“The GPH has deliberately refused to comply with its commitments in agreements forged with the NDFP, despite the full knowledge that compliance would immediately break the impasse and cause the resumption of the formal talks of the GPH and NDFP Negotiating Panels.” – Luis Jalandoni, NDFP
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – After the Government of the Philippines (GPH) succeeded in forging an agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), it tried to achieve the same “historic moment” in its talks with the Reds but failed.
Informal talks continued even as the formal negotiations have been stalled since February 2011. But even the so-called “special track” in the peace talks came to a standstill after a meeting of both panels in Amsterdam, the Netherlands this February.
In a 29-page report submitted to its National Council, the peace panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) accused the GPH of forcing the NDFP to surrender.
In an interview with Bulatlat.com through email, Luis Jalandoni, NDFP peace panel chairman, said that at the meeting in Amsterdam on February 25 to 26, the GPH delegation attempted to make the NDFP accede to indefinite simultaneous and unilateral ceasefires without the agreements being proposed by the NDFP for truce and cooperation. This, Jalandoni said, is totally unacceptable to the NDFP panel.
As early as January 2011, the NDFP has offered a special track for the peace talks, and forwarded a ten-point proposal for a concise agreement.
For two years now, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas represented the GPH in intermittent meetings with NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison.
In November 2012 in Amsterdam, Llamas proposed to Sison, in the presence of Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) Special Envoy Ture Lundh, that a meeting between GPH President Benigno Aquino III and Sison be held in Hanoi City in early 2013. Llamas described the proposed Aquino-Sison meeting as the “first historic moment.”
Llamas also promised that NDFP consultant Alan Jazmines and other detained consultants would be released from prison.
Sison agreed, and insisted that basic points for a general declaration have to be agreed before the two parties enter a truce and alliance.
In December, the two panels exchanged drafts. However, Llamas and other GPH representatives said that their principal, GPH President Benigno Aquino III, was unwilling to constitute the GPH Special Team for the special track. Llamas also said they do not have the mandate and are not authorized to sign anything.
On February 25 to 26, the GPH and NDFP met again through the facilitation of the RNG. The NDFP gave its proposed five-point communiqué to the GPH and the GPH also furnished the NDFP a copy of its own draft for general declaration.
The GPH draft Declaration calls for immediate simultaneous unilateral and indefinite ceasefires “in order to reduce the level of violence on the ground.”
The GPH draft also calls for the progression of these unilateral ceasefires into a permanent one.
The GPH proposed to create a Committee for National Unity, Peace and Development with its own organizational structure, mechanics and Work Program. The Committee shall discuss socio-economic and political reforms, the progression of the above ceasefires and the drafting of the Final Peace Agreement.
In its critique, the NDFP said the “GPH wants nothing but the pacification and capitulation of the revolutionary forces of the Filipino people through indefinite unilateral ceasefires without the basic reforms required by The Hague Joint Declaration and subsequent agreements.”
Signed in 1992 by both parties, The Hague Joint Declaration https://www.bulatlat.com/wp-content/uploads/peace-talks-documents/hague.pdf sets the framework for the peace negotiations between the two parties and the four substantive agenda: human rights and international humanitarian law, socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed in 1998 was the first major agreement between both parties.
Next in the agenda are socio-economic reforms.
The four-point draft Declaration of the NDFP for truce reflects some urgent reforms on human rights and social economic policies.
The NDFP deems the GPH is not interested in addressing the roots of the armed conflict through negotiated social, economic and political reforms.
“It has been repeatedly made clear to the GPH that the NDFP will never agree to capitulation and pacification. From the signing and approval of The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992, this firm principle has been consistently upheld by the NDFP,” Jalandoni said.
Bulatlat.com sent an email to the Office of Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) to set an interview but the office of Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles has not responded as of this writing.
In a report, however, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda denied that Llamas scuttled the February meeting.
“That is incorrect. That is just a spin of the NDF,” Lacerda said in a report. “There were certain commitments that they want from us. Those are commitments that were not acceptable to the government,” Lacierda said.
“It’s not true that Ronald was a party spoiler. There were conditions that were not agreed upon. There was no meeting of minds,” he said.
Regular track still stalled
In its lengthy report, the NDFP said the GPH “pays lip service to peace negotiations… puts all the obstacles to prevent the progress of said negotiations.”
The NDFP pointed out the GPH has refused to release detained NDFP consultants, which, the NDFP said, is in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) and the Hernandez political doctrine.
Jasig provides immunity from suit and all forms of harassment to all participants in the peace talks. The Hernandez political doctrine, on the other hand, prohibits the criminalization of political offenses. Most of the 14 detained NDFP consultants were slapped with common crimes.
“The GPH has deliberately refused to comply with its commitments in agreements forged with the NDFP, despite the full knowledge that compliance would immediately break the impasse and cause the resumption of the formal talks of the GPH and NDFP Negotiating Panels,” the NDFP said.
The NDFP also said that the GPH has rejected demands for an independent investigation of the killing and enforced disappearance of other NDFP Consultants and has continued to arrest and maltreat NDFP consultants and other JASIG-protected persons. Four NDFP consultants have been arrested under the Aquino administration.
Message to peace advocates
“The GPH has the burden of showing that it is sincerely interested in continuing the peace negotiations in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and subsequent agreements,” the NDFP said.
Jalandoni called on peace advocates to continue striving for a just and lasting peace.
“We continue to be open to dialogue with you, listen to your proposals and offer our own suggestions. Continued campaigns and pressure can help change conditions and make them more favorable for the advance of serious and meaningful peace negotiations aimed at addressing the roots of the armed conflict,” Jalandoni said.