By RANDY FELIX P. MALAYAO
The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have successfully concluded the fourth round of talks on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel in Noordwijk Aan Zee in the Netherlands.
The parties deserve our congratulations. In this round, free land distribution as a basic principle of genuine agrarian reform has been firmed up. There is also an agreement to forge an interim bilateral ceasefire.
On socio-economic reforms
The negotiations on Social and Economic Reforms (SER) have also moved forward. The Reciprocal Working Committees (RWC) on SER have exchanged their respective comparative matrices. To accelerate the process of concluding the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), the parties have identified the contentious provisions and those that are already acceptable in principle.
RWCs-SER also agreed to form and convene Bilateral Teams composed of three members each and supervised by RWC-SER members to work on the sections on the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED).
The bilateral teams are scheduled to hold work meetings in Metro Manila or elsewhere as may be mutually agreed upon in the Philippines. They have agreed on the schedule of work meetings, involving discussions and common drafting. They have required themselves to submit reports to the RWCs-SER one week before the fifth round of formal talks.
The RWCS and bilateral teams shall start drafting the executive orders and the legislative bills to be annexed to CASER and aimed at realizing the social and economic reforms required by CASER.
The Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), now pending in Congress, and other Executive Orders, should be taken into account in making a new land reform law.
“The Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill should be taken into account in making a new land reform law. The priority industries to be established in order to lay the industrial foundation of the Philippine economy should be listed up in consultation with the industrial experts and prospective Filipino investors,” Jose Ma. Sison (JMS) stressed in his closing ceremonies.
The signing of an Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire is a very significant step forward for a conducive environment for the negotiations and encourage the eventual and early signing of a CASER.
Parties have agreed to “direct their respective Ceasefire Committees to meet in-between formal talks to discuss, formulate, and finalize the guidelines and ground rules for the implementation of the agreement that shall govern the presence of armed units and elements of both parties in communities and the creation of buffer zones.” Prohibited, hostile, and provocative acts shall also be defined. A ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism shall be provided for.
On the contentious issue of revolutionary taxation, the NDFP proposes that this shall be discussed in forging of the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR) and in the founding of the Federal Republic of the Philippines. “The NDFP will not be capitulating to a pre-existing government but can assume responsibilities in the new government,” argues JMS.
As to the effectivity of the Interim Joint Ceasefire Agreement, this “shall be valid and effective until a permanent ceasefire or truce is forged as part of the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (CAEHDF) or otherwise terminated by any of the two Parties for any reason we cannot foresee now,” says JMS.
JMS summarizes the attitude of the NDFP on ceasefire in his closing ceremonies speech, that “the ceasefire agreement is necessary and of high importance. But far more important and decisive in realizing a just and lasting peace is the adoption and implementation of basic social, economic and political reforms that are needed an demanded by the Filipino people.”
Other unities in this round include the conditional pardon of 23 NDFP-listed prisoners, including three consultants and the release of Prisoners of War. The NDFP and GRP agreed to undertake measures to immediately and safely release the four remaining New People’s Army (NPA) captives. Those held in SOCSKSARGEN are to be released before Easter Sunday (April 15) and those in Bukidnon and CARAGA after the Holy Week.
We all look forward to the holding of the 5th round of formal talks on May 26 to June 2. # nordis.net