Amalia B. Cabusao
Editor in Chief, Mindanao Times
UTRECHT, The Netherlands (MindaNews/15 August) – The founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is optimistic that the resumption of peace talks between the National Democratic Front (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) will be pursued sincerely by both parties.
With a few more days before the formal resumption of the peace talks in Oslo, CPP founding chair Jose Ma. Sison and chief political consultant of the NDFP in the peace talks with the GPH said the humps and bumps that happened in recent days were not substantive enough to affect the meeting starting August 22.
At the modest office of the NDFP here in Utrecht Sison said last August 8, that he is confident Peace Secretary Jesus Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello III, the Philippine government’s (GPH) peace panel chair, share the same aspiration of laying down a peace agreement under the Duterte administration.
He said both expressed the intention of affirming previously signed agreements; the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees which assures the safety of the participants in the peace process.
Although there were no preconditions to the resumption of the talks, he welcomes the efforts of the government panel to release detained NDFP consultants whose security passes were not honored by the previous governments.
The reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) was one of the points stipulated in the statement signed by both parties on June 15 this year in Oslo, Norway that also nailed the resumption of the peace negotiations. According to Sison, both Dureza and Bello were members of the government peace panel during the signing of the JASIG in 1994.
JASIG, signed by both panels on June 14, 1994, was adopted “to facilitate the peace negotiations, create favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussions and free movement during negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the negotiation.”
Sison said one of the prominent cases of JASIG violation was that of Allan Jazmines, NDFP consultant who was with the NDFP-GPH Reciprocal Working Committee on Social Economic Reforms (CASER). He was arrested on February 14, 2011 on the eve of the resumption of the peace talks under the Arroyo administration.
Sison said the “prospects are bright for the release of the detained political prisoners” and that both sides are committed to pursue the peace talks on August 22 to 27.
Sison said the accelerated process for the negotiations is a good development because all the reciprocal working committees (RWC) will be working at the same time.
“So as not to violate the sequence on the operationalization of the RWC, the working committees will be called one after the other before it is elevated to the committee,” he said, “before moving on to the next substantive agreement.”
This same sequence will be followed “in the approval of the negotiating panels and the principals.”
He said it is like three cooks cooking at the same time but only serving the course one after the other.
Sison said that CASER “provides the meat that is materially beneficial in social and economic terms to the people.”
The next agreement on political and constitutional reforms, he said, defines “by what authority to carry out the CASER.” These two comprehensive agreements will prepare the groundwork for the comprehensive agreement on the end of hostilities and the disposition of forces.
These four comprehensive agreements, following The Hague Declaration, fulfill the substantive requirement for a just and lasting peace, he said.
The Hague Joint Declaration was signed by the Philippine government and the NDFP on September 1, 1992, which formally laid down the peace negotiation between the parties. (Reprinted with permission from the Mindanao Times. Amalia B. Cabusao is a member of Mindanews).