By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Spokesperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Committee
Secretary Avelino Razon of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) is lying when he claims that the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is responsible for scuttling the resumption of formal talks between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
Since 15 June, the date of the agreement for the GRP to comply with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), Razon and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita have done nothing for the peace process but to block the removal of impediments on NDFP consultants and issue a continuous flow of press releases proclaiming the end of the armed conflict very soon in Oslo.
The Arroyo regime has always been full of pretense and insincerity about the question of peace negotiations. It continues to pipedream that the revolutionary forces of the people can be destroyed solely or mainly through Oplan Bantay Laya and that the peace negotiations are only a minor device for seeking the capitulation of the NDFP under Oplan Bantay Laya.
The Arroyo regime has persisted in the use of false charges of common crimes to cause the abduction, torture, detention and/or murder of NDFP panelists, consultants and other JASIG-protected persons. Since 15 June, it has aggravated the impediments on these persons and has tried in vain to maneuver the NDFP into subordinating itself to the rotten political and legal system of the GRP.
On behalf of the GRP, Razon is the one proclaiming the scuttling of the peace negotiations and yet is maliciously blaming the NDFP for this. The Arroyo regime is now trying to sabotage the serious efforts of the NDFP Negotiating Panel to push the resumption of the formal talks. The NDFP Negotiating Panel is proposing three points to the GRP Negotiating Panel directly and through the Norwegian government.
First, the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels, assisted by their respective lawyers, meet in Oslo within the last week of September to make a written agreement on complying with JASIG and expeditiously removing the impediments on NDFP panelists, consultants and other JASIG-protected persons.
Second, immediately after signing the aforesaid agreement, the two panels can agree on the date and agenda for the preparatory meeting and formal talks in Oslo in November, subject to the successful implementation of the aforesaid JASIG-related agreement during the entire month of October.
Third, during the preparatory meeting and formal talks possibly in November, the two panels reaffirm all bilateral agreements, give priority to the negotiation of the social and economic reforms and the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and take up matters (including possible working groups) within the context of the Joint Agreement on the Sequence, Formation and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees (Agreement on Reciprocal Working Committees).
It is absolutely preposterous and malicious for the GRP to front load the peace negotiations with matters related to the last item in the substantive agenda, which is the end of hostilities and disposition of forces (EHDF), long before there are comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms.
The GRP side, especially those like Razon and Ermita with a narrow military mindset, should cease imagining that they can trick or trip the NDFP negotiating panel. It is in the best interest of the Filipino people that both the GRP and NDFP conscientiously apply themselves to the serious task of addressing the roots of the armed conflict by making agreements on social, economic and political reforms in order to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace.