“Despite these and in the absence of formal notice of termination (of negotiations) from the GPH, the NDFP remains open to the resumption of talks if the GPH shows willingness to comply with its obligations under the agreements.” – Luis Jalandoni, NDFP
By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III said his administration is willing to resume the peace talks with the Left provided that the latter shows sincerity.
In an interview over Bombo Radyo on Thursday May 14, 2015 and as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Friday, Aquino accused the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) of making “impossible demands” in order for the negotiations to resume, including the reconstitution of its list of peace consultants.
Aquino further said that the GPH did not agree on freeing persons it arrested despite declarations by the NDFP that they are peace consultants, which was one of the alleged reasons why the NDFP walked out of the talks.
In a recent videotaped speech before a Rotary Club in Baguio City, Luis Jalandoni, NDFP panel chairman, said it is the GPH which declared that it is no longer willing to return to the negotiating table in mid-2013.
Jalandoni further said that contrary to the GPH’s claims, the NDFP did not withdraw its proposal for an alliance and truce which it offered the GPH in January 2011.
Jalandoni revealed that by December 2014, the supposedly President Benigno Aquino-mandated team and the NDFP had made a draft agreement on the timetable for the discussions and agreements on both the regular and special tracks of the negotiations.
Jalandoni said the timetable shall have included discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl) and the reconvening of its Joint Monitoring Committee, as well as the release of “falsely-charged and illegally detained political prisoners.”
He also said both the NDFP and the GPH special team came close to signing a “draft tentative agreement (that) also included the reconstitution of the Jasig (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) and the release of illegally-detained consultants of the NDFP and other Jasig-protected persons.”
“Unfortunately, the Mamasapano fiasco and the resultant backlash on the GPH-MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) peace process, in general, and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, in particular, have also adversely affected the GPH-NDFP peace negoatiations,” Jalandoni said.
“In the first place, Aquino administration officials themselves admitted that they could not handle two peace talks at the same time. What, with their hands full saving the BBL and preventing the collapse of the entire GPH-MILF peace process,” he said.
Jalandoni did not name the officials. But previous reports point to former Alaminos City, Pangasinan mayor Hernani Branganza as a member of the so-called special team. Braganza was even spotted at the Communist Party of the Philippines’ grand 46th anniversary celebrations in Surigao del Sur last December 26 along with NDFP negotiating panel member Fidel Agcaoili.
Jalandoni explained that the offer for an alliance and truce is part of the “special track” that would have run parallel to the “regular track” for continuing discussions until succeeding agreements are reached on social-economic as well as political and constitutional reforms in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration signed by both parties in the Netherlands in 1992.
“These agreements would, in turn, pave the way to the cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces,” Jalandoni said.
“Unfortunately, under the Aquino administration, OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) secretary Teresita Deles and GPH Panel chair (Alex) Padilla called The Hague Joint Declaration ‘a document of perpetual division,’” he said.
As to the list of peace consultants, Jalandoni said the diskette containing the list was corrupted when the Dutch police raided its international headquarters in Utretch, The Netherlands. The NDFP said the raid was at the behest of both the Philippine and United States of America governments.
Human rights group Karapatan said there are currently 15 detained NDFP peace consultants, the most recent of whom, Ruben Saluta, was arrested only last March.
The NDFP has maintained that the release of detained NDFP consultants is in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) signed by both parties.
Jalandoni said the GPH refused to honor the Jasig, or reconstitute it, as provided for in the agreement.
He added that the GPH also refused to convene the Joint Monitoring Committee to review the thousands of formally filed complaints of human rights and international humanitarian law violations.
“Despite these and in the absence of formal notice of termination (of negotiations) from the GPH, the NDFP remains open to the resumption of talks if the GPH shows willingness to comply with its obligations under the agreements,” Jalandoni said.