Ecumenical group to help facilitate resumption of GRP-NDFP peace talks
September 17, 2008
Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) has expressed willingness to
help in facilitating the resumption of the pending peace talks between the
Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National
Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) but said it cannot serve as mediator.
In an interview last September 16, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio S.
Ledesma, SJ, DD, said that the dialogues with the NDFP leaders are fruitful
in the sense that they are still open for the resumption of the long pending
Ledesma is a member of the PEPP delegation which visited the International
Office of the NDFP in Utrecht, the Netherlands earlier this month.
“[The NDFP] is asking [the government] to recognize the Joint Agreement
on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and [the observance] of the
Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian
Laws (Cahrihl) which they already have,” Ledesma said.
The prelate said that the PEPP will offer facilitation services in order for the
both parties to resume the peace talks.
The PEPP delegation was composed of co-convenors Ledesma and Ms. Sharon
Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes, and members Kalookan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez,
Bishop Efren Tendero, Sister Cres Lucero and Ofelia Cantor. Fr. Michel Beckers
of the Norwegian Ecumenical Peace Platform joined the PEPP delegation.
On the side of the NDFP, their delegation was composed of Luis Jalandoni,
Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel and panel members Fidel Agcaoili,
Julieta de Lima and Coni Ledesma. Also present were Chief Political Consultant
Prof. Jose Maria Sison, member of the NDFP Monitoring Committee Danilo
Borjal and Ruth de Leon, head of the NDFP Panel Secretariat.
On that meeting, Ledesma and Ruiz-Duremdes presented the role of the
PEPP as one of bridge building for peace between the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP. On behalf of the NDFP, Luis
Jalandoni welcomed the visit of the PEPP and the role it has assumed.
According to Ms. Ruth De Leon, executive director of the NDF International
Office, both parties held frank discussions on peace negotiations, ceasefire,
vision of the NDFP, land reform and national industrialization, and revolutionary
In a statement garnered by the CBCP News, it said that the PEPP and the
NDFP agreed that there is an urgent need to resume the formal talks in the
peace negotiations and such resumption must be based on prior agreements
between the two parties. They also agreed that a just and lasting peace in
the Philippines could only be attained by addressing the root causes of the
The NDFP is willing to hold informal talks in order to prepare the resumption
of formal talks as soon as possible in accordance with the existing agreements
between the GRP and NDFP. He declared that informal talks should not become
indefinite and paralyze the substantive agenda already set by previous agreements,
said Jalandoni in a statement.
The national democratic leader has pointed out that negotiations on social and
economic reforms should be resumed immediately and should be followed by
negotiations on political and constitutional reforms. He further pointed out that
the question of prolonged ceasefire should not precede the question of substantive
reforms and that surrender or even ceasefire negotiations should not replace peace
negotiations as defined by The Hague Joint Declaration.
Jalandoni also informed the PEPP delegation that the NDFP had proposed to the
GRP a 10-point concise agreement on the principles for immediate peace, but
unfortunately, the GRP did not respond.
He defined briefly the vision of the NDFP for a just peace as the realization of
national independence and empowerment of the people in the political field and
national industrialization and land reform in the economic field.
On the other hand, Sison pointed out that all the impediments to the peace
negotiations can be resolved by complying with the existing agreements. He
said that the GRP and NDFP can overcome the terrorist blacklisting of the Communist
Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People's Army (NPA) and the NDFP Chief Political
Consultant, in accordance with the Oslo Statements I and II, by simply making a joint
declaration that no foreign government should breach Philippine sovereignty and
territorial integrity by interfering with legal and political matters that are strictly
internal to the Philippines.
The NDFP panel also requested the PEPP to call on the GRP to comply with the
JASIG and release NDFP consultants Angie Ipong, Elizabeth Principe and Randall
Echanis, the surfacing of consultants who have been involuntarily disappeared and
the lifting of false charges against the NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson and
consultants like Vicente Ladlad and Rafael Baylosis.
While Agcaoili, Chairperson of the NDFP Monitoring Committee, said that the NDFP
had been calling for the meeting and operationalization of the Joint Monitoring
Committee but the GRP never responded positively. Commenting on the reported
criticism of the GRP Panel that the JMC was becoming a “scoreboard” of complaints,
he deplored the GRP’s submission of hundreds of false and invalid complaints with the
obvious intent of inflating the number of incidents against the forces of the NDFP,
thereby mocking the integrity of the Joint Monitoring Committee and proving the
attitude of impunity by the GRP.
Prof. Sison also pointed out that the basic problem in pushing the resumption of
formal talks is the lack of interest of Pres. Gloria Arroyo in the peace negotiations,
and the heavy hand of militarists like Eduardo Ermita and Norberto Gonzales on the
GRP Negotiating Panel. He observed that Arroyo had apparently closed the door
to peace negotiations by demanding demobilization, disarmament and rehabilitation
He noted that this latest of the GRP preconditions aggravated the previous
precondition of prolonged ceasefire which was already a gross violation of The
Hague Joint Declaration.
Meanwhile, Ledesma said that human rights groups, including the Roman Catholic
Church, have expressed alarm about the growing number of human rights violations
being committed both by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members and
the military as the fighting heightens in Mindanao, despite the observance of the
Holy Feast of Ramadhan.
The prelate said that the recourse to armed force is not the final solution to any
conflict like what is happening in Mindanao right now.
He also said that the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro will be calling on the MILF
and the GRP to have at least a temporary ceasefire. (Noel Sales Barcelona)