Bandillo: On Localized Peace Talks


The Duterte government is now moving heaven and earth to push for localized peace talks.

This is not the first time. During Corazon Aquino regime, regional talks were also held parallel to the national talks. The talks eventually collapsed after the Mendiola massacre. This was quite costly to the revolutionary movement as key regional leaders and staff were identified and profiled. Many would soon be arrested, detained, and some assassinated or disappeared. It was from this experience that lessons were drawn. All succeeding peace talks would then be held in a foreign neutral venue.

Localized peace talks were also adopted under Arroyo’s administration as early as during her continuation of deposed President Joseph Estrada’s term (2001-2004) and until the end of her term in 2010.  During the term of President Noynoy Aquino,  Teresita Deles, the presidential peace adviser, pushed to employ a “new approach”, meaning, the government would seek peace talks with local formations of the CPP-NPA and mass bases.

Complete surrender

The government has announced it will now allow local officials to engage in localized peace talk provided they “adhere to the guiding framework agreed during the special security cluster meeting.” Accordingly, these talks would be “nationally orchestrated, centrally directed, and locally supervised and implemented.” That they “shall cover the New People’s Army (NPA), organs of political power, and Militia ng Bayan.”

Central to this is the  “full amnesty package based on disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegrated to the mainstream society (DDRR).” This is simply complete and total surrender! The “necessary enabling environment” set by the President for the formal local talks to proceed are “local venue; no coalition government or power-sharing; no revolutionary taxes, arson, extortion and other violent activities; and the fighters to remain in their predesignated encampment areas.” 

All these preconditions are diametrically opposed to The Joint Hague Declaration which states that “no precondition shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations.” Further, the government announced that the substantive agenda will be based on the medium term PHL Development Plan (PDP) and the PHL Development Plan 2040 of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

This implies that the peace talk will be guided by neoliberal economic paradigm and signifies departure from the agenda set forth by the The Hague Joint Declaration which include human rights and international humanitarian law, socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

Divide and rule

Malacanang has proposed four kinds of localized peace talks. One involves a third party. In this kind of negotiations, the talks will be between the local peace channel and the local fighters.

Another mode is  “community dialogue” which involves informal open communication line and liaison network to facilitate peace package. This includes the exploitation of social media, and community pressure on the fighters to participate in the local peace process.

There is also the “direct availment” of the government’s peace initiative intended to provide the integration and mainstreaming support without going through process of peace negotiation.

Last mode is the “confidential dialogue” undertaken to a combatant armed group which desires to lie low without open documentation and will not avail of the peace package program.

Revolutionaries say ‘no’!

The CPP Central Committee has rejected the initiative and declared it as “a sham, a waste of people’s money, and are doomed to fail.”

NDFP’s Chief Political Consultant Joma Sison is very fortright. He calls the so-called localized peace talks by Duterte and Lorenzana as “totally absurd and stupid.”  Ka Joma cited five reasons as follows:

1. That so-called localized peace talks cannot be used to negotiate and make comprehensive agreements with the growing armed revolutionary movement to address the roots of the armed conflict with social, economic and political reforms of national dimensions.

2.  That if Duterte and Lorenzana are daydreaming to think that the united nationwide armed revolutionary movement led by the CPP can be divided and disintegrated through localized talks.

3.  That the central and regional leading organs of the CPP, NPA and NDFP have condemned the notion of said localized ceasefire talks.

4. That the “people and revolutionary forces have long recognized that so-called localized peace talks are little zarzuelas staged by the military and local peace and order councils for psywar purposes and for pocketing public funds in the name of fake surrenders.

5.  That Duterte and Lorenzana should admit that they have all along been sabotaging the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, canceling and terminating these so often due to their failure to reduce them to mere surrender negotiations and now they are so frustrated with their utter failure to make the NDFP capitulate that they are at the end of their wits by touting the absurd and stupid notion of localized peace talks.

Indeed, localized peacetalks are bound to fail and the revolutionary forces would not bite the bait. If localized peacetalks were viable, then these should have been adopted and advanced long time ago.#


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