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Esperon’s claim on Joma’s health ‘fake news’–NDFP

The chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines slammed the government’s national security adviser for spreading lies against Prof. Jose Ma. Sison’s heath, saying Hermogenes Esperon Jr. is an active purveyor of fake news.

NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili in a statement said that contrary to the security adviser’s claim that Sison is seriously ill, the group’s chief political consultant is “very well and has fully recovered from his arthritis last year.”

“Look at his face, isn’t he sick? That is expected, but let me not go into details. But he is really ill,” Esperon told reporters in Quezon City Friday, the Philippine Star reported.

Contrary to Esperon’s claim, however, Agcaoili said Sison is up and about, conducting interviews with journalists and many others.

“His mind remains as sharp as ever and his analysis of political situations as incisive, brilliant and comprehensive as before,” Agcaoili said.

Seventy nine year-old Sison had been hospitalized several times since late 2016 due to several health complaints his comrades attributed to advancing age but has been very active lately, granting interviews and issuing statements to both Philippine-based and international journalists.

Lying Esperon

On the other hand, Agcaoili added, Esperon remains a “pathological liar” just as when he dismissed the many cases of extrajudicial killings of activists in 2006 as the doings of “internal purges” in the revolutionary movement.

“His allegation was dismissed by Prof. Philip Alston, then UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, as ‘especially unconvincing’ and the document presented as bearing ‘all the hallmarks of a fabrication and cannot be taken as evidence of anything other than disinformation,’” Agcaoili said.

Alston at the time concluded that “there is no reasonable doubt that the military is responsible for a significant number of the killings and that subsequent evidence points to the continuing nature of that practice.”

Esperon was Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff in 2006.

Agcaoili added that Esperon also lied when he implied that the Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph E. Estrada governments have conspired with the NDFP in attempting to topple the Manila government by signing The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

“Such nonsense!” Agcaoli said.

On the so-called localized peace talks being pushed by the Rodrigo Duterte government, Agcaoili suggested that Esperon read the statements of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the National Operational Command of the New People’s Army, as well as the NDFP territorial units and regional commands rejecting the scheme.

Agcaoili said that Esperon must first know the positions of revolutionary forces on the ground “before he embarks on this road show meant only to line the pockets of bureaucrats, military commanders and faked surrenderers.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lorenzana, Año and Roque sounding death knell on talks—Agcaoili

Verbal attacks by government officials against Professor Jose Maria Sison is sounding like the death knell on the peace talks under the Rodrigo Duterte regime, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said that the orchestrated tirades against Sison by Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, acting Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque are purely lies and attacks by “peace spoilers.”

Lorenzana, Año and Roque have repeatedly blamed Sison for the impasse on the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines after the prospective fifth round of formal talks has been cancelled for the fifth time last month.

“Let us not be lulled or hoodwinked by Sison’s glib tongue about reforms. They will institute reforms all right, but along communist lines when they have finally won,” Lorenzana said in a recent statement.

“In fact, they don’t even have to win because their socialistic CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms) , which they are trying to ram down our throats, will ensure that they will have a foothold in governance,” he added.

Año also accused Sison of being out of touch with what is happening in the Philippines while Roque in turn said the Communist Party of the Philippines founder is “arrogant”.

Agcaoili, however, said the GRP officials are falsely blaming the wrong person for the impasse, adding it is Duterte who should be blamed for the problems faced by the negotiations.

“Lorenzana, Año and Roque must have been in another planet when GRP President Duterte issued Proclamation 360 terminating the peace talks. That proclamation has never been rescinded impliedly or otherwise,” Agcaoili said.

“In fact Duterte postponed the mutually agreed upon date for resumption of the formal talks on June 28-30, 2018, in Oslo, Norway, which would have been the occasion to remove the impediments put up by the GRP to move the peace negotiations forward,” he added.

‘Not even original’

Agcaoili also clarified it was the government that suggested a coalition government with the NDFP.

“For the record, the NDFP has never put forward any demand for a coalition government. This has been clarified several times by Prof. Jose Maria Sison to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, since October 2017,” he said.

Agcaoili said it was during the time of former President Benigno Aquino when former GRP chief negotiator Alex Padilla under orders by then Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles who raised the spectre of a coalition government.

Agcaoili added that it was also with the Aquino administration that the NDFP draft of CASER was originally described as “socialist”.

“So, an allegedly anti-Aquino regime has adopted the false narrative of its arch enemy to waylay the peace talks,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma says only NDFP Council decides on talks termination

Jose Maria Sison clarified that he did not terminate the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), saying it is only their group’s National Council that can make the decision to suspend, cancel or terminate their peace negotiations with the government.

“[The NDFP] has not yet made such a decision,” Sison said in a statement Friday, June 29.

Reacting to news reports that he has cancelled or terminated the peace negotiations, Sison said that he only made a critical review of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s behaviour in relation to the stalled peace negotiations.

“I deplored among other things his failure to fulfil his promise to amnesty and release all political prisoners and his repeated whimsical termination of the negotiations as many as three times. It is very likely that he will convert his three-month suspension of the formal talks to one more termination,” Sison said.

In his presentation to a forum entitled “Political implications of the current impasse and prospects of the GRP-NDFP peace talks Thursday, Sison said that based on the implications drawn from the current impasse, the NDFP can no longer negotiate with a GRP that is headed by Duterte.

“So long as he heads the GRP, the Filipino people, especially the oppressed and exploited, cannot expect any benefit from negotiating with the Duterte regime,” Sison, speaking via online streaming from The Netherlands, said.

In his clarification issued Friday, Sison said he made the estimate that Duterte will render the resumption of formal negotiations impossible by imposing on the NDFP the demand that the venue be shifted to Manila.

“The NDFP will not agree to such a demand because it violates the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) provision for a neutral venue abroad and because NDFP does not want to put its negotiating panel and related personnel under the control, surveillance and duress by Duterte and the military,” Sison said.

Sison added he let Duterte have the singular dishonor of repeatedly terminating the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations within so short a time, repeatedly pointing out that Duterte is not interested in the peace negotiations but in scapegoating the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and NPA (New People’s Army) for the purpose of declaring martial law nationwide or a state of emergency “in his mad drive to establish a fascist dictatorship under the guise of charter change to federalism.”

“In this regard, I have observed that it would be easier to cause the ouster of Duterte than to expect a just and honorable peace agreement with GRP under his command,” Sison explained.

Sison earlier said that while NDFP is not completely closing the door on the peace negotiations, the NDFP will study very carefully any offer by the government to resume formal peace negotiations.

‘Let Duterte do it’

In the said forum, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said their group has always readied itself for any breakdown in the talks.

“It’s nearing untenable stratus,” Agcaoili, also speaking via online streaming, said, citing the Duterte government’s new measures like the crackdown on street loiterers and continuing killings linked to its drug war.

Acaoili also said Duterte’s incendiary remarks, the arrests and killings of activists and threats against churches and human rights groups are meant to provoke rebel forces.

Agcaoili said Duterte should be the one to finally terminate formal peace negotiations with the NDFP.

Siya mag-terminate,” Agcaoili said. (Let [Duterte] terminate.)

“Any side can move to terminate. But if we walk first, he will use it as an excuse to unleash his fascist dictatorship,” he added.

Agcaoili said the revolutionary forces must not let down its guard against Duterte.

“Revolutionary and progressive forces must exercise vigilance and be committed to act in self-defense, especially forces in the underground,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte postpones resumption of formal GRP-NDFP talks

Government peace adviser Jesus Dureza announced President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to postpone the scheduled June 28 resumption of formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

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.

It was earlier announced that the thrice-cancelled fifth round of formal talks shall be held on June 28 to 30 after a week of implementing a seven day “stand down agreement” between their respective armed forces starting June 21

“We are now on the cusp of major breakthroughs in the peace talks, hence the urgent need now to take deliberate steps to ensure that we do not falter. Just and sustainable and lasting peace will happen only when our people understand and support these efforts,” Dureza added.

Dureza said that GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III has already called his counterpart to inform them of Duterte’s postponement of the talks.

He added that GRP representatives are set to fly to The Netherlands to personally explain the GRP decision.

Setback

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they consider the postponement a setback from the schedule that both parties have already agreed upon.

Agcaoili revealed that even before Dureza’s announcement to postpone both the “stand down agreement” and the resumption of formal talks on June 21 and June 28, respectively, the GRP has already told him and the Third Party Facilitator (TPF), the Royal Norwegian Government, of its unilateral decision.

“The GRP also said they would send a team here to The Netherlands this weekend to explain to us the basis of their decision and the Third Party Facilitator shall be present,” Agcaoili told Kodao.

“Of course we consider this a setback from the schedule that we have already agreed upon. But we are ready to receive their team this weekend to explain to us the reasons for their unilateral decision to make adjustments to the schedule,” Agcaoili said.

The NDFP chief negotiator said he was told by the GRP that Duterte wants to study the documents of the four backchannel talks since he ordered the resumption of the negotiations last March.

“But there may also be other reasons. Remember, before he even met his peace panel yesterday, Duterte already announced that the resumption of the talks shall be in mid-July,” Agcaoili said.

He added that the NDFP panel considers the development as merely a rescheduling of the talks, given that GRP courts have agreed to allow six NDFP negotiators to travel to Oslo, Norway for the resumption of formal negotiations.

The six are Benito Tiamzon, Allan Jazmines, Rafael Baylosis, Adelberto Silva, Randall Echanis and Vicente Ladlad.

“The only problem is that the six have yet to be issued visa and departure orders,” Agcaoili said.

The GRP has also yet to answer NDFP and TPF’s queries on the finalization of the coordinated unilateral ceasefire as well as the agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development sections of the prospective comprehensive social and economic agreement, 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)

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. #

 

NDFP to Duterte on talks resumption: ‘We have always been open’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel said it remains open to resume formal peace negotiations with the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Reacting to Duterte’s statement Friday he still has to talk to the New People’s Army (NPA), NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili told Kodao the revolutionary movement is also open to reviving formal talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

The NPA is an allied organization of the NDFP.

“The NDFP has always been open to continue with the fifth round of the formal talks, which he scuttled in May 2017,” Agcaoili said.

Duterte hinted peace talks with the NDFP might soon be revived in a speech at Cagayan de Oro City’s Laguindingan International Airport Friday.

“Ideology ‘to. So I’m facing that. I have to talk to the NPA still,” Duterte said after ticking off a list of problems he said he is facing.

The Duterte GRP cancelled the fifth round of formal negotiations last May after failing to secure an open-ended bilateral ceasefire agreement with the NDFP.

The NDFP said the GRP demand was a precondition violating The Hague Joint Declaration that says cessation of hostilities shall come after social and economic as well as political and constitutional reforms agreements have already been agreed and signed by both parties.

Negotiators from both the NDFP and GRP said they are ready to sign agrarian reform and rural development agreements, including free distribution of at least one million hectares of land to poor farmers, when the fifth round of formal negotiations are finally held. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bello announces possible resumption of talks in August

Formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) may resume on the second or third week of August, government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III said.

In a Malacañan press briefing today, Bello said he met Sunday night with NDFP counterpart Fidel Agcaoili that resulted in an “initial understanding” the cancelled fifth round of talks will probably be realized next month.

Bello said the possible resumption of the talks has the blessings of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte.

He added that the fifth round of talks would focus on socioeconomic reforms.

The parties’ reciprocal working committees on socioeconomic reforms were supposed to submit new agreements to the negotiating panels at the cancelled fifth round in The Netherlands last May.

Bello also revealed that both parties have agreed to hold an informal meeting on the third or last week of this month but have yet to decide if it would be held in Japan, Hong Kong or the Philippines.

“The parties will have an informal meeting so that come August, it (the agenda) would already be clear. And (the reciprocal working committee agreements) will only be for submission for the formal approval of the panels,” Bello said.

Interim unilateral ceasefire

Bello also said the informal talks this month and the fifth round of formal talks in August may also tackle the issue of an interim unilateral ceasefire in a bid to create a more conducive atmosphere during the talks.

“It’s possible. Yun nga ang sinabi ko that informal meeting by the end of July we will be discussing interim unilateral ceasefire separately signed by both parties,” Bello said.

Bello said there are still issues that need to be resolved before a ceasefire could be agreed upon, such as the question of having adjudicators in case of ceasefire violations.

“One of the issues there would be, ‘Who would be the referee?’ Kung halimbawang may violations, saan ka tatakbo?” Bello said.

“It could be a joint monitoring team of the ceasefire,” he added.

Bello said the interim unilateral ceasefire could be in effect until a bilateral ceasefire is agreed upon.

Lorenzana says no

Bello’s announcement, however, runs counter to national defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s recommendation to the GRP panel not to resume formal peace negotiations with the NDFP just yet.

Lorenzana said he has recommended to the GRP panel to stop talking to the NDFP if they continue their attacks against government forces and alleged extortion activities, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) reported yesterday.

“I, for one, have already been talking with the GRP panel if it’s possible to stop talking for a while with the CPP as long as they can’t control the NPAs who conduct extortion activities, burning of private properties, and kidnappings,” the PDI report quoted Lorenzana saying.

In response to a question at the Malacañan press briefing today, however, Bello said NPA attacks are part of the armed conflict.

“The reality is that there is an existing armed conflict.  That is the reason why we are talking to end the armed conflict. So habang nag-uusap tayo, we expect some skirmishes once in a while,” Bello said.

The parties’ last unilateral ceasefire declarations from August of last year to February this year have been the longest truce in the history of the armed conflict between the GRP and the NDFP.

It unraveled, however, when GRP troops belonging to the 39th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army attacked a NPA encampment in Makilala, North Cotabato last January while the third round of formal talks was ongoing in Rome, Italy.

Before the Makilala attack, the NDFP has already accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines of further militarizing indigenous peoples and peasant communities that contributed to the decision of the Communist Party of the Philippines to suspend its unilateral ceasefire declaration by early February.

Meanwhile, the NDFP have yet to comment on Bello’s announcement. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

LARAWAN: Mga pangunahing tagapagsalita at negosyador sa usapang pangkapayapaan

 

Habang hindi pa pormal na binubuksan ang usapang pangkapayapaan, nagpalitan na ng mga pahayag ang magkabilang panig, ang GRP at NDFP, hinggil sa dapat pa bang ituloy ang 5th round of formal talks. Patuloy na naghihintay ang mga mamamahayag sa kahihinatnan ng pulong ng dalawang  panig ngayong hapon.

The Netherlands, May 27, 2017

 

Agcaoili explains the NDFP-GRP Agreement on the Joint Interim Ceasefire

National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili explains their Agreement on the Joint Ceasefire Agreement.

In an interview in Noordwijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands last April 6, 2017 during the fourth round of formal negotiations, Agcaoili explains a joint ceasefire is yet to be agreed upon pending the approval of ground rules and other related issues.

He also said a joint ceasefire must only come after the prospected Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms shall have been signed. Read more