A few days after the issuance of the Oslo Joint Statement by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), following the conclusion last Feb. 14 of the recent round of formal talks between the two parties, Bulatlat.com’s Alexander Martin Remollino (AMR) interviewed NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni (LJ) by e-mail on succeeding developments. Jalandoni signed the statement for the NDFP panel while former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed for the GRP panel.
Following are excerpts from the interview.
AMR: The Oslo joint statement says that the GRP and the NDFP have agreed to undertake measures regarding the “terror” listing of the CPP-NPA and Prof. Jose Maria Sison. What are the steps that are expected to be taken toward their removal from the “terrorist” list?
LJ: It is important to refer to the first paragraph on “Effective Measures Regarding the ‘Terrorist’ Listing” in the Oslo Joint Statement: “To resolve the outstanding issue of the ‘terrorist’ listing of the CPP/NPA and the NDFP Chief Political Consultant, effective measures shall be undertaken IN CONSONANCE WITH THE HAGUE JOINT DECLARATION…” Therefore the GRP and the NDFP in “jointly and separately” calling on the Government of the U.S., the Council of the EU, must do so in consonance with The Hague Joint Declaration (which stipulates the principle of national sovereignty).
In the November 20-21 (2003) informal talks, the GRP Panel declared they would be “flexible and creative” in undertaking the effective measures. This could mean various ways of officially informing the U.S., the Council of the EU and other concerned foreign states and governments (Canada and Australia), that the aforementioned “terrorist” listing violates Philippine national sovereignty and impedes the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. The NDFP shall make use of various ways and friendly parties, organizations and individuals to send the message of the Oslo Joint Statement to the concerned governments. We expect the Royal Norwegian Government to also inform the international community, of course, including the concerned governments.
AMR: What steps is the NDFP planning to take in view of the Feb. 15 statement of Ging Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, that the government maintains that the inclusion of the CPP-NPA and Professor Sison in the “terror” list is “independent of the GRP’s disposition regarding these matters”?
LJ: Through a press statement dated 17 February 2004, the NDFP has warned the GRP that if the measures to resolve the issue of the “terrorist” listing of the CPP/NPA and Professor Sison prove to be ineffective, there will be no basis for continuing the GRP-NDFP formal talks. We have also informed the Royal Norwegian Government of this NDFP position.
AMR: The killings of Atty. Juvy Magsino and Leima Fortu of Bayan Muna and Karapatan came just after the formation of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC). Also an Anakpawis coordinator was killed in Mindoro. Are these to be brought to the attention of the JMC soon? How do these affect the peace negotiations, considering the recent gains in the area of human rights and international humanitarian law (HR-IHL)?
LJ: The NDFP panel got the report of the brutal killing of Vice Mayor Juvy Magsino and human rights advocate Leima Fortu about 3 a.m. Feb. 14 Oslo time (10 a.m. Feb. 14 Manila time.) Our panel immediately brought this up in the formal talks that were ongoing then. The killing of Adrian Alegria, Anakpawis coordinator, followed just five days later.
Certainly, these together with the killing of Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy, among others, will be among the first cases that will be taken up in the meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee.
The increasing widespread HR violations by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), PNP (Philippine National Police) and CAFGU (Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit) are a powerful indictment against the Arroyo regime; they have an extremely negative effect on the peace negotiations.
AMR: The promotion of former 204th Infantry Brigade commanding officer Col. Jovito Palparan, Jr. to brigadier general has recently been confirmed by the Commission of Appointments notwithstanding his pending case before the Commission on Human Rights. What do you think this implies about the commitment of the Macapagal-Arroyo government to the HR-IHL agenda?
LJ: The promotion of the notorious HR violator, Jovito Palparan, to general is a scandalous act of the Arroyo regime that insults the memory of HR advocates Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy and other victims of Palparan and his cohorts.
AMR: Is the NDFP planning to bring the issue of Palparan’s promotion to the attention of the JMC?
LJ: Yes, certainly!
AMR: In an earlier e-mail interview also with Bulatlat.com, you said that the permit-to-campaign (PTC) issue was hardly mentioned in the recent round of talks. But President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo continues to issue threats of military action in response to PTC fee collections. What is your comment on this?
LJ: President Arroyo has a twisted sense of understanding when she accuses the NDF/CPP/NPA of “extortion” because of PTC fee collection.
First, it should be stressed that it is the candidates of various political parties who approach the revolutionary movement. It is a voluntary act on their part.
The revolutionary movement responds by engaging them in a dialogue to arrive at a common understanding regarding the rules and regulations for the safety of the communities inside the areas of the revolutionary movement, the safety of the candidates themselves (for example, no armed bodyguards may accompany them), the platform or program they have that may be of benefit to the people, the programs of the revolutionary movement in the area, such as health, land reform, literacy, culture, etc. Then at the end, possible cooperation for mutual benefit can be discussed, including possible contributions or donations of the candidates for the people’s programs.
This is for the people and is properly accounted for. It is a voluntary act which acknowledges the strength and influence of the revolutionary movement. This is not extortion.
What is extortion is the stealing of the people’s money, such as in the Jose Pidal scandal and the Peace Bonds, for personal enrichment, while the people suffer grinding poverty.