Unilateral ceasefire untenable; bilateral ceasefire prospects dim–NDFP

ROME, Italy–The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) submitted a long list of complaints against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) for violations of previously-signed agreements which, it said, make the extension of its unilateral ceasefire untenable.

Even as delegates from both parties are starting to fill Holiday Inn-Parco de Medici (venue of the January 19-25 talks in this city) the Left’s negotiating panel formally raised with its counterpart seven GRP violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)

“The prospect for forging a bilateral ceasefire agreement has grown dim,” NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili in a statement said.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel cited the following cases:

  • Betrayal of the Left’s trust through GRP’s request to the NDFP to withdraw the judicial appeals of three JASIG-protected NDFP consultants that eventually made their conviction final. But GRP President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to pardon Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza to enable them to participate in the ongoing GRP-NDFP peace negotiations;
  • The surveillance and harassment by motorcycle-riding men of recently released JASIG-protected consultants;
  • GRP’s failure to act on NDFP’s demand for justice for the enforced disappearance of JASIG-protected persons Leo Velasco, Prudencio Calubid, his wife and relatives; Rogelio Calubad and his son; Nestor Entice and his wife; Leopoldo Ancheta; and Philip Limjoco; as well as the murder of Sotero Llamas that were all committed during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo;
  • The ongoing Armed Forces of the Philippines operations against communities suspected to be under the control of NDFP forces on the pretext of conducting so-called peace and development projects. The NDFP has listed such violations in 43 provinces and 146 municipalities all over the country;
  • The killing of innocent people due to brutal, reckless and indiscriminate methods employed by the police in its anti-drug operations;
  •  Failure of President Duterte to amnesty close to 400 political prisoners as he repeatedly promised since May; and
  • GRP’s failure to render justice and indemnify victims of human rights violations under the Marcos martial law regime, in addition to its attempt at the political rehabilitation of the Marcoses through the late dictator’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“These violations place into serious question the sincerity of the GRP in its peace negotiations,” Agcaoili explained.

“For if previously signed agreements are not honored, what guarantees does the NDFP have that future agreements would not be similarly violated by the GRP?” he asked.

The GRP has not made secret its desire to forge a bilateral ceasefire agreement as one of the major issues to be discussed in the third round of talks.

“The third round of talks hopes to tackle the still unfinished discussions on the proposed bilateral ceasefire vis-à-vis the issues on the releases of prisoners,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza in an earlier statement said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)