Preparations for negotiations on social and economic reforms
On the part of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, we consider it very important to prepare for the negotiations on social and economic reforms. Way back on March 16, 1998, when the CARHRIHL was signed in The Hague, we provided the GRP Negotiating Panel with our draft for a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms (CASER). This draft has eleven chapters. We held consultations with various organizations in the Philippines before and after the making of that draft. In 2005, we held a consultation in The Netherlands with consultants from various fields. The 1998 draft and the results of the 2005 consultations, as well as additional pertinent documents like the speeches of Ms. Julieta de Lima, Chairperson of the NDFP Reciprocal Working committee on social and economic reforms and Mr. Randall Echanis, member of the NDFP RWC on SER, have been published recently in a booklet. We suggest that you and other interested people use it for study and discussion. We will appreciate any comments, criticism and suggestions for improvement.
As a matter of fact, the NDFP RWC on SER has started the widespread discussion of SER, especially under the current economic crisis which deeply affects the country. The NDFP RWC on SER has formed working groups and divided them into five clusters, namely (1) agrarian reform with representatives of peasants, fisherfolk, the Cordillera, the Bangsamoro, indigenous or national minorities, (2) working people with representatives from trade unions, urban poor, women, migrant workers, government employees, teachers, youth and students, health workers, lawyers, media, advocates of children’s rights, and cultural workers, (3) environment, with representatives from environmental organizations, Cordillera and Bangsamoro, indigenous communities, scientists and engineers, (4) social cluster with representatives of health workers, teachers, youth and students, women, children advocates, the elderly and cultural workers, and (5) economy, with academic experts, research and support institutions. The plan is to replicate these clusters at the regional and provincial level.
There has been enthusiastic response from the different sectors and groups. A big problem in carrying out these consultations is the lack of funds. Therefore, the NDFP RWC on SER is looking for ways and means of raising funds and getting support for these consultations. We believe that for the future peace negotiations, these consultations are important in enriching the papers to be taken up and securing the wide participation and support of the people for the peace talks.
Final efforts for peace talks with the Arroyo regime
As you may already know, on 15 June 2009, representatives of the GRP Negotiating Panel and the NDFP Negotiating Panel met in The Hague with Ambassador Brynildsen and his team. The six-hour meeting at the Norwegian Embassy produced the following agreements:
1. Simultaneous announcements on July 6 that the JASIG is binding and effective and both sides would resume formal talks sometime in August 2009 in Oslo.
2. NDFP Consultants Vicente Ladlad and Elizabeth Principe, NDFP RWC members Randall Echanis and Rafael Baylosis, and eight other NDFP detained consultants would be released before the August talks.
3. Political prisoners ordered released by Mrs. Arroyo in 2001 and those agreed upon in Oslo Joint Statement II in April 2004 to be released within 30 days, ought to be released before August.
4. Trumped up charges against NDFP panelists and staff be withdrawn, including bounties put on Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant and NDFP Consultant Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal.
It was further agreed that at the resumption of formal talks, the “terrorist” listing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and Prof. Sison be resolved and the same for the indemnification of victims of human rights violations under the Marcos regime. The close to 10,000 victims of HR violations had won their case in the US Court and were awarded USD 2 billion in damages, but up to now have been deprived of such indemnification.
This attempt to resume the formal talks however did not materialize.
In summary, problems arose on the following points:
• Randall Echanis was given a conditional release with the limitation of six months, which the NDFP considered a violation of JASIG;
• Criminal charges and warrants of arrest against Ladlad and Baylosis were not withdrawn. Instead a safe conduct pass was issued by the Philippine National Police, which Ladlad and Baylosis and their lawyers deemed unacceptable because the passes criminalized them.
• The eight other NDFP consultants would not yet be released. Two other NDFP consultants, Alfredo Mapano and Jovencio Balweg, arrested after June 15 in violation of JASIG were also not be released.
NDFP committed to strive for just peace and resume formal talks
The NDFP is committed to strive for a just and lasting peace in our country. It is determined to struggle for genuine land reform, national industrialization, and other fundamental reforms to achieve national and social liberation, genuine independence and democracy and a just and lasting peace.
On the basis of The Hague Joint Declaration and the other agreements already signed, the NDFP is willing and ready to resume formal peace talks with the new GRP administration. We aim for peace talks that address the roots of the armed conflict through fundamental economic, social and political reforms.
We have made known the NDFP’s willingness and readiness to resume formal talks on the basis of The Hague Joint Declaration and other signed agreements. We hope that the new GRP administration, whoever may win in the elections on May 10, will respond favorably.
Dear Friends in the EBF, we wish you utmost success in your efforts to hasten the resumption of the formal peace talks for the benefit of the Filipino people and towards achieving our common aspiration for a just and lasting peace in our country.