November 24, 2017/
It was the elusive fifth round of formal peace talks in Oslo between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) that was scuttled by President Rodrigo Duterte in repeated statements this week.
In a statement following Malacañan’s announcement of termination of the peace process Thursday night, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison said the fifth round of formal talks was actually slated on November 25 to 27.
“After several months of hard work in unilateral and bilateral meetings, the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels were ready to do a little polishing of common drafts on November 22 and 23 in Utrecht, The Netherlands for finalization in the slated fifth round of formal talks in Oslo on November 25 to 27, 2017,” Sison said.
Sison also revealed that both parties actually expected the negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR) would begin in the sixth round and be completed anytime between March and May of 2018 “on time for possible revisions of the 1987 Constitution of GRP.”
“Unfortunately, Duterte, the principal of the GRP Negotiating Panel, started on Nov. 18 to rant every day against the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines), NPA (New People’s Army) and the NDFP in connection with recent incidents in the armed conflict,” Sison said.
Presidential spokesperson announced Thursday Duterte signed Proclamation Number 360 terminating the peace talks citing “acts of violence and hostilities” by the NPA, including attacks against the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in recent weeks.
Since Saturday, Duterte has threatened to tag the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA and the NDFP as terrorists, vowing to arrest even their so-called legal fronts such as the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
Amnesty, ceasefire, rural development
In his statement entitled “How Duterte sabotaged the GRP-NDFP Peace Process,” Sison revealed the three agenda that could have discussed Oslo starting tomorrow.
Sison said the common drafts were those pertaining to:
- the general amnesty and release of all political prisoners in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),
the coordinated unilateral ceasefires (CUC) as the advance from a stand down type of ceasefire from the fifth to the sixth round of formal talks in January 2018; and
Part I Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and Part II National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).
“The GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels were so happy and confident that they would be able to initial the CASER and the agreements on the general amnesty and release of all political prisoners and the coordinated unilateral ceasefires at the closing session of the fifth round of formal talks and formally sign all of these at the closing ceremony of the sixth round in January 2018,” Sison said.
The fifth formal round of peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Duterte government in Oslo would have been the first time media coverage is disallowed.
Sources told Kodao some members and consultants of the GRP Negotiating Panel as well as some of their NDFP counterparts were in The Netherlands since last week for the November 22 and 23 preparatory meetings.
Duterte also ordered the cancellation of the first scheduled fifth round of formal talks in The Netherlands last May after failing to force the NDFP to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement.
Sison accused Duterte of violating their mutual agreement that talks would be discreet until there would be good news to announce at the end of the fifth or sixth round of formal talks.
Sison said that Duterte’s rants unwittingly exposed his former student’s “scarce, shallow and defective knowledge of the peace process” such as citing recent armed clashes as the basis for terminating the formal negotiations when there are no ceasefire agreements in place.
Sison said the AFP and the PNP are committing violations “far worse in scale and severity than those alleged by Duterte against the NPA.”
“And yet NDFP never threatened to terminate the peace negotiations,” he said, adding the NDFP also did not ignore the GRP proposal for a stand down agreement prior to the adoption and implementation of the coordinated unilateral ceasefire.
Sison said Duterte is showing symptoms he is mentally unfit to handle the complexities of the affairs of his state and the peace process between the GRP and NDFP, urging officials in the Cabinet and the AFP to consider replacing the President in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.
“Showing gross ignorance of the peace process, he even referred to The Netherlands as the facilitator rather than the Royal Norwegian Government,” Sison said.
“Among his lucid statements in the course of his rants are those pertaining to his voluntary admission as a fascist in the service of the US (Amboy), his overwhelming desire for killing and war and his advice to the NDFP to negotiate with his successor in due time,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)