PRIMER ON THE
GPH-NDFP PEACE NEGOTIATIONS
Prepared by the Philippine Peace Center for KAPAYAPAAN: Campaign for a
Just and Lasting Peace
1. What is the current status of the peace negotiations between the
Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of
the Philippines (NDFP)?
The peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are in an impasse or
in a state of suspension. The two negotiating panels have not sat together
for formal talks since February 2011. The formal talks to resume
discussions on Social and Economic Reforms scheduled for June 2011 did not
materialize and has not materialized to date. Subsequent efforts to break
the impasse through informal talks between the two Parties and to discuss
an NDFP proposal for truce and alliance (also referred to as the “special
track”) began in late 2011 but likewise collapsed in February 2013.
2. What has caused the non-resumption of the formal talks since June 2011?
The immediate obstacle to the resumption of the formal talks is the
continuing detention by the GPH of persons who the NDFP had identified to
be duly accredited NDFP panel consultants protected by the JASIG (Joint
Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) and whose immediate release
had thus been demanded by the NDFP. The NDFP postponed the resumption of
formal talks to give time to the GPH to comply with the February 2011
agreement that the GPH would release “most if not all” of the named
detainees in accordance with the JASIG, or “for humanitarian and other
practical reasons” before formal talks resume.
The GPH on the other hand considers this as a precondition being imposed
by the NDFP, and has not to date released the minimum number of detainees
agreed upon in the February 2011 talks. The GPH argues that the JASIG is
no longer operative for those with assumed names in their JASIG safe
conduct passes since their real identities could no longer be verified
after the data diskettes with the needed information could no longer be
read. Thus the GPH insists that JASIG protection can apply only to those
using real names or are publicly known participants in the peace talks.
Nonetheless, the GPH refuses to release NDFP consultant Wilma Tiamzon
despite the fact that her safe conduct pass carries her real name.
Furthermore, the GPH continues to refuse the NDFP proposal to reconstruct
the list of JASIG-protected persons which is provided for in the
3. What has caused the collapse of the negotiations on the NDFP proposal
for an alliance and truce (special track)?
The GPH and the NDFP have different versions on the circumstances and
reasons for the collapse of the negotiations on the special track:
According to the GPH, the NDFP had “killed” its own proposal of alliance
and truce by taking back their proposed draft Common Declaration for
National Unity and Just Peace which they presented in the December 2012
informal talks, and then submitting two new drafts in the February 2013
talks which contained unreasonable demands such as the abolition of the
PAMANA and CCT programs. In effect, the GPH claims, the NDFP had reverted
to the regular track.
On the other hand, the NDFP panel reported to the NDFP National Council
that they found unacceptable the GPH draft Common Declaration for National
Unity and Just Peace presented in the December 2012 informal talks, since
this was interested only in indefinite, unilateral and multiple ceasefires
and was vague on the other essential items in the proposal (e.g. Council
of Unity, Peace and Development, land reform, national industrialization,
etc). Thereafter, the GPH special representatives refused to discuss the
NDFP’s counter-draft Common Declaration for National Unity and Just Peace,
saying they had no mandate to discuss or sign anything.
In the February 2013 informal talks that followed, the GPH again refused
to discuss the NDFP proposed draft Declaration of Common Intent to be
signed in what the GPH proposed would be a meeting between GPH President
Aquino and NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Ma. Sison in Hanoi,
similar to the June 2012 Aquino-Murad meeting in Japan. The NDFP explained
further that from the start, the NDFP had explicitly stated that the
proposal for alliance and truce or what has been called the “special
track” was never intended to replace the regular track or the formal talks
on the substantive agenda, but was meant to run parallel and complementary
to the regular track.
4. What has eventually emerged as the deeper and more fundamental cause of
the impasse in both formal and informal talks?
Official pronouncements by the OPAPP and GPH Panel after February 2013
have made clear the intention of the Aquino administration to set aside
The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, the framework and foundation
agreement of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations (see Annex). Earlier, in the
February 2011 formal talks, the GPH formally submitted its
“qualifications” to the Hague Joint Declaration, calling it a “document of
perpetual division”. In April and May 2013, GPH panel chair Atty. Padilla
and OPAPP Secretary Deles announced that the GPH no longer wanted to
return to the regular track (i.e., the formal talks on the substantive
agenda) and would in due time present a new approach and framework to the
5. What is the “new approach” or “new framework” to the GPH-NDFP peace
Initially, Malacanang, OPAPP, GPH Panel and AFP spokespersons mentioned as
components of the new approach and framework “localized peace talks”,
“addressing the roots of the armed conflict on the ground”, “involving the
stakeholders”, “reducing the levels of violence”, “pursuing Oplan
Bayanihan”, “mass surrender”, “returning to the folds of the law” and
“returning to mainstream society”.
However, a year after they said they would present a new approach, the GPH
has not produced a coherent and well-defined alternative to The Hague
Joint Declaration as foundation and framework for the talks. At the same
time, GPH spokespersons described land reform and national
industrialization as “passé” and “ideologically charged” concepts which
the GPH did not want to include in the agenda anymore. More ominously and
explicitly, Sec. Padilla declared in a forum of peace advocates last May
3, 2014: “We no longer want to talks about the social causes of the armed
conflict… we would rather talk about reducing the levels of violence…”
Thus, the GPH has reverted more overtly to its old framework of indefinite
ceasefire as a precondition to the talks, and aiming for a negotiated
settlement involving the end of hostilities and the disarming and
demobilization of the New People’s Army minus the fundamental reforms
stipulated in the Hague Joint Declaration.
6. Is there any hope that the formal and/or informal talks can still
resume in the near future?
Yes, there is hope that both Parties would agree to go back to the
negotiating table for informal talks which can pave the way to their
agreeing to resume formal talks on the substantive agenda. This is because
neither side has formally terminated the negotiations, despite the
apparent difficulty in resolving the issues that prevent them from
resuming formal talks. To terminate the negotiations, either side would
have had to issue a formal notice of termination to the other Party. The
negotiations would then be considered terminated 30 days after the receipt
of the notice of termination by the other Party. Moreover, the Aquino
administration is experiencing increasing pressure to return to the
negotiating table due to the intensifying political and economic turmoil
generated by successive controversies.
7. Are not the 22 long years enough proof that the talks are going nowhere
and that the framework is basically flawed?
In the first place, it is not true that nothing has been achieved over the
past 22 years of negotiations between the GPH and NDFP. The Hague Joint
Declaration, the JASIG and the CARHRIHL are landmark agreements that were
forged within six years. All in all, the GPH and NDFP signed 12 major
agreements in 12 years, proving that with political will and
determination, the two sides are capable of crafting agreements in
accordance with the current framework defined by The Hague Joint
Declaration that will benefit the people and move closer to the goal of a
just and lasting peace. Moreover, of the 22 years, the actual time spent
on actual negotiations – the formal and informal talks and the time spent
on preparations in between meetings would add up to not more than six
years, with the remaining 18 years lost on impasses, suspensions and
So long as the negotiations are not terminated by either party, the people
stand to gain from the formal and informal talks that are conducted in
earnest. The people themselves can undertake measures and actions within
the framework of the negotiations to maximize their contributions and
encourage both sides to accelerate the negotiations.
8. Why is it important for the Filipino people to push for the resumption
of the peace talks?
Our people have a huge stake in the peace negotiations – nothing less than
a brighter future for generations to come. The peace negotiations, as
agreed upon by both Parties in the 1992 The Hague Joint Declaration, aims
to put an end to the armed conflict and attain a just and lasting peace
through a negotiated settlement. The Hague Joint Declaration also sets the
substantive agenda of the formal talks, through which the negotiations
shall address the roots of the armed conflict --the political, social and
economic problems that perpetuate the daily violence of exploitation,
poverty, misery and oppression, and engenders protest and armed
The peace negotiations is one arena where the demands, proposals and
aspirations of the Filipino people could and should be discussed. It is
thus important that the people’s voices are heard loud and clear. We want
the parties to return to the negotiating table immediately without
preconditions. We want them to iron out their differences and proceed to
addressing the root causes of the armed conflict. We want to follow the
negotiations and contribute to it, being more than mere spectators
awaiting the outcome. We want the peace negotiations to succeed.
The past 22 years of the peace negotiations have shown that intervention
from the people, directly from peace advocates and indirectly from various
other advocacies – have played a significant role in pushing the peace
talks forward, especially when these are stalled or in an impasse. The
current situation compels us to push once again and with greater effort
for the resumption of the peace talks.
9. Why is it important for the people to call on the GPH and NDFP to honor
their bilateral agreements?
First, because honoring agreements is a universal imperative to the health
and success of any negotiation and relationship built on and held together
by trust and confidence, be it a peace accord, a business contract, a
treaty between two sovereigns, a management-union CBA, a matrimonial vow,
a pact among friends.
Second, because in the particular case of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations,
the Filipino people stand to benefit from the agreements reached so far,
most notably The Hague Joint Declaration and the Comprehensive Agreement
on Respect for Human Rights and International Law. Honoring and
implementing these agreements, e.g. significantly reducing human rights
violations, will redound to the immediate benefit of our countrymen even
as negotiations have not been completed and the armed conflict goes on.
Consequently, the people’s confidence in the peace negotiations will be
enhanced. The negotiations will then enjoy the people’s support, which is
essential to its success, as they see the agreements being complied with
and implemented by the two Parties.
Finally, with the current impasse in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations, the
only way to restore and rebuild mutual trust and confidence needed to
resume the talks, sustain and push it towards a negotiated settlement is
by both Parties honoring and dutifully complying with all prior agreements
and those they will sign in the future. Conversely, constant violations or
persistent non-compliance with agreements will erode trust and confidence,
poison the atmosphere, stall and then collapse the talks.
10. Why is it important for the people to call on the GPH and NDFP to
address the roots of the armed conflict?
The Filipino people aspire for and deserve a free, prosperous and peaceful
society. Issues confronting the Filipino people, current and historical,
are the subject of the negotiations: increasing poverty, joblessness,
landlessness, homelessness, lack of basic social services and security for
the majority, environmental degradation, economic dependence and
backwardness, impunity in human rights violations, most especially
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, and killings of
journalists, systemic corruption, injustice against the poor majority,
transgressions against national sovereignty and patrimony, among others.
Tackling the substantive agenda in the peace talks will at once bring the
needed national attention to these issues, elevate them to their proper
place in the national discourse, and provide the crucible for forging a
consensus on just and lasting solutions. Most importantly, a peace
agreement that does not address and eliminate the roots of the armed
conflict could be even worse than not having a peace agreement at all, for
it could gull everyone to complacency and a false sense of peace and
security while actually perpetuating and aggravating the social ills that
cause the armed conflict. ###