by Luis G. Jalandoni
Senior Adviser, Peace Negotiating Panel
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Lisbon, 11 November 2016*
On the peace negotiations between Duterte Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
First, I wish to express our gratitude to the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) for their solidarity. More than 35 years ago, upon our request, the IADL Office in Brussels agreed to provide legal assistance to any NDFP person who might need it anywhere in Europe.
Now, prominent IADL officers and members, such as Jeanne Mirer, IADL President, Jan Fermon, IADL Secretary General, Marjorie Cohen, Richard Harvey and Edre Olalia are in the International Legal Assistance Team which assists the NDFP on human rights and international humanitarian law. We express our deep appreciation for this significant solidarity, especially during this celebration of IADL’s 70th Anniversary.
After the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016, he declared himself the first Left President of the Philippines. He also asserted his commitment to engage in peace negotiations with the revolutionary movement represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). He said he wanted to achieve national unity and a just peace.
Subsequently, formal peace talks were held in Oslo, Norway, the official Third Party Facilitator.
Past peace agreements, rejected by the previous Aquino government, were reaffirmed. This included an agreement providing for parity and reciprocity in the peace talks. No capitulation or surrender. This was signed in The Hague in 1992. In 1995 an agreement was signed ensuring safety and immunity to all participants in the peace talks from both parties. In 1998, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL, 1998). The substantive agenda required addressing the roots of the armed conflict, not just the stopping of fighting or the armed conflict.
Both Parties agreed to accelerate the peace talks on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. They declared separate Unilateral Ceasefires since August 2016.
The NDFP demands the release of all 434 political prisoners, unjustly charged with common crimes in violation of the political offense doctrine. Their release is called for by the CARHRIHL. Moreover, President Duterte had earlier promised to issue a General Amnesty for their release, with the concurrence of both Houses of Congress.
NDFP Calls for Addressing the Roots of the Armed Conflict
The NDFP has been waging a people’s war for 47 years. It has a people’s army and organs of political power with mass organizations in 71 out of the total 81 provinces.
Landlessness and poverty afflict the 100 million population. The NDFP insists on addressing the roots of the armed conflict in order to achieve a just and lasting peace.
The NDFP strongly pushes for land reform and national industrialization to respond to the basic rights of the majority peasant population, the working class and the entire nation.
They have a right to a developed economy to provide for the needs of more than 100 million, including about 10 million overseas Filipino workers.
The social and economic agenda includes protecting the environment and the rights of the working people to education, health, and housing.
Political and constitutional reforms are being taken up to ensure the national independence and sovereignty of the Philippines.
NDFP Calls for the Abrogation of Unequal Agreements with the USA
This will surely take up the abrogation of unequal treaties with the US, such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) of 2014 and the Visiting Forces Agreement of 1998 and the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.
The final agenda point is end of hostilities and disposition of forces to take up amnesty for all combatants on both sides.
The United Nations’ Program of DDR is not acceptable to the NDFP
The NDFP has declared it will not agree to demobilization of the New People’s Army (NPA) or surrender of NPA weapons.
The NPA is needed to protect the peasants’ program of land reform, defend the environment as forest guards and protectors of national industrialization.
It is needed to defend the country against foreign intervention or aggression.
The United Nations program of Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) is not acceptable to the NDFP.
From the very beginning, in The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, both Parties agreed to parity and reciprocity, and there would be no capitulation or surrender.
Both would seek a just and lasting peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict. The objective is to uphold the rights of the people as the basis for a just and lasting peace.
In the meantime, both Parties have declared separate unilateral ceasefires since August 21, 2016 and agreed to work for a bilateral ceasefire.
However, numerous violations by the state armed forces and paramilitary, targeting civilians and illegally penetrating areas of the people’s army are endangering the ongoing peace talks.
President Duterte’s declaration of an independent foreign policy, criticizing the USA and developing relations with China and possibly Russia have drawn critique and counter-actions from the USA.
The NDFP strongly supports President Duterte’s assertion of an independent foreign policy. It expects concrete action of President Duterte to back up his pronouncements by abrogating unequal agreements with the US, like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) of 2014 and the Visiting Forces Agreement of 1999. His declaration that US troops ought to leave the country should be implemented.
The NDFP has declared it will be a reliable ally to President Duterte against US imperialist threats and other anti-people forces.
Big landlords, compradors and foreign multinationals have declared their opposition to basic reforms advocated by Duterte and the NDFP. Some sections of the military have also been opposing.
On Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, the revolutionary movement has issued a sharp critique against his war on drugs becoming anti-democratic and anti-people. The revolutionary movement insists on due process and respect for human rights.
The victims of drug addiction need care and rehabilitation. The statement of the Communist Party of the Philippines came out on August 12, 2016. Human rights organizations have also issued sharp criticism against reported human rights violations during the war on drugs. International criticisms have likewise been issued.
The Third Round of Formal talks are scheduled for the third week of January 2017. This follows the initial talks in June, the first round in August and the second round in October, all held in Oslo, Norway. Both Parties agreed to hold the third round of peace talks in a neutral foreign venue that is not cold. Thus, Rome is being considered as the next venue.
We in the NDFP consider the role of the people’s organizations and their active and militant support for the peace negotiations as absolute vital for the success of the peace talks and the achievement of fundamental reforms. And the international solidarity of peoples and nations is also of crucial importance. #
*Delivered on November 11, 2016, at the University of Lisbon, Portugal on the occasion of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers’ 70th founding anniversary, also in commemoration of the 50th year anniversary of the UN Human Rights Covenants (International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)