Hardline Militarists, Rights Violations, Corruption, Obstacles to Peace Talks – NDFP
"The NDFP remains open to the resumption of formal peace talks... But the
current anti-national and anti-people policies, the gross human rights violations,
the scandals of corruption, do not provide grounds for optimism." - Luis Jalandoni,
chairman, NDFP Negotiating Panel.
By Alexander Martin Remollino
Vol. VII, No. 42, November 25-December 1, 2007
National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales’ recent pronouncement that the
Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic
Front of the Philippines (NDFP) should agree to a “mutual ceasefire” as a
precondition for the resumption of peace negotiations does not sit well with
the leadership of the revolutionary organization, which has been waging an
armed struggle against the government for more than three decades.
In an interview with Bulatlat, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairman Luis Jalandoni
said Gonzales’ ceasefire demand betrays what he described as the Arroyo regime’s
thrust of “securing the capitulation or pacification of the revolutionary movement.”
Gonzales’ pronouncement was reported in the news just as the NDFP and Sen. Maria
Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal had come to an agreement that the NDFP would
provide the Philippine Senate with information on the peace talks, for the purpose
of inquiries in aid of legislation. Madrigal met with the NDFP Negotiating Panel in the
wake of the recent arrest of NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison on
trumped-up criminal charges.
Following this meeting, Jalandoni and Sison both issued follow-up statements expressing
the NDFP’s willingness to work with the Philippine Senate in pursuing the peace talks.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., one of the legislators noted for interest in seeing the GRP-NDFP
peace negotiations move forward, has however urged the NDFP to agree to the ceasefire
“proposal” as a way of building an “atmosphere of trust and goodwill.”
Meanwhile, the Council of Europe recently proposed to the European Union that it revise
its guidelines for listing personalities and organizations as “terrorists.”
The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations have been stalled for the last five years, following the
listing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA)
as “terrorist organizations,” and of Sison as a “terrorist.”
The NDFP’s observations on these developments, and on the prospects for the peace
talks in the remaining three years of the Arroyo administration, are articulated in Jalandoni’s
interview with Bulatlat.
Following is the full text of the interview:
What can you say about Sec. Norberto Gonzales’ demand that the GRP and the NDFP
agree to a “mutual ceasefire” before peace negotiations could resume?
Sec. Norberto Gonzales’ demand for “mutual ceasefire” as a precondition to the resumption
of formal peace talks grossly violates The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and the Agreement
on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees
(RWCs) of the GRP and the NDFP Negotiating Panels of 1995 and the Supplemental
Agreement thereto of 1997. In these agreements, the end of hostilities or ceasefire
is the fourth and last item in the substantive agenda, after the roots of the armed
conflict have been adequately dealt with in agreements on socio-economic and political
Gonzales’ demand for a ceasefire blurs the need to address the roots of the armed conflict
through social, economic and political reforms. It reflects the objective of the Arroyo regime
of securing the capitulation or pacification of the revolutionary movement.
This precondition of Gonzales is unacceptable to the NDFP. Moreover, Secretary Gonzales
is not really for genuine peace talks. In fact, he is a saboteur of the GRP-NDFP peace
negotiations. As head of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), he has fabricated
numerous trumped-up charges against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP Chief Political
Consultant, the NDFP Negotiating Panel members, consultants and staff, in gross violation
of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
In late 2004, at a top level GRP national security meeting, he made the outrageous
proposal, in order to solve all of GRP’s problems, to just assassinate Professor Sison.
Secretary Gonzales has publicly admitted that he is responsible for the false and politically
motivated charge which has been used by the Dutch authorities to persecute Professor
Sison. The viciousness of Gonzales is a real obstacle to the peace negotiations.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. appears to be supportive of the GRP’s ceasefire “proposal,”
saying it would create an “atmosphere of trust and goodwill,” which he described as
“the key to any negotiation.” What is your view on this?
Unlike Sec. Norberto Gonzales who acts in bad faith, Senator Pimentel’s progressive
stand for the people on various issues is appreciated by the NDFP. In this case, however,
we would suggest a deep-going exchange of views with Sen. Pimentel regarding the
necessity of making sure that the roots of the armed conflict are not set aside and a
review of the experience in the 1986-87 GRP-NDFP talks which got bogged down on
ceasefire talks without being able to go to the substantive agenda on social, economic
and political reforms.
It is important to look into the major agreements mentioned above, the history of past
talks, and also the motive of Secretary Gonzales, Gen. (Eduardo) Ermita and other GRP
officials. We would also suggest taking up the NDFP’s Proposal for an Immediate Just
Peace of August 2005, which brings up the possibility of a truce while both sides sign
an agreement on the fundamental demands of the people.
What were the immediate factors that brought about Sen. Jamby Madrigal's meeting
last month with the NDFP Negotiating Panel, in which the NDFP agreed to provide the
Philippine Senate with information on the peace talks for the purpose of inquiry?
Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal, as a very patriotic and intelligent person committed
to the well-being of the people and to work for a just and lasting peace, saw the
possibilities of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, which
she chairs, to cooperate with the NDFP in effectively pushing forward the resumption
of GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, either with the current administration or the next
one. She also wanted to get from the NDFP what was the impact of the arrest and
persecution of Professor Sison and the police raids on the NDFP office and residences
of NDFP panelists, consultants and staff on the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. She
wanted the views of those affected by the raids for the hearing of her Senate
Committee on Peace.
She creatively proposed the setting up by the aforementioned Senate Committee
of a Technical Working Group which would work with the NDFP Committees of
Experts to forge tentative agreements on socio-economic reforms, political and
constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. The NDFP
proposed the setting up of Committees of Experts comprising five persons each
to work with the Technical Working Group to forge the tentative agreements
within one year.
The successful drafting of such agreements will serve to strengthen the political
will of the GRP, particularly the executive branch, to go into serious peace negotiations
aimed at addressing the roots of the armed conflict and not just aim for capitulation.
This initiative taken jointly by Senator Madrigal and the NDFP has the great potential
to get the enthusiastic support of other peace advocates from the church, human
rights organizations, the people’s organizations and various sectors.
During the meetings with Senator Madrigal, prior to and after the signing of the
Joint Statement on Oct.14, the NDFP presented the list of impediments that the
GRP has put up to the peace negotiations. The senator has pledged to work for
the removal of these impediments during and after the Arroyo regime.
What does the NDFP hope will come out of the inquiries that may be conducted
by the Senate, in aid of legislation, on the peace negotiations?
The NDFP hopes that the Senate will undertake legislation that will help to remove
the impediments to the peace talks and for it to take a more active role in the peace
negotiations. For example, the Senate can help in pushing for a stop in the spate of
extra-judicial killings and disappearances and stop the GRP’s military operations which
uproot millions of civilians in the countryside. The Senate can find ways and means
for assisting in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect
for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
The Senate and the Technical Working Group of the Senate Committee on Peace
can help in the research that will facilitate the forging of agreements on social and
economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and
disposition of forces.
How would the Council of Europe's recent proposals to the European Union to
overhaul its current rules on blacklisting "terrorist" suspects affect the GRP-NDFP
The proposals contained in the draft resolution presented by Swiss parliament
member, Dick Marty, can certainly help the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. These
would show that the “terrorist” listing of the CPP, the NPA, and Prof. Jose Maria
Sison is a violation of their fundamental right to due process and their right to defense
and such listing is unjust and must be done away with. These proposals will also recognize
the right of Professor Sison and the CPP and NPA to claim compensation for moral and
How optimistic is the NDFP that the stalled peace talks could be revived under the
It is difficult to be optimistic, because hardline militarists like Gen. Eduardo Ermita and
rabid anti-communists like Norberto Gonzales, and Mrs. Arroyo herself, want the complete
destruction of the revolutionary movement through capitulation, prolonged ceasefire,
and an all-out war policy. They do not wish to address the root causes of the armed
The NDFP remains open to the resumption of formal peace talks, if the regime shows
it has the political will to address the root causes of the armed conflict and seriously
negotiate with the NDFP on the fundamental socio-economic and political reforms.
But the current anti-national and anti-people policies, the gross human rights violations,
the scandals of corruption, do not provide grounds for optimism. But if we cannot have
serious peace talks now, we can prepare for the possibility of such peace talks with the
next administration. Bulatlat