Government peace panel head Nieves Confesor said on Friday, December 5, that the Arroyo government is now ready to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). She also said that both panels agreed to a ceasefire as a “good will and confidence-building measure”. But Confesor’s seeming optimism is not being shared by the NDFP. The NDFP released two press statements, December 4 and 6, saying that the informal talks actually hit a snag over the issue of ceasefire with the government trying to convert the talks into surrender negotiations.
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Government peace panel head, Nieves Confesor said on Friday December 5 that the Arroyo government is now ready to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). She also said that both panels agreed to a ceasefire as a “goodwill and confidence-building measure”.
But Confesor’s seeming optimism is not being shared by the NDFP. The NDFP released two press statements, December 4 and 6, saying that the informal talks actually hit a snag over the issue of ceasefire with the government trying to convert the talks into surrender negotiations.
The two parties held informal talks in Oslo, Norway on Nov. 28 to 30. Confesor headed the panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) while the NDFP panel was headed by Luis Jalandoni. The informal talks was sponsored by the Norwegian government.
In a statement sent to Bulatlat, Luis Jalandoni said, “The kind of ceasefire the Arroyo regime wants to impose on the NDFP amounts to pacification of the revolutionary forces.”
“It means the casting away of all existing agreements and the framework of peace negotiations already agreed upon in The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and subsequent agreements. The regime thus wants to convert the peace negotiations into ceasefire and surrender negotiations,” Jalandoni added.
The Hague Joint Declaration laid down the substantive agenda of the formal peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP which include human rights and international humanitarian law, socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
In 1999, the GRP and NDFP signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The two parties had drafted their versions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) but formal peace talks have bogged down since 2004.
Jalandoni explained, “The issue of ending armed hostilities belongs to item no. 4 in the substantive agenda defined by The Hague Joint Declaration. This should be negotiated after agreements on social and economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms shall have been completed.”
Jalandoni added that compliance with the previously signed agreements must not be preconditioned on a prolonged ceasefire.
The NDFP noted that even without any prolonged ceasefire, the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations resulted in more than 10 agreements, including the framework agreements and the CARHRIHL. “Not a single substantive agreement has ever been made during the Arroyo regime since it started to demand the pacification and surrender of the NDFP under the guise of protracted ceasefire,” Jalandoni said.
Fidel Agcaoili, NDFP panel spokesperson and chairperson of NDFP Human Rights Committee said the GRP negotiating panel in Oslo was so obsessed with demanding that the NDFP surrender through a prolonged ceasefire and with seeking to convert the peace negotiations into ceasefire negotiations. Agcaoili slammed the GRP for ignoring NDFP’s offers of ‘doable types of ceasefire.’