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Chronology of Current GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations

Prepared by the Philippine Peace Center*

 * Peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP were first conducted in 1986 after Corazon C. Aquino took power from deposed dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.  These collapsed after the massacre of landless peasants rallying in front of the presidential palace in January 1987.

 

Exploratory and Preliminary Talks (1988-1995) 

December 1988 - The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), in the editorial of its official publication, Liberation, announces its openness to the resumption of peace talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). 

February 1989 - NDFP, through its chief international representative Luis Jalandoni, expresses willingness to start a new round of peace talks with the GRP if the Aquino government makes an executive proclamation against the renewal of the bases agreement with the US on or before Sept. 16, 1991. 

September 20, 1990 - NDFP chairman Manuel Romero, in a letter to then GRP Pres. Corazon Aquino, reiterates the NDFP’s long-standing offer for the reopening of formal talks between the GRP and NDFP, comprehensively lays down the NDFP’s strategic view of the peace talks, including the proposed two major agenda for the talks. 

September 24, 1990 - NDFP representatives Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma meet with GRP delegation led by Gov. Bren Guiao in Singapore to discuss informally the prospects of resumption of peace negotiations. 

September 26 - 29, 1990 - GRP emissary Rep. Jose Yap meets separately with NDFP vice-chairman Luis Jalandoni and NDFP consultant Jose Ma. Sison in the Netherlands. 

October 4, 1990 - separate statements issued by NDFP Vice-Chair Luis Jalandoni, CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison, and GRP Rep. Jose Yap announce that prospects for a new round of peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP are bright; Mr. Jalandoni declares that peace negotiations can start without preconditions. 

September 1991 - discreet exploratory talks in Hongkong between NDFP representatives and a GRP mission

August 1992 - official exploratory talks between the NDFP and the GRP resume when Rep. Jose Yap comes to the Netherlands with official written authority from newly-elected GRP President Fidel Ramos.

Sept. 1, 1992 - signing of The Hague Joint Declaration in The Hague, The Netherlands by NDFP vice chairman Luis Jalandoni and GRP emissary Rep. Jose Yap.

·         sets as the objective of the peace negotiations  the attainment of a just and lasting peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict and thereby resolving it.

·         sets the framework of mutually acceptable principles and under no precondition which negates the character and purpose of peace negotiations.

·         sets the substantive agenda of the formal peace negotiations  and the proper sequence of tackling the agenda:

1.      respect for human rights and international humanitarian law

2.      socio-economic reforms

3.      political and constitutional reforms

4.      end of hostilities and disposition of forces

 September 14, 1992  - NDFP announces Chairman Mariano Orosa’s approval of  The Hague Joint Declaration

October  28, 1992 - GRP announces Pres. Ramos’  approval of  The Hague Joint Declaration “subject to refinements of the substantive agenda”.June 14, 1994 - signing of The Breukelen Joint Statement in Breukelen, The Netherlands.

·         reaffirms The Hague Joint Declaration and carries the commitment of GRP to follow it throughout formal peace negotiations

·         points to goodwill and confidence-building measures, crucial issues and the need for safety and immunity guarantees, and

·         looks forward to the opening of formal peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue

October 10-14, 1994 - meeting of GRP and NDFP negotiating panels in De Bilt, The Netherlands

·         NDFP protests against escalation of human rights violations by GRP.

·         two panels agree to appoint their respective “small committees” to draft the joint agreement on safety and immunity guarantees. 

·         GRP panel rejects the common draft drawn by the “small committees” of the two panels and unilaterally declares a collapse of the talks. 

The two panels eventually agree to continue the work of drafting the agreement on security and immunity guarantees and reformulating the contentious provisions, overcome the differences and become ready to resume the preliminary talks. 

February 24, 1995 - signing of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees  (JASIG) by the two panels in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands. 

·         lays down principles and modalities for safety and immunity guarantees for the personnel, consultants and other people involved in the formal peace negotiations.

·         conclusively stipulates that formal meetings of GRP and NDFP negotiating panels are held in a foreign neutral venue.

·         sets June 1, 1995 as the date for the opening of formal peace negotiations in Brussels, Belgium (this date was subsequently moved to June 26, 1995 upon request of the GRP panel). 

February 26, 1995 - signing of the Joint Agreement on the Ground Rules of the Formal Meetings Between the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.

·         establishes procedural  rules in the formal peace negotiations 

May 2, 1995 - JASIG takes effect 

May 17, 1995 - NDFP Panel Consultant Sotero Llamas is wounded and arrested by Armed Forces of the Philippines  (AFP) troops in Juban, Sorsogon, detained and charged with criminal offenses; NDFP demands release of Mr. Llamas, who is under the protection of JASIG. 

Formal Peace Negotiations (June 1995 - present) 

June 26, 1995 - Opening session of the Formal Peace Negotiations between the GRP and NDFP at the International Press Center in Brussels, Belgium.

·         signing of the Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees

·         follows sequence of headings in substantive agenda set by The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 (respect for human rights and international humanitarian law; social and economic reforms; political and constitutional reforms; and end of hostilities and disposition of forces).

·         arranges in detail the sequence of forming the reciprocal working committees which shall  produce one after the other the tentative comprehensive agreements on the four major headings of the substantive agenda, the finalization of  these by the negotiating panels and the approval of  the final comprehensive agreements by the principals of the negotiating panels. 

·         announcement by each party of the formation and operationalization of its Reciprocal Working Committee on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (RCW-HR-IHL).  

NDFP asks for a recess until the arrival of NDFP Panel Consultant Llamas, whom the

GRP had agreed to release so he could participate in the talks.  

June 27, 1995 -  GRP in turn unilaterally suspends the talks after failing to comply fully with the JASIG provision to allow Mr. Llamas to join the NDFP panel. 

June 21, 1996 - NDFP Panel Consultant Sotero Llamas is released from prison.

June 19-26, 1996 - formal talks resumed after the June 1995 formal opening and suspension. 

·         discussions on Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law  (CARHRIHL) begin; NDFP presents a 15-page complete draft;  GRP presents a 3-page draft;   

·          Preamble of  the CARHRIHL  initialled by both GRP and NDFP panels. 

·         two panels sign Additional Implementing Rules Pertaining to the Documents of Identification. 

·         NDFP presents list of holders of Document of  Identification (DI) to the GRP; GRP objects to the inclusion of former AFP Gen. Raymundo Jarque.  

July 5, 1996 - NDFP submits to the Swiss Federal Court as depositary and to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as official guardian the NDFP Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977. 

July 24, 1996 - NDFP Panel Chairperson Luis Jalandoni warns of “enormously negative effects” on the peace talks if the expulsion order on the Sisons is carried out, citing

1.      the crucial role Prof. Sison has played in all the formal and informal meetings between the  GRP and NDFP panels,

2.      the importance of Prof. Sison’s presence in the Netherlands in order to help the NDFP Panel perform its functions, plus

3.      the fact that nearly all of the meetings between the GRP and NDFP panels have been held in The Netherlands 

August 5, 1996 - NDFP announces its Declaration of Undertaking to apply the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I and asserts its status of belligerency on the following basis:

1.       the revolutionary people and organizations represented by the NDFP constitute a significant portion of the Philippine population, occupy a significant portion of Philippine territory, and have their own system of government and political principles

2.       the New People’s Army (NPA) operates on a nation-wide scale with a central command and under the political leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)

3.       the armed conflict, which is a protracted civil war, has been of an intensity and scale as to require the GRP’s use of its entire armed forces in the name of national defense from 1969 to the present, and the imposition of martial rule from 1972 to 1986. 

November 21, 1996 - AFP abducts and detains NDFP Panel Consultant Danilo Borjal, turns him over to Philippine National Police (PNP) which in turn detains him  and charges him with criminal offenses; NDFP protests this as violation of the JASIG while GRP denies that JASIG  has been violated, resulting in another impasse in the talks. 

February 8, 1997 - GRP accedes to NDFP demand for the release of Mr. Borjal in accordance with JASIG; initialling of supplemental agreement to strive to arrive at tentative comprehensive agreements for each major heading of the substantive agenda by June 30, 1997.

March 18-23, 1997 - resumption of formal talks

·         agreement to accelerate the talks signed by both panels

·         small committees composed of members from both panels are formed to tackle separate items:

1.  Part I:  Declaration of Principles” and  “Part II: Bases, Scope and Applicability” of

     CARHRIHL

2.  Additional Implementing Rules of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity

    Guarantees (JASIG)  Pertaining to the Security of Personnel and Consultations in

    Furtherance of the Peace Negotiations

3. Joint Agreement in Support of  Socio-Economic Projects of Private Development

    Organizations and Institutes

4. Political Prisoners 

·         GRP Panel Chair Howard Dee hands over to NDFP Panel Chair Luis Jalandoni the GRP Panel’s documents of acknowledgement of 73 NDFP Document of Identification holders in accord with an agreement signed by both Panel Chairpersons in March 1996 (this was due to be given soon after the 19-26 June 1996 talks in The Hague). 

April 1997 - NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms operationalized, drafts a 50-page draft agreement in preparation for discussions with its GRP counterpart. 

April 22, 1997 - GRP panel presents “two options” purportedly based on new instructions and guidelines given by GRP President Ramos:  

option 1:  each agreement on a major item of the substantive agenda may be forged by the Parties and approved by their respective principals separately and may have separate and distinct effectivity date on the precondition that its implementation shall be “according to the constitutional and legal processes of the GRP”. 

option 2:  all four agreements on the major items of the substantive agenda shall first be completed by the negotiating panels  before they are initialled and submitted to their respective principals for approval , also subject to the precondition that their  implementation shall be “according to the constitutional and legal processes of the GRP” . 

·     NDFP rejects these options as “gross and serious violations” of  The Hague Joint Declaration and the  Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence  and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees. 

July 31 - August 5, 1997 - common tentative draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) initialled by the RWCs on HR-IHL of both GRP and NDFP panels 

·         the following agreements were also initialled

1.      Additional Implementing Rules of the Joint Agreement on Safety  and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)  Pertaining to the Security of Personnel and Consultations in Furtherance of the Peace Negotiations

2.      Joint Agreement in Support of Socio-economic Projects of Private Development Organizations and Institutes 

·         GRP panel submits August 5 common tentative draft to GRP cabinet cluster, which rejects it and instructs the GRP panel to reformulate the draft  

August 22, 1997 - GRP panel submits to the NDFP its Reformulated Draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law; NDFP rejects this as a mutilation and cannibalization of the August 5 common tentative draft. 

August 26 - October 7 - consultations conducted by NDFP Panel Member Fidel Agcaoili with NDFP forces and various individuals and groups, including sectoral and people’s organizations in the Philippines. 

October 1, 1997 - GRP submits a second Reformulated Draft purportedly taking into consideration the NDFP’s objections to the first Reformulated Draft. 

October 30, 1997 - NPA unit captures Rodriguez, Rizal Police Chief Maj. Rene Francisco and M/Sgt. Joaquin Melad in a raid on the Rodriguez, Rizal municipal hall. 

November 11, 1997 - GRP Panel Chairman Dee announces the suspension of the peace talks between the GRP and NDFP. 

December 5, 1997 - release of prisoners of war (POWs) Maj. Francisco and M/Sgt.  Melad to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by the Melito Glor Command of the New People’s Army, Southern Tagalog, in the mountains of Tanay, Rizal as goodwill measure. 

January 2, 1998 - release of policeman SPO3 Martellano Magtagad to the ICRC by the Lucio de Guzman Command in Mindoro island. 

Jan 6 -10, 1998 - resumption of peace talks in The Hague, The Netherlands. 

· two Panels initial the draft of Parts I, II and III of the CARHRIHL except for Article 5, Part III and exchange drafts on the provisions on respect for International Humanitarian Law. 

Jan 13 - 27, 1998 - Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma, NDFP panel chairperson and member respectively, conduct consultations with NDFP forces and other organizations, groups and individuals interested in the progress of the peace negotiations.  Their visit was highlighted by a meeting with political prisoners and with GRP President Fidel V. Ramos. 

Jan 28 - 31, 1998 - Parts IV, V and VI which constitute the second half of CARHRIHL are initialled by both panels; only Article 5, Part III remains unresolved with panels agreeing to immediately work on a mutually acceptable formulation. 

March 16, 1998 - GRP and NDFP negotiating panels sign the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. 

·         two short agreements are signed: the Additional Implementing Rules of the Joint Agreement on Safety  and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)  Pertaining to the Security of Personnel and Consultations in Furtherance of the Peace Negotiations and  the Joint Agreement in Support of Socio-economic Projects of Private Development Organizations and Institutes. 

·         drafts of Socio-economic Reforms are exchanged 

April 10, 1998 – NDFP Chair Mariano Orosa signs the CARHRIHL. 

August 7, 1998 – GRP President Joseph Estrada signs the CARHRIHL. 

October 27-29, 1998 - GRP panel headed by Sen. Franklin Drilon held informal talks with NDFP panel headed by Luis Jalandoni. GRP panel. 

1.      raised GRP objections to and  proposed to delete Art.4 Part III and Art. 6 Part IV of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)  

2.      proposed that the Joint Monitoring Committee be placed under the Office of the President of the GRP 

Both proposals were rejected by the NDFP as tantamount to capitulation and violative of the 1972 The Hague Joint Declaration. 

February 1999 – New People’s Army (NPA) captures 4 AFP/PNP officers in succession in Mindanao and Bicol: General Obillo and Maj. Montealto in Davao del Norte, P/Maj Bernal in Bicol, and Sgt. Lozada in Surigao Sur. 

February 24, 1999 – GRP President Estrada declares unilateral suspension of peace talks and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. 

April 9-27, 1999 - Successive releases by the NDF of 4 AFP/PNP officers and Sgt. Wivino Demol of the PA-ISG   

May 27, 1999 - Philippine Senate ratifies the Visiting Forces Agreement. 

May 29, 1999 - NDFP announces its Recognition of De-facto Termination of the Peace Negotiations by the GRP. 

May 31,1999 - GRP issues formal notice of termination of peace negotiations. 

June 11, 1999 - NDFP formally issues acknowledgement of the GRP’s termination of peace negotiations. 

March 9, 2001 - GRP-NDFP negotiating panels agree to

1.      Resume formal talks on April 26-29, 2001

2.      Uphold the validity of prior agreements

3.      Undertake goodwill and confidence-building measures including the release by the GRP of political prisoners and the release by the NDF of Phil Army Maj. Noel Buan. 

Ref:  “Joint GRP-NDFP Statement on Resumption of Formal Peace Talks” 

April 6, 2001 - NPA Melito Glor Command releases SOLCOM-PA Intelligence officer, Maj. Noel Buan in Oriental Mindoro as goodwill and confidence-building measure for the resumption of formal peace negotiations 

April 18, 2001 - Solidarity Conference in support of GRP-NDFP Peace Talks, held in Westin Plaza Hotel, Manila. 

April 26-29, 2001 - Resumption of formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway  

Agenda:

1.      confidence-building and goodwill measures

2.      implementation of CARHRIHL

3.      activation of RWCs on Socio-Economic Reforms and formation of subcommittees under the RWCs 

June 1, 2001 – Informal meeting of RWC-SER subcommittees in Antipolo, Rizal 

June 10-13, 2001 - Second round of formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway, recessed by the GRP purportedly in protest of the June 11 NPA ambush on Col. R Aguinaldo, notorious martial law torturer and human rights violator. 

September ?, 2001  - Decision of the GRP Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (which oversees the GRP negotiating panel) to resume formal peace talks with the NDFP on Sept 21-25. 

September 21, 2001 - Resumption of formal talks aborted after Gen. Angelo Reyes requested and obtained a special cabinet oversight committee meeting reversing the decision to resume formal talks and instead instructing GRP Panel Chair Silvestre Bello III  and panel member Sec. Hernani Braganza to hold informal or “backchannel”  talks with the NDFP panel. 

November 11-14, 2001 - Backchannel talks in The Netherlands between the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels

Agenda:

1.      Confidence-building measures

2.      Proposed operational guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee

3.      Joint Statement on resumption of formal peace talks

4.      Release of Sgt. Jeremias Rosete, Jr. & 3 others captured by the NPA for espionage in Far South Mindanao 

Ref: Final draft, “Operational Guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee”

        Draft Joint Statement (14 November 2001) 

November 30-Dec 1, 2001 - Backchannel talks in The Netherlands between GRP group composed of Speaker Jose De Venecia, Presidental Adviser on the Peace Process Gen. Eduardo Ermita, GRP Panel Chair Bello and Presidential Management Staff Head Silvestre Afable and NDFP panel.

Agenda:

1.      GRP proposal - Final Agreement….

2.      NDFP counterproposal: Document of Understanding to Accelerate the Peace Negotiations Between the GRP and the NDFP

3.   Confidence-building measures 

Ref: GRP draft, “Final Agreement Between the GRP and the NDF”

        NDFP draft & final draft, “Document of Understanding to Accelerate the Peace Negotiations Between the GRP and the NDFP”  

Dec 1, 2001 – GRP and NDFP panels meet newly elected Prime Minister Kyell Magne Bondevik of the Royal Norwegian Government. PM Bondevik promised that the Norwegian government will continue to act as facilitator and supporter of the peace negotiations. 

Jan 9-10, 2002 - Backchannel talks (Secs. Bello and Braganza for GRP, Jalandoni, Agcaoili and Ledesma for NDFP) The GRP proposal for a “single final agreement” to be achieved after a series of backchannel or informal talks was presented by GRP Panel chair Atty. S Bello and member Sec H Braganza of the DAR. No written proposal was submitted to the NDFP.  The NDFP Panel replied that since the proposal was a major departure from the 1992 Joint Hague Declaration, this would have to be referred to the NDFP National Executive Council for its consideration.  The NDFP panel estimated that it would take up to March to obtain a reply from the NDFP Executive Council. 

Ref:   NDFP/LJ statement, “GMA’s Proposal for Final Peace Agreement Violates Hague Joint Declaration (12 Jan 2002) 

March 16, 2002 - Malacanang press statement calling on the NPA and MILF to “lay down your arms… join the mainstream of society.  Formal negotiations were suspended and instead “backchannel talks” will be pursued to arrive at “a settlement within the framework of the (Philippine) Constitution. 

Ref:   Palace Statement on peace talks with CPP, MILF (INQ7.net, 16 March 2002)

          LJ/NDFP statement, “The NPA Will Not Surrender (18 March 2002)

JMS statement, “Macapagal-Arroyo Regime Has Scuttled the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations (18 March 2002)

 

 

Chronology of GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations

Under the Macapagal-Arroyo Adminsitration*

January 2001 - April  2003 

 * Prepared by the Philippine Peace Center for the Media Forum, “Prospects for Resumption of Peace Negotiations Under the Macapagal-Arroyo Administration”, Rembrandt Hotel, Quezpn City,  April 24, 2003

January 2001 - During the campaign to oust President Estrada, then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared that if and when she assumes the presidency, she would “reverse the all-out-war policy of the Estrada government and resume peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)”. Shortly after being sworn into office, President Macapagal-Arroyo reconstituted the GRP negotiating panels for talks with both the NDFP and MILF. 

March 5-9, 2001 - GRP-NDFP negotiating panels met in The Netherlands and agreed to

1. Resume formal talks on April 26-29, 2001.

2. Uphold the validity of the ten bilateral agreements entered into by both parties since 1992.

3. Undertake goodwill and confidence-building measures including the release by the GRP of political prisoners and the release by the NDFP of Phil. Army Maj. Noel Buan. 

Ref:  “Joint GRP-NDFP Statement on Resumption of Formal Peace Talks” 

April 6, 2001 - NPA Melito Glor Command released SOLCOM-PA Intelligence officer, Maj. Noel Buan in Mindoro Oriental as a goodwill and confidence-building measure for the resumption of formal peace negotiations. 

April 18, 2001 - Solidarity Conference in support of GRP-NDFP Peace Talks, held in Westin Plaza Hotel, Manila. 

April 27-30, 2001 - Resumption of formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway  

Agenda:

1.   confidence-building and goodwill measures

2.   implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect of Human Rights and Interantional Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)

3.      activation of the Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs) on Socio-Economic Reforms and formation of subcommittees under the RWCs

 

June 1, 2001 – Informal meeting of RWC-SER subcommittees in Antipolo, Rizal 

June 10-13, 2001 - Second round of formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway, unilaterally recessed by the GRP in protest of the June 11 NPA ambush on former Congressman and retired Army Col.  Aguinaldo, a most notorious torturer and human rights violator. 

September ?, 2001  - Decision of the GRP Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (COC-IS)  which oversees the GRP negotiating panels, to resume formal peace talks with the NDFP on Sept 21-25. 

September 21-22, 2001 - Resumption of formal talks aborted after Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes called a special COC-IS meeting reversing the decision to resume formal talks and instead instructing GRP Panel Chair Silvestre Bello III  and panel member Sec. Hernani Braganza to hold informal or “backchannel”  talks with the NDFP panel. 

November 11-14, 2001 - Backchannel talks in The Netherlands between the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels

Agenda:

1. Confidence-building measures

2. Proposed operational guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC)

3. Joint Statement on resumption of formal peace talks

4. Release of Sgt. Jeremias Rosete, Jr  & 3 others captured by the NPA for espionage in Far South Mindanao 

The two parties agreed on the draft “Operational Guidelines for the JMC”  but this was rejected by the COC-IS. 

Ref: Final draft, “Operational Guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee”

        Draft Joint Statement (14 November 2001) 

November 30-Dec 1, 2001 - Backchannel talks in The Netherlands between GRP group composed of Speaker Jose De Venecia, Presidental Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Eduardo Ermita, GRP Panel Chair Bello and Presidential Management Staff Head Silvestre Afable and NDFP panel

Agenda:

            1. GRP proposal - Final Agreement Between the GRP and the NDF

            2. NDFP counterproposal: Document of Understanding to Accelerate the Peace Negotiations Between the GRP and the NDFP

3. Confidence-building measures 

Again, the two sides worked on the two drafts and agreed on a “Document of Understanding to Accelerate the Peace Negotiations Between the GRP and the NDFP”  which was subsequently rejected again by the COC-IS.  

Ref: GRP draft, “Final Agreement Between the GRP and the NDF”

        NDFP draft & final draft, “Document of Understanding to Accelerate the Peace Negotiations Between the GRP and the NDFP”  

Dec 2, 2001 – GRP and NDFP panels meet newly elected Prime Minister Kyell Magne Bondevik of the Royal Norwegian Government. PM Bondevik promised that the Norwegian government will continue to act as facilitator and supporter of the peace negotiations. 

Jan 9-10, 2002  - Backchannel talks (Secs. Bello and Braganza for GRP, Jalandoni, Agcaoili and Ledesma for NDFP) The GRP proposal for a “single final agreement” to be achieved after a series of backchannel or informal talks was presented by GRP Panel chair Atty. Bello and member Sec. Braganza of the DAR. No written proposal was submitted by the GRP to the NDFP.  The NDFP Panel replied that since the proposal was a major departure from the 1992 Joint Hague Declaration, this would have to be referred to the NDFP National Executive Council for its consideration.  The NDFP panel estimated that it would take up to March to obtain a reply from the NDFP Executive Council. 

Ref:   NDFP/LJ statement, “GMA’s Proposal for Final Peace Agreement Violates Hague Joint Declaration (12 Jan 2002) 

March 16, 2002 - Malacanang press statement calling on the NPA and MILF to “lay down your arms… join the mainstream of society.  Formal negotiations were suspended and instead “backchannel talks” will be pursued to arrive at “a settlement within the framework of the (Philippine) Constitution. The GRP negotiating panels for talks with the NDFP and the MILF were likewise placed in limbo with the designation of Norberto Gonzales and Silvestre Afable as the President’s emissaries for backchannel talks with the MILF and NDFP respectively. 

Ref:   Palace Statement on peace talks with CPP, MILF (INQ7.net, 16 March 2002)

          LJ/NDFP statement, “The NPA Will Not Surrender (18 March 2002)

JMS statement, “Macapagal-Arroyo Regime Has Scuttled the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations (18 March 2002) 

August 5, 2002 -  Shortly after the visit of US State Secretary Colin Powell to the Philippines, President Macapagal-Arroyo announced the redeployment of troops involved in the just-concluded “Balikatan 02-1” to various NPA-controlled areas throughout the country, virtually declaring “all-out war” on the CPP-NPA-NDFP.    

August 9, 2002 – US State Secretary Powell announced the inclusion of the CPP-NPA in the US list of “foreign terrorist organizations”. 

August 10, 2002 – Prof. Sison issued a statement condemning the US and Philippine governments as “in cahoots with each other in the designation of the CPP and NPA as terrorists in a futile psywar attempt to intimidate and push them towards capitulation. …”

Prof. Sison warned that “the designation of the CPP and NPA as terrorists is likely to lead to the termination of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and to the intensification of the civil war and even to a war of national liberation against US aggression, if the US troops join the puppets in combat against the NPA.” 

August 12, 2002 – US Treasury Department announced financial sanctions including freezing of assets on the CPP-NPA and Profesor Jose Ma. Sison, who was also listed by the US as an international terrorist. 

August 13, 2002 – The Royal Dutch Government, at the US government’s instance, likewise declared the CPP-NPA and Prof. Sison as “terrorists” and took the same financial sanctions on them, especially on Prof. Sison whose bank account containing allowances received from the Dutch government as a recognized political refugee. 

August 15, 2002 – Prof. Sison accused the US government as “ hell-bent on breaking up the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)… They want to eliminate any prospect of a just and lasting peace in the Philippines and intensify the fighting between the armed forces of the GRP and NDFP. They want to increase US military forces and re-establish US military bases in the Philippines. Thus, the US has dictated upon the Macapagal puppet regime to declare and implement an all-out war policy against the revolutionary forces of the people and insult the NDFP with proposals for the capitulation of the revolutionary forces and violation of the The Hague Joint Declaration and subsequent agreements.”

Ref:  J. M. Sison, “Comment on US Designation of CPP and NPA as Foreign Terrorist Organizations” 

October 28, 2002 – The European Council of Ministers announced its decision to include the NPA and Prof. Sison in its list of terrorists. 

October 31, 2002 – Foreign Affairs Secretary Ople announced that a GRP special mission which he headed had successfully campaigned among European Union member countries to include the CPP, NPA and Prof. Sison in the European Council’s list of terrorists.  The team also included as members PAPP Secretary Ermita, Norberto Gonzales, PMS Head Afable and Undersecretary Purugganan.  

Secretary Ople practically confirmed the NDFP’s charges of using the terrorist listing as leverage to force the NDFP to capitulate when he announced that “the purpose of the diplomatic initiative was to bring pressure on the Communists to agree to go back to the negotiating table and discuss a comprehensive peace settlement that could lead to the end of the decades-old armed struggle to overthrow the Philippine state by force of arms… We want them to lay down their arms and transform themselves into a peaceful political party capable of competing in the constitutional arena, in peaceful and democratic elections.” 

Ref:  DFA Press Release No. 240-02, “European Union Declares NPA, Sison as Terrorist, Ople Announces”

January 17, 2003 – The GRP COC-IS finalized the draft “Final Peace Accord” and submitted it to President Macapagal-Arroyo for approval.

Ref: Final draft, “Final Peace Accord Between the GRP and the NDFP” 

January 30, 2003 – The GRP panel transmits the draft “Final Peace Accord” to the NDFP. 

February 19, 2003 – Exploratory or “backchannel” talks held between GRP delegation and NDFP negotiating panel to explore possibilities and prepare for the resumption of formal peace talks. 

GRP delegation declares resumption of indefinite recess after impasse reached on the question whether or not the GRP violated bilateral agreements in campaigning for the terrorist tag on the CPP-NPA and Prof. Sison, and putting the NDFP under duress in order to pressure it into negotiating and accepting the GRP’s “Final Peace Accord”.

February 21, 2003 – GRP delegation issued press statement announcing that the exploratory talks broke down due to the  NDFP’s insistence on the delisting of the CPP-NPA and Prof. Sison from the terrorist lists as precondition to the holding of formal talks. 

February 23, 2003 – NDFP Negotiating Panel Chair Luis Jalandoni issued press statement charging GRP’s attempt “not to explore ways to resume peace talks with the NDFP…but to dictate the terms of surrender with a six-month ultimatum. …Jalandoni further pointed out the serious violations of prior agreements by the GRP, which he said the GRP refused to acknowledge, much less remedy.  

Ref:  L Jalandoni Press Statement, “GMA Wants Surrender, Not a Just and Lasting Peace”


 


 

* Prepared by the Philippine Peace Center for the Media Forum, “Prospects for Resumption of Peace Negotiations Under the Macapagal-Arroyo Administration”, Rembrandt Hotel, Quezpn City,  April 24, 2003

 

 

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