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Joma, peace advocates: ATC move vs. NDFP ‘diabolical’, to worsen armed conflict

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison described their group’s designation as “terrorist” by the Rodrigo Duterte government as “diabolical”, aimed at not just further closing every possibility of resuming peace negotiations but to kill more of their consultants and resource persons.

READ: GRP designates NDFP as ‘terrorist organization’

Reacting to the Anti-Terrorism Council’s (ATC) June 23 resolution designating the NDFP as a terrorist organization, Sison said the government clearly intends to:

  • Close further every possibility of resuming the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations at least for the duration that Duterte is in power,
  • Harass, silence, arrest or even kill the NDFP consultants and resource persons and others involved in the peace negotiations and target even the broad range of peace advocates, critics and oppositionists,
  • Allow Duterte to control and rig the 2022 elections, stay in power together with (Davao City Mayor) Sara and prevent his (Duterte’s) arrest for crimes against humanity on the prospective warrant that may be issued by the International Criminal Court, and
  • Pave a wider path for the Duterte regime to declare martial law and impose a fascist dictatorship on the people either before the anticipated 2022 elections or after this is rigged in order to preempt the 1986 type of people’s uprising.

“The diabolical purpose of the Duterte regime in designating the NDFP as terrorist cannot be understated because this has been preceded by the murder of NDFP consultants committed so flagrantly by Duterte death squads,” Sison said.

In its Resolution No. 21 (2021) issued last June 23, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) designated the NDFP as a terrorist organization/association, saying the group is “an integral and inseparable part of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).”

Sison cited the murder of Randy Malayao, Randall Echanis, couple Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, couple Antonio Cabanatan and Florenda Yap, Reynaldo Bocala and Rustico Tan as proof the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is into killing NDFP consultants.

The victims were killed after Duterte ordered the GRP Negotiating Panel to walk away from the peace negotiations in mid-2017.

Sison also cited the arrest of NDFP consultants Adelberto Silva, Rey Casambre, Vicente Ladlad, Renante Gamara, Ferdinand Castillo  and others who have been arrested and imprisoned on so-called trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

He added that the designation is “at war” with basic principles of international humanitarian law on the legitimate status, rights and character of national liberation movements such as those by the NDFP.

‘War hawks to blame’

A group of peace advocates blames so-called war hawks in the ATC for NDFP’s designation as terrorist.

The group Pilgrims for Peace (PfP) said GRP’s move bodes ill for human rights, democracy and the quest for peace under the Duterte administration.

“The war hawks are hell-bent on killing peace negotiations and instead pursuing all-out war in the government counterinsurgency program as well as casting a wide net of suppression against all opposition and dissent through state terror as embodied in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” the group in a statement said.

PfP said the designation can only intensify the “nefarious red-baiting/ terrorist-tagging by the National Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict, with dire implications on and further deterioration of the human rights situation and constriction of democratic space in the country.”

The group added the designation directly contravenes a basic tenet of peace advocacy: addressing the roots of the armed conflict through earnest peace negotiations.

“[B]y designating those who have stepped forward to engage in peace negotiations as ‘terrorist,’ the Duterte administration is blatantly acting against the principle and practice of peace building,” PfP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma looks past the ‘treacherous’ Duterte for peace talks resumption

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison looks past the Rodrigo Duterte administration for the possible resumption of the stalled peace negotiations between the Left and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

In a statement, Sison said it is “utterly perverse” of the Duterte regime to expect that the Communists can be convinced back into peace negotiations after the murder of NDFP consultants and attempts by GRP officials and agencies to paint him as a “terrorist”.

“I assure these fascists (in the GRP) that the CPP, NPA and NDFP have enough brains to think that even peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue have become too risky and costly for the NDFP after the murder of so many NDFP peace consultants,” Sison said.

Randy Felix Malayao, Randall Echanis, Julius Giron, ederly couple Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, couple Antonio Cabanatan and Florenda Yap, and Reynaldo Bocala were all brutally killed after Duterte terminated the peace negotiations in 2017.

He added that here is a need for certain new guarantees to ensure the safety and immunity of NDFP negotiators, consultants and staff if ever peace negotiations would be held in cooperation with an administration, “which is not as treacherous and murderous as the Duterte regime.”

All-out war

In his statement, Sison confirmed observations that Duterte made a total turnaround on the peace negotiations in the second half of 2017.

In a statement, Sison said that after the Manila government aborted the fifth round of formal talks in May 2017 it became increasingly clear that Duterte had a change of position and attitude.

“He was no longer interested in peace negotiations with the NDFP and was single-mindedly for an all-out war against the CPP and NPA to comply with [then United States of America President Donald] Trump’s order and to aim for fascist dictatorship,” Sison said.

Duterte issued Proclamation 360 terminating the peace negotiations on November 23, 2017 and Proclamation 374 designating the CPP and NPA as “terrorist” organizations on December 5, 2017.

The termination wasted significant progress made in the negotiations and in the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms in the previous four rounds of formal talks from August 2016 to April 2017, Sison rued.

Sison said the Manila government’s turnaround came after Duterte failed to lure his former professor to return to the Philippines and instead allowed the Europe-held peace negotiations to produce beneficial agreements such as free land distribution to poor farmers.

Sison said Duterte used the excuse that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson has no control or influence over the Party and the New People’s Army (NPA) to push for so-called localized negotiations.

Sison said Duterte and the military are absolutely correct in saying the neither the NDFP Negotiating Panel and its chief political consultant have the power to issue orders to the CPP and the NPA whose leading formations are all in the Philippines.

“Duterte and his running dogs are therefore mendacious and malicious in taking the position and attitude and ranting that I make decisions and give orders to the CPP and NPA and that I am a “terrorist” who should be deported by the Dutch government to the Philippines for punishment by the Duterte regime under its draconian law of state terrorism,” he said.

Sison also scored repeated pro-GRP pickets staged in front of the Dutch Embassy in Makati City calling for his deportation to the Philippines.

The pickets have also demanded that the peace negotiations be held in the Philippines under the auspices of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

“I wish to point out that Duterte and his fellow butchers are not only criminally brutal but also utterly stupid. They conveniently forget that I am a recognized political refugee under the absolute protection of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the principle of nonrefoulement in the Refugee Convention,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Big liar’: Joma belies Esperon’s claim he ordered the killing of NTF-ELCAC spokespersons

National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison belied allegations by national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. he issued an order to kill counter-insurgency task force spokespersons.

“Esperon is a big liar in claiming that I have released an order to kill the so-called talking heads of NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) and other officials of the security sector of the Duterte regime,” Sison said in a statement Saturday, May 22.

Esperon on Friday alleged the military stopped the plot after a so-called joint police and military operation killed three alleged New People’s Army (NPA) fighters in Sta. Rosa, Laguna last week.

News reports said those killed were identified as Rommel Rizza alias “Jomar/Bernie,” the alleged commanding officer of the NPA’s Regional Special Operations Group in Southern Tagalog; “Ka Blue/Billy,” a medic and supply officer; and “Ka Dean,” the group’s intelligence officer.

“One of their missions is to hit NTF-ELCAC talking heads. However, they were pre-empted,” Esperson, task force vice chairperson, said.

Sison however said Esperon’s claim is “pure concoction” as he is not in any position to issue such an order to any organ, unit or individual in the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA.

“Whoever is the current CPP chairman cannot issue an order, like the tyrant (Philippine President Rodrigo) Duterte, without collective decision-making,” Sison explained.

Sison, a 35-year political refugee in The Netherlands, said he is proud to carry the historic title of CPP founding chairperson but has not personally participated in any collective decision-making by the party’s central committee since his arrest in 1977.

Sison said Esperon is obviously covering up two obvious instances of extrajudicial killings (one in Baras, Rizal and now Sta. Rosa City, Laguna) by referring to his name and linking them to the three victims of the Sta. Rosa operations without offering any evidence.

Assassination plot

Instead, Sison said he has more evidence that his life is again under threat from Philippine government agents who are plotting to assassinate him in The Netherlands since last year.

He said no less than the Dutch police have called his attention to the current threat since March 2020.

“An informant has also come forward last year to report that there is such a plot to assassinate me. Since then, I have taken all necessary precautions,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP: All 19 in ATC list ‘courageous, honorable revolutionaries’

The persons recently designated by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as terrorists are either poor or have chosen to be poor because of their desire to serve the people, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.

In a reaction to the ATC’s designation of 19 of its alleged top leaders as terrorists, the CPP said all those listed are honorable revolutionaries who have served the cause of the Filipino people for national and social liberation all their lives.

“Throughout the past decades, they have courageously stood side by side with the people and struggled against dictators and tyrants. They all have sacrificed personal ambition and selfish interests,” CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement Friday.

Valbuena said those named are now in their sixties and seventies and three of them are in jail even as they are well-known National Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel (NDFP) consultants who attended peace negotiations with the Rodrigo Duterte government here and abroad.

The three are Vicente Ladlad, Rey Claro Casambre and Adelberto Silva who have been separately arrested after Duterte cancelled formal peace negotiations and were uniformly charged with the non-bailable offense of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

“Unlike Duterte, these revolutionaries have only the clothes on their back to count as their wealth. They do not accumulate money from the government nor fleece the people with taxes,” Valbuena said.

The CPP spokesperson added the 19 revolutionaries do not hide money in China or elsewhere and have repeatedly proven themselves to be true to the “people’s cause”.

Aside from Ladlad, Casambre and Silva, the ATC designated NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison, New People’s Army (NPA) National Operations Command spokesperson Jorge Madlos, NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julietta de Lima, NDFP Negotiating Panel Member Benito Tiamzon and NDFP peace consultants Alan Jazmines, Wilma Tiamzon, Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, Tirso Alcantara, Pedro Codaste, and Loida Magpatoc as so-called terrorists under the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The list also includes alleged CPP officials Abdias Gaudiana, Dionesio Micabato, Myrna Sularte, Tomas Dominado and Menandro Villanueva.

All 19, except for Sison and Araneta-Bocala, are from lower middle class or poor origins.

Sison was born of a landed and politically-influential family in Ilocos Sur while Araneta-Bocala was of the landlord class in Panay Island.

Both said they rid themselves of their respective families’ economic interests when they joined the revolutionary movement in their youth.

While the 19’s terrorist-designation needs a court order to become official, however, government agencies may freeze their bank accounts and other assets.

Appeal to BSP

Ladlad’s wife Fides Lim said her husband’s only bank account may be frozen by the ATC terrorist listing.

“Vic is a poor man. The only huge deposit or entire property under his name is the compensation he received from the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board in May 2018,” Lim said Friday, May 14.

Lim said Ladlad’s bank account with the government-controlled Land Bank includes the reparation for his sufferings as a political prisoner during martial law and for the disappearance of his first wife Leticia Pascual Ladlad in November 1975.

Ladlad wants to use his money for the treatment of his various illnesses such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as food support in jail, replacement of his hearing aid reportedly stolen when he was arrested and to extend assistance to his mother who died last December while he was already in jail, Lim said.

Lim, also political detainee support group Kapatid spokesperson, revealed that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and its governor Benjamin Diokno may move to freeze Ladlad’s bank account.

“I came from the Land Bank this morning (Friday) and I know what you are up to as the designated chair of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in relation to implementing orders from the Anti-Terrorism Council regarding my husband,” Lim said.

“This is blood money. Don’t be complicit in the McCarthy witchhunting spree of the Anti-Terrorism Council. Only Vic has the right to his compensation claim,” she added.

Lim reminded Diokno that the arresting team pilfered his Land Bank ATM card and used it to steal money when Ladlad was arrested on November 8, 2018.

Lim said she filed a complaint with the Land Bank and it took over a year before she was able to recover what was stolen.

“I will safeguard every centavo of Vic’s deposit in the Land Bank. To BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno: This is blood money. Don’t be complicit in the McCarthy witchhunting spree of the Anti-Terrorism Council. Only Vic has the right to his compensation claim,” Lim said.

‘Unconstitutional’

Ladlad protested his inclusion in the ATC terror list as a gross violation of his right to due process.

In a statement, Ladlad said he was never informed by the ATV that he has been charged as a “terrorist” and was never given the opportunity to refute the charge.

“I firmly state that I am not a terrorist. It is the Anti-Terrorism Act in its too vague definition of terrorism and its expansive list of “acts of terrorism” that enabled the authorities to easily brand my political

Baylosis for his part said he vehemently decry and object to the ATC resolution designating alleged CPP Central Committee members as so-called terrorists.

“In my case, the latest ATC order disregards an earlier preceding Manila RTC (Regional Trial Court) decision in the third quarter of 2018 that I was not one of the ‘terrorists’ named in the first GRP proscription suit against the CPP-NPA,” Baylosis said.

Baylosis added that he was also freed from detention in early 2019 based on two Quezon City RTCs final ruling on “false, fabricated non-bailable” charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosive.

Casambre’s family said his inclusion in the list is a desperate move by the government and itself “terroristic” attack.

“Rey Casambre is a teacher and scientist, not a criminal. He is a peace activist, not a terrorist,” his family said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CHR, Red Cross asked to ensure safety of jailed peace consultants in ATC list

The Commission on Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross had been asked to regularly check on the condition of three political prisoners designated by a government task force as alleged terrorists.

In a statement, political detainee support group Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim asked the two agencies to ensure the safety of her husband Vicente Ladlad and fellow National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants Rey Claro Casambre and Adelberto Silva.

“I have reason to fear for their lives because seven consultants of the (NDFP) have already been murdered within the last two years,” Lim said.

Lim’s appeal was in reaction to a resolution released Thursday, May 13, by the Anti-Terrorism Council designating 19 individuals as alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippine Central Committee and as so-called terrorists.

Aside from Ladlad, Casambre and Silva, the list includes NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison, New People’s Army National Operations Command spokesperson Jorge Madlos, NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julietta de Lima, NDFP Negotiating Panel Member Benito Tiamzon and NDFP peace consultants Alan Jazmines, Wilma Tiamzon, Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, Tirso Alcantara, Pedro Codaste, and Loida Magpatoc.

The list also includes alleged CPP officials Abdias Gaudiana, Dionesio Micabato, Myrna Sularte, Tomas Dominado and Menandro Villanueva.

Five of the NDFP peace consultants killed in the last two years referred to by Lim include Randy Malayao, Randall Echanis, Julius Giron, Eugenia Magpantay, and Agaton Topacio.

Lim said the ATC listing is being used to persecute individuals and maliciously jumping the gun on the ongoing Supreme Court deliberations on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The ATC’s designation needs a court order to become official.

‘Treacherous’

The CPP for its part denounced the ATC list as arbitrary, dismissing it a mere recycled record of unsubstantiated allegations from so-called military intelligence.

“The arbitrary naming of known peace consultants and revolutionaries underscore why the Anti-Terror Law and the ATC itself are illegitimate and should be repudiated. It was done in complete contempt of judicially recognized due process,” the CPP said.

“It is a veritable slap on face of the justices of the Supreme Court who have yet to complete hearings over questions of the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law,” the group added.

The CPP also said the ATC list is an act of treachery against the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the peace process.

“This act of the ATC is (GRP President Rodrigo) Duterte getting back at the NDFP for not bowing to his wishes for the revolutionary forces to surrender their principles to his fascist tyranny,” the CPP said.

Human rights group Karapatan also said the ATC designation of NDFP peace panel members and consultants as alleged terrorists is “red-tagging in its most blatant and most dangerous.”

The designation is “brazenly arbitrary that it violates basic principles of due process — and whose consequences have proven to be deadly,” the group said.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay asked the Supreme Court to act with urgency on their petitions to declare the terror law unconstitutional or at least issue a temporary restraining order against the law.

“[T]he Duterte administration is wasting no time using this draconian piece of legislation to heighten the crackdown on dissent and reign of terror. We call on the public to continue asserting the calls to junk the terror law and resist Duterte’s tyranny and dictatorship,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma says Duterte confessed to being a traitor in latest address

President Rodrigo Duterte confessed to being a traitor in his latest late Monday night address, his former professor and National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said.

“In all seriousness, Duterte confessed last night to being a traitor to the Philippines and the Filipino people by admitting that he had deliberately allowed china to violate the sovereign and maritime rights of the Philippines in its exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea,” Sison in a statement said.

In his address, Duterte said he is afraid that China would wage war on the Philippines if he would insist on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in asserting the country’s sovereign and maritime rights within its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said it is China that is in possession of the territory and that Filipinos could only go there to fish meekly.

The President blamed the previous Benigno Aquino government for agreeing to the United States of America solution to back off from a previous standoff with China, to which the Chinese government refused.

“The constructive occupation was completed by the singular act of China not retreating. That is how it is with the international law,” he said.

“You left. That means it is not yours,” Duterte said in Filipino.

“We can retake it only by force. There is no way we can get back what they call the Philippine Sea without any bloodshed…. You know the cost of war, and if we go there and really to find out and assert jurisdiction, I said it would be bloody. It would result in a violence that we cannot maybe win,” Duterte added.

The President said he will only send ships to the area to lay claim when China starts to drill for oil.

‘Cowardly’

Sison said Duterte’s statements are those of an utterly stupid leader who is a shameless coward to China.

“In utter stupidity, coupled with unabashed cowardice and shamelessness, Duterte declares that it is alright for China to take over the maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and turn them into artificial islands and military bases so long as China merely engages in fishing and exploiting the marine resources and does not yet extract the oil and other mineral resources under the West Philippine Sea,” Sison said.

Sison said it is not true that only through war would the Philippines be able to assert its sovereignty in the area.

“The Philippines is not limited to either waging a war or making related or making diplomatic protests to China. It can file complaints to and demand rulings and action from the concerned UN agencies and international courts against China’s acts of aggression, invasion and occupation of the maritime features in the West Philippine Sea,” he explained.

He added that the Philippines can demand China’s withdrawal from the West Philippine Sea, compensation for damages to the marine environment and rent for the duration of their occupation of the artificial islands and use as Chinese military bases.

“In particular countries where China has fixed and liquid assets, like the US and Western Europe, the Philippines can take legal action to obtain compensation for the damages committed by China. Such compensation can far exceed the amount of onerous loans that the Duterte regime has so far obtained from China,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma: It is the NDFP, not the GRP, which upholds CARHRIHL

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said its forces have always upheld the validity of its Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said, “The NDFP and all the forces and the people that it represents uphold the validity of CARHRIHL and all other basic agreements from The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 onward.”

Asked to respond to a public comment by a former GRP negotiator Rene Sarmiento, Sison said it is GRP’s political and military agents who have been insisting that the CARHRIHL and other agreements have been invalidated by President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of the peace negotiations.

Sarmiento alleged in his reply to a question on his Facebook post Tuesday night that the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the NDFP claimed they are not bound by the Agreement “because they still do not recognize the political authority of the Philippine Government and our constitutional and legal processes.”

Sarmiento’s allegation that the CPP, NPA and NDFP claim they are not bound by the CARHRIHL. He subsequently said this may be “not too precise.” (FB screenshot)

Sarmiento added the CARHRIHL is valid insofar as the Philippine Government is concerned.

“The provisions therein are found in the 1987 Constitution and international human rights instruments,” he said.

‘The reverse is true’

Sison however reminded Sarmiento it was the GRP’s past four administrations that consistently tried to either terminate or “suspend” the peace negotiations.

“But upon willingness of the GRP president to resume peace negotiations, the NDFP has always agreed upon the written reaffirmation of all the existing agreements,” Sison clarified.

“[President Joseph] Estrada was the first to do a termination. [President Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo used the term ‘suspend’. [President Benigno] Aquino practically terminated the peace negotiations but allowed backchannelers to meet the NDFP panel intermittently. Duterte categorically terminated the peace negotiations with Proclamation 360 on November 23, 2017 soon after Trump told him to do so in exchange for military assistance under Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines without US Congress oversight related to human rights,” he said.

A legal consultant of the Negotiating Panel of the NDFP in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations also belied Sarmiento’s claim.

“As a matter of fact, the reverse is true. It is the GRP through various pronouncements and issuances of its principal and officials of the security sector that have claimed the CARHRIHL is not binding and effective anymore,” Atty. Edre Olalia said.

“This is contrary to the nature, purpose and character of the CARHRIHL and of its various provisions as a bilateral binding agreement between the Parties that cannot be unilaterally abrogated validly at the sole will of one Party. This is distinct from the respective positions of both Parties that they do not recognize much less are bound by the other Party’s legal and constitutional framework or processes,” he explained.

‘Not to precise’

Asked to cite instances when the NDFP officially and publicly repudiated the CARHRIHL that led him to such a comment, Sarmiento, however, backtracked.

“Let me check the records of our talks on the CARHRIHL and our discussions thereon. [I] may have—because of many, many years after the signing of the Agreement—given a reply (that is) not too precise,” he told Kodao.

Signed in The Hague, The Netherlands under the Fidel Ramos administration of the GRP, the CARHRIHL turns 23 years old next Tuesday, March 16.

GRP President Estrada and NDFP chairperson Mariano Orosa both approved the agreement.

Current GRP President Duterte however ordered the police and military last Friday to “ignore human rights” in the government’s anti-insurgency operations.

Domestic and international critics said Duterte’s orders consequently led to the massacre of nine Southern Tagalog civilians last Sunday, March 7. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Pandemic preventing GRP-NDFP back-channel talks

The spike in new Coronavirus-19 (Covid-19) cases in Europe late last year frustrated plans for back-channel talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said a planned trip by GRP emissaries to The Netherlands last December did not push through as many countries in Europe implemented extended lockdowns.

“What (labor secretary) Bebot [Silvestre Bello] said that he and (former Pangasinan Representative and GRP Negotiating Panel member) Nani (Hernani Braganza) planned to come over was true,” Sison said.

Sison confirmed that the planned back-channel talks are with the permission of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte and with the mediation of Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Idun Tvedt.

During the online Ninth Ecumenical Church Leaders’ Summit on Peace on Thursday Bello revealed that back-channel talks are ongoing between the parties.

Bello said that Duterte is again “very much inclined” to revive the negotiations he scuttled in June 2017.

The former GRP chief negotiator said he is confident formal negotiations can resume within Duterte’s last 16 months in office.

Interim NDFP chief negotiator Juliet de Lima for her part told the online forum that the planned back-channel talks would resume discussions on an interim peace agreement (IPA) that includes agreements on social and economic reforms.

IPA discussions shall also include possible coordinated unilateral ceasefire declarations as well as modes for their implementation, de Lima said.

From lows of 108,000 new daily cases last July, new Covid-19 cases spiked in Europe from November last year to January this year, peaking at upwards of two million new cases daily in mid-November.

European countries have since re-imposed strict lock downs and health protocols.

Sison said no new date has yet been set for Bello and Braganza’s possible trip.

Braganza also told Kodao that until vaccinated, it would be difficult for him and Bello to plan the trip.

Mahirap umalis na walang vaccination. Iba-iba rin ang rules hinggil sa quarantine,” he said. (It is ill-advised without being vaccinated. Rules regarding quarantines are also different.) # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP reveals CPP-NPA urged to form partisan teams ‘to fight gov’t abuses’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) revealed that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (CPP) are being urged to create armed urban partisan teams in response to widespread abuses by State security forces.

The NDFP International Information office said that in an online forum on the 52nd anniversary  of the Communist Party in the Philippines (CPP) in Europe last December 26, participants renewed calls for “punitive justice” by NPA partisans against abusive policemen and government soldiers.

Attended by civilians as well as local and foreign supporters of the underground Communist movement, the forum featured calls to fight “fascist attacks” against unarmed activists and civilians in urban areas by suspected State-sponsored death squads.

The calls came hours before mother and son Sonya and Frank Anthony Gregorio were buried at Paniqui, Tarlac after their cold-blooded murder by Police Senior Staff Sergeant Jonel Nuezca that was caught on camera.

The twin murders reignited complaints of massive human rights violations committed by government security forces that groups say have been consistently encouraged by President Rodrigo Duterte.

‘Up to the CPP’

Forum panelist and NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison acknowledged that calls to create NPA partisan units are widespread and that conditions are ripe for the return of armed partisans to counter the assassinations and impunity by the Manila government.

The CPP founder said he based his observation on the 52nd anniversary statement of the CPP and reports published in the Party’s website.

Sison said there are enough bases for small teams “to conduct armed partisan operations in the cities to mete out revolutionary justice against Duterte’s terrorist forces based in the urban areas.”

He, however, emphasized that the matter is up to the CPP leadership to undertake. “Experience will be the best teacher on how to do it,” he said.

Sison also stressed there is no need for the underground revolutionary movement to shift to “urban insurrectionism” to deal a fatal blow to the Duterte’s regime at the moment.

He encouraged the strengthening and expanding of existing guerrilla fronts to prepare the NPA into achieving an equal balance of forces with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Sison said that based on CPP reports, the NPA is currently is far stronger than that in 1986 which was only about six thousand regulars.

The rise of younger under 30s red commanders would usher in more daring offensives, he said.

The NPA’s Alex Boncayao Brigade undertook partisan operations from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

The CPP leadership dissolved the partisan teams after internal investigations revealed that some Party leaders have abused the practice.

The CPP then undertook a “Second Great Rectification Movement” that expelled several high-ranking leaders from the organization.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP assigns Julie de Lima as interim peace panel chairperson

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has assigned Juliet de Lima as interim chairperson of its Negotiating Panel following the death of former chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili last month.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison told Kodao that de Lima is the most senior and most available among the members of the Left’s peace panel.

Sison added that de Lima, his wife, is also the “most secure for relating to the third party facilitator with matters pertaining to the NDFP section of the Joint Secretariat and Joint Monitoring Committee of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).”

Established in June 2004, the Joint Secretariat is tasked, among others, to receive and investigate complaints of human rights violations.

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has refused to hold offices in the Joint Secretariat’s Cubao, Quezon City headquarters for several years already, however.

Signed by both parties in March 1998, the CARHRIHL is the first of four substantive agenda on the peace talks based on The 1992 GRP-NDFP Hague Joint Declaration.

The three other substantive agenda are social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and the cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces.

The Royal Norwegian Government has been the third party facilitator of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations since 2002.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel includes Coni Ledesma, Asterio Palima and Benito Tiamzon.

It has been engaged in on-off peace negotiations with the Philippine government since 1986 after the downfall of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

‘No rush to appoint replacements’

Sison also told Kodao in an online interview that there is no rush to appoint replacements to Agcaoili and NDFP Negotiating Panel Reciprocal Working Committee vice chairperson Randall Echanis who has brutally murdered last August 10.

Sison said that the lack of peace negotiations while Duterte is in power is temporary and will not last long.

“The National Council of the NDFP has enough time to complete the NDFP Negotiating Panel with the replacements of Ka Fidel and Ka Randy and revitalizing the working committees before peace negotiations will probably resume after (GRP President Rodrigo) Duterte is gone,” Sison said.

Duterte shall end his six-year term in June 2022.

“The broad united front against Duterte expects that his successor will opt for peace negotiations,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)