From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 12): NPA violence hurts peace talks
The killing of 27 civilians, including those in an ambush in La Castellana,
Negros Occidental early this year, were among the cruel and senseless acts of
violence inflicted by the New People's Army on non-combatants, that have made
it difficult to resume the peace table, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process
Teresita Quintos Deles said yesterday.
Deles emphasized the government's unwavering commitment to pursue peace
through negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's
Army-National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF), but said it should not be at the
expense of the safety of the people and the sovereignty of the nation.
Communist rebels claimed that the peace talks are not going anywhere because
of the government's records on human rights violations.
The ambush in Brgy. Puso, La Castellana in January, described as a massacre
by local government and military officials, claimed the lives of eight
civilians and a policemen, and caused injuries to eight other civilians and two
The NPA Leonardo Panaligan Command, had claimed responsibility for the
incident, and apologized for the deaths of civilians saying their only
intention was to disarm policemen and armed members of the Barangay
Peacekeeping Action Team.
Reelected Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and the Armed Forces of the
Philippines are turning over four-year scholarship grants to seven dependents
of the La Castellana massacre today at the Provincial Capitol grounds in
Bacolod City, as the country marks the 115 th Philippine Independence Day.
Deles said the government has always been open and committed to bringing
peace to the land, through peace talks with all insurgency groups.
The closure peace agreement between the former Revolutionary Proletarian
Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade and the government, that started in year 2000, is
reportedly up for approval and signing by President Benigno Aquino III.
While the CPP-NPA-NDF has been quick to blame the government for human
rights violations, it has its own shameful violations against civilians, Deles
said, citing the La Castellana ambush of civilians, among others.
The peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF has been
off-and-on for several decades.
“It is unfortunate that after 22 difficult years of trying to achieve peace
with the CPP-NPA-NDF, the talks are again in another prolonged impasse,” Deles
She said the government has the obligation to defend its integrity and
sovereignty and its citizens from parties that seek to overthrow it and harm
Peace negotiations, Deles added, should have a clear agenda for ending
violence and bringing peace.
“We shall pursue peace through other means that would effectively bring
peace to our people through peaceful means,” Deles said.
“The peace negotiation is an exercise in futility if there is no stop to this changing of positions by the government negotiating team.”
This was the comment of one member of the MILF peace panel, who requested anonymity, in direct reaction to reported “notes” sent by the government to the MILF peace panel, which he described as an attempt to throw the blame on the MILF for making it appear that the ball is in our court.
“We are not renegotiating the initialed document,” he said, adding, however, that he believes the talks will only prosper if the two parties follow sincerely the matuwid na daan (straight path) policy, which is also the cornerstone of President Aquino administration.
The document was initialed by former Secretary Senen Bacani and Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga of the government and MILF peace panels, respectively. Three more initials were appearing in the document.
During the final stage of the discussion of wealth-sharing, no less than Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, chairs of the government and MILF peace panels, respectively, took the lead in the discussion, which culminated in the initialing of the document last February 27.
The two chairpersons were alternately joined by their respective colleagues, Secretary Senen Bacani and Atty. Armi Bayot, on the government side, and by Professor Abhoud and Atty. Raissa Jajurie, on the MILF side.
The government had their first change of position vis-à-vis the initialed document especially on natural resources and block grant to Bangsamoro government during the 38th GPH-MILF Exploratory Talks last April 9-11. The MILF negotiating team vehemently objected to the changes. Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel, message was clear and straight-forward: “Except for those that are in harmony with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), we don’t accept the changes introduced by government on wealth-sharing,” and added that the MILF is sticking to the initialed document.
The second backtracking is contained in the so-called “notes” recently sent to the MILF through the Malaysian facilitator, Dato Tengku Ab’ Ghafar Bin Tengku Mohamed, who visited the MILF leadership at Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindano last June 7.
Asked to divulge the content of the “notes”, the said MILF peace negotiator refused to be categorical, saying it is a violation of protocol to divulge the content.
“We are bound by the principle of confidentiality of document,” he stressed, adding, however, that the initialed document is diluted severely by the notes coming from government.
“Two change of positions in a row within the span of two months is alarming,” he confessed, without elaborating.
Meanwhile, Khaled Musa, deputy chair of the MILF Committee on Information, disclosed to Luwaran that frustration on the ground is gaining momentum, as a consequence of too much unnecessary delay from government.
He also disclosed the radical elements within the MILF is beginning to be restive and hitting the MILF and its peace panel.
He said more than three months have been consumed since the annex on wealth-sharing was initialed without clear direction for the talks.
He said the government is sitting on it unnecessarily in the guise of due diligent study.
“What is good is that the cause of delay is government,” he consoled himself.