Joma to Rody: Calm down, let’s talk
February 10, 2017
NATIONAL Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Chief Political
Consultant Jose Maria Sison asked Government of the Republic of the
Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte to allow efforts to clear the
air in the face of escalating tension between the two parties following
the Duterte government’s declaration of an all-out war against the Left.
Sison proposed to his former student “to consult thoroughly with his
negotiating panel and the peace advocates in his own cabinet and others
outside of his government and encourage and allow back-channelling efforts
to clarify misunderstandings and solve immediately the current problems.”
“President Duterte’s announcements to consider the CPP (Communist Party of
the Philippines), NPA (New People’s Army) and NDFP as terrorist
organizations and to terminate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity
Guarantees (JASIG) have the effect of terminating the entire GRP-NDFP
peace negotiations,” Sison said.
“I believe that President Duterte’s reaction should not have gone this
far,” he added.
Sison said he can understand the role of President Duterte in reacting as
GRP president and Commander-in-Chief as simply performing his duty to
speak and act in the interest of his government and express concern for
“But there should have been a measure of restraint in his reaction in
order to preserve the GRP-NDF peace process,” Sison advised.
Sison added that the third party facilitator, the Royal Norwegian
Government (RNG), deserves a briefing from each negotiating party to
possibly enable the continuance of the peace process.
Earlier, RNG Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Ambassador
Elisabeth Slattum urged both the GRP and the NDFP to “protect the peace
talks, as it is the only way to move forward towards a just and lasting
In a statement, Slattum said that “what defines the success of a peace
process is the ability and commitment of the parties to stay at the
negotiation table and not give up, despite setbacks.”
“What is important now is to protect the peace talks, as it is the only
way to move forward towards a just and lasting peace, for the benefit of
all Filipino people,” Slattum said.
Successful negotiations so far
Sison cited the gains made so far in the formal peace talks in Norway and
Italy as reasons for the continuation of the negotiations.
“The recent third round of formal talks between the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines (NDFP) from January 19 to 25, 2017 has been successful and has
scheduled the fourth round on April 2-6 in Oslo,” Sison said.
Sison said there was a fair exchange of views and agreements on efforts to
comply with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and
International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) concerning the release of all
political prisoners, justice for and indemnification of victims of human
right violations under the Marcos regime, allegations of human rights
violations under Oplans Bayanihan, Tokhang and Kapayapaan, as well as the
approval of the supplementary guidelines of the Joint Monitoring
There was also an initial discussion of the bilateral ceasefire agreement
to replace the unilateral ceasefire declarations, Sison said.
The NDFP’s chief political consultant added that the biggest achievements
in moving forward the peace process were the exchange of full drafts of
the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) by the
reciprocal working committees of the GRP and the NDFP, and the complete
drafts of the CAPCR by the reciprocal working groups.
“I estimate that it is possible to unify these drafts within 2017. The
NDFP has formally offered to GRP to co-found the Federal Republic of the
Philippines on the basis of the CAPCR,” Sison said.
Sison said he believes it is possible to implement the CASER and CAPCR
through GRP executive actions, legislation and constitutional amendments
before the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities
and Disposition of Forces (CAEHDF) in 2020-2021.
“Before then, a bilateral ceasefire agreement is possible, especially
after the signing of the CASER and the CAPCR by the negotiating panels in
2017,” he said.
The GRP and NDFP ceasefire committees are scheduled to meet in The
Netherlands on February 22 to discuss the former’s proposal for a
bilateral ceasefire agreement, the possible discussion of which in Italy
last month effectively scuttled by an attack by the AFP against an NPA
encampment in Makilala, North Cotabato last January 21.
Talking while fighting
Sison said the clear and significant success of the third round of the
formal talks has been overshadowed by the reaction of Duterte to the
announcement of the termination of the unilateral ceasefire by the CPP and
NPA, effective on February 10, and to the so-called self-defense actions
already begun by the NPA in accordance with the terms of its unilateral
“Even if the armed conflict between the armed forces of the two parties
has resumed, peace negotiations can and must continue precisely to
continue with the forging of the CASER, CAPCR and the bilateral ceasefire
agreement and effecting the amnesty and release of all political prisoners
within 2017,” Sison said.
“More than 10 major agreements were made during the (Fidel) Ramos regime
while fighting went on,” he added.
Duterte’s peace adviser and negotiators—notably Jesus Dureza, Silvestre
Bello III, Hernani Braganza, Rene Sarmiento and Maria Carla Munsayac—had
been part of various Ramos government negotiating teams with the NDFP.
Sison said the CPP, NPA and NDFP remain committed to the peace process in
accordance to the The Hague Joint Declaration and further agreements.
“They wish to pursue with the GRP the bright prospects that started with
the first round of formal talks in August 2016 and overcome the peace
spoilers that run counter to the progress that has been achieved in the
third round of formal talks, Sison said.
We must respond to and strive to fulfil the Filipino people’s demand for a
just and lasting peace,” he said. (Raymund B. Villanueva)