Newsnews reportsPROSPECTS OF PEACE TALKS WITH MANILA 'LOOKING BRIGHT', SAYS...

PROSPECTS OF PEACE TALKS WITH MANILA ‘LOOKING BRIGHT’, SAYS RED LEADER

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By Tonyo Cruz
Asian Correspondent
19 December 2010

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria Sison today declared that prospects are looking bright for talks between the CPP-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Aquino government.

In a statement sent to journalists, Sison pointed at the release of the Morong 43, the holiday ceasefire between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Aquino government’s show of respect for safety and immunity guarantees for chief NDFP negotiator Luis Jalandoni who is currently in Manila for a visit, for his optimism that preliminary talks between the two negotiating panels would push through as scheduled on January 14-18, 2011.

Sison, who is currently chief political consultant of the NDFP negotiating panel, explained that:

The preliminary talks are meant to pave the way for the resumption of the formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiating on February 15 to 21, 2011 by setting the agenda, ensuring further compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and other existing agreements and agreeing on goodwill and confidence-building measures,including the long-expected release of political prisoners.

Earlier this week, Manila’s chief negotiator Alexander Padilla voiced optimism that a final peace agreement could be reached with the NDFP “within three years”.

Sison thanked President Benigno Aquino III for ordering last Human Rights Day the withdrawal of charges against the Morong 43, which paved the way for the eventual release of the imprisoned and falsely-charged health workers on Friday night.

“He heeded the longrunning public clamor for their release and adhered to his own expressed conviction that any fruit of the poisoned tree cannot be tolerated in the case of the Morong 43,” said Sison.

The military accused the Morong 43 of being communists and claimed they were arrested during a bomb-making training activity. But the erstwhile detainees flatly rejected the charges, and so did scores of organizations and prominent doctors and health professionals in the Philippines and abroad.

Sison also congratulated the Morong 43 ” for their perseverance in fighting for their rights and for a just cause.”

Peace talks between Manila and the NDFP collapsed under Aquino’s predecessor who chose the path of total war under Operation Plan: Bantay Laya (Guard Freedom), which the CPP and the NDFP brands as a localized application of the US Counterinsurgency Guide.

Arroyo’s total war barely made a dent in the armed strength and scope of the CPP-led underground movement. Instead, in the violent deaths of more than a thousand aboveground, legal and unarmed activists belonging to what the military routinely tags as “communist front organizations”. Those who survived or were spared from assassination attempts were either involuntarily disappeared or arrested on various trumped up charges, akin to those filed against the Morong 43.

In fact, the NDFP negotiating panel has condemned the arrest, detention and involuntary disappearance of a number of its declared consultants who are entitled to protection under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), one of the eleven bilateral agreements signed by the two negotiating panels and their respective principals since the formal talks started under the administration of former President Fidel V. Ramos.

Aside from the JASIG, the eleven agreements include The Hague Joint Declaration which provided the nature, basis and direction of the talks, and the landmark Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. Unfortunately, Arroyo refused to abide by the agreements and opted to take the militarist route to ending the so-called insurgency.

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