Closing statement of NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili

January 25, 2017

Dear countrymen in the Negotiating Panels and Delegations of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Her Excellency Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum, special envoy to the peace process and her most able team of facilitators, esteemed guests, good afternoon.

Today, we acclaim the successful conclusion of the third round of the peace negotiations. We have reviewed and discussed the full implementation of the CARHRIHL, the first agreement in the four items of the substantive agenda. We have earnestly begun the hard work of reconciling the two parties’ draft of the comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms as well as the tentative draft of the agreement on political and constitutional reforms. We have signed an agreement to supplement the Operational Guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of June 2004, and the ground rules on the conduct of the formal meetings between the RWC-SER of the GRP and the NDFP that will hopefully facilitate the drafting of the CASER to meet the set deadline this year.

There is basis for forging ahead in the peace negotiations.

There are, however, outstanding issues that have yet to be resolved.

Even as the two panels were negotiating, news came in about the extrajudicial killing of a peasant and a Lumad leader, the death of an NPA Red fighter in a gunbattle initiated by the AFP in violation of its own ceasefire, and the arrest of a suspected NPA guerrilla who was accused of violating a still unrepealed martial law-era decree. The continuing militarization of the countryside must end. The people have been demanding the pullout of GRP military and paramilitary forces from their areas. They deem the NPA as their true army and are urging the Red fighters to withdraw from their unilateral ceasefire so that the latter could defend communities beleaguered by the AFP.

And of course, there is the festering issue of the continuing incarceration of 392 political prisoners.

The non-release of political prisoners again deserves particular emphasis. Among the almost 400 political prisoners are three NDFP consultants who should have been released in August last year to enable them to participate in the peace negotiations. Their continuing imprisonment is a violation of the JASIG.

Also among the detainees are more than a hundred ailing, elderly, long-held and women detainees whose release has been promised, not just once but several times by President Rodrigo Duterte and members of the GRP peace panel. The physical and psychological stresses resulting from conditions of severe congestion, lack of medical attention and inadequate food have already taken their toll on 14 political prisoners who have died in detention, 13 under the regime of Benigno Aquino III and one under the present administration.

The issue becomes even more urgent considering that many, if not all of the political detainees have been charged with common crimes in violation of the CARHRIHL and the GRP’s own jurisprudence concerning political offenses.

We have said it before and we say it again. The release of political prisoners is not simply a goodwill measure on the part of the GRP nor is it a precondition. It is a matter of redressing an injustice. It is a matter of compliance with the CARHRIHL. It is also a question of trust, of palabra de honor. The promise given in August 2016 in order to secure the indefinite extension of the unilateral ceasefire of the revolutionary movement has not materialized to date.

The political prisoners have suffered enough. We fervently hope that the release and amnesty of the political prisoners listed by the NDFP will be given the attention it merits in the course of our continuing negotiations to lay the basis for a more stable ceasefire agreement and accelerate the pace of the peace talks.

Thank you very much.

JOINT STATEMENT ON THE SUCCESSFUL THIRD ROUND OF FORMAL TALKS BETWEEN THE GRP AND NDFP IN ROME, ITALY

The Negotiating Panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), together with their respective delegations of negotiating bodies, consultants, advisors, resource persons, cooperators and staff successfully held the third round of formal talks in Rome City from January 19 to 25, 2017. The third round was facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) in cooperation with the Italian Government.

At the opening ceremonies on January 19, RNG Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner and RNG Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slåttum welcomed the two delegations. They commended the two Parties for their hard work in the second round of the formal talks in Oslo and reiterated the commitment of the RNG of its continuing support to the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

The opening statements of the two Parties were made by the following: GRP OPAPP Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison, GRP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Silvestre H. Bello III, NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili and RNG Special Envoy Ambassador Elisabeth Slåttum.

In her opening statement, RNG Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process, Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum, congratulated both Panels for their commitment in working for peace in the country. She commended the two sides for declaring their respective unilateral indefinite ceasefires. The Ambassador reiterated the RNG’s commitment to be with the two Parties for the duration of the peace negotiations.

The Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Secretary Jesus G. Dureza after thanking the RNG passed on part of his speaking turn to GRP Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., who expressed his support to the peace process. Sec. Yasay also expressed his admiration for Professor Joma Sison and his elation for having met with him personally.

In his opening statement, Professor Sison expressed his continued declaration that the two Panels can negotiate in a non-adversarial way and overcome any obstacle by addressing the root causes of the armed conflict. He also acknowledged his appreciation for last year’s release of detained NDFP consultants and the expectation for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners. Further, he cited that the concurrent or reciprocal unilateral declarations of ceasefire by the GRP and NDFP can easily be turned into a more stable bilateral ceasefire upon the release of all political prisoners by the GRP in compliance with the CARHRIHL. He likewise expressed NDFP’s concerns on the burial of former President Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani and violation of the CARHRIHL and the ceasefire.

Professor Sison was hopeful that within six months the CASER shall already be ready for signing, while the NDFP views political and constitutional reforms can take good and viable examples from both unitary and federal forms of state. He said that the NDFP can go along with President Duterte’s proposal for a federal form of government provided certain safeguards were put in place like the prohibition of puppetry, dictatorship, graft and corruption, dynasty building and warlordism.
He pointed out the advantage of having the CASER and CAPCR signed and approved by the principals within the first two years of the Duterte Government is that these agreements shall be implemented for at least two years before the end of said government. If implemented to the satisfaction of the Filipino people and the NDFP, these agreements shall lay the full basis of the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces as early as 2020-2021.

On the part of the GRP Panel Chairperson, Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, he expressed the readiness of the Panel to exchange and discuss the Government’s draft agreements on CASER, CAPCR and CAEHDF, through its Working Committee/Groups, and finalize the Supplemental Guidelines for the full operation of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the CARHRIHL as well as the draft agreement on the bilateral ceasefire. Secretary Bello also expressed the readiness of the Panel to discuss and address the issues confronting the talks such as prisoner release, implementation of the reconstructed JASIG list and the amnesty proclamation. He capped his statement by thanking the support of the RNG Third Party Facilitator, and expressed his expectation for a cordial but frank, rigorous but productive discussions.

The NDFP Panel Chairperson, Fidel V. Agcaoili, declared the NDFP Panel’s readiness to push the negotiations forward and even accelerate the process of forging mutually acceptable comprehensive agreements on the most important topics of socio-economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms. He noted however, certain serious obstacles that are needed to be hurdled if mutual trust and confidence are to be maintained so that negotiations can move forward. He repeatedly raised the issue of the release of all the NDFP-listed prisoners, and expressed appreciation for the support of the RNG to the peace talks.

Before going into the first item on the agenda of the third round of formal talks, a delegation from both Parties met to discuss certain outstanding issues and concrete measures to facilitate the peace negotiations. They discussed the issues of release of political prisoners and of socio-economic projects in relation to the Joint Agreement in Support of Socioeconomic Projects of Private Development Organizations and Institutes of March 16, 1998. The Parties discussed the signing of CASER with issues of the amnesty of political prisoners and the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement.

On Implementation of CARHRIHL and JASIG

The two Parties agreed to strictly comply with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the first major agreement signed by the Parties in accordance with the 4-item substantive agenda as provided for in The Hague Joint Declaration.

In this connection, the Joint Monitoring Committee discussed and finalized the Supplemental Guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC). (Annex A) The Guidelines were subsequently signed by the respective Panel Chairpersons, Monitoring Committees, Supervising Panel Members and witnessed by the Third Party Facilitator.  These Supplementary Guidelines will guide and fully operationalize the work of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) in its task of monitoring the implementation of, and achieving, the objectives of CARHRIHL in upholding and promoting human rights and international humanitarian law.

These Guidelines supplement the Operational Guidelines for the JMC of 14 February 2004 and the Partial Supplemental Guidelines for the JMC of 24 June 2004 governing the monitoring mechanism of the implementation of the CARHRIHL.

In the first working session of the two negotiating panels, the NDFP raised the following issues regarding the GRP’s implementation of the CARHRIHL and JASIG:

The NDFP panel cited with concern the urgency for the GRP to repeal the remaining repressive Marcos decrees that continue to be used against political prisoners and the people; non-observance of the Hernandez political offense doctrine prohibiting the criminalization of acts in pursuit of one’s political beliefs; the perceived political rehabilitation of Marcos and its implications to the rendering of justice for the Martial Law victims; the incidents of occupying schools, barangay halls, and other civilian structures in the rural communities as part of GRP’s Oplan Bayanihan; and the due process issues in relation to the GRP’s anti-drug campaign.

The NDFP panel also cited the continuing detention of three NDFP consultants promised presidential pardon and the surveillance and harassment of NDFP consultants participating in the ongoing peace talks.

The NDFP panel conveyed that violations of the GRP unilateral ceasefire covering more than 500 barangays were increasingly endangering the peace talks.

The NDFP panel requested for a copy of the official document on Oplan Kapayapaan that replaces the Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration. The GRP Panel clarified that Oplan Kapayapaan is not operational yet, having been submitted to the authorities concerned but not yet approved.

The NDFP Panel Chairperson previously submitted on November 28, 2016 and January 4, 2017 to the GRP documented complaints of ceasefire violations.

The GRP panel responded by giving its assurance that the GRP acknowledges having signed the CARHRIHL and its commitment to comply with its obligations under the said Agreement. If there are any reported violations of the Agreement on the part of the GRP, these should all be put into writing and submitted to the GRP Panel, which will then study these reports and take the appropriate action. The panel stated that there is no conscious policy on the part of GRP to violate the CARHRIHL and JASIG.

The GRP panel assured the NDFP that the aforementioned three NDFP consultants will be released. With regard to the surveillance and harassment of NDFP consultants, the AFP-Peace and Development Office (AFP-PDO) replied that the AFP recognizes the safety and immunity guarantees of the NDFP consultants. With regard to the reported occupation of schools, hospitals and communities, the AFP-PDO replied that AFP troops went into the communities upon the invitation of local government units, escorting civilian agencies delivering services to the communities.

The GRP Panel explained that the internment of the Marcos remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani was not intended to politically rehabilitate him. With regard to the indemnification of Marcos human rights victims, the GRP pointed out that the President has taken a direct hand at speeding up the processing and ensuring that a significant number would immediately be given their indemnification.

On the other hand, the GRP Panel Chairperson handed to the NDFP Panel Chairperson a copy of the GRP documented complaints on ceasefire violations committed by the NDFP.

On Amnesty and Releases

The NDFP Panel followed-up the status of the amnesty proclamation of all political prisoners (as listed by the NDFP) and reiterated that it is the most expeditious way of releasing them.

The Parties agreed to continue to study the issuance of an amnesty proclamation consequent to the substantial progress of the peace negotiations.

The GRP Panel also committed to facilitate the release of the three remaining NDFP consultants, Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza, through presidential clemency, and other legal modes.

The GRP, with the assistance of the defense lawyers, shall expeditiously process the release of all the political prisoners listed by the NDFP starting with the 200 qualified prisoners either through bail, recognizance, pardon or other legal processes in compliance with the CARHRIHL and to allow them to participate in activities and mechanisms of the peace process.

The GRP team committed to file immediately the necessary manifestations in support of the motions for the temporary liberty of the NDFP consultants and staff granted bail and released in August 2016 be extended and remain effective for the duration of the peace negotiations.

Results of the Proceedings of the RWCs-SER

The GRP and NDFP Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs-SER) met on January 20 to 21, and 23 to 24, 2017, together with their respective consultants and resource persons.

The RWCs-SER had exchanged their complete drafts of the CASER more or less ten days before the opening of the third round of formal talks.

The RWCs-SER reaffirmed their April 2004 agreement on the Preamble and the Declaration of Principles (Part I) as the framework of the CASER, provided that the unresolved provisions, including new insertions of the NDFP, will be elevated to the negotiating panels for their resolution.

Discussions on the Bases, Scope and Applicability (Part II) were substantially made and points of agreement were identified. The reaffirmation of Part III entitled Desired Outcomes, which was approved during the second round of talks, was made.

The RWCs-SER also started discussions on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Part IV). They reached a common understanding on the general features of the agrarian problems in the Philippines.

The RWCs-SER agreed in principle to the free distribution of land to farmers and farm workers as part of the governing frameworks of CASER.

For the purpose of accelerating the negotiation process of the CASER, the RWCs-SER agreed to the creation of bilateral teams to help reconcile contentious provisions in the GRP and NDFP drafts and/or provisions which have no corresponding equivalent in each RWCs’ exchanged drafts. The bilateral teams shall submit to their respective RWCs the necessary recommendations.

The bilateral teams may hold meetings in Metro Manila, Philippines, or in any mutually agreed upon venue in the Philippines, or in any neighboring country.

The Panels and RWCs-SER signed on 25 January 2017 the Ground Rules for the Conduct of the Formal Meetings between the RWCs-SER of the GRP and the NDFP. (Annex B)

In the next round of formal talks, the RWCs-SER shall discuss 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.

Results of the Proceedings of the RWGs-PCR

The Reciprocal Working Groups (RWGs) on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) met twice and formally exchanged full drafts of the tentative Agreement on PCR based on the common outline agreed upon during the last round of talks in October 2016.  This surpassed the earlier expectation that the RWGs would only enflesh the said outline in the third round.

The RWGs assisted by their consultants, staff and observers, ran through their respective drafts highlighting their main points, proposed mechanisms and framework.

They exchanged initial and general views, opinions and comments as well as questions on certain provisions of their drafts.

They exchanged views on the proposal for a federal form of government and the need for certain constitutional guarantees and safeguards demanded by the people.

Thereafter, they exchanged and presented their respective comparative matrices of the drafts.

They also agreed to hold unilateral meetings of the RWGs to rewrite their respective drafts and matrices taking into account the drafts that they have exchanged.

The RWGs acknowledged that the tentative drafts shall be subject to the developments in the crafting of the CASER.

They agreed to meet again during the fourth round of formal talks and work on a common matrix as a reference for discussions.

Meeting of the Ceasefire Committees

The NDFP ceasefire committee (CFC) formally acknowledged receiving the GRP CFC draft “Agreement on an Interim Bilateral Cessation of Hostilities Between the GRP and the NDFP”. It said that it will seriously study the proposal, submit comments and may provide its own updated version of its proposed draft agreement for an interim bilateral ceasefire.

NDFP Panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili handed a letter addressed to GRP Panel Chairperson Silvestre H. Bello III formally protesting the AFP military operation in Makilala, North Cotabato as a violation of the ongoing ceasefire.

The Parties note that their unilateral indefinite ceasefires remain in place. They note however that there are issues and concerns related thereto.

The two CFCs agreed to meet again during the period on February 22-27, 2017 in The Netherlands simultaneous to the opening of the bank safety deposit box account for safekeeping of the JASIG documents of identification.

Fourth Round of Formal Talks

The Parties agreed to meet for the fourth round of formal talks in Oslo, Norway on April 2-6, 2017. They shall continue to work on strengthening the mechanisms in the implementation of CARHRIHL and the unification of the drafts of CASER and CAPCR.

Expression of Gratitude to RNG

Both Panels reiterated their appreciation and gratitude to the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) for its unrelenting support to and active facilitation of the peace talks which have allowed both sides to move these forward. They also thanked the RNG for the two international experts that they provided who shared their insights on peace negotiations that the Parties may find useful.

Once more they expressed their gratitude to the RNG for its consistent and substantial facilitation and support for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations as well as to the Italian government for its cooperation and support.

Signed on the 25th day of January 2017 in the City of Rome, Italy.

Signatories:

 

Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III Fidel V. Agcaoili
Chairperson of the GRP Panel

Hernani A. Braganza

Member, GRP Panel

Rene V. Sarmiento

Member, GRP Panel

Angela L. Trinidad

Member, GRP Panel

Sedfrey M. Candelaria

*alternate member, GRP Panel

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                                               Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process     NDFP Chief Political Consultant

Mayor Edgardo D. Pamintuan                                       Luis G. Jalandoni 

Adviser, GRP Panel                                           Senior Adviser, NDFP Panel

Elisabeth Slåttum

Third Party Facilitator

For the Royal Norwegian Government

CLOSING STATEMENT OF PROF. JOSE MARIA SISON, CPP FOUNDING CHAIRMAN & NDFP CHIEF POLITICAL CONSULTANT

25 January 2017, Rome

Her Excellency Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum, Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process
Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Secretary Silvestre H. Bello, Chairperson, GRP Negotiating Panel
Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili of the NDFP Negotiating Panel
Dear Compatriots of the GRP and NDFP Delegations
Esteemed guests and friends,

At this closing ceremony, the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels shall sign the Joint Statement which sums up the successful work in the third round of formal negotiations and paves the way for further advance in the fourth round in April.

We of the NDFP express our highest sense of gratitude to the Royal Norwegian Government for consistently facilitating the Philippines peace process and the Italian government for enabling the third round in Rome.

The two Parties can congratulate each other for a successful round of talks, for pushing the further implementation of CARHRIHL, for effecting the exchange of complete drafts of CASER and the CAPCR and for starting the work to unify these drafts.

The period between rounds of formal negotiations is not rest but more intense work of subcommittees of the RWCs on CASER and the respective RWGs on PCR meeting in Manila. We can be confident that as soon as the RWCs on CASER will submit their final drafts for approval by the Negotiating Panels, the RWG’s on PCR will become the RWC’s on PCR and finish their work in a few months’ time.

When the Fourth round of talks comes, the goal of finishing the unified drafts of the CASER and CAPCR shall be in sight. We hope that before the end of 2017, these comprehensive agreements will be ready for approval by the Panels, and soon thereafter by the principals. We can be ready for the founding of the Federal Republic of the Philippines in 2018.

We look forward to the implementation of CARHRIHL, CASER and CAPCR for at least two years before the signing of CAEHDF in 2020. In view of the implementation in full swing, the two Parties shall have the highest confidence in signing the CAEHDF.

Thank you.

NDFP sees finished CASER draft this year

NDFP Media Office
Press release
January 24, 2017

Bilateral talks between the reciprocal working committees on socio-economic reforms (RWC-SER) of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) ended today, with agreements already reached on the Preamble and Declaration of Principles, and common ground found in the Bases, Scope and Applicability (Part II) and Desired Outcomes (Part III). Discussions have also already begun on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Part IV).

In an interview, NDFP RWC-SER spokesperson Randall Echanis said that with the SER talks proceeding as scheduled so far, they expect to finish the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) within the year. The RWCs of both panels held four working meetings between January 20 and 24.

Talks on SER comprised the bulk of the working meetings in the third round of the peace negotiations held in Rome. In the second round last October, the parties agreed on a common outline consisting of a Preamble and 15 Parts. They proceeded to flesh out their respective drafts upon their return to the Philippines.

The NDFP conducted a series of sectoral consultations in November and a national consultation in December, and exchanged drafts with the GRP in the second half of January. Copies of the drafts were also provided the Royal Norwegian Government which is acting as Third Party Facilitator in the talks.

The NDFP draft describes the Philippine economic situation and the revolutionary organization’s proposed reform solutions, said Echanis. It paints the economic and social suffering of the peasantry and working people in the country. Its premise is that Philippine society is semifeudal and semicolonial and thus needs genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization and a free and independent foreign trade and monetary policy for national development.

While there has already been some consensus, Echanis said that there are many provisions that will be needing greater discussion and resolution in the course of the negotiations. “These cover the most important measures for redistributing assets and income, asserting independent foreign economic policy, providing social services and utilities especially for the country’s poor majority, government support for Filipino farms and enterprises, and ensuring democracy in the economy. These are critical,” he said, “for reversing neoliberalism and developing the national economy for the benefit of the people.”

For the purpose of facilitating the resolution of contentious issues, the RWC-SERs of both parties decided in this round to create bilateral teams composed of three persons each. The bilateral teams will make the necessary recommendations to reconcile the differences in the RWC-SER drafts during formal talks. The first contentious issue on the table to be tackled by the bilateral teams concerns the free distribution of land.

Echanis stressed that should an agreement on socio-economic reforms be signed, the next and more important phase would be the implementation, both jointly and separately. There will be areas of cooperation, but for the most part, the GRP will be enacting, amending or repealing laws as needed to implement the CASER and launch programs within the government framework. The NDFP, on the other hand, will also be implementing the CASER’s provisions through the revolutionary organs of political power in the countryside.

Reference:
Dan Borjal
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Filipino migrants air demands in Rome peace forum

NDFP Media Office
Press release
January 23, 2017

Hundreds of migrant Filipinos attended a peace forum held at the Basilica Santa Pudenziana in Rome yesterday afternoon.

The peace forum, which featured speakers from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) tackled salient points in the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) currently being negotiated by both parties in the third round of the peace negotiations now being held in Rome.

The audience, many of whom were members of Migrante chapters in Rome, Milan, Bologna, Florence and other cities in Italy mainly asked questions on how the peace negotiations would impact the serious problems of poverty and unemployment in the Philippines that have compelled millions of Filipinos to look for jobs abroad.

NDFP consultants Adelberto Silva and Randall Echanis expounded on the need for genuine land reform and national industrialization in order to resolve economic backwardness and generate jobs for the millions of Filipinos entering the labor force annually.

Silva assailed the fact that existing GRP economic policies have run counter to industrialization efforts. In particular, he cited that even the processing of scrap metal in the Philippines faces constraints because Philippine economic policies allow as much as 70% of recyclable steel products in the country to be exported to other economies.

Echanis, on the other hand, cited the difficulties encountered by Philippine farmers as a result of neoliberal economic policies that allow the dumping of foreign agricultural produce in the domestic market.

They underscored the need for Filipinos both in the homeland and abroad to continue airing their demands and aspirations to the peace panels to ensure that the negotiation’s outcome would be beneficial to the Filipino people.

They added that the Filipino people should also demand the satisfactory implementation of any agreements on socio-economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms that may be signed.

The peace forum is the second to be organized by the Filipino Chaplaincy in Rome. The first forum held last October at the same venue featured NDFP Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni and panel member Coni Ledesma as speakers.

 

 

 

 

Dan Borjal
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NDFP condemns AFP violation of GRP unilateral ceasefire

NDFP Media Office
Press statement by NDFP Panel chair Fidel V. Agcaoili
January 23, 2017

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) vehemently condemns the AFP attack on an NPA unit in Makilala, North Cotabato on January 21 as a serious breach by the military of the unilateral ceasefire declaration of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Field reports from the NPA indicate that despite the guerrillas’ maneuvers to evade the AFP to prevent a gunbattle, the AFP troops pursued the Red fighters for an entire day in an obvious attempt to provoke fighting.

The attack by the 39th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, which claimed the life of an NPA guerrilla is but the latest of a series of violations committed by this AFP unit since the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire took effect in August last year.

Reports from the NPA Regional Operational Command in Southern Mindanao state that a week following the GRP ceasefire declaration, the 39th IB dispatched so-called peace and development outreach program (PDOP) teams occupying barangay halls, health centers and schools in Kidapawan City, Pres. Roxas, Magpet and Arakan municipalities in North Cotabato.

It likewise continued to mobilize its troops and paramilitaries in various forms of combat operations such as intelligence gathering, combat and psywar in far-flung areas that resulted in the extrajudicial killing of civilians Rita and Norberto Gascon on September 13 in Arakan and Rolan Malignan on November 22 and the harassment and forced evacuation of peasant families in Magpet on December 6.

This incident in Makilala, North Cotabato also happened almost simultaneously with the extrajudicial killings of peasant leader Alexander Ceballos in Negros Occidental and Lumad leader Veronico Delamente in Surigao del Norte. There is clearly an emerging pattern by state security forces of flouting the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire and sabotaging the peace negotiations. The NDFP takes note of the fact that these extrajudicial killings and attacks are similar to those carried out by the military in 2005-06 when practically the same people were at the helm of the state’s security forces–current National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and newly installed Chief of Staff Eduardo Año.

The NPA has consistently demonstrated its strict adherence to the NDFP’s unilateral ceasefire and commitment to the peace negotiations by actively maneuvering to avoid armed encounters with the AFP. The AFP, on the other hand, has done nothing but provoke the NPA and mock the GRP’s own ceasefire through its unceasing combat operations.

The NDFP panel takes this latest incident seriously. There is strong sentiment among the NDFP forces on the ground that the continuation of the NDFP’s unilateral ceasefire has become increasingly untenable due to the widespread and intensified militarization and AFP clearing operations. This latest incident could be the last straw that may force the hand of the NDFP leadership to rescind its own unilateral ceasefire.

NDFP slams allegations of fractiousness

NDFP Media Office
Press release

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) denounced allegations that the revolutionary organization is split into three factions with regard to its attitude towards the peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

An article in today’s issue of the Manila Standard citing spurious sources alleged that a faction led by NDFP Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni and Chief Political Consultant Jose Ma. Sison wants a negotiated settlement; that a second faction led by Benito and Wilma Tiamzon merely wants the release of all political prisoners; and a third faction led by NPA National Operational Command chief Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos wants to pursue the armed struggle.

“This rehash of the old military psywar line,” said NDFP peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili, “is nothing but an attempt to sow intrigues against the revolutionary movement and derail the peace negotiations.”

“The NDFP will not be distracted by such baseless intrigues in its objective of engaging the GRP in peace negotiations to attain the maximum possible benefits for the Filipino people,” said Agcaoili.

Reference:
Dan Borjal
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NDFP, GRP peace panels sign rights monitoring committee supplemental guidelines

NDFP Media Office
Press release

The peace panels of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) signed today the Supplemental Guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) after a six-year impasse. It was the result of renewed efforts from the NDFP and the reconstituted GRP monitoring committee appointed by the Duterte government.

Once implemented, the Supplemental Guidelines will now make it possible for the JMC to conduct joint investigations regarding both parties’ compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the first substantive agreement signed under the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations. The CARHRIHL was signed in 1998.

The JMC was last able to submit a draft of the supplemental guidelines to the two peace panels in 2011, but the GRP panel under then Pres. Benigno Aquino III did not sign the document because it refused to acknowledge that the NDFP has a separate duty and responsibility to conduct investigations in accordance with CARHRIHL.

In explaining the significance of the signing, NDFP peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili said that joint investigations could finally be conducted on the thousands of cases filed with the JMC since 2004. For every case against the NDFP, there have been four cases filed against the GRP.

Many of the cases against the GRP involve extrajudicial killings, involuntary disappearances, illegal detention and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law as a consequence of military operations conducted by state security forces.

Reference:
Dan Borjal
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Adherence to CARHRIHL first big test of GRP sincerity

The first major item of the agenda taken up by the GRP and NDFP panels in the third round of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations was the review of the implementation of CARHRIHL, the first major item in the substantive agenda in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. This agreement was approved and signed by the two panels in 1998.

The NDFP panel had previously insisted to place the review of the implementation of CARHRIHL as number one item on the agenda because the NDFP has been greatly disappointed by the failure of the GRP to fulfill many of its obligations under this agreement.

“The first big test of the seriousness of the GRP in these negotiations is compliance with CARHRIHL. For if the GRP cannot fulfill its obligations in an agreement already signed, what is our guarantee with regard to future agreements?” NDFP Panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili said.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel believes that the strict implementation of CARHRIHL is of prime importance for the peace process to move forward especially because it is the first major item in the substantive agenda in the peace negotiations. Mutual trust and confidence is essential if the peace negotiations are to succeed. Non-compliance is bound to erode mutual trust and confidence.

In his presentation, NDFP panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili, enumerated some of the most important violations by the GRP of CARHRIHL. He cited the retention of repressive Marcos decrees particularly those that are used against NDFP forces and against the basic masses.

Alleged NDFP personnel when arrested, are routinely slapped with non-bailable charges such as illegal possession of firearms and explosives to keep them perpetually detained. In most cases, the firearm is planted to serve as “evidence.”

Agcaoili also cited other decrees and repressive laws such as those restricting the right to peaceful assembly, authorizing the demolition of urban poor communities, and legalizing the CAFGU (Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit) whose members are often involved in carrying out atrocities in the countryside.

He also pointed to the violation by the GRP of the Hernandez political offense doctrine to which the GRP committed itself to uphold. Alleged NDFP forces are routinely charged with common crimes. For instance, a person alleged to be a New People’s Army (NPA) red fighter may be charged with multiple murder if he was suspected of being involved in an ambush resulting in the death of several GRP soldiers. Under the Hernandez doctrine the charge of multiple murder should be subsumed under the crime of rebellion.

The NDFP panel chairperson protested the continuing military operations against rural communities on the pretext of conducting so-called peace and development projects under OPLAN Bayanihan. They occupy schools, health and day care centers, barangay halls, public plazas, and even bus stops and private residences in more than 43 provinces and 146 municipalities all over the country. They impose food blockades and restrictions on the movement of residents, disrupting their economic activities.

Agcaoili formally raised with the GRP panel the case of three JASIG-protected NDFP consultants who remain in prison and prevented from participating in the ongoing peace negotiations. Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza were arrested and convicted on trumped up criminal charges. To facilitate their release and enable them to participate in the ongoing GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, the GRP panel suggested that the consultants withdrew their appeals to pave the way for the granting of presidential pardon. As a result, their conviction became final. But until now they have not been pardoned and continue to languish in jail.

According to Agcaoili, “This constitutes not only a serious violation of CARHRIHL and JASIG but a betrayal of trust.”

NDFP Photo

During the session, Cristina Palabay, KARAPATAN Secretary General and NDFP-designated Independent Observer to the Joint Monitoring Committee, formally presented to the GRP panel documented cases of human rights violations committed by GRP forces and violations of CARHRIHL by the GRP.

As the talks were going on, the NDFP panel received a report about the cold blooded murder of Alexander Ceballos, a peasant leader of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) by suspected members of RPA-ABB, a paramilitary unit under the payroll of the local government unit in the area. According to KARAPATAN this would be the first extra-judicial killing of a progressive peasant leader under OPLAN Kapayapaan the new counter-insurgency program that has replaced the notorious OPLAN Bayanihan. #

FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Chairperson
NDFP Negotiating Panel

Reference:
Dan Borjal
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Statement of the NDFP Negotiating Panel on the 30th Anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre

NDFP archive

Thirty years ago today, thousands of peasants and their supporters marching towards Malacanang Palace to demand genuine land reform were violently dispersed with gunfire. 13 peasants were killed, hundreds were injured. This dastardly crime of the Aquino regime has been registered in the collective memory of our people as the infamous Mendiola Massacre.

In protest against this crime of the Aquino regime, the NDFP Negotiating Panel withdrew from the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations that were going on at that time in Manila.

Thirty years later, there is still no justice for the martyrs of the massacre. Thirty years later, there is still no genuine land reform. If thirty years ago there is the Mendiola massacre, today, we cite the violent attacks against agrarian reform beneficiaries in Lapanday Food Corp. in Bgy. San Isidro, Tagum City, the continuing problem in Hacienda Luisita and other cases as clear proofs that there is still no resolution of the age-old land problem, there is still no genuine land reform.

Then President Corazon Aquino promised to subject the Cojuanco-owned Hacienda Luisita to land reform, land reform being the centerpiece program of her government. Ironically, Hacienda Luisita has become a centerpiece example of the broken promises of traditional politicians and previous GRP regimes.

In the coming days, the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels will tackle the all-important drafts on the Comprehensive Agreements on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) in which land reform is one of the core topics.

The NDFP RWC-CASER has been ready a long time ago with its draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). The NDFP panel is ready to accelerate the process of approving such agreement in order to solve the age-old problem once and for all.

Signed:

Fidel V. Agcaoili
Chairperson
NDFP Negotiating Panel