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Philippine Peace Center
Some Points on the February 14, 2004 Oslo Joint Statement of the GRP and NDFP Peace Panels
By Rafael G. Baylosis
Member and Resource Person of the NDFP Panel
Reciprocal Working Committee (RWC-SER)
February 27, 2004, Quezon City
Warm greetings to all leaders and friends in the media!
I wish to take up mainly the agreement on the issue of “terrorist” listing signed by the GRP and NDFP Panels, to the best of my understanding as one of NDFP Panel consultants. It is the third number in the Oslo Joint Statement issued as a result of the recent resumption of formal peace talks between the two Parties, and witnessed by the representative of the Royal Norwegian Government as third party facilitator. Atty. Jayson Lamchek of the Public Interest Law Center will discuss the legal aspects of this issue.
Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez and Atty. Lamchek will take up other important agreements reached by the two Parties, but which are obscured by the GRP Panel’s frantic focusing on point no. 3 of the Oslo Joint Statement. My fellow consultants will also help clarify what had transpired in the course of negotiations between the two Panels, including the snags caused by the obstructionism and delaying tactics of some elements in the GRP Panel.
At the outset, let me state that the various public pronouncements so far made by the GRP Peace Adviser Sec. Teresita Deles and GRP Panel Chairperson Silvestre Bello on the issue of “terrorist” listing all seek to undermine, if not negate, the agreement reached on this contentious issue. They have become so defensive as the top representatives of the US government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines who were immediately alarmed by and engaged in dismissing the agreement reached in Oslo on this very important question. Namimilipit sila sa kapapaliwanag at pambabaluktot ng interpretasyon sa pinirmahan nilang kasunduan.
The truth is some of those in the GRP Panel, upon the dictates of Sec. Deles, at first tried to refuse meeting halfway the NDFP Panel that had already bent backward and offered a “soft” formulation on the issue. They obstructed and delayed the talks for one whole day in February 11 and another half day the next, by proposing to withhold agreement on this point till about the last part of the talks, subject to the NDFP Panel agreement on four succeeding points in the agenda. This was after they were advised by Manila and the Department of Foreign Affairs to do so. But the NDFP Panel discerned the sly tactic of the other Party and firmly held on to accomplishing the proper sequence of the agenda. The GRP Panel and delegation were not speaking with one voice. Finally, the politicians and long-time negotiators in their Panel, including an adviser, helped to find a way and prevailed to conclude an agreement on the “terrorist” listing.
The Macapagal-Arroyo government now agreed with what the NDFP had long sought for since 2001 to resume the formal peace talks. Its main purpose is obvious, to gain a much-needed propaganda point for its electoral campaign, faced by a widespread dissatisfaction to its administration and a popularly-acclaimed rival. The GRP Panel had to bring home some agreement with the NDFP for the sake of its principal. So it signed the Oslo Joint Statement including the agreement to undertake “effective measures to resolve the outstanding issue of the ’terrorist’ listing,” in spite of the hewing and hawing of the soc-dem group.
The NDFP had earnestly pressed to resume the formal peace talks since it was stalled by the GRP in June 2001, in order to fulfill the initial step to implement the CAR-HR/IHL by forming the JMC and to proceed to the discussion of the second agenda on social and economic reforms. It has also been demanding the immediate release of about 23 political prisoners ordered released by the GRP President GMA from February to August 2001 as a confidence building measure.
Since the unfounded and arbitrary listing of the CPP/NPA and the NDFP Panel Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Ma. Sison as “terrorists” by the US, European Union and some other US allies, the NDFP has denounced it as a brazen violation of the mutually acceptable principle of national sovereignty contained in the 1992 The Hague Joint Declaration, and a deliberate move to harass, put under duress and blackmail the NDFP Panel, consultants and staff to enter into surrender terms in the current peace negotiations. It pointed out how the GRP had connived with the US and European Union when the late Foreign Sec. Blas Ople himself campaigned in Europe for the listing of Jose Ma. Sison and the CPP/NPA as “terrorists”. Several other GRP officials including PGMA herself lauded and supported this “terrorist” listing. The NDFP Panel had consistently expressed its grave concern over this issue as a major hindrance to the resumption of formal talks and pursued a reasonable solution to this question to have the peace talks going. This was the main context of the long-drawn discussion of this outstanding issue in several informal talks between GRP and NDFP representatives early last year and in October and November 2003. The Oslo Joint Statement on the third point regarding “terrorist” listing should be mainly understood within this context.
But upon the signing of the Oslo Joint Statement, some GRP panelists especially Sec. Deles, together with some GRP, AFP and US government officials were so vociferous in the media explaining what is not the meaning of no. 3 in the Joint Statement. They are in effect saying once again in a mocking and mendacious manner that the CPP/NPA and the NDFP Chief Political Consultant are “terrorists” and would only be delisted as such once they proved to be otherwise by signing a “final peace agreement” that is tantamount to capitulation. Many people have welcomed the Oslo Joint Statement as a positive development in the resumption of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. But these GRP and US representatives were more concerned on how to go around and negate this important achievement. Let me refer you to a press statement issued by Prof. J.M. Sison last February 24 on this matter.
The GRP Panel hastily issued a clarificatory statement on this issue last February 18, It sought to put the blame on the CPP/NPA and NDFP for having been listed as “terrorists” and the burden of proof that thay are not, by interpreting “effective” measures as the disavowal of the armed revolutionary forces “of offensives and assaults against civilians and civilian installations and to undertake efforts to mitigate the violent conflict.” As if it is not the GRP’s military, police and para-military forces that are grossly attacking and creating havoc among the unarmed rural population in the course of their military operations against the armed revolutionaries. The first part is one of their allegations and complaints that is included in no. 9 of the Oslo Joint Statement which has yet to be further addressed “expeditiously through the JMC and other appropriate mechanisms.” The second part is one impertinent demand which they tried to smuggle in their counter-draft but which they withdrew when the NDFP Panel firmly rejected it. Why are they now including in the agreement some matters which have not been settled yet or which they withdrew in the first place?
The more preposterous interpretation is for the CPP/NPA/NDF to “pursue the peace process until the fourth substantive agreement on end of hostilities and disposition of forces” … is signed by the two Parties. To read, until the armed revolutionary forces surrender their arms, which shows how the GRP and its US master are making use of the “terrorist” listing to blackmail the NDFP into capitulation. Why subject and interpret the resolution of the present issue of “terrorist” listing to a future agreement which has yet to take place? And the second and third prior agreements on social and economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms have still to be accomplished, in accordance with the Hague Joint Declaration and the 1995 Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees.
What the GRP Panel misrepresents as “effective measures” for GRP to undertake are its normal obligations as co-signatory in such agreements as The Hague Joint Declaration, JASIG, CAR-HR/IHL and other bilateral agreements with the NDFP. Please refer to the February 18, 2004 GRP Panel’s Clarificatory Statement. These are not pertinent to the resolution of the issue of “terrorist” listing, to say the least. Moreover, it is the third party host and facilitator the Norwegian government that allows the travel of Prof. Sison to and from the venue of negotiations. Can the GRP disapprove it and still hope to have the peace talks without the NDFP Chief Political Consultant in the same venue? In fact, it was largely through the non-accusatory, positive and diplomatic approach taken by Mr. Sison and the group of politicians in the other side that prevailed over the anti-communist hardline position of the soc-dem group in the GRP Panel headed by Sec. Deles, who seemed not to want to reach an agreement on the issue of “terrorist” listing and thereby put down the political stock of their principal.
It is not the CPP/NPA NDFP that have created the issue of “terrorist” listing which has hampered the continuity of the peace talks; the US, its northern allies and its client Philippine government have initiated and maintained it precisely to block any meaningful peace negotiations. Like the thief crying thief, these are the real terrorists daily carrying out violent exploitation of billions of people all over the world, carrying out armed suppression of the democratic rights of the people in their respective countries, and the US and British imperialists leading the most ruthless war of aggression and occupation in Iraq at present, not to speak of their horrible crimes against humanity during the last century!
However much the GRP Panel and the ruling circles in Malacanang and the AFP would try to misinterpret, twist and distort the real meaning of “effective measures to resolve the outstanding issue of ‘terrorist’ listing,” it is none other than what Prof. J.M. Sison pointed out: “The best point that Filipinos, including those in the GRP and NDFP, should understand from No. 3 of the Oslo Joint Statement is that they should stand together to uphold the mutually acceptable principle of national sovereignty in The Hague Joint Declaration and prevent the US from usurping jurisdiction over entities and events in the Philippines.” It means measures that will support the efforts for the removal of the CPP/NPA and Prof. Jose Maria Sison from the US-led “terrorist” listing in order to rectify a gross injustice and undue process and to provide a favorable climate for the continuation of the GRP-NDFP peace talks.
From my understanding, the GRP will hereon be asked by the NDFP and many well-meaning people what effective measures has it undertaken along this line, if the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations were to proceed long enough. The GRP should better decide soon whether to uphold or not, whether to fulfill its obligations or just discard the Oslo Joint Statement!
After all, the NDFP has said it can wait for a new administration to engage in the peace talks, which is about three or four months from now. If Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo would attempt to win by fraud and violence, that is another story which the broad masses of the people and the broadest possible array of forces opposed to the present regime would have to contend with, probably though a new round of people’s uprising to oust another cheat!
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