GRP and NDFP panels reaffirm previous agreements

Press release | OSLO, Norway – The panel-to-panel meeting between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) commenced in the morning of August 23.

Today, the panels finished the discussion on the affirmation of previous signed agreements, reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list and acceleration of the peace negotiations.

This meeting at the Reidar Andersen, Birger Ruud and Thorleif Haug Halls of the Scandic Holmenkollen Park Hotel came after the representatives of both panels had agreed and approved the program of the five-day formal peace talks the previous day.

Photo NDFP

Photo NDFP

On the first item of the agenda, the two panels agreed to reaffirm all previously signed agreements since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and resolved to conduct formal talks and consultations in accordance with said agreements.

Aside from The Hague Joint Declaration, both parties reaffirmed all the previous bilateral and binding agreements made in the peace negotiations that include the JASIG of 1995; Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees of the GPH and NDFP Negotiating Panels of 1995; and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) of 1998, the first of four items of the substantive agenda in the peace negotiations that have been agreed upon by both sides.


Photo NDFP

The NDFP panel presented the reconstituted list of holders of the NDFP document of identification (DI) that gives them protection by the JASIG, which was acknowledged by the GPH panel. The GPH agreed to issue a letter of acknowledgment on the receipt of the NDFP list.

The JASIG is meant to provide the conditions conducive to free discussion and movement of NDFP personnel involved in the peace negotiations and to avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiations. Without the JASIG, peace negotiations would not be possible.

Both parties agreed to accelerate the peace process and set the timeline for the completion of the three remaining items in the substantive agenda namely, social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

Photo NDFP

Photo NDFP

The two sides agreed that the Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) of the GPH and NDFP shall meet in September. The RWC-SER shall tackle and strive to reach an agreement on genuine land reform, national industrialization, workers’ rights and welfare, social welfare, education and culture. They would also strive to finish within six months from September the tentative Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms to be submitted for approval by both panels.

The last session of the day consisted of the simultaneous meetings of the Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms and the two Reciprocal Working Groups on Political and Constitutional Reforms and End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces. They discussed the agenda of their next meetings, the mechanics and schedule of their future work.

NDFP Media Group

Dan Borjal
viber: +31643108419

NPA to be on active defense as it awaits operational details of Duterte ceasefire declaration prior to reciprocal unilateral ceasefire declaration

Under the direction of the CPP, the National Operational Command of the New People’s Army (NPA-NOC) orders all territorial and unit commands of the NPA, including all units of the people’s militias, to stay on active defense mode as we welcome the unilateral ceasefire declaration yesterday by GRP President Rodrigo Duterte and await its operational details.

By staying on active defense mode, the NPA prepares for a reciprocal unilateral ceasefire declaration by the CPP and the NDFP to be issued soon as a boost for the upcoming NDFP-GRP peace talks. An exchange of unilateral ceasefire declarations will be one of the first items in the resumption of NDFP-GRP peace talks scheduled for August 20-27 with the aim of making these unilateral declarations effective.

The NPA and all revolutionary forces will closely observe how President Duterte’s declaration is carried out by the AFP and whether there will be a clear termination of military operations and offensives being carried out under the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency war of suppression.

As of this morning, reports from the field indicate that units of the AFP have remained stationed in communities and have yet to withdraw from their offensive operations in Isabela, Cagayan, Bulacan, Quezon and Batangas, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Samar, Surigao, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and other provinces.

In light of the GRP ceasefire declaration, the people seeks the immediate withdrawal of operating troops which have been conducting psywar and surveillance operations in communities and reconnaissance and search-and-destroy operations inside the guerrilla zones and base areas of the NPA.

The Lumads of Mindanao are especially hopeful that Duterte’s ceasefire declaration will result in the withdrawal of troops from their communities in order for them to resume their normal lives, reopen their schools and carry out economic activity without fear of military reprisals.

Prior to yesterday’s unilateral ceasefire declaration by Duterte, the NPA-NOC has observed how the AFP has extended and intensified military offensives under the Oplan Bayanihan in complete disregard of the avowed policy of engaging the revolutionary forces in peace talks.

Over the past weeks, the AFP has been carrying out intensified combat and patrol operations, reconnaissance and intelligence activities, occupation of civilian communities and attacks against human rights in the vain hope of scoring some points to cover their defeat of the Oplan Bayanihan after six years of failing to achieve their aim of reducing the NPA to inconsequentiality.

Prior to the Duterte unilateral ceasefire declaration, the AFP intensified military offensives in Mindanao. The AFP sought to defeat the NPA nationwide by defeating it here in Mindanao. It has been a distinct feature of Oplan Bayanihan that 60% of the AFP’s battalions, air assets and war equipment are deployed in Mindanao.

In Mindanao and in other parts of the country, the AFP unleashed ruthless and relentless military campaign and operations resulting in rampant violations of human rights. In addition to “peace and development”, the AFP has been using the “anti-drug campaign” as pretext to embed themselves in the communities to carry out counter-insurgency patrols, surveillance, campaigns of suppression and militarization of communities.

In particular, the AFP and its paramilitary forces must stop its campaign of terror against the people of Paquibato District, Davao City. Several people have been killed by fascist soldiers recently including Marjun Baruel, killed on May 19, Paul Saludaga, Mayo 21, Johnny Basilisco, June 6 and Maria Cayad, June 8.

On June 9, following an encounter in Barangay Lumiad, Paquibato District, two Red fighters Joel Biliran (Ka Will) and Elenita Garing (Ka Milo), were arrested, tortured and murdered. Ka Milo was raped prior to being summarily executed.

Also last July 1, in Magpet, North Cotabato, the cadaver of a slain NPA Red fighter, Noel Gulmatico (Ka Jepoy) was desecrated last July 1 by elements of the 39th IB with both eyes gouged out, tongue sliced and neck stabbed.

In Cagayan province, operating troops of the 86th IB abducted 16 members of an Aggay clan, including women and children last June 17. In Malibcong, Abra, four Tingguian minorities hunting wild game were arrested by the 27th IB last July 1.

There is a renewed offensive against the community schools. Last July 15, armed men attacked Lumad datu Danny Diarog and killed Hermie Alegre, PTA president of the Salugpongan school in Tugbok District, Davao City. A few days earlier, parateachers Fahara Kabuntalan La and Sittie Usop Abdullah were killed when they were ambushed by masked armed men while enroute to Cotabato City. Their companion Aisah Karon Malugka and the tricycle driver were wounded.

The AFP continues to train, arm and employ para-military groups to terrorize communities, conduct robberies and kidnapping for ransom, and proliferate gambling and illegal drugs. They continue to block the safe return of the Lumad evacuees displaced by canon and aerial bombardment, military atrocities and the occupation of their community by military troops. Such operations of the AFP are part of efforts to protect the interest of the plunderers and environmentally destructive imperialist mining and plantations.

By staying on active defense, the NPA must remain ever alert to AFP offensive military operations, including reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence operations, patrols and search-and-destroy operations, as well as psywar operations and suppression campaigns against civilians and communities in the guise of “peace and development” Oplan Bayanihan operations.

Such operations must be vigorously exposed and opposed by the people. Counter-offensives by the NPA as acts of defense can be resorted to as a last option if relentless attacks and violations of human rights are committed with impunity by operating troops of the AFP and PNP especially against communities, women, the elderly, children and such infrastrucure as self-run community schools.

Until otherwise specified in further orders, the NPA will continue with its outstanding work of defending the rural communities and the environment. It will have to be vigilant and defend against the military offensives of the AFP, PNP and their paramilitary vigilante groups. It will continue to arrest and disarm big drug traffickers and police and military protectors and operators. The NPA will continue to conduct educational, political and cultural campaigns to mobilize the people to assert their rights and advance their struggle for genuine land reform.

Red fighters nationwide must not lose the initiative in defending the rights and interests of the masses, oppose and frustrate continuing operations under Oplan Bayanihan and further strengthen and expand its forces and base areas and accumulate bigger revolutionary victories.

Ka Oris
National Operational Command
New People’s Army

NPA honors Parago with 21-gun salute

[Davao Today | Kodao Productions] A New People’s Army unit in the foothills of Mt Apo honored Leoncio “Commander Parago” Pitao with a military parade and a 21-gun salute two days after the late rebel leader was cremated in Davao City last July 10.

A platoon belonging to the NPA’s Mt. Apo Operational Command performed the rare ceremony for its “shining red star” in front of hundreds of civilian supporters and people’s militia members.

Pitao was killed by soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division in Davao City’s Paquibato District last June 28. The NPA said he was being treated for a variety of ailments when he was mowed down by gunfire along with medic Vanessa “Ka Kyle” Limpag.

The ceremony followed an unprecedented public wake, tribute and funeral march in a major Filipino city for a rebel attended by an estimated ten thousand supporters and friends, including national and local political and business leaders.

Led by Communist Party of the Philippines, NPA and National Democratic Front of the Philippines colors, the rebel troopers marched in single file into a clearing and performed rifle drills before consecutively firing their rifles.

They proceeded to present arms before singing Ang Internasyunal, the universal anthem of communist parties all over the world.

The audience joined in the singing of the anthem.

The ceremony ended with shouts of “Long live Ka Parago!”, “Long live the Filipino people!”, “Long live the New People’s Army” and “Long live the Communist Party of the Philippines!”

The 21-gun salute is traditionally a cannonade for surrendering ships but has developed through the centuries into an honorifical ceremony reserved for royalty, heads of state, high government officials and heroes, especially during important events and funerals using both cannons and rifles.

There is no universal pattern in performing the gun salute and every armed force may devise their own style.

Several NPA units around the country performed an honor drill and gun salute for the late CPP spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal who died of natural causes in 2011.

“Ka Teo,” a veteran NPA fighter who once fought and worked with Pitao, described their fallen hero as an extraordinary leader who was a brilliant military tactician and inspiring revolutionary.

“The many military tactics that we use today to defeat the enemy were devised by Kumander Parago. His brilliance is proven by the fact that our casualties are always fewer than the number of our enemies killed and wounded in battle,” he said.

Teo said that Pitao’s influence was a major factor in his decision to become a full time NPA fighter in the 1980s.

“He did not convince us in so many words. His examples were enough for us to commit our lives to the revolution,” Teo said.

Ka Karen, a local Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan member, said they will never forget Pitao who they consider their hero.

“He inspired us to stand and fight for a society that is just to women, peasant and Lumad,” she said.

“Contrary to what the Armed Forces of the Philippines said, his death does not weaken our resolve to push the revolution forward. His death strengthens our determination to defeat the enemies of the people,” Karen said.

The NPA usually holds public parades during the CPP’s anniversary on December 26, but only when both the CPP and the Philippine government reciprocally declare ceasefires in observance of the Yuletide season. These parades do not include live fire salutes.

The AFP often violates these ceasefires, however, by putting up roadblocks and harassing the NPA’s civilian supporters, even media persons and local and national government officials who wish to cover or attend the rebel’s celebrations.

Last year, Philippine Army soldiers in Surigao del Sur tried to prevent Bayan Muna representative Carlos Ysagani Zarate and special envoy for the peace negotiations Hernani Braganza from attending the CPP’s 46th anniversary celebrations and peace consultations in Marihatag town. The presence of Surigao del Sur vice governor Manuel Alameda in behalf of governor Johnny Pimental also did not deter the troopers from violating their own government’s ceasefire declaration.

As a rebel guerrilla force, the NPA can only hold open celebrations, especially involving live gunfire, in areas where it enjoys strong support from the residents.

The NPA’s Mt Apo Operational Command includes the First Pulang Bagani (Red Warrior) Battalion and other company-sized formations. Pitao was the most famous commander of this famed command known for conducting the most audacious operations in the rebel army’s history. (Jola Diones-Mamangun, Earl Condeza/Davao Today and Raymund B. Villanueva. Text by R. Villanueva)

Palace calls Belmonte-Sison meeting a ‘good start’

[Kristine Angeli Sabillo |] Despite not being privy to the discussion of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, Malacañang on Saturday said it was a promising update.

“Magandang umpisa po ito na Speaker Belmonte and Mr. Joma Sison were able to speak to each other (It’s a good start that Speaker Belmonte and Mr. Joma Sison were able to speak to each other), and we certainly welcome the statement made by Mr. Sison on our case against China before the ITLOS (International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea),” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing.

Belmonte and other government officials are in the Netherlands to attend the hearings of the Philippine petition against China before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal.

Both Belmonte and Sison confirmed the meeting, which they said was “social” in nature. They, however, declined to give specific details.

Sison told that the three-and-a-half-hour meeting involved a wide range of topics including promoting the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which is the political arm of the CPP.

The CPP founder said there is enough time to resume formal peace talks. Belmonte, on the other hand, said it was a bridge-building meeting that was appreciated by Sison, NDFP negotiating panel chair Luis Jalandoni and other NDFP members.
Belmonte was accompanied by House majority leader Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II.

Asked if members of the Executive branch were able to speak to Sison, Lacierda said he was not sure if Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas, who is with the Philippine delegation in the Netherlands, was present at the meeting.

In the photo taken by Jon Bustamante and forwarded to by Sison, Llamas was not with the group.

Photo by Jon Bustamante

Photo by Jon Bustamante

Lacierda said Malacañang will just await the feedback of Llamas or Belmonte. He said the Philippine panel was ready to the discuss peace with the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army)-NDF.

Talks between the two parties have been stalled because of various issues, including the implementation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).

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