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Ceasefire ends ‘successfully’, but no extension

The reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement between the government and the communist rebels ended without further incident at midnight last night, but Jose Maria Sison thinks there is no reason to extend the truce at this point.

Sison, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant, expressed disappointment that despite the ceasefire’s success, the Rodrigo Duterte government did not release a single political prisoner in the last two weeks to further bolster chances of resuming formal peace negotiations between the parties.

“There is no reason for the NDFP to recommend to the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) the extension of the ceasefire, especially because GRP did not release a single political prisoner who is sickly, elderly or NDFP consultant in the entire period of the ceasefire agreement,” Sison told Kodao in an online interview.

Sison said the holiday truce between the CPP and the government had been successful nationwide “despite some two incidents of self-defense by the New People’s Army (NPA) before the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) submitted its SOMO (Suspension of Military Operations) and SOPO (Suspension of Police Operations) to the NDFP belatedly on December 26.”

Sison was referring to the separate ambuscades undertaken by the NPA in Camarines Norte and Iloilo provinces that killed one police officer and injured several others on the morning of December 23 on the day the ceasefire agreement was supposed to take effect.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) admitted its troops were on combat operations on both occasions but claimed they were in the process of pulling out when waylaid by the communist guerrillas.

On the other hand, government soldiers belonging to the 401st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army “swarmed” a village in Bacuag, Surigao del Sur last December 30, causing the NPA to cancel its celebration of the CPP’s 51st founding anniversary and mass wedding of its members.

Sison said the troop movement was offensive, provocative to the NPA, disturbing to the community and was, therefore, a violation of the ceasefire.

Despite the general success of the nearly two-week truce, however, Sison revealed there is no further agreement between the two parties to extend the ceasefire agreement.

“Instead, what the NDFP is getting from the GRP side are the warmongering statements of AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP officials announcing offensives and insisting on fake localized peace talks staged by AFP military officers for racketeering,” Sison said.

Sison was referring to the 9th Infantry Division-Philippine Army’s claim that 306 alleged NPA members surrendered last December 26 on the occasion of the CPP’s 51st founding anniversary that immediately backfired when netizens pointed out that photographs released by the Philippine Army purportedly showing the surrenderers were faked.

The AFP later admitted to the fakery.

Sources in the backchannel talks between government representatives and the NDFP said labor secretary Silvestre Bello III is expected in The Netherlands in the third week of the month for another “informal talk” aimed as preparatory to a formal meeting for the resumption of formal peace negotiations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva) 

Ceasefire finally on; NDFP receives GRP’s truce orders

The Philippine government has finally transmitted its ceasefire orders to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel the group said paves the way for the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefires to “proceed effectively.”

In an announcement, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they received copies of Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Offensive Police Operations (SOPO) from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) at 8:54 a.m. Thursday, December 26, at their office in The Netherlands. (3:54 p.m., Philippine time.)

“We hope that from hereon the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefires declared by the two Parties shall proceed effectively,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said former GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III sent the documents. 

The NDFP chief negotiator said the SOMO, dated December 24, was issued by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Noel Clement while the SOPO, dated December 22, was issued by Philippine National Police (PNP) officer in charge Archie Gamboa.

Both documents comply with a memorandum issued by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Eduardo Año, Agcaoili added.

Last December 22, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced that GRP President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the AFP, PNP, DILG and the Department of National Defense to issue the government’s truce orders.

On the same day, the Communist Party of the Philippines has issued its truce order, a day ahead of the scheduled start of the ceasefire agreement last December 23, Monday.

Earlier, questions were raised whether government military and police forces would abide by their commander in chief’s directive as combat operations were reported to have been conducted as late as December 23.

Ninth Infantry Division-Philippine Army public affairs chief Major Ricky Aguilar told reporters Monday that a platoon of government soldiers on combat patrol was ambushed by New People’s Army (NPA) fighters in Labo, Camarines Norte.

A government trooper was killed while six others were injured by an improvised explosive device as the soldiers were pulling out from Barangay Paat at about 9:20 a.m., Aguilar said.

Also last Monday, PNP’s Gamboa accused the NPA of staging an ambush against the Iloilo Mobile Force Company that injured two police officers in Tubugan town, Iloilo Province.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said that both incidents were not violations of the ceasefire agreement as the GRP has yet to issue its truce orders at the time.

The ceasefire would be in effect only after both parties have issued their respective truce orders, the December 21 NDFP-GRP Joint Statement signed in Utrecht, The Netherlands reads.

As to GRP’s transmittal of its truce orders, Sison said there is no more problem about continuing the CPP ceasefire order to the NPA.

“The best thing to do is cool down and proceed with the reciprocal ceasefires and let them generate goodwill and confidence in preparation for the resumption of the peace negotiations,” Sison added.

The holiday truce shall be in effect until January 7. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma frustrated with Duterte’s postponement of talks

While National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili was diplomatic in expressing his disappointment, Jose Maria Sison expressed outright frustration over President Rodrigo Duterte’s postponement of the resumption of formal talks.

READ: Duterte postpones resumption of formal GRP-NDFP talks

In a statement after the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’s (GRP) Thursday, Sison said it is both disappointing and frustrating Duterte has unilaterally cancelled the scheduled start of the stand-down ceasefire on June 21 and the resumption of formal talks in the peace negotiations in Oslo a week later on June 28.

“The written agreements pertaining to the aforesaid scheduled events have been signed by no less than the respective chairpersons of the GRP and the NDFP negotiating panels, DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) Secretary Silvestre Bello and Fidel V. Agcaoili, and witnessed by the Royal Norwegian special envoy Ambasador Idun Tevdt on June 9,” Sison said.

In a press briefing in Malacañan Thursday, Dureza said the initial timeline both parties worked on had to be “necessarily adjusted” after Duterte instructed to government panel to “engage the bigger peace table, the general public.”

“Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public. Hence, it is necessary that all efforts must be exerted first to inform then engage them in the same way that the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict,” Dureza explained.

Dureza’s announcement came after Duterte has said in his Independence Day speech last June 12 the talks shall happen sometime in mid-July, which Agcaoili suspects the GRP President has already decided upon even before meeting the GRP peace panel Wednesday.

In light of Duterte’s order to his negotiators to consult the wider public, Sison challenged the NDFP and GRP panels to divulge the results of four backchannel talks since March.

“I urge the two negotiating panels to release to the public and to the press the written and signed agreements of June 9 and 10 signed by the chairmen of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels and by the members of their respective special teams,” he said.

Sison said the President’s unilateral decision makes it starkly clear that the GRP under Duterte is not interested in serious peace negotiations with the NDFP

“It is interested vainly in obtaining the NDFP capitulation under the guise of an indefinite ceasefire agreements and breaking the provision in the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on the Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which requires formal negotiations in a foreign neutral venue and therefore putting the negotiations under the control and under duress of an emerging fascist dictatorship and its armed minions,” Sison said.

“Because the GRP under Duterte is obviously not interested in serious peace negotiations, the revolutionary forces and the people have no choice but to single-mindedly wage people’s war to achieve the national and social liberation of the Filipino people,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP-NDFP’s week-long ‘stand down’ agreement to start June 21

The “stand down” agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) shall start on June 21, one week before the resumption of formal talks in Oslo on June 28.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison confirmed to Kodao that the stand down ceasefire was agreed upon by the two parties in writing during their successful backchannel talks in The Netherlands last June 5 to 10.

Sison said the thrice-cancelled fifth round of formal talks shall push through on June 28 to 30, contrary to GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest statement that the negotiations would resume sometime in mid-July.

Kodao earlier learned from government sources that the backchannel talks pushed through last week on the strength of the GRP’s efforts to allow NDFP panel member Benito Tiamzon and other consultants to travel to Europe for the negotiations.

Vicente Ladlad, Randall Echanis, Edilberto Silva, Allan Jazmines and Rafael Baylosis, are also due to join the NDFP panel in Europe for the negotiations.

Baylosis was arrested last February on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and is jailed at Camp Bagong Diwa. He denied the charges, saying the so-called evidences were planted by the military and police.

Tiamzon, Ladlad, Echanis, Silva and Jazmines were also under threat of arrest when their bail bonds were cancelled and were named in a GRP petition proscribing the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations following Duterte’s third cancellation of the fifth round of talks last November.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili for his part said he thinks Duterte has yet to be briefed by 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 tomorrow that the two sides have agreed to hold the resumption of formal talks on 28-30 June in Oslo and to make a joint announcement of a stand down of their forces a week before the resumption or on 21 June in Manila,” he said.

Agcaoili added it is clear to both parties and the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, that the announcement of the stand down depends on the date of the resumption and shall be effective for no longer than one week.

The NDFP earlier said a stand down ceasefire agreement means that both the NPA on their side and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police on the GRP side are to cease conducting offensive military operations to pave the way for the signing of an interim peace agreement.

The interim peace agreement is expected to be signed by the GRP and the NDFP during the fifth round of formal talks and shall consist of a coordinated unilateral ceasefire, general amnesty for more than 500 NDFP-listed political prisoners, and agrarian reform and rural development as well as national industrialization and economic development agreements.

Both parties have said the social and economic reform negotiations are the most important parts of the peace negotiations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CASER may be approved by July or August—Joma

Jose Maria Sison said a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) may be approved between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in about two months.

In response to yet another assurance from GRP President Rodrigo Duterte for his safety should he come home to the Philippines, Sison said both parties are a few weeks away from completing the most substantial of issues in the peace negotiations.

“For sure I shall return to the Philippines after the signing of the interim peace agreement, which is already being prepared for June, and the subsequent mutual approval of the comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms by the GRP and NDFP either in July or August,” Sison said.

The NDFP and the GRP are set to meet in June in Oslo, Norway for the resumption of the fifth round of formal talks that has been cancelled by Duterte three times in the past 12 months.

The parties are reportedly set to sign an interim peace accord via a coordinated unilateral ceasefire agreement as well as a general amnesty proclamation for NDFP-listed political prisoners and the signing of the agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development components of the CASER in late June.

Earlier, Duterte again assured Sison he will not be assassinated should he decide to come home for a face-to-face meeting between them.

“Walang [Benigno] Aquino style na patayan na barilin ko sa likod. (There will be no Aquino-style assassination where I’ll shoot someone at the back). It’s not my [style],” Duterte said Wednesday in a speech in Manila.

Aquino was assassinated on August 21, 1983 upon landing at the Manila International Airport after years of exile in the United States of America.

“I welcome the assurance of safety by President Duterte. It is much better that there is such an assurance,” Sison said in reply.

“The most important thing is that we can dialogue and agree on how best we can serve the interest of the Filipino people, especially the toiling masses of workers and peasants through the peace negotiations and cooperation under the principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice,” Sison added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP rejects Joma-Duterte meet in Hanoi

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel rejected a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) suggestion that its chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison and President Rodrigo Duterte meet in Hanoi, Vietnam.

This was revealed by Sison in a statement Saturday, May 26, saying he and his former student could have agreed to attend the signing of substantial agreements, including an interim peace declaration, by the two parties.

“The NDFP has offered Hanoi as the alternative venue to facilitate the attendance of Duterte. But the GRP side did not give a positive answer and the RNG [Royal Norwegian Government, third party facilitator to the peace negotiations] special envoy cannot make any arrangement with Hanoi,” Sison said.

“Hanoi as a venue near the Philippines was proposed by NDFP in consideration of the heavy work schedule of Duterte,” he added.

Sison added that the original plan mutually agreed upon by the GRP and NDFP representatives in back channel consultations in recent weeks was to have Duterte attend the Oslo ceremony for the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement.

But the GRP side backed out and offered Duterte’s executive secretary Salvador Medialdea as his proxy instead, Sison added.

Duterte has repeatedly challenged Sison to come home to the Philippines and continue the peace negotiations in the country.

In a speech in Davao City Thursday, Duterte again said he is guaranteeing Sison’s safety and will even escort him back to the airport should the talks fail.

Sison, however, said his acceptance of Duterte’s challenge will violate earlier GRP and NDFP agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees to hold the talks in a foreign and neutral venue.

“Second, I would be placing myself and the entire peace negotiations in the pocket of Duterte and at his mercy. Third, any peace spoiler or saboteur would be able to destroy the entire peace negotiations by simply abducting or harming any NDFP panelist or consultant,” Sison added.

NDFP negotiators and staff were arrested and killed when their 1986-1987 peace talks with the Corazon Aquino government collapsed, prompting them to insist on a foreign and neutral venue when formal peace negotiations resumed with GRP President Fidel Ramos in 1992.

Sison however is not ruling out returning to the country.

“I have consistently declared that I will return home when substantial progress is already achieved in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and my comrades and lawyers are satisfied with the legal and security guarantees,” Sison said.

“By substantial progress, I mean the entire CASER [Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms] has been mutually approved by the GRP and NDFP principals,” he said.

For his soonest possible interface with Duterte, Sison said the NDFP has considered the possibility of the meeting “at the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement, packaging the ceasefire agreement, amnesty proclamation and the ARRD and NIED sections of CASER either in Oslo or Hanoi.”

GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III’s comment on Sison’s statement is still being sought by Kodao. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Caraga Reds declare ceasefire for barangays polls

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Caraga Region has announced it has suspended military operations against government forces during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

In a press statement, the NPA-North-East Mindanao Region said that in deference to the people’s right to vote freely during the polls, its local command has directed its units as well as its People’s Militia to “temporarily suspend the launching of tactical offensives against Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and CAFGU forces from May 14 until May 18, 2018.”

The NPA said the directive is in response to popular calls for the free, orderly and safe conduct of the elections being held today.

The communist guerrillas said that despite the “reactionary elections” controlled and run by big politicians, it hopes that the people could fully exercise their sacred right of suffrage without the influence and pressure on whom to vote for.

They also expressed hope that despite the torrent of money intended for vote-buying, intimidation and coercion, it is possible for “sincere and well-meaning candidates who truly serve the interests of the people to win in the elections.”

The NPA, however, cautioned that the reactionary elections is not the solution to the Filipino’s social problems.

“All the machinery of the reactionary government only function to serve their selfish interests and continue to gain back the victories attained as a result of people’s struggles,” the NPA said.

The NPA challenged the AFP, PNP, CAFGU and paramilitary units to desist from harassing voters and interfering in the elections, especially those encamped within communities or near polling precincts.

Meanwhile, the PNP has recorded 27 deaths and 20 election-related incidents a few days before the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls.

Last May 12, former La Union Rep. Eufranio Eriguel, 58, was assassinated while addressing a campaign rally in Barangay Capas in Agoo town.

In a visit to Butuan City on Saturday as part of his inspection tour of Mindanao before the elections, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said police units have been alerted on potential vote-buying incidents.

The PNP has identified 5,744 election hotspots in the regions. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Itanong Mo Kay Prof: Hinggil sa Maaring Pagbuhay sa Usapang Pangkapayapaan

Sa episode na ito ng Itanong Mo Kay Prof, pinag-usapan nina Prof. Jose Maria Sison at Prof. Sarah Raymundo ang posibilidad ng pagbuhay sa naantalang usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines at Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

Ayon kay Sison, mahirap umasa ng siyento porsyento ang mamamayang Pilipino sa muling pagbuhay sa usapang pangkapayaan dahil na rin sa mga kondisyong ipinataw ni GRP President Duterte para ito matuloy.

Pakinggan ang kabuuan ng panayam.

(Ang IMKP ay maaring i-broadcast ng buo o bahagi nito ng mga programang pang-radyo, istasyon ng radyo at anumang organisasyon at indibidwal.)

Duterte orders negotiators to work on resuming talks with Reds

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have stepped closer to resuming formal peace negotiations.

In a tweet Wednesday night, Presidential peace process adviser Jesus Dureza announced that GRP President Rodrigo Duterte has directed his peace negotiators to work on resuming formal talks with the NDFP.

“President Duterte directed during the Cabinet meeting today (Wednesday) to work on the resumption of peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF [Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army] with clear instructions on the importance of forging a ceasefire agreement to stop mutual attacks and fighting while talks are underway,” Dureza said.

Dureza added that Duterte has said to give the peace process “…another last chance”.

He said the Duterte has also committed “to provide support” to the revolutionary movement as long as it stops imposing and collecting taxes.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison for his part said that formal peace negotiations are the right venues to deal with GRP’s issues and complaints such as ceasefire proposals and the NPA’s revolutionary taxation activities.

The resumption of peace talks between the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels is needed precisely to deal with substantive issues and complaints,” Sison said.

Sison said that in the same round of formal talks, the parties can present conflicting positions and subsequently seek to solve problems “on mutually acceptable grounds.”

He said that both negotiating panels already have a draft of the agreement on coordinated unilateral ceasefires, “which is under the watch of a joint national ceasefire committee.”

“This draft agreement is in effect the start of a bilateral ceasefire agreement. It is a significant step towards the Comprehensive Agreement on the End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces,” he added.

Sison also said that the GRP and NDFP has already achieved substantial consensus on the general principles of agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development, which both parties acknowledge are the most important parts of the prospective social and economic reforms agreements.

He added that there is also a draft amnesty proclamation to release all the political prisoners listed by the NDFP in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

“When the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels meet, they can be confident of achieving substantial success. Without a formal meeting of the panels, there can only be an acrimonious public exchange of complaints and demands, which appear or sound like the preconditions prohibited by The Hague Joint Declaration,” Sison said.

The Hague Joint Declaration requires that no side shall impose on the other side preconditions that negate the character and purpose of peace negotiations.

“The conflicting parties become negotiating parties precisely to thresh out serious differences and complaints and seek the solutions to achieve a just and lasting peace,” Sison explained.

“As a matter of course, the two panels shall reaffirm all the existing agreements by way of ending the previous termination of the peace negotiations. It logically follows that the two panels shall cooperate in doing away with the obstacles and hindrances to the agreements and to the entire peace process,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

NDFP welcomes Duterte’s statement to resume talks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent speech expressing “openness and readiness” to resume formal peace negotiations.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said they are likewise open and ready to resume the peace negotiations and expect the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and NDFP negotiating panels to meet as soon as possible.

Duterte last Tuesday again changed his mind and said he is ready to resume formal peace negotiations with the Left.

“I’d like to address myself first to the NPAs. Alam mo, hindi tayo magkalaban. Gusto ko mang lumaban, eh ang puso ko, sinasabi niya ‘ang kapwa mo Pilipino pinapatay mo,’” Duterte said in a speech in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro.

“Gusto kong magkaroon tayo ng usapan. But along the way, papunta doon maraming obstructions and everything. But you must understand, hindi madali magpunta sa paratingan natin,” he said.

“And so if we can have a middle ground,” Duterte added.

In a statement issued a few hours after Duterte’s speech, Sison said the NDFP is “sincere in striving to negotiate and forge with the GRP comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis of a just and lasting peace.”

Sison said making a significant advance on the basis of the drafts prepared on October 4, 2017 will also forward corollary agreements to amnesty and release all political prisoners as well as coordinated unilateral ceasefires between the parties’ armed forces.

“We hope that from here on we can make steady and significant advances on the road of realizing peace in accordance with the people´s demand for full national independence, democracy, social justice, economic development and cultural progress,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)