CPP: If surrender is all Galvez wants, we are not negotiating

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) warned it will not negotiate if all presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. wants in the prospective negotiations between the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is surrender of the revolutionary groups.

In a statement Sunday, December 3, CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena criticized Galvez’s opposition to calls to have the CPP, NDFP and the New People’s Army removed from the GRP’s list of so-called terrorists.

Valbuena said the former general dismissed as “pre-conditions” calls made by various organizations to also remove NDFP National Executive Council member and former chief peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni from the list as well as the release of at least 12 NDFP peace negotiators and consultants.

“[H]e should explain to the public how peace talks with the NDFP can proceed without removing the CPP/NPA/NDFP from the GRP’s ‘terrorist list’ without the GRP violating its own oft-repeated policy of ‘We do not negotiate with terrorists.’ Doesn’t it smack of bad faith that he will negotiate with Ka Luis across the table while calling him a ‘terrorist?’ Valbuena asked.

Reacting to statements made by various groups after the simultaneous announcement of the November 23 GRP-NDFP Joint Statement, Galvez said, “There should be no preconditions whatsoever, as these can derail future discussions.”

“As we have learned from our past experiences, making such preconditions even before the start of the discussions put a huge burden on both sides when there is still a need to agree on the parameters and framework of the talks,” he added.

Among those who made such calls were the CPP and activist groups such as Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Karapatan that also welcomed the Joint Statement stating the parties’ desire to resume peace negotiations.

In their press conference last November 28, NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julieta de Lima clarified that their call to have their consultants and nearly 800 other political prisoners released are not preconditions but issues to be discussed before formal talks can proceed.

Valbuena said Galvez should not automatically dismiss such calls but explain to the public how the negotiations with the NDFP can proceed when the group’s consultants are in jail.

“Indeed, these are practical issues, which if unresolved, makes it very difficult to even imagine how peace talks can proceed, both from the perspective of the GRP (the ‘we do not negotiate with terrorists’ quandary), and the NDFP (‘we cannot negotiate from behind bars’),” Valbuena explained.

Valbuena said that if Galvez is averse to hearing such demands, he could not be expected to hear about “the basic and urgent demands” of the people for land reform and national industrialization as well as other social justice and national sovereignty issues.

The CPP officer also challenged Galvez to explain the former general’s own statements regarding a non-existent “final peace agreement” and to make the prospective formal negotiations “start anew.”

“Does Galvez want to reduce peace talks to mere ‘surrender’ talks, which we are keenly aware is what the military and the US (United States of America) have long wanted?” Valbuena asked.

“If capitulation is what Galvez and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) merely wants, then they should immediately be told: this is not negotiable!” Valbuena warned. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)