NDF sets 10-point agenda as condition for truce

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 April)—The National Democratic Front (NDF) will agree to a truce with the government if President Benigno S. Aquino III signs the 10-point agenda earlier proposed by the rebel alliance to address the root cause of the communist-led armed struggle, Fidel Agcaoili, vice chair of the NDF peace panel said Tuesday.

“Once President Aquino signs it, the NDF will regard it as government’s sincerity to address the root cause of the problem,” said Agcaoili in a forum here with peace advocates on the updates and prospects of the peace talks between the government and the NDF.

But Agcaoili said it might be difficult for the President to sign it because it would mean going against the interest not only of his own family but also that of big corporations and big plantations.

“He will need a very strong political will (to institute those reforms),” Agcaoili said, even as he expressed confidence  both the government and the NDF can come up with an agreement on three more substantive issues  within the agreed timetable of 18 months to three years to address the world’s longest-running communist rebellion.

The Communist Party of the Philippines, the leading group inside the NDF, was founded on Dec. 26, 1968. The New People’s Army, the CPP’s armed wing, was formed on March 28, 1969.

“It would be difficult because he (Aquino) is faced with Hacienda Luisita,” Agcaoili said.

“When we look at it, the 10-point agenda, madali lang (it’s so easy),” he said. “But the President might be faced by a big problem, sapagkat hindi lang ang kanyang pamilya ang kakalabanin niya, pati na rin ang mga malalaking korporasyon at mga (because he will not only be going against the interest of his family but also those of big corporations and) plantations.”

He said subjecting Hacienda Luisita to land reform will “send a signal to big landlords and multinational corporations,” that his government is determined to address the root cause of the conflict.

“Subjecting it (Hacienda Luisita) to land reform would be a symbolic gesture, he’d be sending a sign that his government is determined to a just and lasting peace,” Agcaoili said.

He said history is filled with stories of leaders who have let go of their personal and class interest to institute change.

“If he wants to leave his mark as a President who was able to institute change, he will do it but he will need a strong political will.”

But Agcaoili clarified that a truce should be an agreement by both sides to remain in the areas they control without combat operations. If that happens, he said the NPA can cooperate with the Armed Forces to serve as “protector of the environment and natural resources” against foreign interests.

He said the 10-point agenda consists of “statements of principles” presented in August 2005 by the NDF peace panel to the previous government panel headed by Nieves Confesor.

“Just because it was set aside by the previous government panel does not mean it could no longer be taken up by the present peace panel,” he added.

The 10-point agenda includes the statement of commitment to genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization and resistance to foreign domination over the economy. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)