According to Jalandoni, the NDFP would welcome members of the congress and the senate, as well officials from local government units if they went to be represented in the peace negotiations.
“The talks between the NDFP and the GPH affects the entire nation, and we do want all Filipinos to be concerned with it. What is necessary is for those involved is to cultivate, maintain and show resoluteness to come up with solutions and to remove obstacles. I am certain that most, if not all, ordinary Filipinos would speak out in support of the peace talks if asked,” he said.
The peace negotiator’s statements are not off the mark as in the last eight months, various people’s organizations representing the poor and marginalized sectors of society have been declaring their support for the talks. Piligrims for Peace, for instance, and the Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response (PCPR) have led gatherings wherein workers and farmers groups were joined by urban poor, fisherfolk, women and children organizations stated how much they want the talks to prosper. All over the country, fora, symposia and other peace consultations have also been taking place.
As for the GPH president, however, critics say that he has been less than active in promoting the peace talks with the NDFP. The Aquino administration has focused more on negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation front (MILF), but insiders have become a little disillusioned with how these talks are proceeding.
“It’s good that the GPH is also negotiating with the MILF, and the NDFP also desires a good outcome for their talks,” Jalandoni said. He clarified, however, that Aquino should seriously recognize that the goal of peace talks is not to make the other party surrender arms and give up the struggle for liberation, but to come up with agreements that would lessen the devastating impact of the armed conflict on civilians.
“The NDFP’s commitment to the talks is founded on its determination to push for substantial reforms that will immediately and directly benefit the Filipino people — for instance, the NDFP wants an end to the human rights violations being committed by the AFP. The NDFP also stands for the aspirations of the poor sectors and their demands for genuine agrarian reform; for an end to destructive and irresponsible mining practices; for the furtherance of reforms that will provide free health, housing and educational services to the poor. This is why we engage in the talks; this is why we are willing to face the GPH and forge principled agreements with it,” he said.
The Joint Monitoring Committee
Peace panelist Ledesma for her part appealed to the public to support the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the NDFP and the GPH which has its office in Cubao.
“A lot of people don’t know that there’s a JMC, and that it’s a product of the CARHRIHL. This is a functioning office that receives complaints about the abuses of either the forces of the GPH or the NDFP. It’s existence alone proves the equality between the NDFP and the GPH as political forces, and it is to the benefit of the Filipino people that the JMC continues to operate,” she said.
Ledesma, however, explained that the JMC’s two secretariats — one of the NDFP, the other of the GPH– have not been able to formally meet since 2004 when the GPH under ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo scuttled negotiations with the NDFP.
“The JMC will only be able to fully convene whenever there are peace talks — this is not a rule, but this is so far what has happened. It would be the best thing for the Filipino people and the country’s thousands of human rights victims if the JMC is able to fully perform its function to investigate and make recommendations on the complaints on HRVs the JMC receives. This is one other reason among so many others as to why the peace talks should continue,” she said.
Continuing with the talks
Latest reports reveal that the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) was able to successfully mediate and convince both sides to continue with the peace talks. After meeting with Norwegian third party facilitator Ture Lundh, NDFP’s Jalandoni and GPH panel chair Alexander Padilla agreed to resume the talks sometime in October.
The two sides reportedly agreed to comply with previous agreements, to temper their statements to the media, and to find means to settle the issues of the Jasig and the release of the NDFP consultants.
NDFP negotiating panel Agcaoili has already declared the NDFP’s readiness to proceed with the talks, provided that the GPH respect and uphold the Jasig and its commitments in the Oslo agreement.
Agcaoili in a statement said that in the next round of talks, they will present to the GPH the history and continuity of violations against the Jasig and the Carhihl by the GRP/GPH from the regime of Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) to the current administration.
Agcaoili said that the NDFP expects that these violations would be acknowledged, discussed and rectified so that the peace negotiations can lead to the formal meetings of the Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs SER).
“The non-compliance with and brazen violations of JASIG by GRP/GPH since the GMA regime have been carried over, continued and further extended by the Aquino regime,” he said. According to Agcaoili, the GPH is guilty of the so-called suspension of the Jasig and the conversion of the list of JASIG-protected individuals into a manhunt list in 2004.
He also said that in 2007, the GRP/GPH colluded with the Dutch government in arresting Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the Chief Political Consultant of the NDFP, and raiding seven residences.This, Agcaoili said, resulted in the “fouling up” of the decryption code and non-return of the most important diskette for the decrypting of the photographs in the deposit box.
Agcaoili’s last assertion is bolstered by recent WikiLeaks reports exposing the how the GRP/GPH coordinated with the Dutch government to have Sison arrested. This was narrated in a September 4, 2007 memo sent by former US ambassador Kirstie Kenny to the State Department wherein the US official reported a visit made by then foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo to her residence for a private breakfast.
The peace panelist also said that apart from the Jasig, the GPH should also be held accountable for violations of the CARHRIHL: as of now, about 350 alleged political offenders remain in jail on on trumped up charges of common crimes. The 9,500 victims of human rights violations under the Marcos regime also remain uncompensated.