Observation on Duterte’s 3-month review of process & agreements in GRP-NDFP negotiations

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
June 22, 2018

On the basis of the unrevoked Proclamation Nos. 360 and 374 as well as recent announcements and indications being made by Duterte himself and other GRP officials, many people expect that Duterte will make from his ¨review¨ certain conclusions and demands that he will try to impose on the NDFP and that NDFP will certainly refuse, thus rendering impossible peace negotiations between GRP and NDFP, at least for as long as Duterte is in power.

Below are some of the major expectations:

  1. He will deny the existence of a state of civil war, a nationwide armed conflict of close to 50 years, between his reactionary government and the revolutionary government and their respective armies. Duterte´s reactionary government is one of big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists servile to foreign monopoly capitalism. The revolutionary government is that of the workers, peasants and other oppressed people, with organs of political power led by the CPP, defended by the NPA and represented by the NDFP in peace negotiations.

  2. He will insult the revolutionary forces and people represented by the NDFP by categorizing them as mere nonstate actors unworthy of being respected as a co-belligerent in a civil war and slandering as mere ¨terrorists”and ¨criminals¨, not even as people or revolutionary movement driven to revolt against foreign domination and social injustice. This possibility is already presaged by the unrevoked Proclamation 374 designating the CPP and NPA as ¨terrorist¨ organizations.

  3. Consequent to 1 and 2, he will invalidate all previous previous agreements as having no basis in law, domestic and international, and insult as unlawful and stupid previous administrations of GRP and his own administration for having negotiated at all and having made agreements with the NDFP, instead of simply suppressing the forces and people represented by the NDFP with military and police action.

  4. He will avoid expressing the full counterrevolutionary arrogance of 1, 2 and 3 above by trying anyway to obtain the capitulation and political suicide of the NDFP and the people’s democratic government by demanding that they accept being categorized as nonstate actor and that the agreements with the GRP are only between the GRP agency called the OPAPP and the NDFP as a mere private entity subject to GRP criminal law at the whim of the tyrant Duterte.

If Duterte will try to impose any of the above on the NDFP, he will be quickly rendering impossible negotiations with GRP under his regime. He will be shutting out completely the possibility of achieving a just and lasting peace through negotiations and agreements on social, economic and political reforms. My observation here should help quicken his understanding of The Hague Joint Declaration and subsequent agreements between the GRP and NDFP.

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Palace: Duterte to review all past agreements with Reds
(philstar.com) – June 21, 2018 – 9:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will personally review agreements signed by his predecessors and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to determine which are binding on his administration, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said all talks with the communists were put on hold until the review is completed.

“The president will review the agreements because there are many acronyms used like JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) and CAHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law). He said: ‘I am overwhelmed by them. What are they?’ So he will look into them one by one and see which ones are binding on the government itself and whether they are binding only on specific administrations,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Agreements, even those signed by presidents, are generally signed on behalf of a government. President Fidel V. Ramos, for example, signed the The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, which lays down guidelines on the peace negotiations as an “emissary of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Roque said: “All the negotiations are on hold until the president reviews (the agreements) and the president has said… I’m revealing for the first time that he will personally review all this agreements entered into by all his predecessors.”

Duterte has deferred to a later date the formal talks slated for June 28, saying he needs to study the existing agreements between the government and the communists.

Communists suspect the rescheduling of talks was made to allow government forces to launch attacks against the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the communist movement. The military has denied the allegation.

Roque noted that the previous administrations have different approaches to the peace talks with communists.

“That’s the difficulty in negotiating with non-state actors. If you sign a treaty, it is binding on any government because it was entered into by the state. If an agreement is between the state and non-state actors, we know that different administrations have their own thrusts when it comes to the conduct of the peace talks,” the presidential spokesman said.

“That is what the president wants to clarify,” he added.

Roque said among the agreements to be reviewed is the JASIG, which prohibits the arrest and detention of peace consultants of the NDFP.

The president has asked Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to return to the Philippines to join the peace talks but the rebel leader refused, saying the negotiations should be done in a neutral territory.

Asked whether Duterte’s offer to Sison still stands, Roque replied: “Well, he does not want to come home. So it was an offer rejected already by Joma Sison for now. I think that’s my understanding.”

Roque said the president remains committed to the peace talks despite the three-month suspension of the back-channel talks.

“Well, the fact that the president has repeatedly said that he wants to continue with the peace talks is always positive. Do not forget that Guinness Book of World
record has already described our fight with the CPP-NDF as a longest-running insurgency in the world. So any willingness on the part of the president to talk peace is always positive,” he added.

Pressed on whether the government is expecting the resumption of the peace talks after three months, Roque said: “Let’s see what will happen because there is a review. It will depend on the results of the review. And it can even be earlier if the review process is fast.”

Philippine communist rebels have been waging an armed struggle against the government for nearly five decades, making it the longest-running Maoist rebellion in Asia. — Alexis Romero with a report from Job Manahan

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