by LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
On behalf of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, I convey our warm greetings to the organizers of this Inter-Faith Forum on “Defending Human Rights and Building Solidarity for a Just Peace”: the Pilgrims for Peace, Benedictines for Peace, St. Scholastica’s College Student Council, IFI Peacemakers, District Justice and Peace Commission – La Salle and Philippine Peace Center. We likewise greet all the other participants of this forum.
Our Negotiating Panel is glad and honored to participate in this important forum. We are happy to have this opportunity to present the NDFP view on the status of the GRP-NDFP peace talks and on the current outstanding issues. We also welcome your stress on the need to undertake concrete possible actions to promote the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and to advance the protection of human rights in the face of the unabated flagrant violations of human rights by state forces. On this last point, I will make some concrete suggestions.
The status of the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations
1. Postponement of formal meetings of Negotiating Panels
Since August last year the NDFP postponed the formal meetings of the negotiating panels in order to give time to the GRP to comply with its obligations according to The Hague Joint Declaration and other agreements, including Oslo I and II. The NDFP raised the prejudicial question of the effective measures that both the GRP and the NDFP must undertake regarding the “terrorist listing” by the US and other foreign governments of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) and the NDFP Chief Political Consultant, Prof. Jose Maria Sison. The NDFP called on the GRP to assert together with the NDFP the fundamental right of national sovereignty of the Filipino people with regard to the unjust “terrorist listing.” The NDFP declared it a glaring violation of the mutual obligation of the GRP and the NDFP, in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and subsequent bilateral agreements, to uphold the principle of national sovereignty of the Filipino people. This “terrorist listing” constitutes a blatant violation of this principle because it intrudes into the internal affairs of the Filipino people and infringes upon their inherent competence to render political judgment on acts and events in Philippine territory.
Not only has the GRP repeatedly refused to assert this fundamental right of the Filipino people. It has also gratuitously and subserviently declared that the “terrorist listings” by the foreign states were “sovereign acts” of these states.
The “terrorist listings” likewise violate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) by inflicting punitive actions on Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP Chief Political Consultant who is deeply involved in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. They are also a violation of the Hernandez political offense doctrine enshrined in the CARHRIHL.
Since April of this year, following assassination attempts on March 7 and March 31, 2005, on the Senior Legal Consultant of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, UN Judge ad litem Romeo T. Capulong, the NDFP has likewise called for an order by the Principal of the GRP to stop the assassination attempts on UN Judge Capulong, the threats of assassination against Prof. Sison and other consultants and staffers of the NDFP Negotiating Panel. This is an additional prejudicial question.
While the formal meetings of the negotiating panels are postponed for justifiable reasons, the NDFP maintains that the peace negotiations are still ongoing: the agreements are binding and effective, the Joint Monitoring Committee should continue to function fully, the reciprocal working committees on human rights and international humanitarian law and the reciprocal working committees on social and economic reforms should continue operating.
The GRP has, however, refused to allow the GRP part of the JMC to meet with its NDFP counterpart, thus not allowing the JMC to fully function. Moreover, maliciously claiming that the NDFP has abandoned the peace negotiations, the GRP has invalidly suspended the JASIG.
2. Three NDFP proposals to break the impasse
Despite this unfavorable situation for the peace negotiations, the NDFP Negotiating Panel has made several concrete proposals to break out of the current impasse.
- Concise Agreement for an Immediate Just Peace (CAIJP)
On August 27, 2005, the NDFP National Council issued its proposal of a 10-point concise agreement for an immediate just peace (CAIJP). This was given personally to GRP representatives in Oslo during the August 28-30, 2005 informal consultations. I would like to highlight the significance of this NDFP offer. “The civil war between the GRP and the NDFP shall cease and a just peace shall ensue within the very day that the GRP and NDFP co-sign the proposed CAIJP.” “We challenge and urge the GRP to discuss these points and agree on them with the NDFP immediately.”
These ten points respond to the basic demands and aspirations of the Filipino people. They address the root causes of the 36-year-old civil war.
Point no. 1 would require the repeal of the Visiting Forces Agreement other acts of, asserting national sovereignty, such as over the rape case involving six US soldiers.
The Okinawa people’s success in securing the trial and conviction of the US soldier who raped an Okinawan girl demonstrates what is possible in asserting national sovereignty.
Point no. 2 would require respecting and supporting the workers’ right to organize, to strike, etc. and the right of peasants to genuine land reform (Hacienda Luisita, Nestle, Pamalakaya Bulacan, etc.)
Point no. 3 would also require the above point no. 2 but would include, among others, the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995. Projects like the Malampaya natural gas and oil project should be nationalized.
Point no. 4 Is the cancellation of the foreign debt that eats up 94% of government revenues and renders economic development impossible and endangers the very survival of the country.
Point no. 7. General Palparan and those responsible for the Palo massacre and the displacement of civilian populations in Quezon, Sulu, Aurora, Samar and other areas should be prosecuted.
Point no. 9 offers possibilities of making diplomatic alliances that will allow the Philippines to be independent of the US.
Point no. 10. The truce would allow both GRP and NDFP forces to cooperate in carrying out the above-mentioned constructive undertakings.
In content, the NDFP proposal contrasts sharply with the GRP proposal for a Final Peace Accord (FPA). This FPA was first presented by Speaker de Venecia on November 30, 2001 in a two-page draft and later issued as a 29-page document transmitted to the NDFP through the Norwegian government on February 14, 2003. While the FPA is replete with provisions for the surrender of the NPA and its weapons, the NDFP proposal is directed at addressing the roots of the armed conflict. The GRP proposal for FPA is only aimed at the capitulation of the NDFP, the CPP and the NPA. It is a gross violation of the principle of noncapitulation provided for in The Hague Joint Declaration.
Up to now there is no GRP response to the NDFP’s proposal for a Concise Agreement for Immediate Just Peace (CAIJP).
- Responding to prejudicial questions, accelerating Peace Negotiations through informal meetings of Special Representatives of the Principals
In an effort to break the impasse, the NDFP Negotiating Panel proposed in June this year that should the GRP comply with its obligations and satisfactorily responds to the prejudicial questions raised by the NDFP, the work on CARHRIHL and on SER could be continued by the negotiating panels and the reciprocal working committees. In order to accelerate the process, the NDFP proposed informal meetings of special representatives of the Principals to discuss items 3 and 4 of the substantive agenda, namely, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces, as well as possibilities for ceasefire. Among such possibilities were limited ceasefire in connection with bilateral support for socio-economic projects of private development organizations and institutes (see agreement signed on March 18, 1998), which would have direct benefit to the people in the area. An agreement on this kind of socio-economic projects had been signed on March 18, 1998. The idea of a “cumulative ceasefire” was broached in this connection together with ceasefires for medical missions, during natural catastrophes, in addition to the traditional ceasefires on Christmas holidays.
There has been no response by the GRP on the above-stated NDFP proposal.
- NDFP package of proposals presented in November 2005
Finally, just a few weeks ago, the NDFP put together a package of proposals to be presented by the Norwegian government to the GRP:
- Resolve the prejudicial questions: compliance with Oslo I and II
- Concentrated RWC [reciprocal working committee] work and negotiations on SER [social and economic reforms] and PCR [political and constitutional reforms] at 60 days ceasefire per subject, in a venue not in Europe, because Europe is increasingly inhospitable to GRP-NDFP peace talks; OR a 10-point Comprehensive Agreement for Immediate Just Peace, paving the way for a lasting truce.
- Socio-economic projects (run by local people’s organizations and directly funded by the Norwegian government under the advice of a GRP-NDFP joint committee of experts
- Immediate end of human rights violations of GRP and expanded separate and joint work of GRP and NDFP sections of JMC
- Immediate indemnification of the victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime
- Immediate release of all political prisoners.
Please note that this is a package. The satisfactory resolution of the prejudicial questions is required. Also required are the immediate end of human rights violations of the GRP, the immediate release of all political prisoners and the immediate indemnification of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship. One may not isolate one number, such as no. 2 with the 60-day ceasefire per subject, without fulfilling the other requirements.
As of now, we have not received any response from the GRP also regarding this NDFP package of proposals.
3. GRP response based on militarist framework aimed at NDFP capitulation
Unfortunately, the GRP response that we experience is to pressure the NDFP to capitulate, using the “terrorist listing”, invalid unilateral suspension of the JASIG, and an alarming escalation of human rights violations.
On August 13, 2002, Mrs. Arroyo issued her 9-Point Guidelines regarding the CPP, wherein she applauds the US listing and declares the militarist framework in dealing with the armed conflict, not mentioning at all peace negotiations. When the Dutch government put the CPP, the NPA and Prof. Sison on its “terrorist list” on August 13, 2005, Mrs. Arroyo again publicly welcomed it.
Subsequently, Mrs. Arroyo sent then Foreign Secretary Blas Ople and his delegation on a mission to European governments to persuade them to likewise put the CPP, the NPA and Prof. Sison on their “terrorist lists”.
Despite heading the GRP delegation that signed the Oslo Joint Statement on February 14, 2004, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Teresita Deles, issued an arrival statement the following day, in contravention of the Oslo Joint Statement, stating: “we continue to maintain that the inclusion of the CPP, NPA and Prof. Jose Maria Sison in foreign terror lists were sovereign acts of these states, independent of the GRP disposition regarding these matters.”
The 9-Point Guidelines of Mrs. Arroyo dated August 13, 2002 turns out to be the policy in force of the GRP with regard to the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
The GRP suspension of the JASIG is invalid, as earlier declared by the NDFP, because there is no such provision in the JASIG. The invalid suspension is being misused by the GRP to threaten NDFP panelists, consultants, staffers and especially volunteers assisting in the peace negotiations who are not members of the NDFP.
GRP officials like Executive Secretary General Eduardo Ermita, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales are using the “Communist bogey” similar to the McCarthy era in the US in the 1950s to justify killings of numerous leaders and members of legal democratic organizations. The motorcycle-riding assassins are carrying out extrajudicial executions and disappearances similar to the US CIA’s Phoenix Program in Vietnam in the 1960s.
NDFP calls for opposition to "terrorist listing" and stop to human rights violations
It is the principled position of the NDFP to vigorously expose and oppose this baseless and unjust “terrorist listing” through campaigns in the Philippines and abroad. This position is reiterated in a statement of the NDFP National Executive Committee, dated December 3, 2005. We call on those who advocate a just peace in the Philippines, who desire that the roots of the armed conflict be adequately addressed, to also demand the revocation of the baseless and unjust “terrorist listing” as a major impediment to a just and lasting peace. The NDFP calls for an immediate stop to the unabated human rights violations by the state’s forces: the numerous extrajudicial executions and involuntary disappearances and the massive displacement of civilian populations through indiscriminate aerial bombardment, strafing and artillery fire. We are willing to do all that is within our capability to help in this great endeavor.
Concrete possible actions to promote implementation of CARHRIHL and human rights
We suggest that the various peace, human rights and progressive church organizations consider the filing of complaints of human rights violations at different pertinent United Nations and other international offices or agencies. Here are some that we consider possible:
- UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva that is mandated to monitor compliance of states with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions
- UN Special Rapporteur on Involuntary and Enforced Disappearances
- UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
The UN Special Rapporteurs are mandated to receive complaints from organizations and individuals and conduct fact-finding missions.
There is also the possibility of filing complaints with the Joint Secretariat of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) which has an office in Cubao, Quezon City. The refusal of the GRP, however, to allow the GRP section of the JMC to meet with its NDFP counterpart seriously limits the functioning of the JMC. As of December 2, 2005, there have been 454 complaints filed against GRP forces and 14 complaints against NDFP forces. The JMC has not been able to meet since April 15, 2004.
We are presenting also the possibility of filing complaints directly with the NDFP Human Rights Committee. The revolutionary movement represented by the NDFP has its own judicial system. This is affirmed by the CARHRIHL in various ways.
The CARHRIHL recognizes the inherent rights of both the GRP and the NDFP to adhere and be bound by the principles and standards embodied in international instruments on human rights and the inherent rights of both as Parties to the armed conflict to adhere to and be bound by the generally accepted principles and standards of international humanitarian law (Part III, Art. 1 and Part IV, Art. 1, respectively).
Moreover, both Parties assert in the CARHRIHL that:
“The Parties shall continue to assume separate duties and responsibilities for upholding, protecting and promoting human rights and the principles of international humanitarian law in accordance with their respective political principles, organizations and circumstances until they shall have reached final resolution of the armed conflict.” (Part VI Final Provisions, Article 1)
Furthermore, the separate and parallel judicial system of the NDFP is recognized in Part III Article 4:
“The persons liable for violations and abuses of human rights shall be subject to investigation and, if evidence warrants, to prosecution and trial. The victims or their survivors shall be indemnified. All necessary measures shall be undertaken to remove the conditions for violations and abuses of human rights and to render justice to and indemnify victims.”
A similar provision on international humanitarian law is in Part IV, Article 6.
May I suggest that each concrete possible action be undertaken by a specific group of organizations so that the tasks can be divided and systematically carried out. For example, one organization or group of organizations can undertake the filing of a complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions; another for the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva; still another for the UN Special Rapporteur on Involuntary and Enforced Disappearances, and so on.
The NDFP Negotiating Panel deeply appreciates your earnest efforts to uphold and defend human rights and to build solidarity for a just peace. We join you in honoring the memory of the fallen defenders of human rights. May their sacrifice and martyrdom be a lasting source of strength and inspiration for us.