The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said nearly seven thousand complaints of human rights and international humanitarian law violations have been received by its Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
At a forum marking the 20th anniversarry of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila Friday, the NDFP said a total of 6,898 complaints have since been lodged at the JMC from its establishment in June 2004 to March 14, 2018, nearly six years after the signing of the agreement.
The NDFP said 4,886 complaints have been received by the GRP section while 2,012 have been received by the NDFP section of the JMC.
The NDFP said it is incumbent upon the parties to avail of the monitoring mechanism for the submission of complaints, instead of resorting to drastic means such as terminating the formal talks every time an armed incident happens.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly blamed the New People’s Army (NPA) whenever he cancelled formal talks with the NDFP.
After Duterte again cancelled talks last November, his government has since asked the courts to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA as terrorist organizations.
The CPP and NPA are allied organizations of the NDFP.
Peace advocates who attended the CARHRIHL anniversary event, however, called on Duterte to respect the human rights agreement and resume the peace process with the NDFP.
“At this time, when the Duterte administration appears focused on moves like pulling out of the International Criminal Court and declaring more than 600 persons as terrorists under the Human Security Act, we urge President Rodrigo R. Duterte to instead focus the attention of his government on faithful adherence to the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law,” the advocates said in a statement.
The group added that CARHRIHL’s full implementation not only provides additional protection for the people amid armed conflict, it will also propel both the GRP and the NDFP to resume peace negotiations.
The statement was signed by Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, Bishop Reuel Marigza of Pilgrims for Peace, Kaye Limpado of Sulong CARHRIHL, Saharon Cabusao of Kapayapaan Campaign for Just and Lasting Peace, Benjie Valbuena of ACT for Peace and Rey Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center.
Iñiguez in his own speech called on both the GRP and the NDFP to convene the JMC to discuss the complaints it received.
“Convene the JMC. Confront the many complaints from the people. According to Article 1 of the Final Provisions of the CARHRIHL, the JMC is still operative and it has to regularly convene until it is formally dissolved,” Iñiguez said.
“The sincerity of both parties can only be measured by how faithfully they implement their agreements. We call on the GRP and the NDFP, ‘Respect and vigorously implement all agreements!’” the prelate added.
Since the Gloria Arroyo administration, however, the GRP has repeatedly refused or caused the cancellation of JMC meetings to discuss the complaints.
The Benigno Aquino administration of the GRP has even asked the royal Norwegian Government, Third Party Facilitator to the peace process, to stop funding the committee’s operations.
The current GRP administration, for its part, has convened the JMC with the NDFP during and in between its four fomal rounds of negotiations with the NDFP, but no actual complaints have been tabled before Duterte cancelled all meetings and negotiations last year. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)