Carol Pagaduan-Araullo | Looking Forward: The GRP-NDFP Peace Talks

Streetwise | BusinessWorld
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Contrary to skeptics’ views, there are objective conditions that auger positively for the upcoming resumption of formal peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the revolutionary alliance that includes the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed component, the New People’s Army (NPA).

The new President, formerly a member of the anti-Arroyo opposition in Congress, whose battle cry then and now is the call for “change” and “reform”, is in a very good position to jump start the stalled talks amidst renewed hopes that a just and lasting peace may again be on the horizon.

Historically, any change in administration presents a unique opportunity for departing from, if not overhauling, its predecessor’s policies and approaches to festering problems such as the decades-old armed conflict between government and the CPP-NPA-NDF. President Benigno Aquino III has promised as much in sweeping terms vis a vis the sins and failings of the Arroyo regime as he sees it as well as on the specific issue of peace and security.

The head of the government peace panel Atty. Alex Padilla and the NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni, met informally last week in Hong Kong and emerged with the announcement that a holiday ceasefire would take place and preliminary and formal talks would resume in January and February of next year.

This announcement together with specific guarantees that the person and liberty of Mr. Jalandoni and his wife and co-peace panel member Coni Ledesma while in the country for a “private visit” would be respected has generated some excitement about the possibilities for a peace pact between the warring parties.

To anchor heightened expectations on peace prospects under the Aquino administration, certain premises and historical antecedents need to be recalled, clarified and reiterated.

Neither skepticism nor uninformed peace mongering should be allowed to rule the day.

The Hague Joint Declaration is a foundation agreement that everyone advocating a just peace must grasp firmly and uphold as the indispensable general framework without which the GRP-NDFP negotiations could not have taken place much less advance to the point of inking four more bilateral agreements, including the landmark Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

It states that the purpose of the peace negotiations is to arrive at a just and lasting peace by resolving the roots of the armed conflict. It contains the essential principle that the talks are not about getting either side to surrender but on negotiating the terms of a peace settlement covering the major areas of 1) human rights and international humanitarian law, 2) social and economic reforms, 3) political and constitutional reforms, and 4) end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

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  1. Salamat sa paliwanag tungkol sa mga nakaraang usapan sa "Peace Talks." Pero sana marinig din natin ang mga "opinion" ng mga sundalo at mandirigma ng bayan. Sila din naman ang naglalaan ng buhay sa sitausyon na ito. Naiintindihihan ko ang mga ulat ng mga "lider" pero hindi ko nababasa o naririnig ang "side" ng "rank and file" ng mga "nagbabarilan." Magsimula sana ang "open forum" sa para sa mga sundalo ng gobyerno at mga mandiragma ng bayan. Sa tingin ko napaka-importante na marinig natin ang "boses" nila.

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