ROME, Italy—The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) signed the supplemental guidelines to the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) on the third day of their third round of talks.
Marking the first big achievement of the parties’ negotiations in this city, the agreement pushes forward the joint nature of monitoring and upholding human rights in the Philippines, NDFP negotiating panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said.
“Finally now under President (Rodrigo) Duterte, we made the determination to sign the supplemental guidelines that will now govern the operation of the JMC as well as its Joint Secretariat,” Agcaoili said.
GRP negotiating panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III for his part said he is glad that the CARHRIHL can now come into fruition, the first substantive agreement he negotiated and signed with the NDFP in 1998.
The signing of the guidelines is “a concrete dividend of this round of talks,” Bello said.
“The full operation of the JMC with its supplemental guidelines in place should not be difficult under our legal regime that included new and bold laws and statutes upholding human rights and international humanitarian laws (IHL), such as the law against enforced disappearance, anti-torture act, IHL ACT, human security act, Writ of Amparo and the Writ of Kalikasan, among others,” Bello added.
“These Supplemental Guidelines shall additionally guide the work of the JMC in its task of monitoring the implementation of, and achieving the objectives of the CARHRIHL,” the newly-signed document said in its purpose and coverage provisions.
“These Supplemental Guidelines shall cover complaints and information on the Parties’ alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in the context of the armed conflict, as enunciated under the CARHRIHL,” the agreement said.
The JMC was formed and was made operational at the first two rounds of formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration in Oslo, Norway on February 10-14 and March 30 to April 2, 2004.
Its formation was in accordance with the CARHRIHL which became effective in August 7, 1998 after it has been signed by NDFP Chairperson Mariano Orosa and GRP President Joseph Estrada.
The JMC then opened its Joint Secretariat (JS) on June 4, 2004 which has since received more than six thousand reports of human rights violations against both the GRP and the NDFP, with the former getting majority of the complaints.
As of May 23, 2016, the NDFP-Nominated Section of the JS received 4,471 complaints against the GRP and 1,926 against the NDFP.
The NDFP however said that 96 per cent of the complaints against them are “nuisance complaints” filed wholesale last November 8, 2006 by the Judge Advocate General’s Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Most complaints against the GRP and its forces on the other hand were filed by human rights organizations or directly submitted by the victims or their families.
The JMC has never conducted joint activities, particularly in processing and investigating complaints of human rights violations received by both parties, as in the murder of the late NDFP consultant Sotero Llamas.
The signing of the supplemental guidelines in the ongoing round of talks has launched the JMC into full operation for the joint activities, the parties said.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)