NewsJoma Sison: Duterte must honor past deals

Joma Sison: Duterte must honor past deals

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By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
@inquirerdotnet
Inquirer Southern Luzon
04:03 AM May 14th, 2016
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/785578/joma-sison-duterte-must-honor-past-deals

National Democratic Front (NDF) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison talks to Philippine media at the NDF office in Utrecht. Photo by Kristine Angeli Sabillo/INQUIRER.net

LUCENA CITY, Philippines—The administration of presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte should respect and comply with existing agreements between the government and communist rebels to ensure the success of the peace negotiations, exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison said on Friday.

In an online interview, Sison said Duterte’s representatives and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) “should reaffirm the existing agreements and comply with the obligations therein.”

“The NDFP can negotiate only with a government that knows how to respect and comply with agreements,” said Sison, NDFP’s chief political consultant, from the Netherlands.
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Luis Jalandoni, NDFP peace panel chair, earlier assailed President Benigno Aquino III for his supposed “disrespect” of agreements signed by government and CPP-NDFP representatives during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos.

NDFP records showed that more than 10 significant agreements had been approved by representatives of both parties since 1992, including two major agreements—the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), signed on Feb. 24, 1995, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl), signed on March 16, 1998.

Under the Jasig, consultants and staff of the NDFP, who were part of the negotiating team, were granted immunity from arrest and detention. It also provided safety guarantees “to create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and free movement during the peace negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiation.”

Carhrihl was the first of four substantive peace agenda items that would form the final peace settlement with the NDFP to end the more than four decades of communist rebellion. The agreement sought to uphold principles of human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of armed conflict.

In his campaign speeches, Duterte had declared that he would reopen peace negotiations with the NDFP if elected president.

Jalandoni, in a separate online interview on Thursday, called for an immediate meeting with Duterte’s representatives to discuss how to proceed with the resumption of peace talks.

Concrete actions

“The next step is for authorized representatives of both sides to meet and discuss concrete actions and plans to effectively move the peace negotiations decisively forward. These could include a mutual ceasefire, which would be a [gesture of goodwill] from both sides,” Jalandoni said.

While the proposed meetings could be done in a venue agreed by both parties, Jalandoni reminded Duterte that past agreements stipulated a “neutral” foreign venue for formal peace negotiations.

Sison said a mutual ceasefire could be worked out to maintain peace during the negotiations.

“The two sides can simply write down the agreement that their respective principals order their operational commands and units to cease and desist from carrying out offensives and firing at their adversaries,” he said.

Sison said there could also be “provisions to ensure the implementation of the agreement, investigate the ceasefire violations and discipline those responsible for these.”

Peter Laviña, Duterte’s spokesperson, earlier said Duterte might order the release of jailed communist rebels to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks.

Jalandoni welcomed Duterte’s offer but clarified that the release of political prisoners was not a precondition to the holding of formal talks. TVJ

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