Bandillo: Test of sincerity


GRP-NDFP Peace Talks have bogged down indefinitely. Duterte and his generals would rant ad infinitum that the left is not sincere in entering into a peace agreement with the regime, ergo, it must be scuttled.

We are now being bombarded with state propaganda that the GRP is willing to resume peace talks only if the following conditions are met by the CPP-NPA-NDF. That the NPA stop fighting (termed as “atrocities”); that the NPA stop its revolutionary taxation (termed as “extortion”); and that the NDFP stop its demand for a coalition government. The GRP sets these as their so-called “tests of sincerity.” These are Goebbelic lies. They are repeated ad nauseam purposely to enjoin the public to accept them as gospel truth.

Are these demands reasonable? No, such demands by the GRP are out of order and bereft of reason. They are actually violative of the Joint Hague Declaration that prohibits the imposition of preconditions.

The GRP is now veering away from the national peace talks. It has now enhanced its campaign for localized negotiations. It has ordered the Cabinet Security Cluster, the LGUs, the regional and division commands of the PNP and AFP respectively, and state media to promote this track. As of late, no local CPP-NPA or NDF formation has responded positively to this resurrected localized peace track. It is deemed failed from the very beginning.

The NDF remains firm and steadfast in its stand. It has not abandoned the peace talks. Nor is it closing its doors to a ceasefire by initially agreeing to a stand down that will develop later into a more stable form of ceasefire. It has insisted on its revolutionary integrity to be rejecting these preconditions.

The NDF has also argued that for the talks to resume, the GRP must be serious in adopting the much-needed reforms to solve poverty by signing the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) and install an honest, democratic government with the adoption of the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms.

As a matter of compliance to past agreements, the NDF is on the right track when it demands that Duterte must stop his all-out war against the people, the murderous anti-drug war whose main victims are the poor, the war against the national minorities especially the Lumad people, among others. This is in compliance with CARHRIHL.

The NDF is correct in pressing for the release of political prisoners, delisting of the CPP-NPA in the terror list, and declaring amnesty to all political prisoners. These demands are not only just and reasonable. They are within the bounds and spirit of the past agreements. They are not preconditions. They are matters of justice and compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the Joint Statement on the June 2016 Exploratory Talks, and all the Joint Statements of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Rounds of GRP-NDF Talks.

So how do we measure sincerity? Sincerity could be measured by, one, having an actual peace blueprint, be it programs or reforms and the determination to conclude agreements that shall resolve the roots of the armed conflict. Such must be well-understood and embraced by the people.

Second, sincerity could be measured by how parties respect and honor signed bilateral agreements and how they comply with their obligations and commitments.

Meanwhile, it is now imperative for the NDF to continue its intensive and extensive education and information campaign on the CARHIHL in the light of widespread grave violations on human rights such as extra-judicial killings, tokhang which has claimed 25,000 lives, militarization of communities, forced evacuation, criminalization of political offenses, red-tagging and increasing impunity of state forces. Twenty years after the signing of CARHRIHL, this outstanding agreement must be upheld and genuinely implemented.

It is to the best interest of the people to present to them the NDF’s draft on CASER, its concomitant provisions on genuine agrarian reform, rural development, self reliance and national industrialization. Democratic reforms and people empowerment are key features of the CAPCR. They should be widely promoted.

Only upon the signing of these socio-economic and political reforms could the 4th or last agenda in the peace negotiations, the cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces, be consequently agreed upon.

In sum, the implementation of CARHRIHL, the blueprints on CASER and the CAPCR, are more than enough to prove NDF’s sincerity as against GRP’s ambivalent, militarist and “urong-sulong” peace track.


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