Vice President Binay is Misinformed

by Fidel V. Agcaoili
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Monitoring Committee 
23 August 2011
In reaction to a news item that said Vice President (VP) Jejomar “Jojo” Binay had claimed that the New People’s Army (NPA) is recruiting children, Mr. Fidel V. Agcaoili, Chairperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Human Rights Monitoring Committee (NDFP-MC), said today that VP Jojo Binay is misinformed.
“Obviously whoever wrote the speech of VP Binay did not read the 23 April 2011 report of United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Children and Armed Conflict”,  Agcaoili stated.
“In paragraphs 175 and 176 of the Secretary General’s report, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) were identified in documented cases of recruiting and using children as combatants and guides, as well as in torturing and illegally detaining children to extract information on their relatives suspected to be members of the NPA,” Agcaoili added.
The UN report also implicated the AFP and CAFGUs in the killing and maiming of children and, in violation of international humanitarian law and the GPH’s own laws, in occupying schools, health centers and public buildings “as barracks and command centers, including for storing weapons and ammunition,” and “approaching children, questioning them and allowing them to handle weapons”.
On the other hand, the UN report only said that its task force on monitoring “continues to receive credible reports of children associated with the New People’s Army”, but without citing any concrete case or incident, all the while unfairly applying on the NPA the so-called Paris Principles, an anti-national liberation movement document formulated by non-governmental organizations.
“From the beginning and especially under Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, the armed forces of the Government of the Philippines (GPH), including the police and paramilitary units, have deliberately been targeting children in their operations in the countryside – fabricating cases of so-called child soldiers as in the cases of Levi Mabanan and Edfu de la Cruz, sexually abusing young women as in the case of two sisters in Pinukpuk, Kalinga, and killing children as in the cases of the Golloso children and Grecil Buya,” Agcaoili noted.
As early as 1999, the revolutionary movement has already raised to 18 the age for recruitment in the New People’s Army as evidenced by the respective memorandum issued by the Executive Committee of the Central Committee (EC-CC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Military Commission of the CC of the CPP.
“We suggest that VP Binay require his speech writers to double check their data and not make false accusations against the NPA,” Agcaoili concluded.

Ms. Teresita Quintos-Deles is Mistaken on the JASIG

By Fidel V. Agcaoili
Spokesperson, Negotiating Panel
6 June 2011
Ms. Teresita (Ging) Quintos-Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process of the Government of the Philippines (GPH, formerly designated as the GRP), is mistaken in claiming that the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) is a mere side-table issue in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.
Ms. Ging Deles should be reminded that the primary purposes of the JASIG are “to facilitate the peace negotiations, create a favourable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and movement during the peace negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiations.”
The JASIG is a very important agreement in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. It is what enables the Parties to directly engage in peace negotiations by providing safety and immunity guarantees to their respective negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel who participate in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. It actually tests the sincerity and commitment of the Parties to the peace negotiations.
As stipulated in the Joint Communique signed by the Parties and witnessed by Ambassador Ture Lundh of the Royal Norwegian Government on 18 January 2011 in Oslo: “The GPH Panel agreed to work for the expeditious release of detained NDFP consultants and other JASIG protected persons in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and in the spirit of goodwill.”
The NDFP proposal to defer the talks of the Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs SER) and the Working Groups on Political and Constitutional Reforms (WGs PCR) scheduled in Oslo this month is meant to allow the GPH to comply with the JASIG.
The Parties may create mechanisms to facilitate discussions on the full implementation of the JASIG. But such mechanisms do not relegate the full implementation of the JASIG to a side-table issue. The claim of Ms. Ging Deles is simply preposterous.
Moreover, if the GPH cannot be trusted to comply with the JASIG, how can it be expected to comply with agreements on social and economic reforms, and on political and constitutional reforms, or, for that matter, in any agreement that would enable the Parties to enter into an alliance and truce?