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Prosecutor drops gun possession charge vs Silva’s companions

Three companions of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Adelberto Silva arrested with him last Monday, November 15, were ordered freed Thursday after charges of illegal possession of firearms against them have been dismissed.

Public Interest Law Center (PILC) managing counsel Rachel Pastores said that the temporary release of Hedda Calderon, Ireneo Atadero and Edisel Legaspi is allowed pending further investigation of an additional charge against them.

Pastores said that additional charges of illegal possession of explosives were referred for preliminary investigation by Laguna provincial prosecutor Ma. Victoria Dado.

The three were arrested along with Silva and their driver Julio Lusania by combined elements of the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

The CIDG said the two .45 caliber handguns, three hand grenades, a claymore mine-type improvised explosive device and assorted ammunition were seized from the five during their arrest.

Silva, however, told Kodao that the guns and explosives were “planted”.

“PILC expects the CIDG-NCR to implement the release soonest possible, in respect of due process and presumption of innocence of all detained, most especially the wrongfully-accused,” Pastores said.

The CIDG, however, still has to abide by the resolution and release the three.

In an Inquirer report, PILC’s Atty. Kristina Conti denied that Silva is part of any destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte, such as the so-called Red October plot the military described by the military.

“This story is laughable but we are not amused,” Conti said.

Conti said the Calderon, Atadero and Legaspi were consulting with Silva who is a leading member of the NDFP’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms in its peace process with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

Facing multiple murder charges for an alleged massacre in Inopacan, Leyte, Silva was released in August 2016 to enable his participation in the first formal talks between the GRP and the NDFP in Oslo, Norway.

His temporary bail was suspended last January, however, after President Duterte cancelled the peace talks. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Inquest proceeding of Adel Silva and company

National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant and company faced inquest proceedings at Sta Cruz, Laguna Tuesday afternoon following their arrest by police and military personnel Monday afternoon.

According to the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Silva and company had with them two handguns, three grenades, an improvised claymore mine and assorted ammunition when accosted.

Silva, however, denied the charge, saying these were planted by the police.

A leading member of the NDFP’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms, Silva is supposedly immune from surveillance, threats, harassment and arrest under the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity and Safety Guarantees. # (Report by Joseph Cuevas)

Silva says guns and explosives ‘planted’ by police

Detained National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Adelberto Silva said the guns and explosives the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) allege were seized from them were “planted”.

Charged with illegal possession of firearms in an inquest proceeding in Sta. Cruz, Laguna late Tuesday afternoon, October 16, Silva and companions Edisel Legaspi, Hedda Calderon, Ireneo Atadero and their hired driver said the two .45 caliber handguns, three hand grenades, an improvised claymore mine and bullets presented by the police and military were “suddenly found inside their car” when they were accosted in the afternoon of October 14 in Barangay Pagsawitan in Sta. Cruz.

Silva and the others also refused to sign documents that said the items were seized from them.

Silva’s lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center said Sta. Cruz prosecutor Ma. Victoria Dado ordered the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to produce today the result of physical and chemical examinations from Camp Crame of the supposed firearms and explosives seized from Silva and company.

According to the PILC lawyers, Silva and his companions were arrested when their car was blocked by five private vehicles at around twelve noon last October 15.

At gunpoint, the five were ordered to alight from their car and lay down on the ground. After several minutes, the police and the military declared they found the guns and explosives inside the car.

Silva said in an interview that his arrest was a clear violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees as well as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP.

Silva has actively participated in the peace negotiations between the two parties since August 2016.

Silva also denounced the AFP and PNP’s Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) he said was revived to put a veneer of legality to the government’s intensified attacks and crackdowns against peace negotiators and activists.

Human rights group Karapatan earlier described IACLA as the new version of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo-era Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) that UN special rapporteur Philip Alston recommended abolished in 2007. # (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)

PNP arrests NDFP consultant and companions in Laguna

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Adelberto Silva and four companions were arrested Monday afternoon in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said that Silva (70), Ediecel Legaspi (60), Ireneo Atadero (55), Hedda De Luna Calderon (63) as well as their driver Julio Lusania (53) were arrested yesterday, October 15, and brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Palabay said the five may be brought to Sta. Cruz, Laguna today for inquest proceedings.

She added they are still in the process of reconciling varying reports they received on how Silva and company were arrested and on what grounds.

Silva was among the 19 consultants released by the Rodrigo Duterte administration in 2016 to enable their participation in the formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP.

Silva was eventually designated as the vice-chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms.

He was instrumental in the crafting of the draft National Industrialization and Economic Development document initialled by both GRP and NDFP negotiating panel representatives last June.

The GRP and NDFP negotiating panels were set to approve the document as part of the Interim Peace Agreement package that would have also included Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, coordinated unilateral ceasefire and general amnesty documents.

President Duterte, however, cancelled the fifth formal round of talks for the fifth time last June.

Silva was among the 600 personalities included in the list submitted by the Department of Justice to the Manila Regional Trial Court last January in its bid to have the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army proscribed as so-called terrorists.

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

Would CASER have prevented mining disasters?

SPECIAL REPORT

By Raymund B. Villanueva

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Malayao can only shake his head as he looked at photos of the landslide in Itogon, Benguet last month that reportedly killed 69 residents, majority of whom were miners and their families. Initial reports said the tragedy was brought about by the torrential rains brought about by typhoon “Ompong” that wreaked havoc all over Northern Luzon. Eventually, however, it was accepted that the typhoon only triggered the disaster and that mining activities in the area—both large and small scale—was its main cause.

“It should not have come to this,” Malayao said. “This could have been prevented if only the Manila government listens to the people,” he added.

Since his release from prison as a political detainee in 2012, Malayao has resumed his work as a consultant of the NDFP’s negotiating panel, attending formal negotiations in Europe and reciprocal working group meetings in the Philippines and abroad. As the NDFP’s resource person from Northern Luzon, he is intimate with mining issues in his home region of Cagayan Valley, as well as the Ilocos Region and the Cordilleras. Environmental protection was one of his advocacies that made him a victim of abduction and intense torture in the hands of the Philippine Army. He spent four and a half years inside various jails as a political prisoner.

“The countless discussions I attended on what makes our people poor, especially the peasants, opened my eyes that environmental degradation contributes to their poverty, contrary to what has been promised them for more than a hundred years. Mining activities in Northern Luzon has made its people poorer,” he said.

Rescuers try to clear part of the landslide in Barangay Ucab, Itogo, Benguet that killed 69 residents. (Photo by Kim Quitasol)

The victims of the Itogon landslide are a case in point. Malayao said that mining activities, primarily when mining giant Benguet Corporation was active in the area, caused its forest cover to be denuded and its soil unstable. The landslide last month was only the latest in a string of similar incidents and it is unfair to blame the victims who he suspects are allowed to continue their activities with the consent of the company that still owns the mining licenses in the area.

Northern Luzon is one of the Philippines’ mining hotspots. Gold, copper, and molybdenum are mined in Nueva Vizcaya; gold and nickel are extracted in Isabela; gold has been mined in the Cordilleras for hundreds of years, and gold and magnetite (also known as black sand) are mined in the Ilocos Region and Cagayan Province’s coastal and offshore areas. As a mountainous area, the regions are also a prime source of sand and gravel as well as lumber. But despite the nearing depletion of its mineral wealth, it is agriculture that keeps the regions’ economy afloat. While it has enriched a few corporations beyond belief, mining has only kept many of its residents in poverty. Not a few have lost in their lives.

It was because of this situation that the NDFP has pushed for environmental protection, rehabilitation and compensation as one of the top agenda under the substantive issue of social and economic reforms of the peace negotiations between itself and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

CASER and the environment

It was as far back as September 1, 1992 that both the GRP and the NDFP agreed in the document called The Hague Joint Declaration to discuss social and economic reforms to address “the root causes of armed conflict.” Both parties agreed that a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) is a program that could end poverty and other social. It was only recently, however, that a section on environmental protection was finally approved, even if the issue had always been on the table for more than 26 years already.

“[NDFP’s] latest version of [its draft] CASER is the result of careful study and analysis started in the middle of 2016. The NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) looked at the relevant experience and practice of the revolutionary forces in the cities and, especially, the countryside,” the NDFP said in the preface of its book on the peace talks agenda.

As expected, the NDFP had been scathing in its assessment of the state of environment in the

Philippines, especially mining.

“Corporate mining depletes our minerals as well as destroys forests and mountains. National minorities are displaced from their communities and ancestral lands. Critical resources for national industrialization are lost,” the NDFP said. “The profit-driven nature of capitalist production with the particular neo-colonial pattern of production and trade, that overrides social and ecological considerations has been the main factor in the devastation of the Philippine environment and the consequent disasters that have plagued the country,” the NDFP explained.

It may come as a surprise to most, however, that under its CASER proposal, the NDFP is not against mining. Rather, the NDFP says it is for responsible and pro-people mining.

NDFP urges environmental protection with economic development

For the NDFP, mining is not evil. It only becomes so because the environment is being destroyed by current mining practices and it only benefits members of the local ruling elite and foreign economic interests.

The NDFP said that environmental protection, conservation and the wise use of natural resources are necessary components of socio-economic development policies and that ecological balance is integral to national development.

By this, it means two things.

First, current destructive mining practices must be stopped and replaced with more environment-responsive ways. Not a few were amazed when the NDFP expressed full support to former GRP environment secretary Gina Lopez when she ordered the ban on open pit mining and a review of all mining activities nationwide. In turn, Lopez said she was willing to work with the revolutionary New People’s Army (NPA) in protecting the environment. This prompted the NDFP invite Lopez to attend the NDFP-GRP formal peace negotiations in Europe to present her views the Left said were in accordance with its programs on the environment.

“The desire of Gina Lopez to work with the NPA for peace and development is welcome by the NDFP.  It is directly related to the environment, agrarian reform and rural development now being negotiated under the substantive item Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms,” NDFP chief political consultant Sison said. “It will be fine if Gina attends the fifth round of formal talks,” Sison added.

Lopez told Kodao she would accept the invitation provided she would be confirmed by the powerful Commission on Appointments. “Yes, I’ll go,” Lopez said. “What I would want to do is to create models first than just talking.  What I would like to do is to work with the NPA and create models where we get people out of poverty in like six months to a year.  Then I’ll go talk to him (Sison): ‘Sir, look at what we did here. What if we do these everywhere?’” Lopez explained.

Lopez was eventually rejected by the CA and Duterte decided to not reappoint her controversial environment secretary.

Second, the NDFP wanted that upon signing of the CASER, most of the raw materials from the country’s mining activities would stay in the country to be used for its national industrialization drive. “The strategy of export-led economic growth has opened the country’s natural resource to control and plunder by the foreign monopoly capitalists, big comprador bourgeoisie and bureaucrat capitalists. As the imperialists and the local exploiting classes freely siphon off the nation’s natural wealth, they leave behind a ravaged environment, Industrial wastes like mine tailings and carbon monoxide emissions and unsafe agricultural products pollute and destroy the environment,” the NDFP said.

The group added that existing laws such as the Mining Act of 1995 mean the wholesale delivery of the national patrimony to the unbridled exploitation by foreign investors through the liberalization of the mining industry. They open the door wider to the destruction of the environment and the displacement of the national and ethnic minorities from their ancestral lands.

Under Section 2 of NDFP CASER’s principles of environment protection and economic development, the group proposes that the parties “…commit to pursue economic development with due regard to the protection and efficient use of the country’s renewable and non-renewable resources and to institute measures for ensuring a healthy national environment.”

GRP panel’s ‘surprising’ draft

It was not only the NDFP that sprung surprises in its environment protection drafts of the CASER. The GRP was not to be outdone when it submitted its own environmental protection, rehabilitation, and compensation draft after the fourth round of formal talks in Noordwijk An Zee in The Netherlands in June 2017.

“The GRP’s draft has many provisions similar to NDFP’s. While there are differences between their drafts and ours, there are enough similar provisions that could be the foundation of a favorable agreement on this issue,” an NDFP source told Kodao.

For example, on the issue of mining, the GRP RWC-SER’s draft said that the pursuit of economic development must integrate protection, efficiency, and just use of the country’s resources and ecology, including making sure that the carrying capacity of the environment is not breached.

Taking a cue from the NDFP draft, the GRP draft, under Section 6 of its draft Priority Actions for Sustainable Development and Environmental Justice, says that all mining operations are to be regulated “to ensure domestic processing of mineral resources, guarantee environmental protection and justice, safeguard mine workers, compensate communities for damages, uphold democratic consultation and the consent of communities, allocate mining revenues and benefits equitably, and charge the costs of mine maintenance, disasters and rehabilitation to the revenues of mining firms.”

Support from environmentalists

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment national coordinator Leon Dulce hailed both the NDFP and GRP negotiators’ respective drafts as steps towards the protection of the environment and national development.

“What both parties have shown is that, at the very least, they were willing to discuss how mining could be more environment-responsive and beneficial to the Filipino people at the same time,” Dulce said.

Kalikasan said the country may have around 7.1 billion metric tons of metallic mineral reserves (such as gold, copper) and nickel) and 51 billion metric tons of non-metallic deposits. “The total revenue of these reserves may be worth US$1 trillion, ten times the country’s gross domestic product and 14 to 17 times larger than its entire external debt,” the group said.

Like the NDFP and GRP’s drafts on environment protection, Kalikasan seeks a reversal of the nature of the country’s mining industry.

“In forums and symposiums organized and attended by Kalikasan, including congressional hearings on the People’s Mining Bill (House Bill 2715, filed by Bayan Muna) that we are suporting, we have always said that the mining industry should be geared towards national industrialization,” Dulce said.

Kalikasan said that the mining industry should be redefined for the production of raw materials—such as base metals, basic chemicals and petrochemicals needed by the basic, medium and heavy industries—to produce as much consumer, intermediate and capital good with the country’s stock of finite mineral and non-mineral industrial raw materials and in the process provide jobs to the country’s vast human resources.

“In other words, our country should not be exporting everything that is mined within our territory because we need them for when we finally industrialize. And that may be possible if the GRP and the NDFP agree to sign a CASER and honestly implement it,” Dulce said.

The environmental activist also clarified that under both the NDFP and GRP drafts of the CASER as well as HB 2715, that the drafts are not necessarily against foreign mining corporations.

“I think these documents clarified that as long as these foreign mining corporations have no bad records and they agree to contribute to national industrialization, they are welcome,” he said. The People’s Mining Bill says that the State shall in cases allow foreign corporations to invest in the mineral industry.

“Based on the National Industrialization Program and the country’s capability and capacity, the government must identify the mineral areas where foreigners can help and invest subject to rigorous screening and strict regulations…The participation of foreign companies in the critical stages of mineral extraction and processing shall be in accordance with a mandatory program or agreement for technology transfer and equity shares that do not exceed 40 percent of the full capital requirements,” HB 2715 reads.

“Alas, the GRP principal (Duterte) is unwilling to continue the talks,” Dulce bewailed.

Wasted opportunity

Malayao agrees with Dulce that Duterte is wasting the opportunity to have an environmental protection agreement signed with the NDFP.

“I could not begin to describe to you the hard work put into crafting both the NDFP and GRP drafts on environmental protection under the prospective CASER. It was supposed to have been discussed as early as June 2017 by the negotiating panels,” Malayao said.

A signed agreement between the GRP and the NDFP is a binding and legal document, Malayao explained. Even without a final peace agreement, both the GRP and NDFP can already implement its provisions, as they did with their agreement on human rights and international law when they established a joint monitoring office in 2004.

“If the CASER was signed and implemented last year, perhaps extractive activities in Itogon, as well as in Naga City in Cebu Province, could have been more strictly regulated. Perhaps, the near simultaneous tragedies last month would have been averted,” Malayao said. #

 

On conspiracy tales vs. the resumption of peace talks

Press Statement
September 25, 2018

A recent interview of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galves and Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. revealed the sad truth that the Armed Forces of the Philippines remains in a quagmire of anti-democratic war-mongering, stale conspiracy peddling, and vicious red-tagging of known peace advocates in the GRP-NDFP peace process.

In dropping the names of Rey Casambre and former congressman Satur Ocampo as being in the center of an imagined, nay, invented conspiracy plot, the AFP has provided concrete evidence that they are indeed war-mongering peace-spoilers. Rey Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center and Satur Ocampo of Pilgrims for Peace are publicly known peace advocates. Their efforts in seeking to move the peace talks forward in addressing the roots of the armed conflict towards the aspiration of a just and enduring peace in the Philippines are well known to peace advocates throughout the country and internationally.

Naming Casambre and Ocampo as central figures in the AFP’s poorly concocted conspiracy theory makes abundantly clear that Duterte’s state forces are prone to fascist machinations and red-tagging which undermine democracy and impinge upon democratic freedoms.

Many peace advocates—both in the Philippines and around the world—will insist that part of peace building is allowing and even encouraging the participation of dissenting and marginalized voices in government and society. In contrast, the blatantly oppressive character of the military was revealed as they repeatedly warned of infiltration by communists in government. Peace advocates applaud the participation of progressive, pro-poor leaders in government, especially as they have been seen to deliver reforms and services that benefit the poor and toiling majority.

The AFP made evident that they wish to blame a faltering economy on the opposition. They even went as far as to accuse the opposition of manipulating the price of rice. This is ridiculous. Meanwhile, they also exposed the lie of their so-called “Whole of Nation” approach where the military seeks to control and manipulate access to basic and social services for their anti-insurgency campaign, while feigning that they are apolitical.

We want peace for the Philippines. The way to move in this direction is to resume GRP-NDFP peace talks intended to address the roots of the armed conflict. The negotiating parties had hammered out meaningful agreements, ready for signature, on much needed Socio-Economic Reforms. These very peace spoilers in the AFP and the security cluster are the ones standing in the way of democracy and peace building.

The public would be wise not to give an iota of credence to the AFP’s conspiracy tales. An open opposition exists. It would be much worse for democracy in the Philippines if it didn’t. And as Duterte’s military henchmen grasp at straws to attempt to tie together these perceived strands of opposition and falsely render them into a tidy conspiracy, they only lay bare their penchant for military rule.

On some level, President Duterte appears to have coalesced with their thinking. We must urge him that it is not too late to recalibrate toward peace talks and addressing historic injustices and root causes of armed conflict in our beloved homeland. People like Rey Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center and Satur Ocampo of Pilgrims for Peace would welcome such developments.

As President Duterte continues to follow the AFP’s war-mongering and martial law, opposition will continue to grow in response to increased oppression and militarization. Not only should we not believe this conspiracy they are peddling, we must encourage the Duterte administration that peace-building and resuming GRP-NDFP peace talks is the better option altogether. #

Reference: 
Bishop Rex RB Reyes, Jr., D.D.
Convenor, Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (Ecuvoice)

NDFP welcomes House resolution urging Duterte to resume talks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines welcomed a resolution by a special committee of the House of Representatives urging the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to resume its peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a statement, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the resolution is a positive move by the committee members that contributes to calls of various other sectors and groups to continue the peace negotiations.

The Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity chaired by Tawi-Tawi Representative Ruby Sahali passed the resolution Wednesday, September 12, urging the resumption of the peace talks terminated by Duterte in November 2017.

“It is highly imperative that Congress hears and echoes the Filipino people’s desire for the resumption of the peace negotiations and for the GRP and NDF to forge substantive agreements that will resolve the root causes of the nearly five-decade old armed conflict,” the resolutions reads.

“It is the cause for a just and lasting peace itself that is the very compelling reason to continue the peace negotiations,” the resolution, co-authored by Sahali and Reps. Jesus Nonato Sacdalan, Lourdes Acosta, Leopoldo Bataoil, Deogracias Victor Savellano, Lawrence Fortun, Rodante Marcoleta, adds.

The resolution further states that continuing the peace talks would benefit the Filipino people, most of whom are poor peasants and workers, as the agreement on agrarian reform and national industrialization may address their issues and concerns and help provide relief for their economic hardships.

“We hope this welcome move by the House Special Committee can encourage President Duterte to go back to the negotiating table and work towards a just and lasting peace,” Agcaoili said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza for his part thanked the Committee, adding the GRP has not totally terminated the talks.

“We know very well that the President had already cancelled the peace negotiations, but he had said the table for the door for resumption is still wide open. We did not totally shut this,” Dureza was quoted as saying by the House of Representatives Press and Public Affairs Bureau.

Open and without preconditions

In his statement, Agcaoili said the NDFP said it is always open to resumption of peace negotiations but in accordance with all signed agreements with the GRP and without preconditions.

He said the agreements include The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Agcaoili added that when Duterte unilaterally terminated the peace talks, significant advancements in the negotiations have already been made, such as tentative agreements on the sections of agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), coordinated unilateral ceasefire, and amnesty of all political prisoners listed by the NDFP.

“These agreements had been formulated and initialed by representatives of the GRP and NDFP during the monthly informal or back channel talks from March to June 2018 and were subject to finalization in the aborted fifth round of formal talks [last] June 28,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte’s latest announcement of talks termination ‘nonnews’–Joma

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison dismissed government’s latest declaration terminating the peace talks, saying President Rodrigo Duterte has already done so last year.

“It is a nonnews,” Sison said when asked to react to Duterte’s speech Tuesday saying peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP are terminated.

“This is not the first time that Duterte terminates the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. Duterte terminated the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations on November 23, 2017 with his Proclamation 360, and then he followed it up with Proclamation 374 designating the CPP and NPA as ‘terrorist’ organizations with the malicious intent of making it doubly sure that he had killed the peace negotiations,” Sison told Kodao.

In his speech launching the Pilipinas Angat Lahat Alliance in Malacañan Tuesday, Duterte said has terminated the talks with the Reds, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and Sison, accusing them of only wanting a coalition with his government.

“We summed it all and it would really appear that it was a coalition government [they wanted] and I said, ‘I cannot give you an inch of that even. I cannot give you what is not mine,’” Duterte said.

The NDFP and the CPP has, however, repeatedly denied asking to form a coalition government with the GRP.

Sison added that it was Duterte who is being insincere in pursuing genuine peace with the NDFP and is in fact “hell-bent on establishing a fascist dictatorship, with him monopolizing political power and plunder.”

“He was in fact demanding all along the surrender and political suicide of the revolutionary movement of the people before any comprehensive agreement on social, economic and political reforms,” Sison said.

Sison said Duterte will go down in history as a mass murderer and terminator of the peace negotiations who is only succeeding in becoming the chief recruiter of the New People’s Army (NPA) by oppressing the people and goading them to join the NPA.

“He has also become the chief transport and supply officer of the NPA by sending his troops and police to the hinterlands for ambush by the NPA,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)