Joma terror delisting, free land
distribution among agreements in third round of talks
January 25, 2017
ROME, Italy—The National Democratic Front of the
Philippines (NDFP) and government negotiators are set to end their third
round of formal talks today on a successful note with advances on the
substantive agenda and new goodwill measures included in the prospective
Rome Joint Statement.
NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and his Government of the Republic of
the Philippines (GRP) counterpart Silvestre Bello III said their joint
statement will include the signing of the supplemental guidelines on the
Joint Monitoring Committee as well as agreements on the ground rules for
future negotiations on socio-economic and political and constitutional
They also agreed to hold a special meeting in The Netherlands in February
22 or 24 to discuss the GRP proposal for a bilateral ceasefire. In the
said meeting, Bello will also witness NDFP’s submission of its
reconstituted list of Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity
Guarantees-protected persons with Archbishop Wim Eijk of Utrecht for
“This round is turning out to be a success, despite the apparent sabotage
with the killing of the activists in Negros Occidental and Surigao del
Norte and the attack on the NPA (New People’s Army) encampment in North
Cotabato,” Agcaoili said.
Joma Sison delisting
Bello for his part revealed that the joint statement shall include a
request to the United States of America (USA) that NDFP chief political
consultant Jose Maria Sison be delisted from its terror list.
“We have a basis (for such request), considering he is in the process, the
peace talks, which negates the character of a terrorist,” Bello said.
Bello said it is important for Sison to be able to travel outside of
Europe in response to GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement he is
willing to meet his former professor in any neutral Asian country.
NDFP panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultant Wilma Austria welcomed the
move saying it would help in the negotiations.
“We have long been saying that the revolutionary movement, the Communist
Party of the Philippines, the NPA, most especially Prof. Sison are not
terrorists,” Tiamzon said.
“It is also important that President Duterte is saying he is independent
of the US and this is one concrete step showing he really is independent,”
Sison has yet to issue a statement on the development.
Painstaking SER negotiations
NDFP socio-economic reforms Reciprocal Working Committee (RWC)
spokesperson and agrarian and rural development focal person Randall
Echanis said their bilateral meetings with their GRP counterparts have
taken a few steps forward.
“For the first time, the GRP has submitted a comprehensive draft and we
have agreed that both our drafts would be discussed with a matrix
comparing both versions,” Echanis said.
Echanis also said that the Preamble and Declaration of Principles mostly
based on the NDFP draft has already been agreed upon by the Reciprocal
Workings Committees (RWC).
“We have identified commonalities on the Bases, Scope and Applicability
provisions of our respective drafts and these are three important parts
that our bilateral negotiations have disposed with,” Echanis said.
Echanis also revealed that the GRP has agreed in principle that there
should be free land distribution to farmers, subject to consultations with
other government agencies.
“We are for free land distribution while the GRP is for land distribution
at least cost to the farmers. We met halfway by saying the compensation
should not come from the farmers but from the government,” he said.
“They said the NDFP draft’s use of the word of ‘confiscation’ is
unconstitutional. We clarified that land grabbed with use of violence and
intimidation should be confiscated without compensation but we have no
question with just compensation for landlords whose land was accumulated
through just means,” Echanis clarified.
Echanis said the NDFP had been meeting GRP halfway in their negotiations
as long as the essence and principle of agrarian reform is not
The closing ceremony of the third round is expected to be held at three
o’clock local time (nine o’clock in the evening, Philippine time).
The fourth round of NDFP-GRP formal peace talks shall be held in April in
Oslo, Norway. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)