THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced today it cannot acknowledge receipt of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) “cancellation” of the peace talks.
In a statement, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process’ letter dated February 7 should have been sent to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NDFP and not jointly in one letter to Prof. Jose Ma. Sison as Chief Political Consultant and himself as Chairperson of the Negotiating Panel.
“The NDFP Negotiating Panel and its consultants draw their authority from the NEC of the NDFP based in the country,” Agcaoili reminded Dureza.
“The original of the letter should also be sent by mail or courier to the NDFP Information Office in The Netherlands to be formally received by the NDFP Negotiating Panel,” Agcaoili added.
Agcaoili earlier said they have received a copy of Dureza’s notice only through electronic mail.
Agcaoili said they note Dureza’s notice was “improperly addressed.”
Unjust and unreasonable
The NDFP also scored the GRP for its unjust and unreasonable termination of the peace talks and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
“There is no fair and just reason for the GRP to terminate the peace negotiations less than two weeks after the two Negotiating Panels had successfully concluded their third round of talks in Rome, Italy,” Agcaoili said.
Agcaoili pointed out the “significant advances” made in the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations as shown by the GRP-NDFP Rome Joint Statement of January 25, 2017.
- The signing of the Supplemental Guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
- The exchange of complete drafts of their respective Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and their substantial agreement on the Preamble; Declaration of Principles; Bases, Scope and Applicability; and Desired Outcome. The parties have also reached common understanding on the general features of the agrarian problems in the country as well as a general agreement to a free distribution of land to farmers under the prospective CASER. The parties also approved and signed the Ground Rules for the Conduct of the Formal Meetings between the Reciprocal Workings Committees on Socio Economic Reforms meant to accelerate the discussions of drafts and hopefully craft a final common draft by the deadline set this year.
- The exchange of drafts of their respective tentative drafts of the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR), as well as their respective comparative matrices of the drafts.
- The agreement of the parties’ respective ceasefire committees to meet in The Netherlands on 22-27 February 2017 and discuss their respective drafts of the bilateral ceasefire as well as a date for the next (fourth) round of formal talks in Oslo, Norway on April 2 to 6, 2017.
In his closing statement at the Rome round of formal talks, Sison projected that, at the rate the negotiations have been going, the CASER and CAPCR can be signed by the Negotiating Panels and approved by their respective Principals in 2017 in time for the founding of a “Federal Republic of the Philippines” in 2018.
“With the above progress in the talks, it is unreasonable for any Party to unilaterally terminate the peace negotiations without just cause and squander the gains so far achieved,” Agcaoili said.
Agcaoili noted that the GRP Negotiating Panel through its chairperson Silvestre Bello III initially recommended the continuation of the talks.
“The government peace panel has recommended to the President (Rodrigo Duterte) that we stand by our unilateral ceasefire. We look forward to meeting with our NDF counterparts for the fourth round of talks in April and to discuss the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire agreement on February 22, as agreed upon during the third round of talks held in Rome,” Bello said in a statement last February 1.
“The recommendation of the GRP Negotiating Panel to proceed with the talks as scheduled should have been heeded instead of the lies and warmongering of the peace spoilers,” Agcaoili said.
“The NDFP cannot be a party to an unjust, unreasonable and improper termination of the JASIG. The GRP bears full responsibility for its unilateral decision,” he added. (Raymund B. Villanueva)