“The talks are not moving because Aquino cannot make decisions on his own.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) blamed President Benigno Aquino III’s “failure of leadership” for the four-year impasse on the formal talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP.
Speaking in a media forum organized by the People’s Media Center, April 18, Luis, Jalandoni, NDFP peace panel chairman, said, “The talks are not moving because Aquino cannot make decisions on his own.”
Jalandoni said the latest efforts undertaken by the NDFP and some “positive elements” in government went to naught because of Aquino’s indecision.
Jalandoni added that unlike former President Fidel V. Ramos who was “hands-on” in the peace talks, Aquino could not make decisions and relies on Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita “Ging” Deles.
Most of the bilateral agreements between the GPH (then called the Government of the Republic of the Philippines or GRP) and the NDFP were signed during the Ramos administration.
‘Deles, like Purisima’
Jalandoni likened Aquino’s reliance on Deles to his allowing former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to lead the operations in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25. The bungled operations left 44 SAF police officers, 18 Moro rebel fighters, and five civilian dead.
In Mamasapano and in the peace talks with the NDFP, Jalandoni said Aquino did not appoint the right persons to take charge.
Jalandoni claimed that Deles “has always been against the peace negotiations with the NDFP.” He said that Deles has been trying to undermine the past agreements signed by both parties, including The Hague Joint Declaration, which serves as the framework agreement for the GPH-NDFP talks. Deles called the THJD as a “document of perpetual division.”
Recently, Jalandoni said Deles has removed the authority of the GPH special team that went to the Netherlands several times and met with the NDFP panel in the hope of resuming the talks.
The special GPH delegation first met with the NDFP panel in October 2014 to discuss the possibilities of resuming the formal talks. The same GPH team came back in December 2014 and again in February this year. At that time, the NDFP was told the Aquino administration is “preoccupied with the Mamasapano incident and its impacts on the GPH-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) talks.”
“A leader must have the capability to resolve problems and appoint the right persons to take charge,” Jalandoni said. “Noynoy Aquino himself is the biggest stumbling block to the peace talks.”
Jalandoni said the GPH only wants “surrender talks,” which the NDFP said it would never agree to.
Jalandoni said Deles and the GPH panel want to junk the THJD, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
GPH panel chairman Alexander Padilla said Jasig is inoperative after NDFP consultants Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria were arrested. Jalandoni said the GPH panel also branded the CARHRIHL as “NDFP propaganda document.” He argued that all these agreements were signed not just by the NDFP but also by the GPH.
Jalandoni also said that the NDFP had offered an agreement for immediate just peace but the GPH panel rejected it.
Aquino’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan exposes the GPH’s militarist solution in dealing with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the NDFP, Jalandoni said. Citing from the Oplan Bayanihan, Jalandoni said the Aquino administration’s objective is to render the NPA inconsequential in three years.
Jalandoni said, however, that the NPA is becoming stronger, citing the recent tactical offensives by NPA guerrillas in Monkayo, Compostela Valley. The NPA raided the mining company owned by warlord Monkayo Mayor Joselito Brillantes Jr. and a military detachment on April 14, and confiscated 74 high-powered and short firearms.