DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 August) — It’s the same Philippine government but in the Duterte administration’s peace process, it’s “GPH” with the Bangsamoro and “GRP” with the National Democratic Front (NDF).
The Joint Statement of the government and NDF signed in Oslo, Norway at the end of the five-day first round of formal peace talks on August 26 referred to the Philippine government as “GRP” while the Joint Statement between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Kuala Lumpur on August 14 referred to it as “GPH.”
The code “RP” was dropped in 2010 in accordance with international standards and since then, official documents have used PH or PHL, the country code assigned to the Philippines by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Even the peace processes between government and the MILF, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), NDF and other groups have been using “GPH” instead of “GRP.”
Asked if the peace process with the NDF is, indeed using “GRP” as the August 26 Joint Statement states, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza told MindaNews Sunday that the government and NDF peace panels decided on using “GRP” instead of “GPH” because “all previous important agreements used GRP, not a single important (agreement) in PNoy’s (President Benigno Simeon Aquino III) time using GPH” he said.
Government peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III, concurrent Labor Secretary, told MindaNews in a text message Sunday evening that yes, they are using “GRP” because “lahat ng (all) signed agreements under GRP.”
MindaNews noted that using GRP in the talks with the NDF and GPH with the MILF is confusing, considering that it is the same Philippine government but Dureza replied in Cebuano, “do not be confused.”
An Administrative Order, however, was issued with the intent to end the confusion on “RP” and “PH.” The AO has not been repealed.
Administrative Order No. 5, issued by then President Aquino on December 9, 2010, directed “all offices, agencies and other instrumentalities of the Philippine Government to adopt and use, as soon as practicable, the ISO two-letter code PH or three-letter code PHL is referring to the Philippines.”
The AO said the Philippines is a member of the ISO, a network of national standards institutes with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, and that the ISO developed ISO 3166-1 assigning two-letter (alpha-2) and three-letter (alpha-3) codes for member countries, and the codes assigned to the Philippines are PH and PHL, respectively.
It said the codes are used in international events and conferences, sports meets, airline ticketing, among others, abroad and in the Philippines and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had also adopted and reflected the ISO three-letter codes, notably PHL standing for the Philippines, in the data page of the electronic passport;
Even before the issuance of the AO, however, the DFA had already shifted to the use of PH or PHL.
On October 20, 2010, then Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo issued Department Order 16-10 directing the DFA’s 67 embassies, 23 consulates general and four permanent missions to use PH or PHL instead of RP, to conform to the accepted code of the IOS.
The DFA order said the abbreviation PH or PHL is more widely known in the international community than RP, and that there would be less ambiguity and confusion if the ISO code is adopted.
Aquino’s AO5 also said the use of initials “RP” in referring to the Philippines “is not in accordance with the ISO 3166-1, leading to ambiguity and confusion” and that this confusion can be avoided “by following the codes assigned to the Philippines by ISO.”
In January 2011, the MILF asked the government peace panel to “state for the record” that the new abbreviation, GPH (for Government of the Republic of the Philippines), “replaces GRP.”
All the documents of the then 14-year old peace process with the government referred to the latter as “GRP.”
“We will formally ask GPH (to state) that these initials replace GRP. This is for the record, so that all documents that bear GRP binds GPH,” MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said.
In the peace process with the NDF, all documents under the Aquino administration, and even in their Joint Statements, referred to the Philippine government as “GPH.”
The parties signed on June 15 a Joint Statement indicating they will resume formal peace talks in July (this was reset to August 22 to 26) and stating the agenda items. The document referred to the Philippine government as “GPH.”
But in their Joint Statement on August 26, the Philippine government is now referred to as “GRP.”
The website and Facebook and Twitter postings of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process referred to the August 26 document as Joint Statement between the GPH and the NDF, even as the formal title of the document is “Joint Statement on the Resumption of the Formal Peace Negotiations between the GRP and NDFP.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)