Peace Talks 101

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(Translated from the original Filipino)

Introduction to the Peace Talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)

Prepared by BAYAN

What are the GPH-NDFP Peace Talks?
-The peace negotiations seek to end the ongoing armed conflict in the Philippines between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the armed members of the Communist People’s Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and NDFP (CPP-NPA-NDFP), by identifying and resolving the root causes of the conflict.

What are the causes of the armed conflict?
-The armed conflict began in 1969 and continues to the present, led against the GPH by the revolutionary forces of the CPP-NPA-NDFP
–Root causes: poverty; lack of sovereignty; lack of genuine national development; continuing oppression and exploitation of the Filipino people
–“It’s the ideology they believe in. They’re fighting because they want a better chance for the people.” –President Rodrigo Duterte

What will be discussed in the peace talks?
–There are four items on the substantive agenda of the peace talks. They must each be addressed, and formal resolutions must be reached, in order to successfully resolve the armed conflict.

1. Human rights and international humanitarian law
2. Socio-economic reforms
3. Political and constitutional reforms
4. Disposition of forces and cessation of hostilities

–Only when the first three items are resolved will the discussion of the fourth item commence — the laying down of arms by the revolutionary forces.

–At present, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) has been signed, as per the first item on the agenda.

What are the terms of the ceasefire?
–The current ceasefire is the temporary cessation of the armed conflict, towards the consideration of definite goals. It may be declared unilaterally by the involved parties. It may also be a bilateral agreement between the GPH and the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

–It does not mean that the armed conflict has come to an end, since the root causes have not been resolved. A ceasefire is also not a strict prerequisite for the conduct of peace talks, though a ceasefire will help facilitate a better climate for the negotiations.

What are political prisoners?
–One of the main items on the agenda of the peace talks is the condition of political prisoners in the Philippines, who were arrested and imprisoned on trumped-up charges due to their political beliefs.

Why is it important to facilitate the release of political prisoners?
–Their imprisonment is unjust, and the cases against them are largely fabricated.
–The government has an obligation to uphold human rights under CARHRIHL.
–Under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), NDFP consultants are granted immunity from arrest, surveillance, and harassment.
–Securing their freedom is an important first step to negotiating a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

Why are the peace talks resuming now?
–Attempts at peace negotiations failed under the consecutive administrations of former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.
–For fifteen years, there has been no significant development in the peace talks.

How are sincerity and commitment gauged in the peace talks?
–The most important measure is the forming and signing of agreements regarding human rights, socioeconomic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and the disposition of forces. The resolution of the armed conflict rests upon resolving the root causes of the struggle.
–Another measure is how the parties live up to the commitments made in these agreements.
–The peace process cannot be rushed. Ceasefires are not an adequate measure of the success of the peace talks.
–Our aim is a just and lasting peace based on principles of social justice for all.

Why should we support the peace talks?
–Every Filipino will benefit from the attainment of just and lasting peace.
–The peace talks are concerned with the problems of ordinary Filipinos: livelihood, human rights, land, freedom, etc.
–Peace talks are a forum to push for genuine CHANGE.

Support the peace talks!
Struggle for a just and lasting peace!