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NDFP welcomes House resolution urging Duterte to resume talks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines welcomed a resolution by a special committee of the House of Representatives urging the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to resume its peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a statement, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the resolution is a positive move by the committee members that contributes to calls of various other sectors and groups to continue the peace negotiations.

The Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity chaired by Tawi-Tawi Representative Ruby Sahali passed the resolution Wednesday, September 12, urging the resumption of the peace talks terminated by Duterte in November 2017.

“It is highly imperative that Congress hears and echoes the Filipino people’s desire for the resumption of the peace negotiations and for the GRP and NDF to forge substantive agreements that will resolve the root causes of the nearly five-decade old armed conflict,” the resolutions reads.

“It is the cause for a just and lasting peace itself that is the very compelling reason to continue the peace negotiations,” the resolution, co-authored by Sahali and Reps. Jesus Nonato Sacdalan, Lourdes Acosta, Leopoldo Bataoil, Deogracias Victor Savellano, Lawrence Fortun, Rodante Marcoleta, adds.

The resolution further states that continuing the peace talks would benefit the Filipino people, most of whom are poor peasants and workers, as the agreement on agrarian reform and national industrialization may address their issues and concerns and help provide relief for their economic hardships.

“We hope this welcome move by the House Special Committee can encourage President Duterte to go back to the negotiating table and work towards a just and lasting peace,” Agcaoili said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza for his part thanked the Committee, adding the GRP has not totally terminated the talks.

“We know very well that the President had already cancelled the peace negotiations, but he had said the table for the door for resumption is still wide open. We did not totally shut this,” Dureza was quoted as saying by the House of Representatives Press and Public Affairs Bureau.

Open and without preconditions

In his statement, Agcaoili said the NDFP said it is always open to resumption of peace negotiations but in accordance with all signed agreements with the GRP and without preconditions.

He said the agreements include The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Agcaoili added that when Duterte unilaterally terminated the peace talks, significant advancements in the negotiations have already been made, such as tentative agreements on the sections of agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), coordinated unilateral ceasefire, and amnesty of all political prisoners listed by the NDFP.

“These agreements had been formulated and initialed by representatives of the GRP and NDFP during the monthly informal or back channel talks from March to June 2018 and were subject to finalization in the aborted fifth round of formal talks [last] June 28,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP admonishes GRP on arrest of injured NPA leader, preemptive announcements

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel admonished the Rodrigo Duterte government on the arrest of New People’s Army (NPA) leader Elizalde Cañete while still recuperating from an 11-hour brain surgery in Bukidnon Province.

The NDFP said it views with great concern the arrest, saying the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is under obligations to uphold their Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) under which hors de combat like Cañete should be afforded safeguards as regards to health, among other rights.

READ: Arrest try of injured Red commander humanitarian law violation, NPA says

The group issued a statement following reports that Cañete’s kin as well as human rights paralegals are being barred from visiting him at Don Carlos Memorial Hospital in Kitaotao Town where he is confined.

Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region said Cañete’s relatives were also harassed by military intelligence agents under the 88th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Karapatan SMR also said that hospital nurses and medical attendants were told by high-ranking officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Cañete has been issued a warrant of arrest and is prevented from receiving relatives unless allowed by military and police authorities.

The group added Cañete’s family and paralegals are uncertain of Cañete’s health status as he is guarded heavily by combined elements of the PNP and AFP.

“We admonish the GRP to honor its commitments under CARHRIHL. Likewise, we warn the GRP that any harm done to Cañete can have adverse consequences to the efforts of both sides to resume the peace negotiations,” NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said in a statement.

Agcaoili added AFP and PNP’s disregard of Cañete’s rights can jeopardize the back-channel talks for making preparations for the resumption of the stalled peace talks that have already reached an advanced stage.

Backchannel

Earlier, the Communist Party of the Philippines also admonished the GRP for violating its agreement with the NDFP that unilateral statements will not be issued prior to actual agreements in the ongoing series of backchannel talks.

While saying it is looking forward to positive resolutions, the CPP said officials of the Duterte government should be more circumspect in issuing public statements or comments so as not to preempt the outcome of the informal talks and efforts to revive formal negotiations.

Earlier, The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said in a statement issued on Tuesday said that “[e]fforts to resume peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF are underway, with informal back-channel talks now taking place in Europe.”

OPAPP also announced it received positive results from the backchannel talks in Europe, the statement said.

The CPP however urged the media and the public to await official statements on the outcome of informal talks between representatives of the NDFP and the GRP.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Ma. Sison echoed CPP’s statement, saying any announcement or statement on the ongoing backchannel talks must be co-signed and jointly issued by the GRP and the NDFP.

“The point is to avoid misundertandings and preemption of the outcome by any side at the expense of the other,” Sison told Kodao.

Sison added there is a strong trend towards resumption of formal talks within June, based on the fact that the back channelers are determined to put together a package of agreements on ceasefire, amnesty and release of all political prisoners.

He added that the signing of the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) as well as National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED) sections of the prospective social and economic reform agreement CASER may also constitute an Interim Peace Agreement.

“Bilateral teams are poised to finalize the common drafts of the ARRD and NIED for submission to the Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms,” Sison said.

Sison added that one more round of back channel talks will wrap up everything for the resumption of formal talks. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Complain through proper channels, NDFP tells Dureza

The chief peace negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) advised presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza to course any complaints about alleged rebel atrocities through the proper channels instead of using these as a “scapegoat” for difficulties in resuming stalled negotiations.

Dureza on Monday lashed at the New People’s Army for the “senseless destruction” over the weekend of heavy equipment used in infrastructure projects in Davao City, saying these “unnecessarily squanders whatever gains we have been quietly getting lately in our common efforts” with the rebels to return to the negotiating table.

Reacting to Dureza’s statement, NDFP peace panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili said: “What about the continuing killings of NPA fighters, even those unarmed and undergoing medical treatment like Ka Bendoy and his companion, and the continuing arrests, detention, threats and harassment of open legal activists and even UN rapporteurs, and the terror attacks against communities, occupation of schools and public places like health centers that have led to forcible displacements of tens of thousands of residents?”

Ka Bendoy is Bicol rebel leader Alfredo Merilos who was killed along with a civilian, Liz Ocampo, in what the military claimed was a shootout in Naga City, Camarines Sur on March 15.

However, the rebels maintain that Merilos, who was seeking medical treatment, and Ocampo were summarily executed.

As for the complaint raised by Dureza, Agcaoili said “there is a mechanism for addressing the occurrence of such incidents — the Joint Monitoring Committee under the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law).”

“The (government) should bring their alleged complaints there, just as the NDFP does,” Agcaoili said.

He added that Dureza’s “attitude shows a lack of interest and sincerity in searching for the appropriate solutions in order to carry out negotiations that would forge agreements that would bring about basic social, economic and political reforms and lay the foundation for a just and lasting peace in the country.”

Although President Rodrigo Duterte began his term by resuming peace negotiations with the rebels, the talks broke down as both sides accused each other of violating their separately declared ceasefires.

In November last year, he issued Proclamation 360 formally terminating the talks.

Since then, the government has also moved to have the Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA proscribed as terrorist organizations.

However, the Department of Justice petition filed in court triggered controversy by including a list of more than 600 individuals described as “terrorists,” among them UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a Kankana-ey, and several other indigenous peoples’ and human rights advocates.

Recently, a number of lawmakers also urged government to resume talks with the rebels. #

 

Uphold CARHRIHL: Creating the atmosphere for a just peace

Peace advocates commemorated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in a forum at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila last March 10.

The advocates, in the presence of hundreds of SSC students, called on GRP President Rodrigo Duterte to respect the human rights agreement and resume the peace process with the NDFP.

“At this time, when the Duterte administration appears focused on moves like pulling out of the International Criminal Court and declaring more than 600 persons as terrorists under the Human Security Act, we urge President Rodrigo R. Duterte to instead focus the attention of his government on faithful adherence to the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law,” the advocates said in a statement. (Editing by M. Montajes)

Punish rights violators, GRP urged

Rights group Karapatan urged the Rodrigo Duterte government to investigate and prosecute human rights violators instead of engaging in “token gestures” following the opening of a monitoring station in Davao City Friday.

Saying that while the opening of a Davao station to receive reports of rights violations is welcome, Karapatan added the government should do more than “superficial moves” to respond to and address the numerous complaints against State security forces.

“It should investigate, establish accountability and punish State actors who have committed human rights violations,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“In short, it should do its job, instead of [engaging] in token gestures,” she added.

Officials led by Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza attended the opening of the first Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) compliance monitoring station under its Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRHIL) with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The station, to be housed at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines building in Davao City, is the first to be opened by the Manila government since it signed the CARHRIHL in March 1998.

It will receive reports and complaints of “non-compliance” of the provisions of CARHRIHL in 10 conflict-affected regions across the country and endorse it to the Joint GRP-NDFP Monitoring Committee (JMC).

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) did not mention the nine other regions in their statement on the event.

It also failed to identify the source of funding of the stations.

GRP Panel Member Antonio Arellano said the setting up of monitoring stations is a “unilateral action” on the part of the Philippine government.

“The document (CARHRIHL) promotes the rights of the Filipino people.  It humanizes the ongoing armed conflict.  It seeks to protect both combatants and civilians against violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Arellano explained.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili for his part said they were invited to co-sponsor and attend the event, but refused.

“[The monitoring station] is not mentioned in the CARHRIHL. What the CARHRIHL mentioned was a Joint Secretariat (JS) office, which is the one we have in Cubao,” Agcaoili said.

“The monitoring station is strictly a GRP initiative,” he clarified.

A JMC-JS Office opened in July 2005 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City which the GRP has practically abandoned after several years of operations.

The Teresita Deles-led OPAPP under the Benigno Aquino government petitioned the Royal Norwegian Government to stop funding its operations but failed after the NDFP rejected the move.

The NDFP Nominated Section of the JS still actively holds office there, keeping 6,397 complaints of human rights violations, 4,471 against the GRP and 1,926 against the NDFP as of May 23, 2016. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA frees police officer in Bukidnon

THE New People’s Army (NPA) freed a third prisoner of war (POW) yesterday, April 27, in Barangay Dominorog, Talakag, Bukidnon, a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant said.

The NPA turned over Police Officer 2 Gerome Anthony Natividad to Regional X Peace and Order Council chairperson and Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno and Sowing the Seeds of Peace convenor and Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Felixberto Calang, NDFP Negotiating Panel Ceasefire Committee member Alfredo Mapano said.

Natividad was found to be innocent of crimes against the people and was released in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, Mapano said.

Mapano added Natividad should have been released earlier but the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “refused to cooperate by ordering a Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO).”

“The NPA custodial unit found a way to release Natividad without a SOMO as it is confident Moreno and party would not be harmed by the AFP anyway,” he said.

Earlier, Ka Cesar Renerio, NDFP-North Central Mindanao Region in a February 23 statement assured Natividad’s family he will be released unharmed, provided the AFP ceases its military operations in the region.

Natividad was captured at a checkpoint put up by the NPA’s Mt. Kitanglad Sub-regional Command at Kilometer 28, Duminorog, Kitanglad last February 9.

The NDFP committed to the release of four POWs in its joint statement with its Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) counterpart in The Netherlands last April 6.

“The two (2) Parties agreed to undertake necessary measures to effect the immediate, safe and expeditious release of AFP and PNP elements held captive by the NPA in Eastern Mindanao, with the captives held in Socsargen to be release before Easter and those in Bukidnon and Caraga after Easter,” the statement said.

Sgt. Solaiman Calocop and Private First Class (PFC) Samuel Garay, both captured in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on February 2 were released last April 19 in Matanao, Davao del Norte province.

PFC Edwin Salan, captured in Alegria, Surigao del Norte on January 29, is the last remaining NPA POW.

Ceasefire committee meeting

Meanwhile, the NDFP and GRP ceasefire committees met at the Royal Norwegian Embassy this afternoon in accordance with activities set by both parties at the end of the fourth round of formal negotiations earlier this month.

Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner hosted the meeting.

“We just exchanged views on our respective definitions of ‘buffer zones’ and ‘hostile acts’ and we presented our respective views on the matter of third party monitoring of the prospective joint ceasefire,” Mapano said.

Earlier, GRP Ceasefire Committee head Hernani Braganza announced on his social media accounts they met with AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año and staff last April 27 on the progress of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

The GRP and the NDFP are set to hold their fifth round of formal negotiations in Noordwijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands starting May 26. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Photo of PO2 Natividad from Ang Kalihukan You Tube Channel)

Rampage, human rights group says of arrests of consultants and civilians after talks suspension

Human rights group Karapatan said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have gone berserk in arresting as many as 19 peace consultants, activists and other civilians after the suspension of formal peace negotiations between the Rodrigo Duterte government and the Left.

Karapatan said those nabbed from February 3 to 12 are civilians and activists arrested on “trumped-up criminal charges.” Read more

JASIG and talks termination ‘unjust, unreasonable and improper’–NDFP

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kasunduan sa Joint Monitoring Committee ng CARHRIHL, pinimarhan ng NDFP at GRP

Nagbunga na ng isang mahalagang kasunduan ang kasalukuyang formal na negosasyon sa pagitan ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines at Gubyerno ng Republika ng Pilipinas sa ikatlong araw nito ditto sa Roma, Italya.

Pinirmahan kahapon ng umaga rito ang supplemental guidelines para sa Joint Monitoring Committee ng Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law o CARHRIHL.

Ayon sa magkabilang panig, mahalaga ang kasunduang ito dahil nagpapakita ito ng kaseryosohan ng parehong GRP at NDFP na isulong ang usapang pangkapayapaan at magbigay ng pakinabang sa mamamayan. Read more

‘First achievement of the 3rd round’: Parties sign supplemental guidelines of Joint Monitoring Committee

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. Read more