GPh not ready to tackle economic reforms


BAGUIO CITY — The peace talks between the Philippine government (GPh) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has been stalled because the GPh is not ready to tackle socio economic reforms, according to former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo.

Ocampo was a negotiator for the NDFP when the talks with the government began during the administration of President Corazon Aquino.

In an interview after delivering his keynote address to the 5th Congress of Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, Ocampo said the GPh is not prepared to discuss the socio economic reform proposals of the NDFP that include national industrialization and genuine land reform among others.

He added that the peace talks are supposed to focus on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), the second of the four agenda and the most important one.

Ocampo also said the peace talks with the communist rebels will continue if President Benigno Aquino III should pay the same attention he had given the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) because the Office of the Presidential Adviser of the Peace Process (OPPAP) is not keen on pursuing the talks.

“[The President] should take on [the peace talks with the communist rebels] personally as he has done with the BBL… His administration has nine months left and unless the government recognizes and upholds previous agreements, the peace talks will not prosper.”

Talks with the GPh-NDFP was stalled in June 2011, according to Ocampo.

The CPP-NDFP criticized the government for not respecting previous agreements that include the talk’s basic document, The Hague.

Ocampo said the government did not only back down on its promise to release NDFP consultants already languishing in jail but arrested several more as OPAPP asserts that the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) is “inoperable”.

Ocampo, president of the Makabayan Coalition, said it seemed Opapp was not interested in pursuing formal talks given the statements declaring The Hague agreement as a “document of perpetual division” and Jasig as “inoperable.”