NDFP: Peace talks with Aquino govt ‘a new beginning’

THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) described  the resumption of peace talks with the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III as “new beginning  and a major opportunity for the Filipino people to bring up and assert their national democratic demands”.

NDFP peace negotiating panel chief Luis Jalandoni, in a press conference shortly after the formal opening of the talks in Oslo, Norway, said the peace talks opened opportunities anew for both panels to discuss, determine and carry out solutions to the long-running armed conflict in the Philippines and to the current economic crisis affecting majority of the 95 million Filipinos.

“It is a new beginning. We hope the NDFP and our counterpart –the GPH can make advancements for the benefit of the Filipino people,” Jalandoni said.

The NDFP peace panel head said he is confident the peace negotiations under the Aquino government can make leap a forward as long as it adheres to the Joint Hague Declaration and subsequent agreements since 1992.

He said the resumption of peace talks between the GHP and the NDFP should be guided by mutually acceptable principles including national sovereignty, democracy and social justice, and that no precondition shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations.

“If we can come up with a tentative agreement on social economic reforms that would address the roots of the armed conflict and the problems of the Filipino people, then that would be an achievement for both panels in the name of the working people and toiling masses of the country,” he said.

The NDFP said a target of six months has been set for the RWCs-SER to draw up a tentative Comprehensive Agreement on Social-Economic Reforms (CASER). It urged the reciprocal working committees to have a common resolve to uphold economic sovereignty, conserve the national patrimony for the benefit of the Filipino people, promote economic development through land reform and national industrialization and improve the people’s livelihood and uphold the rights of the working people, promote environmental protection, rehabilitation and compensation and develop equitable trade and economic relations with other countries.

Hold GMA accountable

Jalandoni said former President and now Pampanga 2nd district Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be held accountable for sabotaging the peace talks over the last six years by acceding to or lobbying foreign governments to label and vilify the revolutionary forces of the Filipino people as “terrorists”.

Jalandoni assailed the former Arroyo administration for “submitting the internal affairs of  the Philippines as subject to the sovereignty of foreign governments, by speciously suspending the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in order to level false criminal charges against the panelists, consultants and staffers of the NDFP negotiating panel and cause their abduction, torture, disappearance and murder, and by undermining and reneging on its commitments to other valid and binding agreements.”

“The Arroyo regime perpetrated gross and systematic human rights violations not only against the NDFP and the revolutionary movement but also against a broad range of legal social activists. It systematically perpetrated more than 1,200 extrajudicial killings, hundreds of frustrated killings, more than 200 involuntary disappearances, numerous cases of torture, and the uprooting of hundreds of thousands, eve millions of civilians,” Jalandoni said in his opening statement.

The NDFP negotiating panel chair said the Arroyo government used the notorious Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) under the rabid militarist former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez to file trumped-up charges and cause the imprisonment of political prisoners.

The NDFP said the gross violations and disregard of the agreements underscore the need for the NDFP and the PGH to reaffirm all previous peace agreements that include The Hague Declaration (September 1,1992), the JASIG (Feb.24, 1995), the CARHRIHL (March 16, 1998) and 12 more peace agreements forged by the parties from 1992 up to present.

Jalandoni stressed the long and invalid suspension of the JASIG by the former Arroyo administration also stopped the initial negotiations on the social and economic reforms, the second substantive agenda of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.  He said only parts of the preamble could be agreed upon. The NDPF peace negotiating panel chief said there is even more compelling need for accelerated and sustained negotiations on SER in view of much worsened social and economic conditions.

Release of NDFP peace consultants ,political prisoners

Jalandoni also asked for the immediate and unconditional release of NDFP consultant Alan Jazmines in Baliwag, Bulacan and other NDFP peace consultants to the ongoing peace talks between the government and the NDFP.  Jalandoni confirmed Jazmines is a JASIG-protected person and one of the NDFP consultants in the peace talks. Jalandoni added that Jazmines was arrested at the time when he was conducting a consultation in connection with the GPH-NDFP peace talks in Oslo.

The NDFP also said the reaffirmation of CARHRIHL should effectively lead to the release 350 political prisoners. It said the political prisoners deserved to be freed like the 400 military prisoners for having been victims of false charges and political persecution under the Arroyo government.

The NDFP recalled that in the Oslo Joint Statement in 2004, the GPH and NDFP agreed that the release of political detainees would promote confidence and improve the atmosphere for peace negotiations.

Jalandoni was joined by other NDFP negotiating panel members Fidel Agcaoili, Connie Ledesma, Juliet de Lima and Asterio Palima.  Also in the NDFP delegation were NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison,  Political consultants Danilo Borjal, Elizabeth Principe and Rey Casambre, legal consultants Ed U. Olalia, Rachel Pastores and Francis Anton Principe, NDFP RWC-SER members Rafael Baylosis and Randall Echanis, NDFP-MC independent observer Marie Hilao-Enriquez and NDFP panel secretariat head Ruth de Leon.

The GPH side was composed of OPAP head Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles,  Negotiating Panel Chairperson Alexander Padilla  and panel members Pablito Sanidad, Ednar Dayanghirang, Jurgette Honculada and Ma. Lourdes Tison.  Other members of the delegation were Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Eugenio Roberto Cadiz, Albert Alejo, Fernando Aldaba, Atty. Alberto Muyot Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Ordonez, Danilo Encinas, Paulynn Sicam, Ma. Lorenza Dalupan-Palm, Berlin SM Berba, Maria Carla Munsayac-Villarta and Oscar Bathan

The Royal Norwegian Government, the third party facilitator to the peace talks was represented in the opening ceremonies by State Secretary Espen Barth Eide, Deputy Director General Tomas Stangeland, Ambassadors Ture Lundh and Knut Solem and members of the facilitation team Fredrik Steen, Lisa Golden, Aina Holm and Ida Marstein.

State Secretary Eide reiterated the commitment of the Royal Norwegian Government to give all the necessary assistance to the two panels in carrying out their work.  He said that it was up to the two parties to bring the peace negotiations to a successful ending.

“At the end of the day, the responsibility for peace rests with the parties and the people in the Philippines. The conflict is yours, but we have faith in your leadership. And on behalf of the government of Norway, I assure you that we will do our best in order to assist you in your efforts on the road to peace,” the Norwegian state secretary said. –D’Jay Lazaro


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