NDFP to Carpio: Hague Joint Declaration, not GRP Charter, to remain as talks framework

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel expressed disagreement with former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s advise that its future peace agreements with the government must be in accordance with the Philippine Constitution.

In a statement, NDFP panel interim chairperson Julie de Lima said they will not agree to allow the Philippine Constitution to govern future peace negotiations and reiterated that their group’s Hague Joint Declaration with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) remains the framework of the process.

Instead of the GRP charter, The Hague Joint Declaration signed on September 1,1992 stipulates that the holding of the peace negotiations must be in accordance with mutually acceptable principles, de Lima said.

These principles include national sovereignty, democracy and social justice, as well as the absence of preconditions that shall negate the inherent character and purpose of the negotiations, she added.

In his opening statement at the 1Sambayan peace web forum Wednesday, the retired magistrate advised that the peace agreements must be in accordance with the Constitution, lest it suffers the fate of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the GRP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed in 2008.

“Any peace agreement can be forged as long as it is within the Constitution. That is the only criterion, that the Constitution be followed. And that criterion allows for very broad parameters to achieve peace,” Carpio said.

He then recalled the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order on the eve of the signing of the MOA-AD in Kuala Lumpur due to so-called violations of several provisions of the government Constitution.

‘Welcome, but no’

De Lima said they welcome Carpio’s positive views on the need for the peace negotiations but said the NDFP will not agree to the GRP Constitution as the framework of future talks.

She said both the NDFP and the GRP signed and have repeatedly reaffirmed the Hague Joint Declaration, especially its decisive provision statement stating that, “No precondition shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations.”

“This means that no party, neither the (GRP) nor the (NDFP) shall make a precondition insisting that its constitution be the sole determinant of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” de Lima said.

She explained that if the GRP Constitution is allowed as the new framework, it means the imposition of surrender and capitulation of the NDFP and its forces.

“Then there would be no real negotiations. It would mean unilaterally imposing surrender particularly on the NDFP,” de Lima said.

“Preconditioning the peace negotiations with the submission or surrender of one side to the Constitution of the other is the prevention of peace negotiations,” she added.

The Hague Joint Declaration on the other hand is an agreement of parity and reciprocity as it opens the way to peace negotiations on Social and Economic Reforms (SER), Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) and End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (EHDF), De Lima explained.

NDFP’s own Constitution

De Lima said that that NDFP refuses to recognize the GRP charter as the sole determinant of the peace negotiations as it has its own Constitution.

She said that one of the reasons why the Declaration was crafted and signed was because both parties are expected not to impose their respective legal and constitutional process on the other.

Instead, the third substantive agenda in The Hague Joint Declaration, the PCR, anticipates potential mechanisms to ensure the compatibility of the parties’ respective legal and judicial processes and frameworks with prospective agreements on SER and EHDF.

The GRP and the NDFP earlier signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in 1998, the first substantive agenda under the Declaration.

“In the concrete, either or both Parties should be open to tweak their respective organic documents to make them consistent with whatever is achieved in the negotiating table to give life to the SER and PCR as well as the EHDF provisions so they can be implemented both jointly as well as separately by the Parties,” de Lima said.

As a matter of fact, even under the ongoing CASER drafts, there are multiple proposed provisions on practical cooperation, including projected GRP congressional appropriations for genuine land reform and national industrialization, she added.

“At all events, the Parties should and are expected to anticipate, address and hurdle any constitutional and legal concerns or challenges that arise or may arise when they negotiate and enter into agreements,” de Lima said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP reminds the military: “We are not subjects to GRP’s authority”

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel said it considers it absurd that a “mere government agency,” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has filed complaints against its allied organizations before another government agency.

NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julieta de Lima said it is absurd and preposterous the AFP filed complaints against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as if the revolutionary organizations have become “subject to the authority of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and its agencies.”

De Lima said both the CPP and the NPA belong to the NDFP and the revolutionary movement’s “People’s Democratic Government,” and not to the GRP.

“It is completely stupid and unacceptable for the AFP as mere agency of the GRP to consider the CPP and NPA as mere subjects to the authority of the GRP,” she said.

De Lima pointed out that the CPP and the NPA, as well as 16 other NDFP allied organizations, are at war with the GRP.

“The fact is that there is a civil war between the co-belligerents: the GRP and its agencies on one side; and the People’s Democratic Government, the NDFP, CPP, NPA, other revolutionary forces and the entire Filipino people on the other side,” de Lima said.

Conduct of war

The CHR meanwhile urged both the government and the rebels to respect international humanitarian law (IHL) in the conduct of war as it acknowledged receipt of the cases filed by the AFP on the alleged attacks against civilian properties by the CPP and the NPA since 2010.

“In looking into these cases, the CHR asserts its independent, impartial position in investigating human rights violations, including those committed in the context of armed conflicts. We equally assert our jurisdiction over these cases. International humanitarian law (IHL) covers both State and non-State actors alike,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.

The CHR said civilians must be protected from atrocities under the IHL

“While CHR stands firm for the liberty of people to believe in specific ideologies, ones freedom to act on these beliefs should be guided by what is lawful and respectful of the rights of others,” de Guia said.

The CHR spokesperson noted that the CPP in a statement has admitted that civilian properties were destroyed or damaged by NPA in the course of several operations.

“[T]he CPP claims that those who have suffered damages were compensated,” de Guia said.

‘The proper venue’

De Lima however said the CHR is not the venue for the filing of such complaints against the NPA as an agreement has been signed between the GRP and the NDFP for exactly such a mechanism.

The GRP and the NDFP signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) on March 16, 1998 in The Hague, The Netherlands establishing a Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) to receive and investigate reports of human rights and IHL violations by either party.

De Lima reminded the AFP that if it wants to file complaints against the CPP and NPA, the most appropriate thing it can do is to ask GRP President Rodrigo Duterte as GRP principal to file through his representative complaints against the underground groups to the NDFP Section of the JMC.

“Unlike the GRP under the Duterte regime which engages in fascist crimes of state terrorism, the NDFP strictly adheres directly to the international law on human rights and humanitarian conduct in war as well as through the provisions of CARHRIHL,” de Lima said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Left to discuss peace talks resumption with Leni

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it plans to engage in discussions with Vice President Leni Robredo for the resumption of its peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Recently-appointed NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julie de Lima said the Left should “engage the (GRP’s) constitutional successor to press for the resumption of the peace negotiation as a rallying point in the effort to oust [GRP President Rodrigo] Duterte,” the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Ang Bayan reported.

“[T]he NDFP, including its panel, should hold discussions with opposition parties, in particular, the Liberal Party,” de Lima told the underground newsletter.

She added that prospects for resuming the peace negotiations after Duterte, whether he is ousted or he finishes his term, “are possible and desirable.”

De Lima pointed out the peace negotiations can immediately resume on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) once Duterte is out of office.  

Duterte cancelled the peace negotiations in July 2017 as both the GRP and NDFP were ready to finalize important agreements under the CASER.

Prior to her new appointment, de Lima is a long-time NDFP Negotiating Panel member and head of its Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms.

CASER to combat COVID-19

The CASER, de Lima said, has relevant provisions on confronting the issue of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The draft agreement has a whole article consisting of seven sections which are devoted to the discussion of the people’s right to health. This includes the establishment of a universal public health system that provides free, comprehensive and quality health services for all,” de Lima explained.

The CASER provides immediate and adequate financial, material, moral and psychosocial support, ensuring disaster preparedness and respons, and holding criminally and civilly liable corrupt and grossly negligent officials, she added.

“The NDFP and GRP can elaborate on the issue based on a summing up of experience and learning lessons from both sides as well as from the positive and negative practices of foreign countries and international agencies in responding and confronting this particular pandemic as well as other pandemics.”

Robredo has yet to respond to Kodao’s request for a reply to de Lima’s statement. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)