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)

CPP open to talks resumption when Duterte drops ceasefire demand

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said it remains open to the resumption of formal peace negotiations when President Rodrigo Duterte drops his demand for a bilateral ceasefire with the underground group.

In a statement, the CPP said it is open to peace negotiations with any regime, including Duterte’s, as long at is expresses willingness to seriously discuss the roots of the armed conflict as stipulated in The Hague Joint Declaration between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“The NDFP-GRP peace negotiations can resume if Duterte will drop his earlier precondition of a bilateral ceasefire which became the single biggest factor which terminated the talks,” the CPP Information Bureau in a statement Tuesday said.

“The ball is still in Duterte’s hands,” the group added.

Duterte was quoted by news reports over the weekend saying he is open to resuming peace talks with the NDFP.

“If you (NDFP) want to resume the talks, I am not averse to the idea. But let me sort out first the other branches of government,” Duterte said after the CPP-led New People’s Army freed  its prisoner of war Senior Police Officer 2 George Rupinta in Compostela Province Friday.

The CPP said Duterte is resurrecting talks of peace negotiations as a damage control measure in the face increasing protests against human rights violations across the country and martial law in Mindanao.

The CPP is blaming Duterte for terminating the NDFP-GRP negotiations “because of his stubborn insistence to toe the US line of using peace talks as an instrument for the pacification and capitulation of the revolutionary forces.”

The group added that while they remain open to resuming peace negotiations with the GRP, they are not hopeful for substantive agreements as long as Duterte remains subservient to foreign interests.

“How can negotiations on socio-economic questions go anywhere when Duterte zealously implements neoliberal policies and pushes for such anti-people polices as the Compressed Work Week or 12-hour workday, removal of restrictions on foreign ownership of public utilities, debt-driven infratructure projects, and others?” the CPP asked.

The CPP also questioned the outcome of negotiations on political and constitutional reforms considering Duterte’s counter-insurgency program, including its aerial bombardment campaign in Marawi and other parts of the country.

“Duterte’s triple war (drug war, counter-insurgency and the Marawi crisis) violates the human rights agreement with impunity. He could not even fulfill his vow to release political prisoners now numbering more than 400,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP says GRP eagerly wanting to end talks

National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili accused the Rodrigo Duterte government of wanting to end the peace negotiations after Malacañan cancelled the scheduled backchannel talks in Europe this weekend.

“The GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) seems so eager to terminate the peace negotiations even using the flimsiest of all excuses to cancel the backchannel talks,” Agcaoili said in a statement.

Agcaoili was reacting to Malacañan’s announcement yesterday cancelling the informal talks to resume formal peace negotiations citing as reason three separate incidents in North Cotatabo, Palawan and Surigao del Sur Wednesday reportedly involving the New People’s Army (NPA).

Sources told Kodao NDFP peace negotiators were about to fly to Oslo, Norway when informed of the cancellation.

“The situation on the ground necessary to provide the desired enabling environment for the conduct of peace negotiations are still not present up to his time,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said yesterday.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella for his part said the order to cancel the backchannel talks came directly from Duterte.

Agcaoili, however, reminded the GRP there is no ceasefire in place and clashes between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are expected.

“The NDFP did not cancel the talks despite the killing of six NPA fighters and two civilians in Campostela Valley last 12 July and the massacre of a family in the same province a few days later,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili also accused the GRP of blatantly violating the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) when Solicitor General Jose Calida said Thursday he would ask for the cancellation of bail bonds and seek the arrest of NDFP consultants released last year for the peace talks.

“OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) will ask the courts to cancel all bail bonds of NDF Consultants, order their arrests, and recommit them to their detention facilities,” Calida said in his Twitter account.

“If the GRP is so determined to terminate the negotiations, it can avail of the pertinent provision in the JASIG to do so, and not engage in subterfuge and threats in an attempt to force the NDFP to capitulate to its demands,” Agcaoili retorted.

Agcaoili said the NDFP will not sign a ceasefire agreement with the GRP ahead of substantive agreements on social and economic as well as constitutional and political reforms.

“There cannot be any ceasefire without agreements on reforms! This is a matter of fact and of principle,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Dureza: Maasin raid not covered by the Minda-wide no offensive declarations

The New People’s Army (NPA) raid on a police station in Iloilo yesterday was not covered by the government and the Left’s statements to mutually refrain from offensive operations in Mindanao, a cabinet secretary clarified today.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said in a statement the Maasin, Iloilo incident must be dealt with by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as there is no mutually-agreed bilateral ceasefire agreement in place nationwide.

While “disheartened” with the attack, Dureza said he hopes “the attack is just part of the birthpains of the agreement to stop offensive military actions even if it covers only Mindanao as of now.”

A unit of the NPA’s Napoleon Tumagtang Command in Panay Island launched a daring 20-minute daytime raid yesterday that netted them 11 M16 assault rifles, four pistols, assorted ammunition and communication equipment.

The surprised PNP officers on duty failed to put up a fight.

Julio Montana, spokesperson of the Coronacion “Waling-Waling” Regional Command of the NPA in Panay, said the raid was in response to complaints of extortion of small time market vendors by the Maasin PNP.

“(They also) allow narcotics and illegal gambling to proliferate,” Montana said in a statement issued after the raid.

AFP’s Task Force Panay immediately deployed to Maasin but the guerillas have already withdrawn from the Maasin town center on board a truck and PNP’s own patrol vehicle.

Both vehicles were later separately found abandoned in neighboring towns.

The NPA is an allied organization of the NDFP.

The NDFP and the Rodrigo Duterte government are reportedly holding back-channel talks after their cancelled fifth round of formal peace negotiations in The Netherlands last month in an effort to resume talks in August. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

5th round cancellation delays meaningful socio-economic reforms

NOORDWIJK AAN ZEE, The Netherlands–The cancellation of the fifth round of formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has delayed the completion of a comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms.

The GRP negotiators arrived in this city bearing preconditions to the talks, demanding a retraction of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ order to the New People’s Army for further intensification of military operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The GRP also demanded a signed bilateral ceasefire from the NDFP which said is unacceptable before the agreement on the socio-economic agenda in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992.

Watch this wrap up video of the aborted fifth round of formal peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP.

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GRP announces non-participation in fifth round of formal talks

NOORDWIJK AAN ZEE, The Netherlands—The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has announced it will not participate in the fifth round of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a press conference, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III said there are no clear indications that an enabling environment conducive for the formal talks to proceed has been achieved after two days of informal and backchannel negotiations.

“This is a temporary setback which has also happened in the past.  This only means we need to work harder on the peace process,” Bello said.

Dureza refused to explain their reasons and just asked the reporters present at the press briefing to report their statements “as stated.”

GRP negotiators, however, has repeatedly said earlier it wants the CPP to rescind its order to the NPA of intensified operations against government troops in light of defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement the rebel guerrillas are among the targets of President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law declaration over all of the Mindanao region.

“It would be a factor,” Dureza replied when asked if the GRP would resume formal peace negotiations in case the CPP complies to the demand.

Dureza and Bello said President Rodrigo Duterte is aware of the GRP panel’s decision.

In reply, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the cancellation of the fifth round was “GRP’s decision and responsibility.”

“Contrary to the GRP allegations, the NPA operations cannot be attributed to the failure of the CPP-NPA-NDFP leadership to control their ground forces.  Rather, they (CPP directives) are defensive and counter-offensive responses to the AFP provocative actions and offensive operations,” the NDFP, in a prepared statement, said.

The NDFP said the GRP is obscuring the fact that its forces “have been waging an ‘all-out-war’ against the NPA, conducting offensive operations and aerial bombings of communities regardless of ‘collateral damage’ – all on the direct and standing orders of President Duterte.”

Agcaoili said the GRP should consider stopping its all-out-war policy first before issuing “vague demands” to the NDFP.

Peace process to continue

The GRP said they are not terminating the entire peace process with the NDFP in their decision not to participate in the fifth round of talks.

The NDFP agreed with the GRP and said they expect their counterparts to respect previously-signed agreement such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law as well the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

“We expect the GRP to respect the safety of our negotiators and consultants once they go home to the Philippines after this and as they go about their work as peace workers,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili also said they are willing to resume formal peace negotiations as soon as the GRP decides to go back to the negotiating table.

He also said the NDFP may seek an audience with President Duterte to seek clarifications in the near future.

“I would like to think that he (Duterte) still wants to sign a final peace agreement with the NDFP,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)