Joma says NDFP will follow stand down agreement if signed

Jose Maria Sison said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will follow the terms of their prospective stand down agreement with Government of the Republic of Philippines (GRP) should both parties push through with its declaration on June 14.

Sison was reacting to the Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement that the military doubts the Reds would abide by the agreement.

“The stand down agreement creates a favorable atmosphere for the resumption of the formal peace negotiations and the interim peace agreement to be signed in Oslo, hopefully on June 28,” Sison explained.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Friday that Lorenzana and Philippine Army Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno doubt communist guerrillas would respect any ceasefire ahead of the resumption of formal peace negotiations with the government.

The report quoted Lorenzana telling reporters during an Air Force forum at Camp Aguinaldo Thursday that it might only be the military that would follow a stand down agreement between the NDFP and the GRP.

“What does stand down mean anyway? We might stand down but they wouldn’t,” Lorenza said.

“Stand down means ‘cease operations.’ Stand down for them might mean there would be no attacks but we suspect they will continue their recruitment. They also have to stop that if there is a stand-down,” the Inquirer reported Lorenzana saying.

Lorenza said the rebels are actually intensifying their expansion of their areas.

In the past, however, NDFP negotiators have said their recruitment activities have nothing to do with the NPA’s military operations, which would be the subject of the prospective stand down agreement between the NDFP and GRP negotiating panels.

Peace saboteurs

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate hit Lorenzana and the military for issuing statements that “spoil and sabotage the peace negotiations.”

“Stop monkey-wrenching the GRP-NDFP peace talks,” Zarate told Lorenzana and the military.

Zarate said Lorenzana and the military have been launching attacks against the peace process in all fronts but fail to put forward a paradigm that would effectively address the root causes of the armed conflict.

“Their default solution to the problem is still the US-prescribed combination of psychological warfare and military counter-insurgency operations that they have been doing for decades and have been proven to be a failure and a waste of lives and resources,” Zarate said.

Zarate said he calls on all peace advocates to be watchful of spoilers and saboteurs as the negotiating panels push for the forging a comprehensive agreements on socio-economic and political reforms.

“It would be best for the DND and the AFP to concentrate on the defense of the Philippines from China and the US that are now increasing their military activities in our territories instead of trying to sabotage the peace talks that can pave the way for a just and lasting peace and uplift the lives of majority of Filipinos,” Zarate said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)