Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Resumption of peace talks dim–NDF chief

From the Business Mirror (Jan 8): Resumption of peace talks dim–NDF chief

THE prospects or resuming peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the government are dim.
Thus declared Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the NDF negotiating panel, after the government has practically rendered previous agreements as “inoperative.”
Jalandoni said the NDF is willing to engage in peace negotiations with any administration that addresses the roots of the armed conflict. The negotiations should work for fundamental social, economic and political reforms for the benefit of the people.
The revolutionary movement, Jalandoni reiterated, has the broad and deep support of the people.
“Its forces are active in 71 out of 81 provinces of the country. They are operating in more than 110 guerrilla fronts, with a typical guerrilla front having the strength of a company with three platoons. These areas are run by organs of political power, alternative people’s governments, supported by mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth, cultural groups and children. The New People’s Army [NPA] fighters are assisted by the people’s militia and self-defense units of the people’s organizations. The Communist Party of the Philippines [CPP] leads the NPA and the organs of political power. The NDF is the united front organization of the revolutionary forces,” he explained.
“Since 1992 more than 10 significant peace agreements have been signed and approved by the principals of both parties. Among these are The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees [Jasig, 1995] and The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law [CARHRIHL, 1998]. Two Agreements were signed in 2004, the Oslo Joint Statement [February 2004] and the Second Oslo Joint Statement [April 2004],” he added.
Jalandoni said that since April 2013, the talks have been at a standstill, with the government declaring that it was terminating the peace negotiations with the NDF.
The surprising move followed talks in Amsterdam in February last year, during which the government representatives rebuffed the NDF offer of truce and cooperation, and instead wished to impose pacification through a demand for indefinite, unilateral and simultaneous cease-fire.
“The NDF offer for truce and cooperation was to be realized through a declaration of common intent to uphold national independence and carry out land reform and national industrialization. The truce and cooperation would help accelerate talks on social, economic and political reforms as stipulated in the substantive agenda stated in The Hague Joint Declaration,” Jalandoni said.
“The NDF reiterated its willingness to hold peace negotiations on the basis of respect for and compliance with past agreements. Such compliance would mean release of NDF Consultants and political prisoners detained in violation of the CARHRIHL and Jasig. CARHRIHL stipulates that political prisoners charged, detained or convicted for common crimes in violation of the Hernandez political offense doctrine ought to be released. The Jasig guarantees immunity from surveillance, arrest, detention and other punitive activities to all participants of both sides in the peace negotiations,” he stressed.
The Aquino administration, furthermore, attacked The Hague Joint Declaration as “a document of perpetual division” in talks held in Oslo in 2011.
Subsequently, it declared the Jasig “inoperative” in 2012. In its counter-insurgency Integration Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan, it aims to render the NPA inconsequential through the triad of psywar, intelligence and combat operations, Jalandoni said.
He added that since the government refused to comply with the Jasig and CARHRIHL, its attack against The Hague Joint Declaration and declaration of Jasig as inoperative and its rebuff of the NDF offer of truce and cooperation, the prospects this year of the peace negotiations between the Aquino administration and the NDF are dim.
“The Aquino administration is responsible for stopping the peace process,” he explained.
Jalandoni said for the government to push the peace process forward, it should respect the agreements signed, as what former government chief negotiator Silvestre H. Bello III said.
“The Aquino administration must respect the past peace agreements. Otherwise, who would trust a government that does not respect agreements or contracts it has entered into. It should release NDF consultants and political prisoners in accordance with CARHRIHL and the Jasig. It should withdraw its attack against The Hague Joint Declaration as a document of perpetual division,” Bello added.
“The NDF continues to cooperate with the Royal Norwegian government, the official third-party facilitator of the government-NDF peace negotiations, in conveying its willingness to resume peace talks on the basis of past agreements. It continues to work with peace-advocate organizations in the Philippines and abroad. It upholds the validity of the agreements made in the peace negotiations,” Jalandoni said.
However, the government has not shown it was willing to engage the NDF anew, he added.
“Since Aquino has not shown any political will to seriously negotiate a just peace with the NDF, we are not hopeful about peace negotiations under the Aquino administration. He has not shown respect for The Hague Joint Declaration, the Jasig, and the CARHRIHL He has not shown any respect for the Hacienda Luisita workers and farmers and following his landlord class position, he is against land reform. He follows the US Counterinsurgency Guide and its militarist aim of defeating or rendering the NPA inconsequential,” Jalandoni also said.

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