Posts

Groups vow to seek justice for Malayao’s assassination

Friends of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao gathered earlier today to commemorate the 40th day since his assasination and to commit to pursuing justice for the slain activist.

 “We take this occasion to once again look at the profound loss we suffer and to commit ourselves in seeking justice for his death,” the groups said in a statement marking the 40th day since Malayao’s murder, a widespread practice among Filipino Christians.

In a brief program, the groups, including representatives from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-allied organizations and Beta Sigma Fraternity, discussed updates on investigations being conducted on Malayao’s murder.

BAYAN chairperson Carol Araullo presented highlights of a preliminary investigation conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Cagayan Valley recommending  than an “impartial and thorough probe must proceed.”

“The initial findings obtained by the family show that the CHR does not accept claims that Randy’s death was part of an internal [Communist] Party purge carried out by the New People’s Army,” the groups said.

“The initial findings point out that Randy has ‘no known enemy or personal grudge to any other plain civilian/s except for the military intelligence who usually monitor his activities,’” they added.

The CHR report also says Malayao’s killing appears to have been carried out by “experts” and may be related to his work as peace consultant of the NDF, the groups revealed.

They also condemned the Philippine National Police (PNP)  in Region II for seeking “to tarnish Randy’s memory with vile and unsupported accusations.”

“The PNP in Region II rushed to cast aspersions against the victim even before a proper investigation has been conducted,” they said.

Friends also announced that at least three publications are being produced to honor Malayao they said are hoped to be in circulation before the victim’s 50th birth anniversary in August.

“The Justice for Randy Campaign is duly formed and ready to work just as hard as our friend, colleague and brother for justice,” they said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Rotary peace award honors Rey Claro Casambre and Randy Felix Malayao

The Rotary Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City honored two National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants with peace awards for their dedication and contributions to bringing about just and lasting peace in the country in a ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City last February 27.

Relatives of detained NDFP consultant Rey Claro Casambre and slain consultant Randy Felix Malayao received the Akap Tanggol Kapayaan and Akap Bayani ng Kapayapaan awards respectively.

Raul Francia, President of the Rotary Club-Fort Bonifacio Global City said that Casambre and Malayao were recognized for their contribution in helping build bridges for peace.

They are advocates and peace warriors in their respective fields, Francia added.

Other awardees included Sowing The Seeds of Peace convenor and Archbishop Fernando Capalla, Mohager Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, former OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza and government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III. (Video by Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Sino si Randy Malayao sa mata ng demokratikong kilusan?

Isinagawa ng mga demokrata ang isang parangal sa pinaslang na National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant na si Randy Malayao noong ika-19 ng Pebrero.

Ang parangal na pinamagatang “Bloom where you are planted” ay pagdakila sa anila’y mabait, masipag, matalino at mahusay na aktibistang buong buhay na naglingkod sa sambayanan.

Ang bidyong ito ay bahagi ng buong programang ibayong nagpakilala kay Randy Malayao at paglulunsad ng kampanya para sa katarungan sa pagpaslang sa kanya.

Pinaslang si Randy sa kanyang pagkakahimbing sa isang bus sa Aritao in Nueva Vizcaya noong January 30. # (Bidyo nina Joseph Cuevas at Maricon Montajes)

‘Che Guevarra of the Philippines’: Beta Sigma vows to keep Randy Malayao’s name alive

SAN PABLO, Isabela–They called his name three times at the end of a long roll call. But unlike the others, no “Here I am!” came after “Brod Randy Felix Malayao” was called.

“Brothers in the Beta Sigma Fraternity, I regret to inform you that our brother Randy Felix P. Malayao died last January 30, 2019,” the master of ceremony eventually said.

There were many silent tears as dozens of Beta Sigmans in barong Tagalogs observed a moment of silence for one of its own and among its best and most illustrious. They held a tribute for their fraternity brother at the last night of his wake.

The crowd of hundreds fell silent too, witnessing the ceremony of the first time, as Malayao was the first and only Beta Sigman from his old hometown.

Part of the huge crowd who turned up at the tribute to Randy Malayao on the last night of his wake. (Photo by R. Villanueva)

A 73-year old fraternity that counts around 20,000 members throughout the country recruited from almost all major colleges and universities in the Philippines, the group’s name means “brotherhood of scholars.”

Speaker after speaker recalled their encounters with Malayao, one of the Beta Sigmans who was openly and proudly Leftist. They said that even from a group that aspires to represent “the best in men,” Malayao stood out as one of their best.

Former journalist and Beta Sigma national chairperson said they have visited Malayao when he was jailed in Tuguegarao and Ilagan cities but he seldom asked things for himself.

“He always asked for medicines and books for the entire jail population, including cleaning items and livelihood projects,” Paredes said.

Other Beta Sigmans revealed that when Malayao regained his freedom in 2012, the first activities he organized were medical missions for his former jail mates.

The fraternity said that aside from seeking justice on their brother’s murder, they are are planning to launch three projects to honor Malayao in perpetuity.

“First, Beta Sigma will launch ‘Operation Big Brother’ to help marginalized sectors in Cagayan Valley, an idea that came from Brod Randy himself,” former Delfin Albano, Isabela mayor Ed Taccad said.

Taccad added they will institutionalize the Randy Malayao Leadership Award for outstanding high school students as well as seek the declaration of January 30 as Randy Malayao Day throughout Isabela.

“I am a colonel in the Philippine Marines. But I admire Randy for what he stood for,” Taccad said.

“Randy is the Che Guevarra of the Philippines,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Tributes pouring in despite PNP vilification vs Malayao

Tributes to Randy Malayao are still pouring in on the eve of the slain National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant’s burial in the old town of San Pablo, Isabela, his hometown.

Despite apparent efforts by the Cagayan Valley Philippine National Police to malign him, local and international progressive organizations continue to hail Malayao as a genuine peace worker.

“We got to know Randy during the peace dialogues that took place in Europe and we saw his commitment to the struggle for peace and the rights of the Filipino people,” the Rome-based Italian Migrants Committee said in a statement.

The Italian-Filipino Friendship Committee—likewise based in Rome—also expressed its solidarity with Malayao’s relatives and the NDFP.

“The Committee asks the movements and the anti-imperialist and pacifist Italian parties to support the cause of the NDFP and asks the Italian State to commit itself to a just peace in the Philippines in all the international fora, starting with the European Parliament,” it said in a statement.

OFWs in Belgium held a candle-lighting ceremony in front of the Philippine Embassy to protest the killing of Randy Malayao.

In the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines alumni said they are proud of Randy who “use(d) his intelligence, political acumen, good character, kindness, humility, wit, and good disposition wherever his commitment brought him.”

“We absolutely admire him as an outstanding propagandist, tireless organizer, and an exceptional builder of consensus. He had this awesome ability to bring people from different background (and even in difficult circumstances) together and forge unity towards a common cause,” the group said.

Makabayan chairperson and senate aspirant Neri Colmenares also heaped praise on Malayao when he visited the fallen Bayan Muna regional coordinator’s wake.

“Randy is a hero of the people who spent his life always working for genuine peace and betterment of the Filipino people,” Colmenares said as he urged the PNP to “stop spreading intrigues against him because they are just exposing their true colors.”

In seeming response to ongoing vilification campaigns by the regional PNP and the other anti-Leftist groups against Malayao, NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison and NDFP Negotiating Panel member Julieta de Lima said they only have fond memories of the victim.

“What immediately struck us as soon as he introduced himself to us was his amiability, cheerful mien, quick sense of humor and deep sense of optimism,” the couple said from their asylum base in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

“In the course of working with him we came to respect him for his revolutionary integrity, intellect and diligence in the discussion of issues and drafting of documents and his desire for a just and lasting peace,” they added.

Sison and de Lima pointed out that in slandering Malayao, those who murdered him are unwittingly rendering him the highest honor even if in the vilest form of slander.

“It is a good thing to be attacked by the enemies of the Filipino people’s revolutionary cause of national and social liberation. The attacks unwittingly verify who are the heroes of the Filipino people,” they said.

Sison and de Lima said Malayao is “contributed his best to the struggle for national freedom, democracy, genuine development, social justice, cultural progress and just peace.”

“He will live forever in the hearts and minds of the people, while his contributions are indestructible energy within the growing and advancing revolutionary movement,” they said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Malayao family: ‘How could they tell such lies against Randy?’

SAN PABLO, Isabela—Randy Malayao’s family expressed sadness over allegations made by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant mismanaged funds that may have led to his assassination.

“The family is hurt. They are victimizing our brother even after he was killed,” Malayao’s elder sister Perla said.

Perla recalled that Randy never even had clothes that perfectly fit him, revealing that the victim did not like buying things for himself, using monies given him by friends and family on other people’s welfare.

“How could they tell such lies about Randy when he chose to be like the poor he chose to dedicate his life to despite his obvious brilliance, education and connections?” Perla asked.

Perla said no one knew their youngest sibling better than them, saying Randy was too good a person to have misbehaved as the police alleged.

The PNP in Region 2 alleged that Malayao may have been killed by his comrades in the revolutionary movement for misusing funds and running off with a woman.

The PNP did not offer proof to back up its allegations.

Malayao was also single at the time of his death.

Meanwhile, the 5th Infantry Division based in Gamu, Isabela through its spokesperson Maj. Jefferson Somera denied it had a hand in the PNP allegation being circulated by its spokesperson Supt. Chevalier Iringan.

‘Incredible generosity’

Malayao’s elder brother Isidro said they are constantly surprised by the stories told to them by people who visit the victim’s wake in their ancestral home in this town.

“It is only now that we learned that Randy helped more people that we ever knew,” Isidro said.

“We see total strangers crying before Randy’s casket, thanking our brother for his help,” he added.

Isidro said they never knew Randy also helped many Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law victims in Cagayan Valley receive compensation worth tens of millions of pesos.

“They tell us that Randy did not ask for a single centavo for all his troubles,” Isidro said.

A beneficiary whose father was killed and burned by Philippine Constabulary troopers in the late 70s confirmed that Malayao never asked for money from her even after her family received Php1.7 million with his help.

“Nasimpet ken nalaing ni Manong Randy,” she said in Ilocano, adding she never met the victim before they asked for his help with the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) led by retired police general Lina Sarmiento. (Randy was kind and brilliant.)

The beneficiary, who asked not to be named, said she could not think of any reason why Malayao was killed except that he was Leftist.

She added that she no longer supports President Rodrigo Duterte after Malayao’s murder. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Randy Malayao led singing of this Ilocano revolutionary song

After the first round of formal peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Duterte government in Oslo, Norway in August 2016, the NDFP organized a solidarity event in its base in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

It was attended by the NDFP consultants, mostly newly-freed, the Filipino expats from all over Europe, the media and a representative from the government peace panel.

In this video, Malayao, killed January 30, 2019, led the singing of a revolutionary Ilocano song, along with fellow consultants Randall Echanis and Kennedy Bangibang.

Government covering up on Malayao murder—CPP

SAN PABLO, Isabela—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounced efforts by the Rodrigo Duterte government for what it calls the “regime’s foulest move in sowing false information surrounding the murder” of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Randy Malayao last January 30 in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.

In a statement, the CPP accused the Philippine National Police in Cagayan Valley of not conducting any investigation but is only engaged in “covering up, spreading intrigue and slandering the victim.”

“This aims to cover up the responsibility of state agents, specifically Rodrigo Duterte’s death squads, which he himself ordered to carry out the killing,” the CPP in a statement Sunday said.

In a press release, the PNP in Region 2 said Malayao may have been killed by his comrades, alleging that he may have kept some monies for himself and that he ran off with a woman.

The police however did not provide any proof to back up its allegations.

Malayao was single and was known to have kept a Spartan lifestyle.

Looking elsewhere

Meanwhile, PNP director general Oscar Albayalde relieved two top Nueva Vizcaya cops for allegedly mishandling the initial murder investigation.

Nueva Vizcaya provincial police director PSSupt Jeremias Aglugub and Aritao Chief of Police Police Chief Inspector Geovanni Cejes were sacked for “apparent lapses in the investigation of the slay, particularly the mishandling of evidence at the crime scene.

“Albayalde’s order was an apparent punishment to the officers who allowed Malayao’s personal belongings returned to his family.


DILG’s demand letter addressed to the victim’s family.

In a related development, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) demanded from Malayao’s family that his belongings be surrendered to the police.

PNP personnel had arrived in Malayao’s wake Friday to press the victim’s family to surrender his belongings.

Several family members are high-ranking DILG officials, raising fears they may be further harassed over the tug of war over the victim’s personal belongings.

Family members refused to issue a statement to Kodao on the issue of the victim’s belongings.

A Kodao source, a lawyer, however said the DILG needs a court order to enforce its demand.

The CPP for its part said that despite the Duterte’s efforts to blame the victim, “the revolutionary forces vow to attain justice for Ka Randy and punish the perpetrators of this fascist crime.” # (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. #

 

NDFP and GRP negotiators ask youth to demand peace talks resumption

By Mikhaela Dimpas, UP College of Mass Communications / Kodao Productions

THE peace process can still prosper even without a ceasefire agreement, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Malayao said at a forum at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Thursday.

Malayao recalled the productivity of the talks during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos despite the lack of ceasefire between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

The talks during the Ramos Administration succeeded in approving The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement to Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),among other major agreements.

“Kahit patuloy yung labanan ay pwede pa rin na ipagpatuloy ang pag-uusap dahil yung pinaka-productive na panahon ay yung panahon ni (Fidel) Ramos na nakapag-produce ng 10 major agreements,” Malayao said.

Ceasefire terminations

 The Reds terminated from their unilateral ceasefire declaration last February 1, closely followed by the GRP’s own termination of its ceasefire declaration, President Duterte’s suspension of formal peace negotiations and declaration of total war against the New People’s Army.

Malayao said that the continued militarization of civilian communities and human rights violations by GRP troops were the main causes of the NPA’s termination of their ceasefire and not the “failed promise” to release political prisoners.

GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III for his part expressed dismay with the Reds’ decision and its effects on the peace negotiations.

“Like any other agreement, may mga imperfections dyan. Pero, for me, there was no justification for any party to withdraw their separately declared unilateral ceasefires,” Bello said.

Glaring reasons

Shari Oliquino, a student reactor from the UP Beta Sigma Ladies Corps, said that the reasons for the ceasefire termination were “glaring.”

“Sa aming mga kabataang estudyante ay nagiging malinaw kung bakit kailangan putulin ng NPA ang kanilang unilateral ceasefire. Kahit ongoing ang peace talks ay pinapatay pa rin ang mga lider pesante sa kanayunan, hina-harass pa rin ang mga lider aktibista, at maging mga sibilyan ay inaaresto pa rin,” Oliquino said.

Bello said that both the GRP and NDFP exchanged documents on alleged ceasefire violations of their troops during the third round of talks in Rome.

He also said that the accusations had “no basis” because the unilateral ceasefire was “not defined and had no parameters.”

Lost opportunities

 The lack of definition and parameters on what constitute ceasefire violations are added reasons for the continuation of the formal peace talks, countered Malayao.

The resumption of talks will give chance to review the alleged ceasefire violations and the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire agreement, he said.

Malayao added that the supposed fourth round of talks will also discuss the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), the mutually acknowledged “heart and soul” of the peace negotiations.

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo for his part said that removing injustices and alleviating poverty are the most “compelling reasons” to resume the peace process.

“I will assert that the compelling reasons that he used in his campaign and when he took office still remain: that he will address issues of poverty and the social problems underlying the armed conflict,” Ocampo said.

Bello agreed that the roots of the armed conflict – poverty, injustice, and corruption – will finally be addressed in the CASER.

Bakit ba tayo nag-away-away? Dahil sa paningin ng taong bayan ang ating gobyerno ay walang kakayahan, o kung may kakayahan, ay walang planong magbigay ng hustisya,” Bello said.

 “Sa ating bansa ngayon, justice is only for the rich and the powerful,” he said.

Resume the talks

 The speakers reminded that the people will benefit the most from the peace negotiations and urged the youth to call for the resumption of the talks.

“This is a matter of justice. Naniniwala tayo na ang pag-abandona (sa peace talks) ay lalong maglalagay sa mga mamamayan natin sa peligro at mawawala ang mga nakamit sa loob ng anim na buwan o kahit pa in the last 30 years,” Malayao said.

Bello, on the other hand, said “whatever happens to the talks, kayo (youth) dapat ang mag-advocate ng peace process towards its logical conclusion.” #