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Press Statement

Peace Negotiations can be Resumed

31 December 2002

I take this opportunity to convey warmest greetings to all fellow Filipinos and best wishes to them in the new year.

If Macapagal-Arroyo were truly interested in overcoming divisions and promoting national unity, then it is appropriate for the chairmen of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels to contact each other for the purpose of resuming the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

Such contact can be fruitful if Macapagal-Arroyo agrees with the NDFP, as she did in March and April 2001 during the early part of her administration, to build on the ten agreements previously accomplished through negotiations and if she takes certain steps to stop the US from usurping jurisdiction over actions of the New People’s Army in the Philippines, misrepresenting them as terrorist actions and asking other governments to punish or threaten NDFP negotiators, consultants, staffers and supporters. 

If not for the attempt of the GRP to change the framework of negotiations set by The Hague Joint Declaration, the comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms (CASER) could have been finished sometime ago.  There is still a chance to finish it in the next six months or definitely before the end of the current administration. At any rate, it is timely to tackle the social and economic problems and arrive at the corresponding solutions through basic reforms.

The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations can proceed smoothly if the US, European and other foreign governments are dissuaded by the GRP from usurping jurisdiction over actions of the New People's Army in the Philippines and arrogantly criminalizing them as terrorism without any due process.  The GRP must undertake definite actions to stress to all governments concerned that NDFP negotiators, consultants, staffers and other duly-authorized persons are entitled to the protection of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and that both the GRP and NDFP have committed themselves to being governed by international humanitarian law through the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

The resumption of the formal talks can carry forward the implementation of the CARHRIHL through a joint monitoring committee to be established.  There is an urgent need to implement the CARHRIHL in earnest because of the rampant violations of human rights by the AFP, PNP, CAFGU and armed personnel of big corporations and landlords, especially in the countryside.#

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