In a statement, Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDF negotiating panel, said that Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita exposed his “militarist mindset” when he declared that the end game for negotiation is “silencing the guns.”
“Silence the guns of the people’s army, but of course not the guns of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and the regime’s death squads,” Jalandoni said.
He said the NDF is open and willing to have exploratory talks without preconditions.
“We appreciate the call of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) and other peace advocates for the resumption of peace negotiations between the Government and the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP. We commend the principled position taken by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro who declared: ‘We’d like to see peace talks resume immediately without preconditions and in accordance with all prior agreements,’” Jalandoni, a former priest, added.
The PEPP includes representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Association of Major Religious Superiors of Men and Women in the Philippines (AMRSP), and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC).
In a separate statement, Jose Maria Sison also hit the Arroyo government for reportedly refusing to heed the call of the PEPP for the resumption of formal peace talks “without preconditions and in accordance with prior agreements from The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 to the Oslo Joint Statements of 2004.”
Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has identified himself as chief political consultant of the NDF. He has been on self-exile in The Netherlands since the late 1980s.
Peace talks between Manila and the NDF have been repeatedly stalled after gaining initial successes during the time of President Fidel V. Ramos.
Ramos, who considered the talks significant to the success of his economic agenda, managed to forge with the rebel group the Comprehensive Agreement on Human
Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL).
The agreement enjoins both sides to respect the rights of civilians or non-combatants and to observe Protocol 2 of the Geneva Conventions in the conduct of war. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)