“The Parties have agreed to continue meaningful discussions of concerns and issues raised by both sides on June 14 and 15, 2012 in Oslo, to pave the way for the resumption of the formal talks in the peace negotiations in order to resolve the armed conflict and attain a just and lasting peace.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – After months of impasse, the negotiating panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH, formerly designated as GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) agreed to continue discussing the concerns and issues raised by both parties before resuming formal talks.
Members of both panels met in Oslo, Norway, June 14 and 15. The meetings were facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) headed by RNG Ambassador to the Philippines Ture N.L. Lundh.
“The Parties have agreed to continue meaningful discussions of concerns and issues raised by both sides on June 14 and 15, 2012 in Oslo, to pave the way for the resumption of the formal talks in the peace negotiations in order to resolve the armed conflict and attain a just and lasting peace,” both parties said in a joint statement dated June 15.
The NDFP called on the GPH to respect and comply with all bilateral agreements without qualification, saying that the bilateral agreements were signed without reservation and that elaboration or amendment to the agreements must be by mutual agreement of both Parties.
Since the GPH (then the GRP) began peace talks with the NDFP during the Corazon Aquino administration, more than ten bilateral agreements have been signed, including The Hague Joint Declaration which is considered as the framework agreement and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).
The NDFP particularly raised the issue of respect for Jasig as 14 NDFP consultants and Jasig-protected individuals were arrested and detained. The latest to be arrested were Renante Gamara and Jaime Soledad. The NDFP said the arrest and detention of their personnel violates Jasig.
The NDFP likewise called for an independent investigation of the extrajudicial killing of NDFP political consultant Sotero Llamas and the enforced disappearances of Leo Velasco, Prudencio Calubid, Rogelio Calubad and other NDFP consultants, family and staff.
The NDFP also raised the issue of reconstruction of Document of Identification (DI) of Jasig-protected individuals and the use of encrypted photos as legitimate photos. Under Jasig, DI is issued to all negotiators and personnel of both panels.
The GPH has refused to release detained NDFP consultants after the verification process held in July last year failed due to some technicalities.
The NDFP urged the GPH to release all 356 political prisoners in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Hernandez political offense doctrine. The latter pertains to a Supreme Court jurisprudence prohibiting the criminalization of political offenses.
The NDFP also reiterated the demand for the indemnification of victims of human rights violations under the Marcos regime in connection with the human rights litigation in the US as provided for in the CARHRIHL. The NDFP also called on the GPH to rectify the “terrorist listing” of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army (NPA) and Prof. Jose Ma. Sison by US and other foreign governments.
For its part, the GPH proposed ceasefire and raised the GPH’s continuing objection to the NPA’s use of landmines, which, according to the GPH, violates the CARHRIHL. The NPA maintains that its guerrillas use command-detonated explosives and the use of which does not violate any provision of international humanitarian law.
With regard to the proposal for ceasefire, the NDFP said both panels can agree on this in connection with an earlier proposal of the NDFP for a Concise Agreement for an Immediate Just Peace as well as with the later proposal for truce and alliance submitted directly to President Benigno Aquino III. In January 2011, the NDFP wrote to Aquino, offering a special track for the peace talks.