Hardline Militarists, Rights Violations, Corruption, Obstacles to Peace Talks – NDFP

“The NDFP remains open to the resumption of formal peace talks… But the current anti-national and anti-people policies, the gross human rights violations, the scandals of corruption, do not provide grounds for optimism.” – Luis Jalandoni, chairman, NDFP Negotiating Panel.

Vol. VII, No. 42, November 25-December 1, 2007

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales’ recent pronouncement that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) should agree to a “mutual ceasefire” as a precondition for the resumption of peace negotiations does not sit well with the leadership of the revolutionary organization, which has been waging an armed struggle against the government for more than three decades.

In an interview with Bulatlat, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairman Luis Jalandoni said Gonzales’ ceasefire demand betrays what he described as the Arroyo regime’s thrust of “securing the capitulation or pacification of the revolutionary movement.”

Gonzales’ pronouncement was reported in the news just as the NDFP and Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal had come to an agreement that the NDFP would provide the Philippine Senate with information on the peace talks, for the purpose of inquiries in aid of legislation. Madrigal met with the NDFP Negotiating Panel in the wake of the recent arrest of NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison on trumped-up criminal charges.

Following this meeting, Jalandoni and Sison both issued follow-up statements expressing the NDFP’s willingness to work with the Philippine Senate in pursuing the peace talks.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., one of the legislators noted for interest in seeing the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations move forward, has however urged the NDFP to agree to the ceasefire “proposal” as a way of building an “atmosphere of trust and goodwill.”

Meanwhile, the Council of Europe recently proposed to the European Union that it revise its guidelines for listing personalities and organizations as “terrorists.”

The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations have been stalled for the last five years, following the listing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorist organizations,” and of Sison as a “terrorist.”

The NDFP’s observations on these developments, and on the prospects for the peace talks in the remaining three years of the Arroyo administration, are articulated in Jalandoni’s interview with Bulatlat.

Following is the full text of the interview:

What can you say about Sec. Norberto Gonzales’ demand that the GRP and the NDFP agree to a “mutual ceasefire” before peace negotiations could resume?

Sec. Norberto Gonzales’ demand for “mutual ceasefire” as a precondition to the resumption of formal peace talks grossly violates The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and the Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs) of the GRP and the NDFP Negotiating Panels of 1995 and the Supplemental Agreement thereto of 1997. In these agreements, the end of hostilities or ceasefire is the fourth and last item in the substantive agenda, after the roots of the armed conflict have been adequately dealt with in agreements on socio-economic and political reforms.

Gonzales’ demand for a ceasefire blurs the need to address the roots of the armed conflict through social, economic and political reforms. It reflects the objective of the Arroyo regime of securing the capitulation or pacification of the revolutionary movement.

This precondition of Gonzales is unacceptable to the NDFP. Moreover, Secretary Gonzales is not really for genuine peace talks. In fact, he is a saboteur of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. As head of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), he has fabricated numerous trumped-up charges against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP Chief Political Consultant, the NDFP Negotiating Panel members, consultants and staff, in gross violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

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