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 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)