It’s ok for Duterte to insist I visit home—Joma

President Rodrigo Duterte is not being disruptive in his insistence for Jose Maria Sison to come home and conduct the peace negotiations in the Philippines despite written agreements that the fifth round of formal talks will be held in Norway, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said.

Replying to Duterte’s latest statement that Sison should come home to the Philippines, Sison told Kodao it is likely that Duterte has yet to be briefed on the agreements reached at the informal talks between the NDFP and representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel.

“I tend to believe that [Duterte] is not being discordant or disruptive. It is more likely that he has not yet been briefed by his negotiating panel,” Sison said.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said he also thinks Duterte has yet to meet with the GRP panel on the results of the informal talks last June 5 to 10.

“In fact, we were informed that the members of the GRP Panel who attended the informal talks have a scheduled meeting with him on Wednesday, June 13,” Agcaoili told Kodao.

“So he (Duterte) would know only [today] that the two sides have agreed to hold the resumption of formal talks on 28-30 June in Oslo,” he said.

In his Independence Day speech, Duterte again said he wishes for Sison to come home for two months, describing his offer as a “small window of opportunity” for the GRP and the NDFP to reach a peace agreement.

“I said I will talk to the enemies. That is why I am talking to Sison. I said, ‘we can talk. Come back here. I will take care of all the expenses,” Duterte said in his speech in Kawit, Cavite.

“We will talk and we will give each other 60 days to agree,” Duterte added.

Sison, however, said the June 28 schedule for the resumption of formal talks has already been agreed upon by the GRP and NDFP negotiators.

“It is most reasonable that the June 28 resumption of formal peace talks proceed in Oslo. The agreements to be signed under the general title of interim peace agreement are well within the competence of the negotiating panels. However, Duterte or his Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea can grace the occasion and co-witness with me the signing of the agreement,” Sison told Kodao.

He, however, did not dismiss outright coming home to the Philippines to confer with Duterte and stimulate the further acceleration of the peace negotiations.

“The best time for me to go to the Philippines will be anytime between the last week of July and second week of August,” Sison said.

He added that those dates will allow time for the legal and security guarantees for his safety, for the amnesty proclamation to become effective with the concurrence of Congress, and for the national peace conference to be organized by the GRP and NDFP for celebrating the progress of the peace negotiations.

Not possible

Agcaoili said it is not possible to comply with all the legal and security requirements for Sison’s visit to the Philippines in time for the resumption of the formal talks on June 28 as mutually agreed upon by the Parties or in mid-July as proposed by Duterte.

“There are other countries involved, as well as treaty obligations, to ensure that all the legal and security requirements are complied with in the planned visit of Prof. Sison to the Philippines. The process would take some time to accomplish,” Agcaoili said.

The NDFP chief negotiator is referring to the possibility of Sison losing his political refugee status should he visit the Philippines without guarantees from both the European Union and the Manila government for his safe return to The Netherlands.

Sison is a recognized political refugee under the Geneva Convention on Refugees and is guaranteed protection by the European Convention on Human Rights Against Torture and Inhumane and Degrading Treatment.

Sison was first set to visit the Philippines in 1998 to participate in a public signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) by the NDFP and the GRP under former President Fidel Ramos.

He was then reissued a GRP passport as a replacement to his passport cancelled by the GRP under Corazon Aquino in 1988 while he was on a global university lecture tour, forcing him to seek asylum in The Netherlands.

Sison failed to use his passport then because the Ramos government was delayed in asking the Dutch government to give him a return visa to the European country.

Agcaoili said Sison’s visit to the Philippines is possible only if all the requirements have been worked out. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Agcaoili: Lorenzana set on ‘burning the house of President Duterte’

“Militarists” in the Rodrigo Duterte government are on course to completely burning the house down, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said in reply to Department of National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement that social and economic reforms are “completely unacceptable.”

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said Lorenzana confirmed “beyond doubt” being an outright peace spoiler when the secretary openly opposed land reform and national industrialization in a statement Saturday.

“This pro-American relic of the Cold War truly believes that land reform and national industrialization are communist ideas! Wow! No more talks talaga kung ganun!” Agcaoili said.

In a statement Saturday, Lorenzana denied being a peace spoiler, adding he should be viewed as a “defender of the Filipino people” instead.

Tungkulin ko pong ipagtanggol ang sambayanan sa mga katulad ng CPP/NPA na gustong magpairal ng sistemang maka-komunista,” he said.

Lorenzana said he is against any peace process “that is clearly is stacked against the government and favorable only to the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-NDFP).”

The Defense chief added the terms of the Comprehensive Agreement for Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) are “completely unacceptable even to a casual observer.”

Lorenzana failed to identify if he was referring to the NDFP or the Government of the Republic of the Philippines version of the CASER proposals being discussed before Duterte suspended formal negotiations.

Agcaoili said Lorenzana’s all out war solution, however, is purely fascism.

“With his fascist mindset, Gen. Lorenzana believes that there is no need of reforms in Philippine society – that anyone who disturbs the peace of the exploitative and oppressive rule of the big landlords and compradors supported by their imperialist masters, deserves to be run to the ground by the military with all the arsenal under its command,” Agcaoili said.

“Gen. Lorenzana has to wake up to the real world before he completely burns down the house of President Duterte,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured photo by Viory Schellekens)

Panels begin formal ceasefire negotiations

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands—The reciprocal ceasefire committees of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panels has begun their formal negotiations on at least two proposed truce modes this morning.

Said to be the most contentious issue on the approved agenda in this fourth round of talks, the parties ceasefire committees are discussing the GRP’s bilateral ceasefire proposal it first submitted at the third round of formal talks in Rome, Italy last January and the NDFP’s joint unilateral ceasefire declarations to be bound by a memorandum of understanding.

The panels have earlier discussed GRP’s new bilateral ceasefire proposal before the formal opening of this round following new instructions from Malacañan Palace in Manila.

GRP President Rodrigo Duterte has made a signed bilateral ceasefire agreement with the NDFP one of his four “barest conditionalities” in order for the peace talks to continue.

The conditionalities have caused the delay in the opening ceremony of the fourth round by a day to allow for the two parties to hold informal discussions on a bilateral interim ceasefire agreement demanded by Duterte.

GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III in a Malacañan news briefing last March 31 said he received only one marching order from Duterte: “Get me a ceasefire agreement.”

In his opening remarks at yesterday’s opening ceremony, however, NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison emphasized that the ceasefire agreement should not come before a comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms.

“It is possible for the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels to forge and sign the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and the consequent joint ceasefire agreement,” Sison said.

“But I wish to stress as a matter of principle that the people demand that CASER be a step ahead of the joint ceasefire agreement, unless these agreements can be signed at the same time by the panels and then by the principals,” he said.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili echoed Sison’s statement, stressing the issue of ceasefire should not be pursued as an end in itself.

“Ceasefires, whether unilateral or bilateral, are just a means to an end. Its main purpose is to create conditions conducive to reaching agreements on basic re- forms that are satisfactory to both sides,” Agcaoili said.

“The NDFP believes it is possible to have a bilateral ceasefire agreement that conforms to the position that simultaneous and reciprocal declarations of unilateral ceasefire can be agreed upon and bound by a Memorandum of Understanding that shall be issued at the end of the fourth round of formal talks,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)


NDFP negotiators to leave for Europe for back-channel talks with the GRP

NATIONAL Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultants Wilma Austria Tiamzon and Vicente Ladlad will soon leave for Europe to participate in the ongoing backchannel talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

In a speech at the National Defense College earlier today, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also announced Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza has left for Europe last night to lead the GRP delegation in the talks for the possible resumption of formal peace negotiations between the parties. Read more

GRP and NDFP assure each other of wanting peace

THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) assured each other today of their mutual desire for peace in the country, even as scheduled formal negotiations have been cancelled. Read more