Bandillo: Will the GRP-NDFP peace talks ever resume?

By RANDY FELIX P. MALAYAO
www.nordis.net

“Give me a piece of paper. I will write it for you. Give it to them,” Duterte told reporters at the sidelines of the 113th founding anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. He is responding to the query about the prospect of talks with the National Democratic Front (NDFP).

   

In such case, there would be no choice for the NDFP but to exit from the peace negotiations. But Malacanang, despite announcements ending talks,  has yet to officially end the peace process unilaterally.

“There is yet no written formal notice of termination properly addressed to the NDFP as mandatorily required by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which is a solemn bilateral agreement that protects negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel of both Parties involved in the peace negotiations,” confirms Edre U. Olalia, Legal Consultant and NDFP Panel Convenor, NDFP International Legal Advisory Team, the NDFP Chief.  

What caused the impasse? Or looking it in another plane, what steps should be done to save the peace talks? 

Time and again, the NDF is consistent in raising that Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) must stop raising preconditions. Instead it should fulfill its commitment to all past agreements.  

The GRP must comply with The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on the Sequence, Formation and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees and the plan to accelerate  the peace negotiations without violating the aforesaid Declaration and Agreement. 

GRP is also committed to release the 400 political prisoners in accordance with Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and in latter-day joint statements (Oslo Prelims, Oslo1 and 2, Rome, Noordwijk).  There has not been any releases since the release of  the 19 NDF consultants and some NDF personnel and staff. 

The NDFP will not agree to any kind of protracted and indefinite ceasefire without the prior approval of CASER and the release of the political prisoners.

“If such ceasefire comes ahead of CASER and the release of the political prisoners, it will not enable but will surely disable both the environment and conduct of substantive negotiations on social, economic, political and constitutional reforms,” says Ka Joma Sison in his oft-repeated advise to the NDFP panel. 

Said ceasefire is aimed at obtaining the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and people represented by the NDFP and likewise at pushing aside substantive negotiations, he added.

The subject of protracted and indefinite ceasefire is premature and may be discussed only after the approval of CASER by the principals and the release of all political prisoners in compliance with CARHRIHL.

On CARHRIHL

There has not been much compliance with CARHRIHL by the GRP since its approval by the principals in 1998.

Release of all political prisoners listed by the NDFP has yet to be carried out by the GRP.  This  could be done expeditiously – by way of general amnesty or withdrawal of charges by the prosecution. As of late, 55 have been released but around the same number have also been detained by the Duterte regime. 

As agreed in the Rome Round, through Joint Monitoring Committee, there must be continuing exchange of complaints and demands for action between GRP and NDFP.   

The Duterte government should also address the following outstanding issues:

First, the gross HR violations by GRP under various operational plans up to the current Oplan  Kapayapaan, including the murder of NDFP consultants Leo Velasco, Calubad, Calubid and others, abductions, torture, extrajudicial killings, bombardment, and forced evacuations and evictions.

Second, Oplan Kapayapaan, its all-out war policy that inflicts gross human rights violations on people.

Third, Martial law and bombardments of communities and structures in the whole of Mindanao and the plan and threat to expand martial law to the entire Philippines and combine it with Tokhang methods of mass murder.

Fourth, the policy of mass murder against suspected poor drug addicts and street level drug pushers and likewise the policy of condoning pro-Duterte drug lords and protectors at the levels of governors and generals.

Duterte-Joma Word War

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair and now NDFP’s chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison rebuked President Rodrigo Duterte, saying that he does not need to prove himself to anyone in the arena of revolutionary struggle.

“I do not have to prove again that I have the revolutionary will and courage to wage armed struggle against oppression,” Sison posted on his Facebook account.

This remark came after Duterte challenged Sison to return to the country and lead the war.

“If you are truly a revolutionary leader, my God, come home and fight here,” Duterte said in a media interview after visiting the wake of the six police officers killed in an NPA ambush operation in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

“I was an active part of the people’s war against the Marcos regime for nine years, 1969 to 1977 and then went to fascist prison for another 9 years. I surpassed the field record of many reactionary military officers who are in the field for a few years until they are assigned desk jobs and then retire at the age of 56,” “ Ka Joma said.

Ka Joma was forced into exile in the Netherlands after the Philippine government cancelled his passport.  

Ka Joma also emphasized that his battles cannot be dictated by President Duterte

“At any rate, I choose the battlefield where I fight and the types of battles that I wage. These cannot be dictated by Duterte who hopes vainly that the US and European intelligence would tip him off as soon as I leave The Netherlands for the Philippines,” Ka Joma said.

“The way he continues to talk he really hates to engage in peace negotiations with the NDFP.  At any rate, I must remind Duterte that we are well past the age of retirement in the NPA and AFP,” he added.

Ka Joma, who has been trading  barbs with Duterte in the past few days, admonished the President saying that the he (Duterte) should “sober up” and allow the government panel to “seriously negotiate” with the NDFP.

“At his ripe old age of 72, he should not try to project an image of a strutting young fighter at my expense. He should sober up and allow his negotiating panel to seriously negotiate with the NDFP negotiating panel and make agreements on social, economic and political reforms that lay the basis of a just and lasting peace for the benefit of the Filipino people,” Ka Joma said.

Ka Joma also pointed out that if the revolutionary movement “deems [his return] necessary,” he will do so “to fight the Duterte puppet regime of US imperialism.”

The word war between Duterte and Ka Joma began after the backchannel talks were canceled, with the chief executive accusing the CPP-NPA-NDF of insincerity in an effort to achieve a political settlement after the NPA attacked a convoy of the Presidential Security Group.

Duterte, during his SONA, said that Sison has colon cancer.  Ka Joma immediately countered, “Yes, indeed I was hospitalized but I don’t have cancer.” # nordis.net

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