By Randy Felix Malayao
NDFP Peace consultant

Where is the Government of the Philippines (GPH) – National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Talks heading? Despite the widespread calls of peace advocates, the Aquino government has paralyzed the peace talks after failing to impose its unjust wishes on the NDFP.

The Aquino regime has declared The 1992 Hague Joint Declaration as a ‘document of perpetual division,’ a position that would put the whole process back to zero.
The Hague Joint Declaration outlines the agenda of the peace talks, namely, 1) human rights and international humanitarian law; 2) socio-economic reforms; 3) political and constitutional reforms, and the 4) on the cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces, in this order.

The Aquino regime has also rendered the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) inoperative (JASIG).

JASIG provides protection, immunity from arrest and surveillance to peace talks participants that include panelists, consultants, technical and security staff.
JASIG is deemed inoperative 30 days after (both parties) the declaration of the termination of peace talks. Neither party has declared that it has already terminated the talks.

The GPH has deliberately refused to comply with its commitments in agreements forged with the NDFP, despite the full knowledge that compliance would immediately break the impasse and cause the resumption of the formal talks.

Oslo Agreement of 2011 stipulates that most if not all political consultants are to be released on the basis of JASIG, humanitarian or for practical reasons.

No releases were made resulting to the suspension of peace talks. The GPH did not only renege on the signed accord, it has continuously arrested NDFP consultants and their staff. Such arrests are deemed violative of the JASIG that have caused temporary setbacks to the peace process.

More JASIG violations

As of late, there are now about 20 consultants detained and charged of trumped-up common crimes.

Among them is Kennedy Bangibang, consultant for Cordillera and national minority affairs. He was arrested on February 23, 2013 in Abatan, Buguias, Benguet and since his arrest, he has been transferred from Camp Molintas to Camp Bado Dangwa in La Trinidad, Benguet, where he was detained overnight after the arrest, and then to the Kalinga BJMP District Jail (February 24–July 25, 2013), to the Baguio City Jail on August 2014 and then back to the Kalinga BJMP District Jail.

The arrests constitute JASIG violations. The most recent are as follows:
1) Benito Tiamzon – with NDFP Document of Identification (DI) Number No. ND978227 under the assumed name “Crising Banaag”. Arrested in Cebu on March 22, 2014 along with Wilma Austria.
2) Wilma Tiamzon – No. ND978226 using her real name Wilma Austria. She was delisted in the Joint DND-DILG Order of Battle Memo as she is a consultant of the NDFP. But she was arrested March 22, 2014, along with Benito Tiamzon.
3) Rogelio Posadas, with NDFP DI Number ND978313/“Angel Jose”, was arrested on January 9, 2015.
4) Reynaldo Hugo, with NDFP DI No ND978239 /“Orgel Dimaano”, was arrested on January 27, 2015.
5) Ruben Saluta, with NDFP DI No ND978240.“Lirio Magtibay”, was arrested on March 4, 2015 along with many others.
6) Alberto Silva – NDFP National Consultant; he drafted portions of the NDFP’s documents regarding genuine land reform, national industrialization, and proposals for labor laws and policies. He has been issued a DI, No. ND978229/“Percival Rojo” was arrested on July 1, 2015.
7) Ernesto Lorenzo – NDFP Regional Consultant for Southern Tagalog Region, with DI No. ND978299/“Lean Martinez” was arrested on July 20, 2015 in Gilmore, Quezon City and is currently detained the BJMP- SICA at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City. On the day of his arrest, Lorenzo’s residence in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan was also raided and his wife, Joyce Latayan, was arrested.
8) Concha Araneta-Bocala – NDFP Consultant for the Visayas, with DI No. ND978245/“Remi Estrella”, arrested on August 2015. She also served as negotiator during the 1986 peace talks in the Visayas.

Clamor for the resumption of talks

Despite all these violations, the NDFP has declared it is willing to hold informal talks, as proposed by the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government. Ambassador Hon. Elizabeth Slattum is moving heaven and earth to revive the talks as the Aquino Regime only has a few months in power.

Various peace and human rights advocates have been pressing both parties to return to the table and resume the peace talks. The NDFP welcomes this. The GPH on the other hand asserts that the NDFP is making unreasonable preconditions (i.e. release of prisoners and consultants).

The NDFP Peace Panel Chair Louie Jalandoni has assured that the panel is ever ready to resume formal talks on the basis of past bilateral peace agreements in order to address the roots of the armed conflict. It asserts that the demand to release peace consultants is not a precondition as it is covered by past agreements (e.g. Oslo Agreement of 2011 and CARHRIHL).

Jose Maria Sison, the chief political consultant of the NDFP, on the other hand, has repeatedly declared that it is the policy of the revolutionary forces to be open to negotiate with any administration of the reactionary government that is seriously willing to negotiate with it.

During the course of the three rounds of informal talks (September, October, December 2014 and February in The Netherlands), a draft agreement to be signed by the two Panels was made for the resumption of the formal talks, which include, among others, the following:
1) respect for all signed agreements;
2) negotiations on CASER;
3) reconstitution of the JASIG and release of detained consultants who would participate in the talks; and,
4) negotiations for the truce and cooperation as proposed years earlier by the NDF will take place with the participation of Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria and JMS.

On the CASER, the NDFP sees the urgent need to tackle socio-economic reforms such as land reform and national industrialization. It seeks to take up concrete issues like the Hacienda Luisita and other haciendas; destructive and plunderous mining; the killing of indigenous peoples’ leaders and activists; the public private partnership and its effects on urban poor communities; the disastrous effects of mining on the indigenous peoples and the environment, among others.

A timetable has been set for the negotiations. As a sign of goodwill, both sides also agreed to make releases. But all these have yet to be realized as talks have been suspended indefinitely since February.