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)

Activists score Malacañang’s cancellation of backchannel talks with Reds

The peace talks must continue even under conditions of intense fighting between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said in response to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) cancellation of its scheduled backchannel talks with the the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. in a statement said the clashes between the NPA and the AFP today are additional reasons the peace talks must be held to find a way to stop the fighting.

“Insisting that the fighting stop before even the talks can proceed goes against the very nature of the talks. It puts the cart before the horse, so to speak,” Reyes said.

Reyes was reacting to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza’s cancellation today of the scheduled backchannel talks between the GRP and the NDFP following an encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Arakan, North Cotabato this morning.

“I am announcing the cancellation of backchannel talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front) originally set within the next few days in Europe due to recent developments involving attacks done by the NPAs,” Dureza in his Facebook said.

“The situation on the ground necessary to provide the desired enabling environment for the conduct of peace negotiations are still not present up to his time,” he added.

Aside from the Arakan clash where a paramilitary trooper was reportedly killed and three members of the Presidential Security Group were injured, two Marines were also reported killed by the NPA in the northern Palawan town of Roxas Wednesday morning.

Dureza announced early Wednesday morning that President Rodrigo Duterte instructed his peace negotiators led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III last night to meet with the NDFP soon for the resumption of formal peace negotiations.

NDFP peace consultant Allan Jazmines, for his part, also told Kodao yesterday that NDFP and GRP negotiators are set to meet in Europe next week.

What about AFP attacks?

Reyes blamed the AFP and President Rodrigo Duterte’s Martial Law declaration in Mindanao for the increasing number of armed encounters in the regions.

“The AFP, under Martial Law, has carried military campaigns against communities not even related to the conflict in Marawi. There have (been) attacks on schools, displacement of civilians, extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and other (human rights) violations,” Reyes said.

He added that the AFP has not stopped its all-out war against the NPA, accusing the AFP of not reciprocating the latest temporary cessation of armed offensives in Mindanao offered by the NDF last June 19 at the height of the Marawi crisis.

“More than the NPA attacks, it is martial law which has created the most negative effect on the talks. The President says that (martial law) is not intended against the NPA. However, the AFP has from the onset, used (martial law) against the NPA,” Reyes said.

“How could there be no fighting if such was the case? How can martial law not be a factor in the peace talks?” Reyes asked.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay also blamed Duterte’s martial law for the absence of the so-called conducive atmosphere for the continuation of formal peace negotiations.

“The imposition of martial law certainly worsened the climate for meaningful and substantive discussions in the peace process,” Palabay said.

Palabay said martial law in Mindanao is worsened by AFP’s all-out war policy throughout the country though the aerial bombing of communities in Luzon and Mindanao affecting thousands of civilians.

“With the backchannel talks cancelled by the GRP, and with the extension and even possible expansion of the scope of martial law hovering like a Damocles sword, the Filipino people, including the people of Mindanao, will face further unpeace,” she said.

Reyes said the Filipino people demand the peace talks to continue because of the urgent need to address the roots of the armed conflict through fundamental socio-economic reforms.

“What is at stake here is the prospect of a just peace. This is bigger than the ceasefire issue which we know to be always unstable if there are no basic reforms. The best way to secure peace is to move forward with the substantive (social and economic reforms) agenda,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured image from Reyes’ Facebook post)


GRP ‘preconditions’ and ‘creeping nationwide martial rule’ set back talks–CPP

NOORDWIJK AAN ZEE, The Netherlands—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) blamed the Rodrigo Duterte government for the cancellation of the fifth round of formal negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), saying the setback is Manila government’s sole responsibility.

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) decision not to participate in the fifth round of talks was brought about by its all-out war and martial law, the CPP in a statement said.

The group said the GRP demanded that the NPA silence its guns while “AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) cannons, bombs and heavy gunfire thunder against the people.”

The CPP said the GRP Negotiating Panel “imposed unnecessary, last-minute and unacceptable preconditions for talks to proceed.”

It added the GRP’s decision has effectively derailed and set back negotiations on a Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).

The CPP said the GRP insisted that the NDFP sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement prior to the negotiations on any other substantive agreement and the CPP recall its declaration to the NPA to carry out more military offensives in the face of its own all-out war and imposition of martial law in Mindanao.

Such demands have become increasingly counterproductive, the underground organization said.

Creeping nationwide martial rule

The group explained its order for more tactical offensives against GRP forces was merely a response to defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement the NPA may be a target of the GRP’s martial law imposition.

The CPP said it heard the retraction by Defense Secretary Lorenzana that martial law in Mindanao is not directed against the NPA but said it was “empty and self-contradicted by his consequent order for the military to go against the NPA for its ‘illegal activities’.”

The group said that even as Duterte’s martial law declaration covers only Mindanao, all GRP military units and police forces have gone on red or full alert in North Luzon, Central Luzon, the National Capital Region, Bicol Region, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Negros and Panay.

“They have imposed their threatening armed presence in public places, parked tanks in government offices and roadsides. Checkpoints have been set up as well in Tacloban City on the utterly ridiculous reason of ‘solidarity with martial law in Mindanao,’” the CPP said.

“The Party joins the people in denouncing the creeping nationwide martial rule,” it added.

Norwegian government still supportive of the peace process

Meanwhile, Elisabeth Slattum, Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process said her government remains committed to their support of the peace negotiations.

“It is very unfortunate that this round of formal talks could not take place as scheduled. But it is important to remember that all peace processes go through difficult times,” Slattum told reporters after the cancellation announcements.

“What defines a successful peace process is not the absence of crises but the ability of the parties to overcome them and push through,” she said, adding she witnessed how the negotiating panels showed “great dedication and commitment to these peace negotiations.”

“It is important to specify that although this fifth round of formal talks will not take place, the peace talks have not been cancelled and the peace process remains intact. Norway is very hopeful that the parties will be able to return to the negotiating table very soon,” Slattum said.# (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured photo by Viory Schellekens)


4th round of GRP-NDFP talks to be held in The Netherlands

THE Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have agreed on a new venue and the final dates of their fourth round of formal negotiations.

In a press statement, Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner said the talks will be held at the town of Noordwijk in the Netherlands on April 2 to 6. Read more

BREAKING: GRP-NDFP agree to resume talks, forge bilateral ceasefire

THE Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have agreed to hold the fourth round of formal peace negotiations as scheduled on the first week of April.

In a joint statement read by Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slattum, both parties said their two-day informal talks also agreed to forge a bilateral ceasefire agreement and reiterate their reaffirmation of all previously signed agreements. Read more

NDFP says backchannel talks with GRP scheduled as early as February

THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel confirmed that backchannel talks with Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) for the resumption of formal peace negotiations are about to happen.

In an interview with KODAO, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said both parties agreed to secret backchannel talks as early as the first week of February after President Rodrigo Duterte terminated formal peace negotiations.

“For some reason, these have been delayed till now,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili also said the NDFP has kept its end of the bargain by not revealing plans or issuing any statement that would upset the backchannel talks.

Agcaoili also revealed that discussions have been going on since between the Royal Norwegian Government, third party peace facilitator to the peace process, and the GRP Panel.

Earlier today, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced in a speech at the National Defense College that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza has left for Europe last March 8, presumably to lead the GRP delegation to the backchannel talks.

“Last night, we allowed the departure of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and Mr. Ladlad to do some back-channeling,” Lorenzana added.

Benito Tiamzon is an NDFP Peace Panel member while Wilma Tiamzon and Vicente Ladlad are consultants.

Agcaoili said the backchannel aims to bring about the continuation of the talks after Duterte’s termination of formal talks last February.

He said they are aiming to hold the scheduled fourth round in April in Oslo, Norway and continue discussions on the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the prospective Comprehensive Agreements on Socio-Economic Reforms and Political and Constitutional Reforms.

No ceasefire in place

Agcaoili also reacted to Duterte’s latest statement ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to pursue New People’s Army (NPA) fighters the President said were responsible for the death of four police officers in Bansalan, Davao del Sur Wednesday.

“On the Bansalan incident, we still have to confirm if this was done by the NPA command in the area,” Agcaoili said.

Duterte told government troops may use newly-acquired jets to drop bombs on the NPA.  “Go ahead, flatten the hills,” he said.

“AFP and PNP troops have been going into villages and violating people’s rights in their combat and intelligence operations, including murderous Tokhang operations,” Agcaoli replied.

Agcaoili issued a reminder that there is no ceasefire in place at the moment, saying the NPA also lost four fighters to a raid by the Philippine Army’s 2nd Jungle Fighter Company in San Andres, Quezon Province last March 7. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)


NDFP negotiators to leave for Europe for back-channel talks with the GRP

NATIONAL Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultants Wilma Austria Tiamzon and Vicente Ladlad will soon leave for Europe to participate in the ongoing backchannel talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

In a speech at the National Defense College earlier today, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also announced Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza has left for Europe last night to lead the GRP delegation in the talks for the possible resumption of formal peace negotiations between the parties. Read more

GRP and NDFP assure each other of wanting peace

THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) assured each other today of their mutual desire for peace in the country, even as scheduled formal negotiations have been cancelled. Read more

Peace advocates hound AFP chief of staff Eduardo Año

Peace advocates and human rights defenders hounded Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Eduardo Año at the Ateneo de Manila University this morning, recalling his record of human rights violations.

Año delivered a lecture at the Jesuit university on protecting the people and the State, which the rally participants said is ironic as the general is at the forefront of implementing the Duterte government’s ongoing all-out war that victimizes civilian communities throughout the country.

Año had been charged with masterminding the abduction and enforced disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos, among other human rights violations. Read more

Ka Paris and son Carlos meet after 16 years in Rome

National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Alfredo Mapano was visited by his son Carlos in Rome, Italy during their third round of formal talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines last January.

Father and son last saw each other 16 years ago in an NPA camp in Northern Mindanao. Carlos was then a teenager finding out the truth about his father, the legendary Red commander “Ka Paris.” Read more