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A Neutral Foreign Venue for Formal Peace Talks
Wisely Agreed Upon by GRP and NDFP


By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
20 July 2007

Rep. Antonio Cuenco may be well-meaning. But he shows his lack of knowledge of the GRP-NDFP peace agreements when he proposes that Prof. Jose Maria Sison go to the Philippines for peace talks and that the peace talks be held there.

In 1995, during the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos, the GRP and the NDFP agreed on a neutral foreign venue for the formal peace negotiations. This provision is contained in the Joint Agreement for Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed in February 1995 and approved by the Principals of both Parties in the same year.

This wise provision agreed upon by both Parties is consistent with the practice of other armed conflicts, such as those between the GRP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Holding of formal talks in the Philippines and Prof. Jose Maria Sisons going back to the Philippines would violate this basic agreement for a neutral foreign venue. It would lead to the danger of scrapping other fundamental agreements achieved since 1992 up to 2004.

It is not true that talks in the Philippines would be less expensive. There would be more expensive and dangerous movements of security forces on both sides for every meeting of the negotiating panels.

The NDFP has drawn valuable lessons from the peace talks held in Manila in late 1986 and early 1987. Upon the collapse of the peace talks after the Mendiola massacre of peasants demonstrating for genuine land reform in January 1987, many NDFP consultants and staff were arrested and killed. General Rafael Ileto boasted that the militarys intelligence stocks on the revolutionary movement had gone up significantly through surveillance. Such surveillance was strictly forbidden in the bilateral agreement between the GRP and the NDFP.

Hence, holding formal talks in the Philippines would open the NDFP to deadly pressure from the Arroyo government through surveillance and even more assassinations of NDFP personnel, staff and supporters.

REFERENCE:

Ruth de Leon
Executive Director
NDFP International Information Office
Tel.+31-30-2310431
Fax +31-84-7589930
Email: ndf@casema.nl

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