Posts

Ika-33 anibersaryo ng masaker sa Mendiola, ginunita

Nagtipon sa tulay ng Mendiola sa Maynila ang mga progresibong grupo sa pangunguna ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas upang gunitain ang masaker na pumatay sa 13 magsasaka noong 1987.

Kasabay ng panawagan ng hustisya para sa mga martir ng Mendiola ay ang pagpapatuloy ng usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines at Government of the Republic of the Philippines na ang susunod na adyenda ay ang Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms kabilang na ang tunay na reporma sa lupa para sa mga magsasaka. (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Braganza: CASER is treasonous? Wow!

A government negotiator took strong exceptions to allegations made by several cabinet members that talks on social and economic reforms with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) may be likened to treason and surrender of Philippine sovereignty.

Hernani Braganza, veteran Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiator and former agrarian reform secretary, also denied that past government negotiating panels did not consult with the military during formal and informal negotiations.

“There are allegations that CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms) [negotiations] was treasonous. Wow!” Braganza told hundreds of participants of the Assembly for Peace organized by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform at the Quezon City Sports Club last Friday, January 7.

Braganza denied that the military was never consulted in negotiations on social and economic reforms, adding there are several military officers in the GRP negotiating team in the four formal rounds and at least seven reciprocal working committees meetings held both in Europe and the Philippines.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) chairperson Carlito Galvez last week dismissed further negotiations on social and economic reforms with the NDFP, likening the prospective approval of the main agenda of the peace talks to an act of “treason”.

“It is a formula for the surrender of the national government’s integrity as well as the state’s sovereignty,” Galvez said.

“CASER is a product of a secret backchannel maneuver by the communist insurgents. There was zero consultation with the government’s economic team, security forces, local agencies, and local government units, and most importantly, the Filipino people,” Galvez further alleged.

“That is not true. I made the rounds of military camps and I explained it [CASER] to them,” Braganza said, revealing further that a University of the Philippines team led by its former president Alfredo Pascual actually crafted the GRP draft of the CASER.

He also said many of the GRP’s line agencies were present in the negotiations.

Aside from Galvez, national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. also questioned further CASER discussions while defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año, Armed Forces of the Philippines deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr. took turns opposing President Rodrigo Duterte’s plans to resume formal negotiations with the NDFP.

But Braganza revealed that CASER’s ultimate approval by the GRP does not end with its negotiators or even with President Duterte himself.

“Ultimately, this will be brought before Congress,” he said.

Arkibong Bayan photo

Braganza also belied Galvez’s accusations that peace agreements with the NDFP would result in a surrender of Philippine sovereignty.

“For the record and in fairness to the NDFP, after all that has been done to and said of them, they never asked for their own territory. Kahit isang paso.” Braganza said. (Not even a handful of soil.)

“In all the common documents (between the GRP and the NDFP), there is no mention of a coalition government. Hindi ko alam kung bakit paulit-ulit (sila),” he added. (I do not know why they keep on repeating this.) 

Braganza said the CASER is a way of addressing inequality, especially in the countryside where job creation and adding value to agricultural products are needed.

“I should know these. I was once mayor, congressman and agrarian reform secretary,” he said.

Braganza said the programs in the common GRP-NDFP draft of the CASER are all in the Philippine Constitution.

Braganza added he and labor secretary Silvestre Bello III were officially authorized by Malacañan Palace to talk to NDFP negotiators even after they were fired last year.

He challenged peace talks critics in the Duterte Cabinet to take their opposition to the process with Duterte himself.

“If you are after our seats on the (negotiating) panel, it is all yours. I did not apply for it. But do not malign our names,” Braganza said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP: Esperon and Galvez out to sabotage talks by attacking CASER

National security adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr. and presidential peace adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. are ignorant in their statements against the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiators said.

In a statement Tuesday, the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) said the two former Armed Forces of the Philippines chiefs of staff aim to “malicioudly distort” the “considerable progress” made by the negotiating panels of both the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philipines (GRP).

“They are showing themselves as chronic saboteurs of the peace process and are proving to be among the biggest obstacles to peace in the country,” the NDFP’s RWC-SER said.

Esperon and Galvez came out with statements last week discouraging the Rodrigo Duterte government from resuming peace negotiations with the NDFP, alleging the CASER is “treasonous”.

“CASER is based on an obsolete framework and is no longer relevant since it is largely based on the pre-industrialization and pre-globalization era. It is a formula for the surrender of the national government’s integrity as well as the state’s sovereignty,” Galvez also said.

Esperon for his part expressed opposition to the planned revival of peace talks with the NDFP, accusing the CASER of reflecting the NDFP’s “duplicitous character and self-interest.” 

The NDFP however said the CASER offers real social and economic reforms and is critically important to the Filipino people as it addresses the roots of armed conflict such as poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.

Free land distribution and long-term development

The NDFP said the the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) section of the approved common draft between itself and the GRP includes free land distribution and the writing-off of farmers’ debts under the government’s land reform programs.

Agrarian reform shall cover plantations and large-scale commercial farms with leasehold, joint venture, and non-land transfer schemes such as the infamous stock distribution option. There are also reforms in fisheries and aquatic resources, the NDFP said.

It explained that farmers and fisherfolk will also be provided a wide range of support services and benefit from the elimination of exploitative lending and trading practices in the countryside.

ARRD also includes clear commitments to build rural infrastructure, develop rural industries, and improve domestic science and technology, it said.

The approved common draft on National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED) critically affirms the importance of national industrialization for long-term development, the NDFP said.

It recognizes the need for sound planning and regulation of foreign investment to develop specific industries. The benefits of nationalized public utilities and mining, of Filipino processing of minerals and trading, and of breaking foreign monopoly control of industrial technologies are also well-understood, the group revealed.

The NDFP also said the NIED aims to develop Filipino industrial science and technology, the important role of workers is acknowledged and they will be given a greater role in the running of enterprises.

Financing for industrialization will be raised from progressive taxes, luxury and sin taxes, official aid, foreign investment and other sources, the group explained.

The NDFP said that remaining issues on CASER such as environment protection, Filipino culture deveopment, decent employment, social protection, free education and health, affordable housing and utilities, upholding indigenous peoples’ (IP’s) rights and asserting economic sovereignty may be easier to reach once formal negotiations resume.

Esperon and Galvez’s criticisms of the NDFP draft CASER are moot because both the GRP and the NDFP have already mutually agreed on common drafts of the ARRD and NIED, the group pointed out.

“The NDFP and GRP shared ideas and sought creative solutions to the country’s social and economic problems. The common drafts show that it is possible for the Parties to set aside ideological differences and unite on concrete steps for the common cause of real economic progress for the nation,” the NDFP said.

No backchannel maneuvers

NDFP RWC-SER Chairperson Julieta de Lima addressing their GRP counterpart during the 3rd round of peace talks held in Rome, Italy in January 2017 / Photo: JBustamante

Contrary to Galvez’s claim that CASER is a product of a secret backchannel maneuver, the common drafts were widely taken in public consultations nationwide, including New People’s Army guerilla zones, the NDFP said.

The NDFP and the GRP each presented their own draft versions of the CASER to the negotiating table and were negotiated in good faith to produce a mutually agreed program of social and economic reforms, it added.

The GRP panel for its part also reported numerous multi-agency meetings on the CASER attented by its own line agencies, Congress, local government officials, and the academe in the formal rounds abroad as well in the bilateral team meetings in the Philippines.

The NDFP pointed out that the common drafts were produced with officials from the National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Land Bank of the Philippines, Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Science and Technology with inputs from academics of the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, and Ateneo de Manila University.

Members of the Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Committee of the House of Representatives were also present from the second to the fourth rounds of formal talks in Norway, Italy and The Netherlands from 2016 to 2017.

The common outline for the CASER and common drafts on the sections on ARRD and NIED were crafted after four formal rounds of talks abroad and seven meetings in the Philippines by both the GRP and the NDFP RWCs.

“These mutually agreed common drafts were prepared by the bilateral teams for CASER of the NDFP and GRP, received by their respective Reciprocal Working Committees for Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs-SER) in November 2017, and are up for approval by the NDFP and GRP panels upon a resumption of talks,” the NDFP said.

It added that the CASER will be an expansive deal with 11 substantive sections of policy reforms.

Esperon and Galvez intentionally muddle the NDFP’s unilateral draft version of the CASER with the negotiated and mutually agreed CASER that the peace talks will produce. They maliciously diminish and vilify the progress that the peace talks have made to sabotage this and give way to their narrow-minded hawkish militarism, the NDFP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP: After successful ceasefire, time to release peace consultants

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) seeks the release of its detained peace consultants and staff as a goodwill measure to boost chances of peace talks resumption this month. 

Along with the success of the ongoing ceasefire between the Rodrigo Duterte administration and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said it is widely expected that the government ought to release consultants who are under detention.

“The release of the political prisoners on humanitarian grounds will ensure the success of the formal meeting to resume the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations within January,” Sison said.

He said the consultants are being detained in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees that prohibits harassment, arrest and detention against personnel of both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP negotiating panels.

Long-time NDFP peace consultants Vicente Ladlad, Adelberto Silva, Renante Gamara, Rey Claro Casambre, Frank Fernandez, Cleofe Lagtapon, Esterlita Suaybaguio, and Leopoldo Caloza as well as NDFP panel staff Alex and Winona Birondo were arrested in succession after negotiations broke down in November 2017. 

All had been similarly charged with illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

Consultant Rafael Baylosis was the first to be arrested in January 2018 but was released by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court a year later due to lack of evidence.

Consultants Eduardo Sarmiento and Ferdinand Castillo were arrested by previous administrations.

NDFP consultant Lora T. Manipis has been reported missing since February 24, 2018, last seen with her husband Jeruel B. Domingo in Kidapawan City.

Manipis joined other missing NDFP consultants believed abducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, such as Leo Velasco, Rogelio Calubad, Prudencio Calubid, NDFP staff members Philip Limjoco, Leopoldo Ancheta, and Federico Intise. 

Meanwhile, youngest NDFP consultant Randy Felix P. Malayao was assassinated in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya by still unidentified gunmen in January 2019. Another peace consultant, Sotero Llamas was killed in Tabaco, Albay in May 2006. 

Sison said Duterte should also immediately release sick and elderly political prisoners on humanitarian grounds.

“As regards the rest of the political prisoners, they can look forward to the general amnesty that is already slated for proclamation upon the approval of the Interim Peace Agreement (IPA),” Sison said.

Reaffirming past agreements

Sison said the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations has the task of reaffirming all previous joint agreements since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and setting the agenda for negotiating and approving the Interim Peace Agreement 

The IPA has three components: 1. the general amnesty and release of all political prisoners; 2. approval of the articles of CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms) on land reform and national industrialization; and 3. coordinated unilateral ceasefires, Sison said.

“The CASER will benefit the entire Filipino people, including families of adherents to the GRP and NDFP, through land reform and the generation of jobs under the program of national industrialization. These provide the economic and social substance for a just peace,” Sison said.

He added that a resumption of formal negotiations shall effectively supersede all Duterte issuance that terminated and prevented peace negotiations since November 2017. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP expects Bello to remain as GRP chief negotiator

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) expects labor secretary Silvestre Bello III to continue his role as chief government negotiator if ongoing efforts to resume formal talks succeed.

Owing to his “experience” and “competence”, NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said they expect Bello to remain as chief negotiator once President Rodrigo Duterte formally reconstitutes the Government of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel.

“I expect Secretary Bello to remain the head of the GRP panel because of his accumulated experience in negotiating with the NDFP and his well-known success in forging the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) with the NDFP,” Sison told Kodao in an online interview.

The most veteran of all government negotiators with the NDFP, Bello served in various capacities in six GRP administrations, both in official and during backchannel and “unofficial” meetings.

Bello was the chairperson of the GRP Reciprocal Working Committee on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law that crafted with its NDFP counterpart the CARHRIHL. It was signed in March 16, 1998 in The Hague, The Netherlands.

“He has the legal expertise and high sense of diplomacy. He is competent at standing for the GRP and at the same time knows how to come to terms with the NDFP because he understands the patriotic and progressive viewpoint of the NDFP, unlike the militarists who merely wish to destroy or make the revolutionary movement capitulate,” Sison added.

Most recently, Bello and other government emissaries successfully negotiated a reciprocal unilateral ceasefire with the NDFP that took effect last December 26 as a goodwill measure for the possible resumption of peace talks between the two parties this month.

The last GRP panel, composed of Bello, former agrarian reform secretary Hernani Braganza and lawyers Angela Libraro-Trinidad, Antonio Arellano and Rene Sarmiento, was dissolved last March 18.

Duterte, however, ordered the government panel’s reconstitution and named executive secretary Salvador Medialdea as a new member, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced last December 22.

Bello told reporters in a gathering last December 27 that he expects to continue his role as GRP panel chairperson.

Siguro naman,” he said. (It is probable.)

Bello revealed that he is scheduled to fly back to The Netherlands next week to meet with NDFP representatives.

“We will meet on January 6 for a possible schedule to agree on an interim peace agreement,” Bello said. 

A draft interim peace agreement, initialed by both parties and witnessed by the Royal Norwegian Government as Third Party Facilitator, included agrarian reform and national industrialization components of the prospective social and economic reforms agreement, amnesty proclamation for all NDFP-listed political prisoners, and coordinated unilateral ceasefires. 

The next scheduled meeting is an “informal talk” aimed as preparatory to a formal meeting for the resumption of formal peace negotiations based on the draft interim peace agreement, sources to the negotiations said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva) 

Permanent truce is possible with CASER approval, Joma says

Report and video by Urbano Guevarra

Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison raised the possibility of a “permanent truce” with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, even as the National Democratic Front of the Philippines expressed keenness to cooperate with the Duterte administration on social and economic reforms.

Sison, the NDFP’s chief political consultant, clarified, however, that the truce does not mean the rebels will lay down their arms immediately.

“The end of the conflict certainly is possible. But to completely destroy and abolish the revolutionary army? No, time must be given. There is such a thing as a permanent truce, like South and North Korea,” Sison said in an exclusive interview with Kodao in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The on-and-off peace talks between the government and the rebels are being revived as the two sides expressed last week that recent back channel talks proved productive.

Sison stressed that there are “common and separate responsibilities” between the government and the NDFP in implementing proposed agreements under the so-called Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, or CASER, a key agenda in the talks.

For example, Sison said, “Land reform – how can you carry it out quickly? It is with the agreement (of the government). Sila ang may records ng public lands and contested lands. You have to consult them.”

Sison said some observers may misconstrue that under a peace agreement, the NDFP might be subsumed under the current Philippine government. Not so, said Sison. “No. The important thing there is to first have cooperation.”

Sison also said that if the talks succeed, the Philippines would have a new constitution. “The constitutions of the two parties will be the working drafts…Considering the substantial agreements on economic and social reforms, it should be easy to have a common and new constitution,” he said. #

Duterte again says he is open to talks with NDFP

Despite his repeated orders to wipe out the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), President Rodrigo Duterte said he is still open to reviving peace negotiations with the Left.

Duterte again changed tone and told Cabinet members and other officials in Bicol Friday some communication lines are still open for the revival of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Duterte said he cannot afford to completely close communication lines with the Left.

“I’d like you to know we are keeping the fire burning and hindi pwedeng sarahan. You cannot afford to lose all channels of communication. Mag-iwan ka talaga maski maliit,” he said.

Duterte’s latest turnaround came after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its founding chairman Jose Maria Sison announced that the revolutionary movement will prioritize his ouster starting this year.

An increasingly quarrelsome Duterte repeatedly cancelled formal rounds of peace negotiations with the NDFP since middle of 2017 despite successful efforts by both the NDFP and government peace panels to forge social and economic reform as well as ceasefire agreements.

He issued Proclamation No. 360 on November 23, 2017 terminating the peace negotiations and followed it up with Proclamation No. 374 on December 5, 2017 designating the CPP and the New People’s Army (NPA) as ¨terrorist¨ organizations.

Sison said the two proclamations are aimed at putting up permanent walls against peace negotiations.

Two key Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace negotiators have since resigned.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza resigned for “failing to curb corruption” at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process while GRP ceasefire committee chairperson Francisco Lara left over “additional preconditions” for the resumption of formal negotiations that “torpedoed” certain aspects of the peace talks.

Meanwhile, the NDFP has consistently said it is open to any sincere peace negotiations, even with the “tyrant” Duterte.

Welcome Duterte statement

NDFP chief political consultant Sison said he welcomes Duterte’s latest turnaround.

“Enemies need peace negotiations before they can become friends or partners for the sake of the Filipino people who desire social, economic and political reforms as basis for a just and lasting peace,” Sison said in a statement issued a few hours after Duterte’s statement.

“I welcome the statement of Duterte that he is still open to peace negotiations even as there is still an exchange of hostile words in the mass media and exchange of bullets in the battlefield,” he said.

Sison explained it is the consistent policy of the NDFP to be open to peace negotiations with the Duterte regime despite their determination to seek the ouster of his regime.

“It is for the benefit of the people that the peace negotiations resume and stop the Duterte regime from proclaiming martial law nationwide, from calling off or rigging the May 2019 elections and from pursuing the scheme to impose a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people via charter change for a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison said.

Sison added the NDFP presumes that, when peace negotiations resume, the way is open to the forging of agreements on social, economic and political reforms “desired and needed by the people.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘What kind of President does the GRP have?’ Joma asks

President Rodrigo Duterte’s revelation it is the military and the police that will give final approval on a final peace agreement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is an admission of his incompetence and lack of political will to pursue the peace negotiations, Jose Maria Sison said.

Reacting to Duterte’s speech in Tanza, Cavite Thursday (November 22) that he will seek military and police approval before he signs a peace agreement with the NDFP, Sison wondered why the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) chief executive is afraid of his subordinates.

“He is supposed to be the supreme political leader and commander-in-chief of the GRP. That is an inadmissible excuse for his repeated termination of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” Sison told Kodao.

“Give me the final draft [of a peace agreement]. If I like it, I will pass it on to the military and the police. I will ask [them], ‘Is this alright with you?’” Duterte said Thursday.

Kasi, kung ‘di naman tanggap ng militar at pulis, I coup d’etat ka naman. Anak ng jueteng!” he explained. (Because, the military and the police will only launch a coup d’etat against me if they are against it. Son of a b****!)

Sison said Duterte is simply joking, stupid or crazy if he thinks the NDFP will agree to submit a draft peace agreement only to be subjected to a final approval by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“He pretends not to know that there is a negotiating process or he is so drugged by fentanyl that he does not really know it,” Sison said.

Fentanyl is a powerful anti-pain drug banned in many countries that Duterte admits he is taking.

Sison reminded Duterte that before the President  terminated the peace negotiations in November last year, both the NDFP and GRP negotiating panels had already made their respective drafts of the comprehensive agreements on social and economic reforms (CASER) and on political and constitutional reforms (CAPCR) and had made substantial progress in reconciling their drafts of CASER.

“Duterte seems to imagine that the NDFP is like China which has enough money to bribe him to let it draft a major document for his consent and approval,” Sison said.

The NDFP’s chief political consultant said that Duterte only further exposes his “inane mind” by admitting that he would still need the ultimate approval of the military and police.

“He acknowledges that he stands in fear of coup d’etat by the military and police and he actually claims that his supposed authority as political leader and commander-in-chief of the GRP and its armed services is inferior to the authority of the military and police,” Sison said.

“What kind of president does the GRP have? A clown, a dolt or a dopehead?” Sison asked.

Sison however said NDFP negotiators will still talk to their GRP counterparts.

“Because of the NDFP’s standing policy to be open to negotiations with the GRP, (NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson) Fidel Agcaoili will continue to be in touch with his counterpart [Silvestre] Bebot Bello and explore the possibility of resuming the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

“In view of the termination of the peace negotiations and absence of any ceasefire, it is logical for the NPA and other revolutionary forces to do their best in conducting the people’s war while the NDFP focuses on drawing up the draft agreements on social, economic and political reforms to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP calls for Silva’s release

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili called for the release of Adelberto Silva who was arrested with four others Monday afternoon by Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) forces in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

“It’s a big setback on the peace process and the NDFP calls on the GRP to release the five detainees,” Agcaoili told Kodao.

Agcaoili said they strongly condemn the arrest of a “leading member” of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms in its peace process with the GRP.

He added that Silva has been conducting consultations with representatives of different sectors of society in connection with the prospective Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

Agcaoili said that even the GRP is conducting unilateral consultations on the substantive agenda.

The NDFP chief negotiator told Kodao that both sides agreed in June 2018 when the GRP suspended the scheduled resumption of formal talks to study the draft agreements and that the two Parties (GRP and NDFP) would conduct separate and unilateral consultations with the people and their respective constituencies on the progress of the talks.

President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled the fifth round of formal talks for the fifth time in June in order for him to “study the documents” forged by GRP negotiators with the NDFP.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza also said that, in cancelling the formal round of talks last June, Duterte wanted to consult the general public he said are part of the “bigger peace table.”

“And they prevent NDFP negotiators who are doing the same,” Agcaoili said.

Silva was arrested with three other activists and their driver by Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The five were taken to the CIDG headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City last night.

They have been taken back to Sta. Cruz, Laguna Tuesday afternoon for inquest proceedings on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

As NDFP peace consultant, Silva is supposedly immune from surveillance, arrest and harassment under the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

GRP Negotiating Panel chairperson and labor secretary Silvestre Bello III has yet to respond to Kodao’s requests for a statement.

Bello is reportedly in Al Khobar to meet with overseas Filipino workers in eastern Saudi Arabia. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups denounce Silva arrest

Groups denounced the arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Adelberto Silva and companions by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Sta. Cruz, Laguna Monday afternoon, October 15.

In separate statements, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Bayan Muna through its Representative to the House of Representatives Karlos Ysagani Zarate said Silva’s arrest with four others is part of the Rodrigo Duterte government’s ongoing witch hunt against progressives.

Silva, along with trade union organizer Irineo Aradero, Gabriela Women’s Party consultant in the House of Representatives Hedda Calderon, farmer Edisel Legaspi, and their hired driver were blocked and arrested by PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) operatives at two o’clock yesterday afternoon, the KMU said.

“At gunpoint, they were ordered to alight their vehicle. The arresting military and policemen did not read [them] their rights as civilians,” KMU said.

Atadero, Legaspi, and Calderon are activists from their respective sectors who were reportedly set to conduct a consultation with peace consultant Silva on the status and prospects of the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

As with other NDFP consultants and activists arrested by government forces since Duterte ended peace negotiations with the Left last November, the PNP and the AFP said Silva and companions were carrying grenades and firearms.

Illegal possession of firearms and explosive prevent those charged from petitioning and posting bail.

“The five were made to lie on the ground while members of the arresting team planted firearms and hand grenades in their vehicle,” the labor federation said.

Zarate also denounced Silva’s arrest with his four companions.

“Instead of resuming the peace negotiations in order for the root causes of the armed conflict to be addressed, this is what the Duterte administration does,” Zarate told Kodao.

The progressive solon cited that the Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity approved House Resolution 2065 to resume the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the NDFP.

“[B]ut, apparently, Malacañan is deaf to the demands of the people,” the Davao-based legislator said.

“Many solons signed this resolution in the hope that [the] peace talks can continue because many have already been accomplished and it should not be wasted,” he added.

Silva is vice-chairperson of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms and was instrumental in crafting the National Industrialization and Economic Development document with their GRP counterparts.

He has participated in formal peace talks abroad as well as local meetings since his release from prison in 2016.

As NDFP consultant, Silva is supposedly immune from surveillance, arrest and harassment under the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)