NDF Clarifies Regime’s Statements on Resumption of Talks

MANILA – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) clarified today statements made by the Arroyo administration regarding the resumption of peace negotiations next month.

In a press statement released today, Fidel V. Agcaoili, a member of the NDFP negotiating panel, said the government unilaterally announced that it would “lift the suspension” of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).

During the meeting in Oslo on June 15 facilitated by the Norwegian government, both sides agreed to “reaffirm all previously signed agreements” before the talks could resume, Agcaoili said.

Aside from the Jasig, the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippine (GRP) had signed the Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees (RWC Agreement), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Agcaoili said the GRP “unilaterally declared” its intention to release detained consultants and other Jasig-protected persons, including political prisoners scheduled for release as early as 2001 and 2004. In fact, he said, “there was no mention made by representatives of both parties that the NDFP would reveal the identities of its list of 87 (not 97) holders of Documents of Identification” issued under the Jasig, he added.

Also, contrary to what government officials are saying, Agcaoili said the NDFP never demanded during the four-hour negotiations the removal of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) and Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the chief political consultant of the NDFP in the peace negotiations, from the “terrorist list” of the European Union and the United States.

“What the NDFP has been proposing to the GRP is that the two parties sign a joint statement asserting the right of the Filipino people to national sovereignty and territorial integrity over incidents occurring in the Philippines,” Agcaoili said.

“Foreign governments,” he added, “have no right to label as terrorism what are deemed as acts of belligerency in a civil war under international law and what the revolutionaries themselves deem as acts of revolution and by the local reactionaries as acts of rebellion under the Hernandez political offense doctrine of the Supreme Court.”

The NDFP is the umbrella organization of various revolutionary groups in the Philippines, among them the CPP. The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.

Meanwhile, Agcaoili also emphasized that the peace negotiations should proceed in a sequential order, as stipulated in earlier agreements. This means the agreement on “the End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces” should be the last item in the process.

Both sides agreed in 1997 that both sides should first sign agreements on 1) respect for human rights and international humanitarian law; 2) social and economic reforms; 3) political and constitutional reforms; and, 4) end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

Government officials have been saying that, in order for the peace process to move on, the Communists should first lay down their arms. The NDFP has rejected this demand, saying it is not in accordance with the sequential order stipulated in previous agreements and that ending the armed revolution at this point would be tantamount to surrender.

Agcaoili said what was agreed upon during the Oslo meeting last month was the convening of Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms of both sides. These committees, he said, should work out the tentative agreement on that particular agenda and possibly create as well working groups – not yet committees – to start discussion on how to proceed with the last two items on the four-point agenda. (Bulatlat.com)

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