Bataoil, Hon. Nancy A. Catamco, Hon. Jesus N. Sacdalan, and Hon. Carlos Isagani Zarate.

The two Panels agreed on the following:

1. Releases
The Parties reviewed the Joint Oslo Statements dated June 15 and August 26, 2016 on the issue of the immediate release of detained prisoners listed by the NDFP, giving premium on those prisoners who will be released based on humanitarian grounds. They also reviewed the circumstances and status of JASIG-protected NDFP consultants.

They took good note of the positive steps so far taken, including the finalization of the Revised Guidelines on the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon, and agreed to accelerate the process consistent with the Parties’ common resolve.

They also agreed that the presidential clemency for and release of three remaining JASIG-protected consultants, Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza, shall be expedited. The GRP shall release the prisoners who are listed by the NDFP in accordance with the CARHRIHL pending the approval of the proposed amnesty for their benefit.

The GRP Panel affirms its commitment to work for the release of these prisoners in expeditious and acceptable modes.

2. Amnesty Proclamation
The Panels reviewed the circumstances and status of the proposed amnesty proclamation since the first round of talks on August 27, 2016.

The GRP Panel said that the amnesty proclamation has already been drafted and endorsed to the Office of the President. The NDFP Panel requested a copy of the said proclamation. The GRP Panel assured the NDFP that it shall have a copy in due time.
Meetings of RWCs, RWGs, JMC and respective ceasefire committees

Meeting of RWCs, RWGs, JMC and respective ceasefire committees.

a. RWCs-SER
The RWCs-SER discussed their respective proposed drafts on the framework and outline of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

After several sessions, the RWCs-SER agreed on a common CASER framework and outline which both parties have initialed (Annex A).

The RWCs-SER agreed to conduct their respective consultations, exchange drafts, and schedule their bilateral meetings to correspond to the formal meetings of the Negotiating Panels.

b. RWCs-PCR
The RWCs-PCR agreed on a common outline (Annex B). This shall be fleshed out by each side in the period of November to December 2016 in the Philippines. The two sides shall exchange the enfleshed drafts of the common outline in the last week of January 2017 by email. They shall discuss the drafts in order to reconcile them on the date and venue decided by the Panels.

c. RWCs-EHDF
The RWGs-EHDF agreed on the topic outline of the NDFP RWG-EHDF as the common outline (Annex C).

The RWGs-EHDF will continue to hold unilateral meetings in order to develop their respective outlines and submit the same to their respective Panels. In the meantime, the RWGs-EHDF shall study and follow closely the progress of the work of the RWCs-SER and RWGs-PCR.

The RWGs-EHDF have agreed to exchange drafts of their respective enfleshed common draft outlines upon completion by the RWCs on SER of the draft CASER and after the RWCs on PCR have substantially moved forward in the drafting of a CAPCR.

d. Joint Monitoring Committee
The JMC discussed and agreed to undertake joint activities including the distribution of CARHRIHL in several local languages, brochures, poster-making contest and calendar.

The JMC likewise agreed to develop the monitoring system and promote human rights by conducting fora and trainings which will be planned by the Joint Secretariats.

The JMC will recommend the inclusion of the study of human rights and international humanitarian law in the curriculum of schools.

They had extended discussions and clarifications on documentation and investigation.

The Joint Secretariat shall finalize the coverage of the Joint Education and Capacity Building.

The JMC shall correspondingly amend the budget to cover the various joint activities and submit it to the RNG.

The JMC discussed the Draft Common Supplemental Guidelines initialed in April 2011 including further amendments by the NDFP MC to which the GRP MC asked for more time to study and comment.

The JMC discussed its budget and agreed that the coverage is for fifteen months, beginning October 2016 to December 2017.

e. Respective ceasefire committees
The Parties renewed their commitment to work through their respective ceasefire committees to reconcile and develop their separate unilateral ceasefire orders into a single unified bilateral document within 60 days from August 26, 2016.

The Parties engaged in preliminary discussions on different drafts for a potential bilateral ceasefire, took note of concerns on issues related thereto, and relayed alleged incidents vis-a-vis their separate unilateral ceasefire orders.

The Parties stressed that they are exerting best efforts to develop a single unified document of a bilateral ceasefire agreement within a desired period.

The Parties have likewise reaffirmed their declarations of their respective unilateral indefinite ceasefires.

3. Next Meeting
The Panels agreed to meet again on the third week of January 2017 in a foreign neutral venue. They have instructed their respective RWCs and RWGs to synchronize their schedules.

Expression of Gratitude to RNG
Both Panels reiterated their appreciation and gratitude to the Royal Norwegian Government for its steadfast support to the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and acknowledged the facilitation of Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slattum and her team.

 

Signed in Oslo, Norway on 09 October 2016

Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III

Chairperson of the GRP Panel

Hernani A. Braganza

Member, GRP Panel

Rene V. Sarmiento

Member, GRP Panel

Angela L. Trinidad

Member, GRP Panel

Antonio B. Arellano

Member, GRP Panel

Fidel V. Agcaoili

Chairperson of the NDFP Panel

Julieta S. de Lima

Member, NDFP Panel

Coni K. Ledesma

Member, NDFP Panel

Asterio B. Palima

Member, NDFP Panel

Benito E. Tiamzon

Member, NDFP Panel

WITNESSES:

Sec. Jesus G. Dureza

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Mayor Edgardo D. Pamintuan

Adviser, GRP Panel

Prof. Jose Maria Sison

NDFP Chief Political Consultant

Luis G. Jalandoni

Senior Adviser, NDFP Panel

Elisabeth Slattum

Third Party Facilitator

For the Royal Norwegian Government

The GRP delegation was headed by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus G. Dureza with the following members: OPAPP Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso; GRP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Silvestre H. Bello III and Panel members Hernani A. Braganza, Atty. Rene V. Sarmiento, Atty. Angela L. Trinidad, and Atty. Antonio B. Arellano; Panel Advisers Mayor Edgardo D. Pamintuan and CHED Commissioner Prospero De Vera; GRP Monitoring Committee Chair Atty. Efren C. Moncupa and member Col Facundo Palafox; RWC-SER Head Roberto M. Ador and member Atty. Ria Lano; RWG PCR Head Dean Sedfrey M. Candelaria with member Dean Julio Teehankee; RWG-EH/DF Head DND Assistant Secretary Teodoro Cirilo Torralba III and member Atty. Franklin Quijano; Committee-Ceasefire Head Prof. Francisco J. Lara, Jr. and members Atty, Marie Dinah Tolentino-Fuentes, Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip, Col. Wilmer Panabang and Atty. Adel Abas; WG-JASIG/Releases Head Atty. Vincent Paul L. Montejo; Panel Technical Committee Head Danilo L. Encinas and members Col. Francisco Ariel A. Felicidario III, Police Chief Supt. Agrimero A. Cruz Jr.; WG Communications Head Patricia Melizza Ruivivar and members Ruben Manahan, Edwin G. Espejo and Joy Alcantara; Panel Secretariat Head Director Maria Carla Munsayac-Villarta and staff support team members Oscar Bathan, Fe Oaing, Celin Mendoza, Rosalyn Lachica, Edith Wayas, Jenivive Cruz and Rhoda Espino; and Executive/Technical Assistants Dr. Jesus Cruz, Leonardo Kirk Galanza, Jeliza Farrah D. Uy, Oibone Enobio, and Lean Braganza.

The NDFP Delegation was composed of Panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili and Panel Members Julieta S. de Lima-Sison, Coni K. Ledesma, Asterio B. Palima, Benito E. Tiamzon; NDFP Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Maria Sison; Senior Adviser Luis G. Jalandoni; Political Consultants Rey Claro Casambre, Danilo Borjal; Legal Consultants Edre U. Olalia, Rachel Pastores, Carlos Montemayor Jr., Criselda Azarcon Heredia, Edgar Carmona; Legal Resource Persons Marie Francesca Yuvienco, Rom-Voltaire Quizon, Pamela Felizarta, Rolando Rico Olalia, Fatima Irene Purisima; RWC-SER Members Alan Jazmines Jr., Randall Echanis, Adelberto Silva; RWC-SER Consultants Gabriel Kennedy Bangibang, Ruben Saluta, Servellano Jaime Soledad, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Renato Baleros Sr.; RWC-SER Resource Person Vivian de Lima; RWC-SER Secretariat Members Rita Sadorra, Pio Verzola Jr., Lualhati Roque; RWG-PCR Members Rafael Baylosis, Renante Gamara, Alfredo Mapano, Ernesto Lorenzo; RWG-PCR Consultant Felix Randy Malayao Jr.; RWG-PCR Cooperator Carol P. Araullo; RWG-PCR Resource Person Francisco Domagoso; RWG-EHDF Chairperson Wilma Austria Tiamzon; RWG-EHDF Members Pedro Codaste, Porferio Tuna Jr.; RWG-EHDF Consultants Tirso Alcantara, Ariel Arbitrario, Edie Genelza; JMC Member Concha Araneta-Bocala; JMC Staff Levie Ebio; Independent Observer Rev. Rex Reyes Jr.; Secretariat Head Marissa P. Dumanjug-Palo and Staff Members Alexander Birondo, Winona Birondo, Rosario Agcaoili (staff of Fidel V. Agcaoili).

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NDFP corrects GRP’s “foul and erroneous” statement on CASER “snag”

National Democratic Front of the Philippines Peace (NDF) Reciprocal Working Committee on Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (RWC-CASER) vice-chairperson Alan Jazmines corrected the “foul and erroneous” statements issued yesterday by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and by the supervising peace panel member of the GRP’s side in the RWC-CASER, Hernani Braganza.

The OPAPP and Braganza said that the current GRP-NDF peace talks taking place in Oslo “hit a snag”, accordingly after the NDF “refused to include” nine (9) major “outcomes” that the GRP panel wanted to include in the agreement.

The said “outcomes” proposed by the GRP’s side in the RWC-CASER include “poverty eradication”, “environment and climate change”, “globally competitive economy”, “adequate and quality social services”, “reduced inequalities”, “peaceful rural communities”, “food security”, “living incomes” and “gender equality and representation.”

NDF RWC-SER chair Julie De Lima had earlier stated that those nine “outcomes” proposed by the GRP’s side on CASER were mere enumerations – actually lifted from the NDF’s lengthy draft proposals– the GRP’s side on CASER still had no elaborations at all to explain the content and expectations of those nine “outcomes”.

“On the other hand, the NDF’s side on CASER had already submitted lengthy comprehensive drafts on the “bases, scope and applicability” and substantive discussions on various aspects of social and economic reforms, including on the subjects of agrarian reform; national industrialization; environmental protection; rights of the working people; foreign economic and trade relations; monetary and fiscal policies,” Jazmines said.

Jazmines added that the NDF’s side on CASER consider these as the “solutions that seek to address the roots of the long sufferings of the mass of the Filipino people and relatedly the long-standing armed conflict in the country.”

“The NDF’s side in the RWC-CASER did not just throw away the nine (9) major “outcomes” that the GRP panel proposed as “solutions”, but instead made efforts to incorporate, in the NDF’s long well-prepared lengthy outline on CASER proposals, a series of edited versions of the nine “outcomes” proposed by the GRP Peace panel on CASER, and included such in a joint outline of a comprehensive CASER proposal as the working draft of the discussions on social and economic reforms,” says Jazmines.

“After a couple more of editing sessions, the two negotiating panels on CASER agreed to a final outline on a comprehensive CASER proposal,” he said.

“This, the NDF considers as an indication of initial success in the start of the CASER negotiations,” Jazmines said.

Based on such an outline, further and more substantive panel-to-panel talks between the NDF and GRP are scheduled to take place in the next several months. #

GRP-NDFP talks on social and economic reforms face delay due to differences on outline

PRESS RELEASE

Discussions on social and economic reforms (SER) during the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) today has been delayed after both reciprocal working committees (RWC) differed on the outline of the agreement.

For the NDFP, the outline “should be based on addressing the roots of the armed conflict while the GRP wants an outcomes-based outline.”

“We have exchanged with the GRP an outline of a comprehensive draft on social and economic reforms that includes agrarian reform, national industrialization, environmental protection, environmental protection, rights of the working people, foreign economic and trade relations, and, monetary and fiscal policies,” says Julie De Lima, chairperson of the NDFP-RWC-SER.

“We also welcome the GRP’s acceptance of the NDFP draft as the working draft of the discussions on social and economic reforms,” De Lima said.

De Lima said that while both parties agreed to adopt the “preamble and declaration of principles” of the NDFP draft, the GRP wants the ‘bases, scope and applicability’ to be deferred” until they have exchanged a more detailed outline of the nine-point outcome.

“It was the GRP who requested the postponement of discussions on the CASER for them to elaborate on their nine-point outcomes-based proposal,” says De Lima.

“The main purpose of the peace negotiations is to address the roots of the armed conflict which, among others, includes poverty, landlessness, joblessness, hunger, and inequality,” De Lima said adding: “placing the outcome ahead in an outline of an agreement on social and economic reforms is like putting the cart before the horse.”

The GRP vowed to elaborate on their proposed outcome and present it tomorrow morning since it contains, according to the NDFP are “mere generalizations” and fails to include details on how to achieve the outcomes.

The GRP’s nine-point outcome includes poverty eradication, environment and climate justice, globally competitive economy, adequate and quality social services, reduced inequalities, peaceful rural communities, food security, living incomes, and gender equality and representation. “These issues are all addressed in more detail in the NDFP draft outline,” De Lima said. #

Second round opens on an optimistic note but a thorny issue persists

Press Release | 6 October 2016

The second round of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations started with the two panels expressing optimism on the success of the talks. Both panels are acutely aware of the high expectations among our people especially since the next item in the substantive agenda, social and economic reforms, has been variously described as the “meat of the peace negotiations” and the “heart and soul of the peace negotiations”.  This is because it would involve addressing one of the principal causes of the ongoing armed conflict: widespread poverty along with issues of unemployment, underdevelopment, social injustice and so on.

But one thorny issue has persisted that is testing the patience of the NDFP negotiating panel and threatening to spoil the initial optimism that has arisen under the new administration of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte.

The new NDFP panel Chair Fidel Agcaoili, pointed to this issue in his opening speech when he highlighted the long-standing concern of the NDFP regarding the release of more than 400 political prisoners accumulated during previous GRP administrations in violation of CARHRIHL and the Hernandez political offense doctrine by piling up charges of common crimes on suspected NDFP personnel.  The release of the current political prisoners is therefore a matter of justice.

According to NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP was greatly encouraged when Pres. Duterte promised to proclaim a general amnesty as the most effective way of redressing this injustice.  Because of this, the NDFP responded positively to the long-standing demand of the GRP for a ceasefire.  In the past the NDFP was cool to the idea of a ceasefire because GRP forces had the habit of violating their own ceasefire anyway by continuing to conduct military operations in the field.

The NDFP has kept to its obligation on its unilateral ceasefire declaration.  The current ceasefire has been holding and so far no fighting has been reported between the AFP and the NPA. However, the promise to release the political prisoners seems to be suffering from delay after delay after delay.

The NDFP panel chair served notice to the GRP side that if this anomalous situation continues, it can serve as a disincentive to the NDFP in further pursuing the discussions on prolonging the ceasefire and arriving at a bilateral agreement on a more stable ceasefire.  It can also hinder progress in working out agreements on social and economic reforms (SER), political and constitutional reforms (PCR) and end of hostilities and disposition of forces (EHDF).

On the other hand, a prompt resolution of this issue will go a long way in creating a favorable atmosphere for prolonging the ceasefire and advancing the negotiations on SER, PCR and EHDF.

Agcaoili recalled that it was Pres. Duterte himself who offered to declare amnesty as the most expeditious way of effecting the release the more than 400 political prisoners to redress the injustice. Pres. Duterte made the promise during their first meeting on May 16 in connection with the resumption of the peace negotiations.

He said that Duterte was of the opinion that amnesty would be the best mode of release among the various methods that Agcaoili had recommended, such as archiving, bail, recognizance in effecting the release of all the political prisoners, including JASIG-protected persons, the sick, elderly, women and long-term detainees for humanitarian reasons.

Agcaoili clarified that the proffered amnesty proclamation pertains to the currently detained political prisoners and not to a general amnesty that is mutually extended to the forces of both parties in the final settlement of an armed conflict.  He made the clarification in view of recent statements from GRP panel chief Silvestre Bello III that an amnesty proclamation would be issued by Duterte only upon the successful conclusion of the peace negotiations.

He stressed that these two amnesty concepts should not be muddled, “lest we be accused of using the political prisoners as leverage to secure advantage across the negotiating table or to demand capitulation of one side by another.”

“The continuing detention of the more than 400 political prisoners is manifestly a grave injustice,” said Agcaoili.  “It does not befit a regime that wants to bring about change by engaging in peace negotiations with the revolutionary movement and the Moro people.”  #

Reference:
NDFP Media Group
Dan Borjal
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Fidel V. Agcaoili NDFP Peace Panel Chairperson Opening Statement

Opening Statement | 6 October 2016
Fidel V. Agcaoili
NDFP Peace Panel Chairperson
Oslo, Norway

Magandang hapon sa ating lahat!

This opening statement will be brief.
As the newly-appointed Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, I intend to pursue the policies of the revolutionary movement on the peace negotiations as ably carried out by my predecessor and now Senior Adviser, Chairperson Luis Jalandoni.
Let me tell you frankly that I do not relish this new role. I was content to be an ordinary member of the Panel and, sometimes, be appointed as emissary to the GRP, to then Presidents Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos and now to President Rodrigo Duterte. But rest assured that I will do my best to accomplish the task that has fallen on my shoulders.

My opening statement focuses on the issue of the release of all political prisoners as a matter of justice and in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The most effective method of release is through an amnesty proclamation as offered by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

The release of all political prisoners through amnesty was offered by President Duterte during my first meeting with him on 16 May 2016 in connection with the resumption of the peace negotiations. Compared to the various methods that I had recommended, such as archiving, bail, release on recognizance, etc., he stated that granting amnesty would be the most effective mode in releasing the JASIG-protected persons, the sick, elderly, women and long-term detainees for humanitarian reasons, and all the political prisoners.

His offer was made in the presence of a current member of the GRP Panel, a Congressman who is now in our midst in this current round of talks as a member of the delegation from the House of Representatives, and several other persons.

Now, I am mentioning this in order to clarify that the proffered amnesty proclamation pertains to the political prisoners and not to a general amnesty that is mutually extended to the forces of both Parties in the final settlement of an armed conflict.
We should not muddle these two amnesty concepts, lest we be accused of intending to make use of the political prisoners as a leverage or hostage to secure advantage across the negotiating table or to demand capitulation of one side by another.

The continuing detention of the more than 400 political prisoners is manifestly a grave injustice. It does not befit a regime that wants to bring about change by engaging in peace negotiations with the revolutionary movement and the Moro people.
We should bear in mind that their continuing detention is a blatant violation of the CARHRIHL. They are unjustly detained on trumped-up charges of common crimes in violation of the Hernandez political offense doctrine that has been enshrined in the CARHRIHL.

President Duterte himself in his conversation with NDFP lawyers and GRP Panelists on 15 August 2016 in Malacanang Palace, reaffirmed his belief in the correctness and justness of the 1956 Philippine Supreme Court decision on the case against Amado V. Hernandez on rebellion complex with common crimes.

The NDFP stands firm in calling for the release through amnesty of the 432 political prisoners not only as a matter of justice but also in basic compliance of the CARHRIHL.

Their release will undoubtedly serve as an incentive in accelerating the peace negotiations and in forging a more stable ceasefire agreement.

I hope we can resolve these crucial issues so that we can move forward.
Maraming salamat po!

Reference:
NDFP Media Group
Dan Borjal
email: [email protected]
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Announcement on the new composition of the NDFP Negotiating Panel

The national leadership of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has granted the long-standing request of Comrade Luis G. Jalandoni to resign as the Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel.

The national leadership of the NDFP is grateful for the valuable service that Comrade Jalandoni has given to the peace negotiations. He continues to be involved in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations as a Senior Adviser.

In his place, the national leadership of the NDFP has appointed Fidel V. Agcaoili as the new Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel. Comrade Agcaoili has been serving as the Vice-Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel in the past years.

In order to further strengthen the NDFP Negotiating Panel, NDFP Peace Consultant, Benito Tiamzon is named by the NDFP national leadership as Member of the NDFP Negotiating Panel.#

Reference:
NDFP Media Group
Dan Borjal
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