JOINT STATEMENT ON THE SUCCESSFUL THIRD
ROUND OF FORMAL TALKS BETWEEN THE GRP AND NDFP IN ROME, ITALY
25 January 2017/in News /
The Negotiating Panels of the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),
together with their respective delegations of negotiating bodies,
consultants, advisors, resource persons, cooperators and staff
successfully held the third round of formal talks in Rome City from
January 19 to 25, 2017. The third round was facilitated by the Royal
Norwegian Government (RNG) in cooperation with the Italian Government.
At the opening ceremonies on January 19, RNG Ambassador to the Philippines
Erik Førner and RNG Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process
Elisabeth Slåttum welcomed the two delegations. They commended the two
Parties for their hard work in the second round of the formal talks in
Oslo and reiterated the commitment of the RNG of its continuing support to
the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
The opening statements of the two Parties were made by the following: GRP
OPAPP Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose
Maria Sison, GRP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Silvestre H. Bello III,
NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili and RNG Special Envoy
Ambassador Elisabeth Slåttum.
In her opening statement, RNG Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace
Process, Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum, congratulated both Panels for their
commitment in working for peace in the country. She commended the two
sides for declaring their respective unilateral indefinite ceasefires. The
Ambassador reiterated the RNG’s commitment to be with the two Parties for
the duration of the peace negotiations.
The Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Secretary Jesus G. Dureza
after thanking the RNG passed on part of his speaking turn to GRP Foreign
Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., who expressed his support to the peace
process. Sec. Yasay also expressed his admiration for Professor Joma Sison
and his elation for having met with him personally.
In his opening statement, Professor Sison expressed his continued
declaration that the two Panels can negotiate in a non-adversarial way and
overcome any obstacle by addressing the root causes of the armed conflict.
He also acknowledged his appreciation for last year’s release of detained
NDFP consultants and the expectation for the release of the hundreds of
political prisoners. Further, he cited that the concurrent or reciprocal
unilateral declarations of ceasefire by the GRP and NDFP can easily be
turned into a more stable bilateral ceasefire upon the release of all
political prisoners by the GRP in compliance with the CARHRIHL. He
likewise expressed NDFP’s concerns on the burial of former President
Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani and violation of the CARHRIHL and the
Professor Sison was hopeful that within six months the CASER shall already
be ready for signing, while the NDFP views political and constitutional
reforms can take good and viable examples from both unitary and federal
forms of state. He said that the NDFP can go along with President
Duterte’s proposal for a federal form of government provided certain
safeguards were put in place like the prohibition of puppetry,
dictatorship, graft and corruption, dynasty building and warlordism.
He pointed out the advantage of having the CASER and CAPCR signed and
approved by the principals within the first two years of the Duterte
Government is that these agreements shall be implemented for at least two
years before the end of said government. If implemented to the
satisfaction of the Filipino people and the NDFP, these agreements shall
lay the full basis of the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities
and Disposition of Forces as early as 2020-2021.
On the part of the GRP Panel Chairperson, Secretary Silvestre H. Bello
III, he expressed the readiness of the Panel to exchange and discuss the
Government’s draft agreements on CASER, CAPCR and CAEHDF, through its
Working Committee/Groups, and finalize the Supplemental Guidelines for the
full operation of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the CARHRIHL as well
as the draft agreement on the bilateral ceasefire. Secretary Bello also
expressed the readiness of the Panel to discuss and address the issues
confronting the talks such as prisoner release, implementation of the
reconstructed JASIG list and the amnesty proclamation. He capped his
statement by thanking the support of the RNG Third Party Facilitator, and
expressed his expectation for a cordial but frank, rigorous but productive
The NDFP Panel Chairperson, Fidel V. Agcaoili, declared the NDFP Panel’s
readiness to push the negotiations forward and even accelerate the process
of forging mutually acceptable comprehensive agreements on the most
important topics of socio-economic reforms and political and
constitutional reforms. He noted however, certain serious obstacles that
are needed to be hurdled if mutual trust and confidence are to be
maintained so that negotiations can move forward. He repeatedly raised the
issue of the release of all the NDFP-listed prisoners, and expressed
appreciation for the support of the RNG to the peace talks.
Before going into the first item on the agenda of the third round of
formal talks, a delegation from both Parties met to discuss certain
outstanding issues and concrete measures to facilitate the peace
negotiations. They discussed the issues of release of political prisoners
and of socio-economic projects in relation to the Joint Agreement in
Support of Socioeconomic Projects of Private Development Organizations and
Institutes of March 16, 1998. The Parties discussed the signing of CASER
with issues of the amnesty of political prisoners and the signing of a
bilateral ceasefire agreement.
On Implementation of CARHRIHL and JASIG
The two Parties agreed to strictly comply with the Comprehensive Agreement
on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),
the first major agreement signed by the Parties in accordance with the
4-item substantive agenda as provided for in The Hague Joint Declaration.
In this connection, the Joint Monitoring Committee discussed and finalized
the Supplemental Guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC).
(Annex A) The Guidelines were subsequently signed by the respective Panel
Chairpersons, Monitoring Committees, Supervising Panel Members and
witnessed by the Third Party Facilitator. These Supplementary Guidelines
will guide and fully operationalize the work of the Joint Monitoring
Committee (JMC) in its task of monitoring the implementation of, and
achieving, the objectives of CARHRIHL in upholding and promoting human
rights and international humanitarian law.
These Guidelines supplement the Operational Guidelines for the JMC of 14
February 2004 and the Partial Supplemental Guidelines for the JMC of 24
June 2004 governing the monitoring mechanism of the implementation of the
In the first working session of the two negotiating panels, the NDFP
raised the following issues regarding the GRP’s implementation of the
CARHRIHL and JASIG:
The NDFP panel cited with concern the urgency for the GRP to repeal the
remaining repressive Marcos decrees that continue to be used against
political prisoners and the people; non-observance of the Hernandez
political offense doctrine prohibiting the criminalization of acts in
pursuit of one’s political beliefs; the perceived political rehabilitation
of Marcos and its implications to the rendering of justice for the Martial
Law victims; the incidents of occupying schools, barangay halls, and other
civilian structures in the rural communities as part of GRP’s Oplan
Bayanihan; and the due process issues in relation to the GRP’s anti-drug
The NDFP panel also cited the continuing detention of three NDFP
consultants promised presidential pardon and the surveillance and
harassment of NDFP consultants participating in the ongoing peace talks.
The NDFP panel conveyed that violations of the GRP unilateral ceasefire
covering more than 500 barangays were increasingly endangering the peace
The NDFP panel requested for a copy of the official document on Oplan
Kapayapaan that replaces the Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration.
The GRP Panel clarified that Oplan Kapayapaan is not operational yet,
having been submitted to the authorities concerned but not yet approved.
The NDFP Panel Chairperson previously submitted on November 28, 2016 and
January 4, 2017 to the GRP documented complaints of ceasefire violations.
The GRP panel responded by giving its assurance that the GRP acknowledges
having signed the CARHRIHL and its commitment to comply with its
obligations under the said Agreement. If there are any reported violations
of the Agreement on the part of the GRP, these should all be put into
writing and submitted to the GRP Panel, which will then study these
reports and take the appropriate action. The panel stated that there is no
conscious policy on the part of GRP to violate the CARHRIHL and JASIG.
The GRP panel assured the NDFP that the aforementioned three NDFP
consultants will be released. With regard to the surveillance and
harassment of NDFP consultants, the AFP-Peace and Development Office (AFP-PDO)
replied that the AFP recognizes the safety and immunity guarantees of the
NDFP consultants. With regard to the reported occupation of schools,
hospitals and communities, the AFP-PDO replied that AFP troops went into
the communities upon the invitation of local government units, escorting
civilian agencies delivering services to the communities.
The GRP Panel explained that the internment of the Marcos remains at the
Libingan ng mga Bayani was not intended to politically rehabilitate him.
With regard to the indemnification of Marcos human rights victims, the GRP
pointed out that the President has taken a direct hand at speeding up the
processing and ensuring that a significant number would immediately be
given their indemnification.
On the other hand, the GRP Panel Chairperson handed to the NDFP Panel
Chairperson a copy of the GRP documented complaints on ceasefire
violations committed by the NDFP.
On Amnesty and Releases
The NDFP Panel followed-up the status of the amnesty proclamation of all
political prisoners (as listed by the NDFP) and reiterated that it is the
most expeditious way of releasing them.
The Parties agreed to continue to study the issuance of an amnesty
proclamation consequent to the substantial progress of the peace
The GRP Panel also committed to facilitate the release of the three
remaining NDFP consultants, Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan and
Leopoldo Caloza, through presidential clemency, and other legal modes.
The GRP, with the assistance of the defense lawyers, shall expeditiously
process the release of all the political prisoners listed by the NDFP
starting with the 200 qualified prisoners either through bail,
recognizance, pardon or other legal processes in compliance with the
CARHRIHL and to allow them to participate in activities and mechanisms of
the peace process.
The GRP team committed to file immediately the necessary manifestations in
support of the motions for the temporary liberty of the NDFP consultants
and staff granted bail and released in August 2016 be extended and remain
effective for the duration of the peace negotiations.
Results of the Proceedings of the RWCs-SER
The GRP and NDFP Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic
Reforms (RWCs-SER) met on January 20 to 21, and 23 to 24, 2017, together
with their respective consultants and resource persons.
The RWCs-SER had exchanged their complete drafts of the CASER more or less
ten days before the opening of the third round of formal talks.
The RWCs-SER reaffirmed their April 2004 agreement on the Preamble and the
Declaration of Principles (Part I) as the framework of the CASER, provided
that the unresolved provisions, including new insertions of the NDFP, will
be elevated to the negotiating panels for their resolution.
Discussions on the Bases, Scope and Applicability (Part II) were
substantially made and points of agreement were identified. The
reaffirmation of Part III entitled Desired Outcomes, which was approved
during the second round of talks, was made.
The RWCs-SER also started discussions on Agrarian Reform and Rural
Development (Part IV). They reached a common understanding on the general
features of the agrarian problems in the Philippines.
The RWCs-SER agreed in principle to the free distribution of land to
farmers and farm workers as part of the governing frameworks of CASER.
For the purpose of accelerating the negotiation process of the CASER, the
RWCs-SER agreed to the creation of bilateral teams to help reconcile
contentious provisions in the GRP and NDFP drafts and/or provisions which
have no corresponding equivalent in each RWCs’ exchanged drafts. The
bilateral teams shall submit to their respective RWCs the necessary
The bilateral teams may hold meetings in Metro Manila, Philippines, or in
any mutually agreed upon venue in the Philippines, or in any neighboring
The Panels and RWCs-SER signed on 25 January 2017 the Ground Rules for the
Conduct of the Formal Meetings between the RWCs-SER of the GRP and the
NDFP. (Annex B)
In the next round of formal talks, the RWCs-SER shall discuss the
remaining items under the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Part IV),
National Industrialization and Economic Development (Part V),
Environmental Protection, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Part VI), and
the outputs of the bilateral teams.
Results of the Proceedings of the RWGs-PCR
The Reciprocal Working Groups (RWGs) on Political and Constitutional
Reforms (PCR) met twice and formally exchanged full drafts of the
tentative Agreement on PCR based on the common outline agreed upon during
the last round of talks in October 2016. This surpassed the earlier
expectation that the RWGs would only enflesh the said outline in the third
The RWGs assisted by their consultants, staff and observers, ran through
their respective drafts highlighting their main points, proposed
mechanisms and framework.
They exchanged initial and general views, opinions and comments as well as
questions on certain provisions of their drafts.
They exchanged views on the proposal for a federal form of government and
the need for certain constitutional guarantees and safeguards demanded by
Thereafter, they exchanged and presented their respective comparative
matrices of the drafts.
They also agreed to hold unilateral meetings of the RWGs to rewrite their
respective drafts and matrices taking into account the drafts that they
The RWGs acknowledged that the tentative drafts shall be subject to the
developments in the crafting of the CASER.
They agreed to meet again during the fourth round of formal talks and work
on a common matrix as a reference for discussions.
Meeting of the Ceasefire Committees
The NDFP ceasefire committee (CFC) formally acknowledged receiving the GRP
CFC draft “Agreement on an Interim Bilateral Cessation of Hostilities
Between the GRP and the NDFP”. It said that it will seriously study the
proposal, submit comments and may provide its own updated version of its
proposed draft agreement for an interim bilateral ceasefire.
NDFP Panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili handed a letter addressed to GRP
Panel Chairperson Silvestre H. Bello III formally protesting the AFP
military operation in Makilala, North Cotabato as a violation of the
The Parties note that their unilateral indefinite ceasefires remain in
place. They note however that there are issues and concerns related
The two CFCs agreed to meet again during the period on February 22-27,
2017 in The Netherlands simultaneous to the opening of the bank safety
deposit box account for safekeeping of the JASIG documents of
Fourth Round of Formal Talks
The Parties agreed to meet for the fourth round of formal talks in Oslo,
Norway on April 2-6, 2017. They shall continue to work on strengthening
the mechanisms in the implementation of CARHRIHL and the unification of
the drafts of CASER and CAPCR.
Expression of Gratitude to RNG
Both Panels reiterated their appreciation and gratitude to the Royal
Norwegian Government (RNG) for its unrelenting support to and active
facilitation of the peace talks which have allowed both sides to move
these forward. They also thanked the RNG for the two international experts
that they provided who shared their insights on peace negotiations that
the Parties may find useful.
Once more they expressed their gratitude to the RNG for its consistent and
substantial facilitation and support for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations
as well as to the Italian government for its cooperation and support.
Signed on the 25th day of January 2017 in the City of Rome, Italy.
Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III
Fidel V. Agcaoili
Chairperson of the GRP Panel
Chairperson of the NDFP Panel
Hernani A. Braganza
Julieta S. de Lima
Member, GRP Panel
Member, NDFP Panel
Rene V. Sarmiento
Coni K. Ledesma
Member, GRP Panel
Member, NDFP Panel
Angela L. Trinidad
Asterio B. Palima
Member, GRP Panel
Member, NDFP Panel
Sedfrey M. Candelaria
Benito E. Tiamzon
*alternate member, GRP Panel
Member, NDFP Panel
Sec. Jesus G. Dureza
Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
Mayor Edgardo D. Pamintuan
Luis G. Jalandoni
Adviser, GRP Panel
Senior Adviser, NDFP Panel
Third Party Facilitator
For the Royal Norwegian Government