Sison to come home in connection with peace process or his nomination as National Artist for Literature

NDFP Media Office
Press release
7 April 2017

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said he is open to going home to the Philippines, when there is a highly significant development in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, such as the amnesty and release of all political prisoners listed by the NDFP and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms by the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels in Oslo.

He also said that one more possibility for his homecoming soon could be the result of his nomination as National Artist for Literature (Poetry and Essay). He had just learned that creative writers, performing artists and mass leaders, including a group from the Concerned Artists of the Philippines are nominating him for the National Artist Award. He welcomed the nomination, saying this could also be a “compelling reason” for him to come home. But he modestly said that at this moment, he could not presume to win the award.

Sison brushed off rumors that he is “very sick.” He said he is, in fact, already at the stage of gaining strength after three weeks of thoroughgoing diagnostics and medical treatment and one more week of recuperation in the hospital.
Unlike in the third round held in Rome last January, where Sison skipped the closing ceremonies, he was at every major event of the fourth round this April, including a reception at the residence of the Norwegian ambassador to The Netherlands.

Should a “real milestone of great substance for the Filipino people be achieved in the peace negotiations,” Sison said he would consider visiting the Philippines to join celebrations of the event and touch base with the masses. He said in his opening and closing remarks for the fourth round that he is optimistic that the CASER would be signed within 2017.

Sison is an outstanding poet and essayist, with more than 25 books to his credit. He belongs to the patriotic and revolutionary tradition of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Francisco Balagtas, Lope K. Santos, Amado V. Hernandez and other literary giants of their time. He has contributed greatly to the Filipino sense of nationhood, advocating national sovereignty and independence, democracy, social justice, economic development through land reform and national industrialization, patriotic culture and solidarity with all peoples for peace and development.

He won the Southeast Asia WRITE Award for poetry and the essay in 1986. The award is the highest of its kind in Southeast Asia and is sponsored by the royal family of Thailand. When still the crown prince, the present Thai king handed him the award in a grand ceremony in Bangkok.

His writings have wide influence in the Philippines among his literary peers, the generations of youth since 1959 and in the mass movement for national and social liberation. The works of Sison have also been published abroad by major publishers. He enjoys worldwide recognition as a Filipino patriot and creative writer.

The National Artists are proclaimed by the President, after choosing them from a short list of nominees provided by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Creative writers, performing artists and mass leaders are now urging the CCP and NCAA to announce the guidelines and forms for nomination within April. The awards are given every three years and are due within 2017.###

NDFP rues ‘disconnect’ as AFP kills peasant activist amid fast-tracking of socio-economic reforms pact

NDFP Media Office
Press statement
7 April 2017

“The ink has hardly dried on the documents signifying the advances in talks on agrarian reform, but the military keeps on spilling the blood of farmers.”

Randall Echanis, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) gave this remark as he received word today about the killing by suspected military intelligence elements of a peasant activist in Davao del Norte. The killing took place even as members of the NDFP and GRP RWCs-SER wrapped up their work for the fourth round of formal peace negotiations yesterday.

Sixty-year old Elias Pureza, a member of the Farmers Association of San Isidro was riddled with bullets by six suspected elements of the AFP 60th IB at his residence in Barangay Mamangan, San Isidro, Davao del Norte yesterday, at 8 p.m., Philippine time. It was about an hour before the closing ceremonies for the fourth round of talks held in Noordwijk, The Netherlands yesterday afternoon.

Pureza’s murder demonstrates the urgency of reaching an agreement on much-needed reforms, especially in areas in the countryside embroiled in land disputes, said Echanis.

Negotiations on social and economic reforms are being conducted against a backdrop of mounting killings of peasant leaders and activists. To date, almost 50 farmer-activists have been killed under the Duterte government, about half of them slain since the AFP declared its all-out war policy last February 2.

The RWC-SER of both parties ended the fourth round with a firm consensus on distributing land for free as the “basic principle of genuine agrarian reform.” They also agreed to accelerate the process of concluding the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

The RWC-SERs, however, have identified as many as nine contentious provisions in the NDFP and GRP drafts under the section on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development. These are on coverage (of agrarian reform), confiscation, compensation, lease/leaseback and plantations, international agreements/domestic law, political power/implementation mechanisms, land use, private insurance, and terminologies.

The parties intend to resolve these issues in two bilateral meetings and three exchanges of drafts between April 18 and May 20, said Echanis. They hope to be ready to reconcile the NDFP and GRP drafts by the next round which will be held from May 26 to June 2, also in The Netherlands.

Closing remarks at Fourth Round of Formal Talks

Noordwijk, The Netherlands, April 6, 2017
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front o the Philippines

Her Excellency Elisabeth Slattum, Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process,
Hon. Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process,
Hon. Silvestre Bello, Chairman of the GRP Negotiating Panel,
Dear Compatriots in the Panels and Entire Delegations of the Governmentof Republic of the Philippines and the Natinal Demoratic Front of the Philippines,
Distinguished guests and friends,

The fourth round of formal talks has come to a successful conclusion. As the NDFP Chief Political Consultant, I congratulate both the GRP and NDFP panels and their respective delegations. I thank the Royal Norwegian Government, specially the special envoy and her staff, for having patiently and efficiently facilitated the round.

The Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs-SER) have exchanged their respective comparative color-coded matrices identifying the contentious provisions and those that are acceptable in principle in the NDFP and GRP drafts in order to accelerate the process of concluding a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

The RWCs-SER identified the contentious provisions in the NDFP and GRP draft under Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD), clustered them into nine major topics and have held initial discussions regarding these. Consequently, the RWCs-SER agreed to form and convene Bilateral Teams composed of three members each and supervised by RWC-SER members to work on the sections on the ARRD and National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED).

The bilateral teams are scheduled to hold work meetings in Metro Manila or elsewhere as may be mutually agreed upon in the Philippines. They have agreed on a progression of work meetings, involving discussions and common drafting. They have required themselves to submit reports to the RWCs on SER one week before the fifth round of formal talks.

I propose that the RWCS and bilateral teams to start drafting the executive orders and the legislative bills to be annexed to CASER and aimed at realizing the social and economic reforms required by CASER. In this connection, research has to be accelerated on what is to be done by the public and Filipino private sectors in cooperation o achieve ARRD and NIED. The Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill should should be taken into account in making a new land reform law. The priority industries to be established in order to lay the industrial foundation of the Philippine economy should be listed up in consultation with the industrial experts and prospective Filipino investors.

In the forthcoming round, the RWCs-SER shall discuss and work on the remaining items under the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Part IV), National Industrialization and Economic Development (Part V), Environmental Protection, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Part VI), and the outputs of the bilateral teams.

After devoting so much time to the subject of ceasefire before and during the current round, the GRP and NDFP have agreed to formulate an interim joint ceasefire agreement that will boost trust and confidence in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. They have agreed to direct their respective Ceasefire Committees to meet in-between formal talks “to discuss, formulate, and finalize the guidelines and ground rules for the implementation” of the agreement.

The prospective ceasefire’s guidelines and ground rules shall govern the presence of armed units and elements of both parties in local communities, the creation of buffer zones, the definition of prohibited, hostile, and provocative acts. A ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism is provided for to oversee the ceasefire’s implementation and handle complaints and alleged violations. The Interim Joint Ceasefire Agreement shall be signed immediately after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

Matters concerning a single govermental authority and taxation shall be properly discussed in forging the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR). Such matters can be finally resolved by the GRP and NDFP co-founding the Federal Repubic of the Philippines. Thus, the NDFP will not be capitulating to a pre-existing government but can assume reponsibilities in the new government.

The Interim Joint Ceasefire Agreement shall be valid and effective until a permanent ceasefire or truce is forged as part of the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (CAEHDF) or otherwise terminated by any of the two Parties for any reason we cannot foresee now. The ceasefire agreement is necessary and of high importance. But far more important and decisive in realizing a just and lasting peace is the adoption and implementation of basic social, economic and political reforms that are needed an demanded by the Filipino people.

We look forward to the fifth round of formal talks with high hopes. We all expect that before the forthcoming round a great deal of work has been accomplished by bilateral work meetings under the RWCs on SER and by the Ceasefire Committees of the GRP and NDFP. We aso expect the Reciprocal Working Groups on CAPCR to work in preparation for participation in the fifth round.

Thank you.

Closing speech for the fourth round of peace negotiations

Noordwijk an Zee, The Netherlands, 6 April 2017
By Fidel V. Agcaoili
Chairperson, Negotiating Panel of the NDF

Her Excellency Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum, Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process, and her team of facilitators from the Royal Norwegian Government,
Compatriots in the Negotiating Panels and Delegations of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),
Esteemed guests and friends,

We are concluding a successful fourth round of formal talks. I will not mince words when I say it has been a difficult four days of peace negotiations. We came to this fourth round of formal talks determined as ever to push the forging of substantive agreements on basic reforms, specifically the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms so that both we in the NDFP and the GRP can firmly address – and redress – the chain of issues that lie at the roots of the armed conflict.

But to break the two-month impasse in the peace negotiations that resulted from the lifting of both sides’ unilateral ceasefires, we have decided to exercise maximum flexibility while staying firm on principles and work with the GRP Negotiating Panel to sign an Agreement on Interim Joint Ceasefire. Yesterday, on April 5, 2017, the two parties signed the agreement outlining the objectives, guidelines and ground rules for crafting the interim joint ceasefire agreement.

The document we signed yesterday is not yet a ceasefire agreement but it is a significant step toward making an interim joint ceasefire agreement. Our respective ceasefire committees are expected to immediately flesh out the terms and mechanisms for the interim joint ceasefire agreement. Their work will not be a walk in the park in view of the many concerns relating to escalating militarization and human rights violations in communities.

But what is important is that we continue to talk even while fighting, in view of the absence of any ceasefire declaration. What is important is that we do not lose sight of the substance of peace, which is not equivalent to the silencing of the guns.

It is good that in this round of the negotiations, the Reciprocal Working Committees of Social and Economic Reforms have firmed up free land distribution as the basic principle of genuine agrarian reform. Both parties have agreed to accelerate the forging of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms and formed bilateral teams to work on the draft in a neutral venue in Manila.

The NDF looks forward to further steps by our counterpart to overcome serious obstacles that hamper the progress of the negotiations, which relate to the enforcement of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRIHL and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees or JASIG as well as the standing commitments contained in the previous Oslo and Rome joint statements of the negotiating panels.

Before I end, on behalf of the NDF Panel, I thank again the Royal Norwegian Government for its untiring support for the peace process in the Philippines. The road to peace is not a straight line, and we commend Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum and her team of facilitators for working hard to connect all the dots together to move the peace process forward.

Maraming salamat po. Thank you.

NDFP, GRP agree to forge interim joint ceasefire agreement

NDFP Media Office
Press statement
5 April 2017

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) today agreed to work together to forge an interim joint ceasefire agreement. They formalized their commitment through a document entitled Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire which was signed this afternoon by NDFP panel chair Fidel Agcaoili and GRP panel chair Silvestre Bello III.

The interim joint ceasefire agreement shall be signed simultaneous to, or immediately after, the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). CASER is expected to be finished within the year.

The interim joint ceasefire agreement (or the Comprehensive Joint Ceasefire Agreement) shall be effective until a permanent ceasefire is forged as part of the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.

Both parties agreed to direct their respective Ceasefire Committees to meet even in-between formal talks “to discuss, formulate, and finalize the guidelines and ground rules for the implementation” of the agreement.

The Comprehensive Joint Ceasefire Agreement is expected to be more stable than the previous unilateral ceasefires that existed from August 2016 to January 2017.

The prospective ceasefire’s guidelines and ground rules shall govern the presence of armed units and elements of both parties in local communities and the creation of buffer zones. They shall include an agreement on what constitutes prohibited, hostile, and provocative acts. They will also provide for a ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism to oversee the ceasefire’s implementation and handle complaints and alleged violations.

The matter of a single governmental authority and taxation shall be discussed and resolved in forging the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms, the third substantive agenda of the peace negotiations.

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Bellicose statements from AFP poisoning the atmosphere

NDFP Media Office | Press statement
4 April 2017

Statements from AFP chief, Gen. Eduardo Año, virulently attacking the NPA is poisoning the atmosphere of the ongoing peace talks in The Netherlands. While the GRP and NDFP panels are trying to negotiate peace, the militarists in the GRP are only talking about war.

Año’s claim that the NPA is anti-development is turning the truth upside down. The NPA has been engaged in socio-economic programs in areas it controls precisely because of the utter neglect and indifference of successive governments in attending to the people’s basic needs.

The NPA carries out programs in health, literacy and improving the living standards of the people through production and marketing cooperatives. This is where much of the proceeds from revolutionary taxation are spent, unlike the GRP where tax money is eaten up by corruption.

The AFP itself is an institution where corruption is rampant. Generals have it so good and some retire as millionaires. Meanwhile, their troops on the ground sometimes go hungry and steal from the peasants their chickens and eggs.

In the countryside, the peasant masses and indigenous people consider the NPA as the army of the poor, while the AFP is the army of the landlords, landgrabbers and other exploiters. The peasants call AFP troops “Hapon,” likening them to the brutal Japanese soldiers during the time of the Japanese occupation.

The NPA has just celebrated its 48th anniversary full of confidence in the bright future of the revolution. The AFP from the time of the fascist Marcos dictatorship to the big-landlord government of Benigno Aquino III has failed to defeat the NPA. The reason for this is the NPA has the support of the people.

No amount of “fake news” and disinformation from the AFP can turn the truth upside down.

Reference:
Dan Borjal
email: dfborjal@gmail.com
twitter: https://twitter.com/dfborjal
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dborjal
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Resist peace-spoiling by US stooges

Communist Party of the Philippines
April 4, 2017

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) congratulates the NDFP and GRP Negotiating Panels for successfully pushing through with the opening of the fourth round of peace negotiations yesterday despite the peace-spoiling by stooges of US imperialism in the military establishment. To support the talks, the Party calls on the Filipino people to reject these US stooges and resist their efforts to spoil the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations.

These US stooges, mainly Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Gen. Eduardo Año, are acting in behalf of US imperialism, in seeking to derail the NDFP-GRP peace negotiations with the long-term aim of keeping the country in a perpetual state of economic backwardness, people’s unrest and civil war.

On April 1, just before the 4th round of peace negotiations could start, Lorenzana issued vitriolic statements and foisted demands contradictory to the spirit of the March 11 GRP-NDFP Joint Statement. Lorenzana and his ilk in the AFP insisted that the fourth round of peace talks be devoted to forge a bilateral ceasefire, in the hope of preempting negotiations on the more pressing questions of socio-economic reforms.

Echoing the line of the US stooges, GRP President Duterte put forward more conditions prior to the fourth round of talks, thus pushing it to the brink. The fourth round of talks proceeded yesterday only because of the openness of the NDFP Negotiating Panel to discuss the possibility of a joint unilateral ceasefire and the flexibility of both sides in setting the agenda of the talks.

US imperialism opposes substantive agreements
Lorenzana and his fellow US stooges are trying to prevent peace negotiations from moving forward in efforts to discuss and resolve the substantive socio-economic issues, especially the most crucial issues of genuine land reform and national industrialization. They also want to prevent negotiations on political and constitutional reforms where the question of national sovereignty will be a critical matter.

The three fascist stooges serve US big arms and weapons industry, its big capitalist trade and investment interests in the Philippines and its local partners among big business (the Zobels and Ayalas) and the big landlords (including the Aquino-Cojuangcos).

They are bent on keeping the Philippines as an exclusive dominion of US imperialism, preventing it from exercising an independent foreign policy to engage in economic, diplomatic and military relations with other countries. They serve the aim of the US imperialists to secure its hegemony in the country in the face of rising challenges in the context of a multipolar world.

On Lorenzana terror-tagging
Lorenzana insists on the worn-out US terrorist tagging against the CPP and NPA to misrepresent the revolutionary forces, draw attention away from the fundamental socio-economic issues and put to question the very basis of peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GRP

This goes against the January unilateral move of the GRP Negotiating Panel which formally asked the US to remove NDFP Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Ma. Sison from its terrorist listing. Indeed, the conduct of the peace negotiations itself, facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government, is the most glaring negation of Lorenzana’s terrorist tagging of the revolutionary forces.

Lorenzana’s terror tagging the CPP and NPA is also a vain attempt to cover up the rapidly piling cases of terrorist war crimes of the AFP in the conduct of aerial bombardments, shellings and killings of peasant activists over the past few weeks.

US wants AFP to wage all-out war
Lorenzana et al are more interested in waging an all-out war against the Filipino people in order to suppress their struggle to end US imperialism and attain national liberation. By having the AFP wage all-out war, the US military industry is assured that the country will continue to purchase helicopters and jet fighters from the US and US-affiliated corporations to drop US-made bombs and carry out armed suppression against peasant communities and the ancestral land of minority people. This is the same case across the globe today, where the US government has instigated or carried out bombings and wars such as in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Nigeria and elsewhere.

In just the past few days, the AFP has been on an aerial bombardment campaign in Mindoro, Agusan del Norte and Davao Oriental. Aerial bombing runs have also been conducted in Abra, Agusan del Sur, Sarangani, Davao and other provinces. Just recently, armed AFP troops have occupied Barangay Baglay in Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, as well as other villages in Abra, Marilog, Sultan Kudarat, Mindoro.

General Año must be made to answer for the successive killings by his men of civilians Renel Mirabeles of Bagong Silang, Sipocot, Camarines Sur (March 30), Jeffrey Santos of Barangay Tagbinonga, Mati, Davao Oriental (March 30) and Danilo Nadal of Barangay Tibagun, Pantukan, Compostela Valley (April 2). Since February, close to 50 peasants and members of the national minority, mostly residents of areas which the state security forces suspect to be part of the NPA mass base, have been killed by operating troops of the AFP.

In waging aerial bombardments and a campaign of armed suppression against the poeple, they are, however, succeeding only in convincing thousands of people to support and join the New People’s Army.

Reject militarist framework of US stooges
The CPP calls on the Filipino people to urge the Duterte regime to reject the war-freak mindset of the three US stooges and push the peace negotiations to tackle the substantive issues of socio-economic reforms and not derail the process by insisting on a premature bilateral ceasefire without prior agreements on substantive socio-economic and political reforms.

For peace talks to continue moving forward, GRP President Duterte must reject the insistence of the militarists to prematurely push a bilateral ceasefire agreement even before agreements on substantive issues are forged. Discussions on the more crucial socio-economic issues, which the GRP panel also consider as the meat of the negotiations, should not be preempted.

The CPP and all revolutionary forces calls for acceleration of negotiations to forge an agreement on comprehensive socio-economic reforms which are at the root of the armed conflict. A bilateral ceasefire can be discussed as a consequence of the CASER and CAPCR.

NDFP corrects GRP’s “foul and erroneous” statement on CASER “snag”

National Democratic Front of the Philippines Peace (NDF) Reciprocal Working Committee on Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (RWC-CASER) vice-chairperson Alan Jazmines corrected the “foul and erroneous” statements issued yesterday by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and by the supervising peace panel member of the GRP’s side in the RWC-CASER, Hernani Braganza.

The OPAPP and Braganza said that the current GRP-NDF peace talks taking place in Oslo “hit a snag”, accordingly after the NDF “refused to include” nine (9) major “outcomes” that the GRP panel wanted to include in the agreement.

The said “outcomes” proposed by the GRP’s side in the RWC-CASER include “poverty eradication”, “environment and climate change”, “globally competitive economy”, “adequate and quality social services”, “reduced inequalities”, “peaceful rural communities”, “food security”, “living incomes” and “gender equality and representation.”

NDF RWC-SER chair Julie De Lima had earlier stated that those nine “outcomes” proposed by the GRP’s side on CASER were mere enumerations – actually lifted from the NDF’s lengthy draft proposals– the GRP’s side on CASER still had no elaborations at all to explain the content and expectations of those nine “outcomes”.

“On the other hand, the NDF’s side on CASER had already submitted lengthy comprehensive drafts on the “bases, scope and applicability” and substantive discussions on various aspects of social and economic reforms, including on the subjects of agrarian reform; national industrialization; environmental protection; rights of the working people; foreign economic and trade relations; monetary and fiscal policies,” Jazmines said.

Jazmines added that the NDF’s side on CASER consider these as the “solutions that seek to address the roots of the long sufferings of the mass of the Filipino people and relatedly the long-standing armed conflict in the country.”

“The NDF’s side in the RWC-CASER did not just throw away the nine (9) major “outcomes” that the GRP panel proposed as “solutions”, but instead made efforts to incorporate, in the NDF’s long well-prepared lengthy outline on CASER proposals, a series of edited versions of the nine “outcomes” proposed by the GRP Peace panel on CASER, and included such in a joint outline of a comprehensive CASER proposal as the working draft of the discussions on social and economic reforms,” says Jazmines.

“After a couple more of editing sessions, the two negotiating panels on CASER agreed to a final outline on a comprehensive CASER proposal,” he said.

“This, the NDF considers as an indication of initial success in the start of the CASER negotiations,” Jazmines said.

Based on such an outline, further and more substantive panel-to-panel talks between the NDF and GRP are scheduled to take place in the next several months. #

Second round opens on an optimistic note but a thorny issue persists

Press Release | 6 October 2016

The second round of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations started with the two panels expressing optimism on the success of the talks. Both panels are acutely aware of the high expectations among our people especially since the next item in the substantive agenda, social and economic reforms, has been variously described as the “meat of the peace negotiations” and the “heart and soul of the peace negotiations”.  This is because it would involve addressing one of the principal causes of the ongoing armed conflict: widespread poverty along with issues of unemployment, underdevelopment, social injustice and so on.

But one thorny issue has persisted that is testing the patience of the NDFP negotiating panel and threatening to spoil the initial optimism that has arisen under the new administration of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte.

The new NDFP panel Chair Fidel Agcaoili, pointed to this issue in his opening speech when he highlighted the long-standing concern of the NDFP regarding the release of more than 400 political prisoners accumulated during previous GRP administrations in violation of CARHRIHL and the Hernandez political offense doctrine by piling up charges of common crimes on suspected NDFP personnel.  The release of the current political prisoners is therefore a matter of justice.

According to NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP was greatly encouraged when Pres. Duterte promised to proclaim a general amnesty as the most effective way of redressing this injustice.  Because of this, the NDFP responded positively to the long-standing demand of the GRP for a ceasefire.  In the past the NDFP was cool to the idea of a ceasefire because GRP forces had the habit of violating their own ceasefire anyway by continuing to conduct military operations in the field.

The NDFP has kept to its obligation on its unilateral ceasefire declaration.  The current ceasefire has been holding and so far no fighting has been reported between the AFP and the NPA. However, the promise to release the political prisoners seems to be suffering from delay after delay after delay.

The NDFP panel chair served notice to the GRP side that if this anomalous situation continues, it can serve as a disincentive to the NDFP in further pursuing the discussions on prolonging the ceasefire and arriving at a bilateral agreement on a more stable ceasefire.  It can also hinder progress in working out agreements on social and economic reforms (SER), political and constitutional reforms (PCR) and end of hostilities and disposition of forces (EHDF).

On the other hand, a prompt resolution of this issue will go a long way in creating a favorable atmosphere for prolonging the ceasefire and advancing the negotiations on SER, PCR and EHDF.

Agcaoili recalled that it was Pres. Duterte himself who offered to declare amnesty as the most expeditious way of effecting the release the more than 400 political prisoners to redress the injustice. Pres. Duterte made the promise during their first meeting on May 16 in connection with the resumption of the peace negotiations.

He said that Duterte was of the opinion that amnesty would be the best mode of release among the various methods that Agcaoili had recommended, such as archiving, bail, recognizance in effecting the release of all the political prisoners, including JASIG-protected persons, the sick, elderly, women and long-term detainees for humanitarian reasons.

Agcaoili clarified that the proffered amnesty proclamation pertains to the currently detained political prisoners and not to a general amnesty that is mutually extended to the forces of both parties in the final settlement of an armed conflict.  He made the clarification in view of recent statements from GRP panel chief Silvestre Bello III that an amnesty proclamation would be issued by Duterte only upon the successful conclusion of the peace negotiations.

He stressed that these two amnesty concepts should not be muddled, “lest we be accused of using the political prisoners as leverage to secure advantage across the negotiating table or to demand capitulation of one side by another.”

“The continuing detention of the more than 400 political prisoners is manifestly a grave injustice,” said Agcaoili.  “It does not befit a regime that wants to bring about change by engaging in peace negotiations with the revolutionary movement and the Moro people.”  #

Reference:
NDFP Media Group
Dan Borjal
email: dfborjal@gmail.com
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Announcement on the new composition of the NDFP Negotiating Panel

The national leadership of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has granted the long-standing request of Comrade Luis G. Jalandoni to resign as the Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel.

The national leadership of the NDFP is grateful for the valuable service that Comrade Jalandoni has given to the peace negotiations. He continues to be involved in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations as a Senior Adviser.

In his place, the national leadership of the NDFP has appointed Fidel V. Agcaoili as the new Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel. Comrade Agcaoili has been serving as the Vice-Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel in the past years.

In order to further strengthen the NDFP Negotiating Panel, NDFP Peace Consultant, Benito Tiamzon is named by the NDFP national leadership as Member of the NDFP Negotiating Panel.#

Reference:
NDFP Media Group
Dan Borjal
email: dfborjal@gmail.com
twitter: https://twitter.com/dfborjal
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dborjal
viber: Dan Borjal
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