GPH goes Green in talks with Reds

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/16 July) —  Despite the usual snags in the 24-year peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF), there may be some breakthrough in coming up with an acceptable social analysis that foments the 42-year old communist armed conflict.

In the negotiations for the substantive agenda of socio-economic and reforms (SER), there is a understanding between the two peace panels on the social situation that has resulted in an unjust Philippine society according to Ednar Dayanghirang, member of the GPH peace panel and co-chair of the Reciprocal Working Committee on SER (RWC-SER).

Dayanghirang said the negotiations on the SER revolves around the solution to the five social problems: poverty,  poor delivery of basic services, exploitation of indigenous peoples, inequitable distribution of wealth and resource base, and unemployment and underemployment.

The draft comprehensive agreement of SER, he said, will work out a solution that will result in sustainable development and human security, two antecedents of genuine peace.

Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, a member of the RWC-SER, said that based on the GPH’s conceptual framework, the underlying cause of the five problems is “environmental damage due to natural causes, misuse and abuse of the environment and natural resources which leads to scarcity and unjust distribution of resources.”

Alejo explained that it is important to bring the environment and natural resources at the base of the analysis of the problems in the Philippine society in order to comprehensively address the common problems faced by the Filipino people.

“Some may argue that the environment and natural resources and its crises situation now is not the root cause of the social problems besetting the Philippine society, but it is the surface where  the causes are rooted on,” Alejo told MindaNews.

Based on the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) which has political control over its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) and its broad alliance the National Democratic Front (NDF), the Philippine society is in a state of crisis due to its semi-feudal and semi-colonial state which stunts its historical progression from a feudal society to an industrialized society.

They blame neo-liberal capitalism, which is dependent on the private capital to determine the political and economic priorities of the State for the prevalence of an unjust society.

Alejo said that there may be some breakthrough in coming up with an acceptable analysis of the problems that has been made as basis of the communist armed struggle in the country in the RWC-SER.

Another breakthrough in the problem analysis is the understanding that exploitation of the Indigenous People (IP) is a distinct problem. Traditionally, the NDF considers the IPs a sub-sector of the Peasantry, which they consider as the main force of production in the society.

In recognizing the exploitation of the IPs as one of the core social problems, Alejo said there is now a recognition by both the GPH and NDF to the right to self-determination of the IPs and not just consider them as a sub-sector of the peasantry.

Alejo said that the common understanding of the conceptual framework for peace and conflict transformation in the armed conflict between the GPH and the NDF may facilitate the substantive talks leading to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms (CASER).

Based on the timeframe set by both panels when they resumed formal talks in February this year in Oslo, Norway, the draft CASER should be finished by September this year and tabled in the negotiating table.

The Reciprocal Working Committee on SER was to meet three times from June to August this year to iron out the details and come up with the draft before the September meeting. Some delays in the drafting of the CASER however happened after the NDF questioned the sincerity of the government last June for their alleged failure to release detained members of the NDF, which the left claims to be their consultants in the peace process.

Dayanghirang, however, said this has been resolved as was caused by the misunderstanding from the NDF about the GPH’s promise to release seven to eight political detainees. The NDF thought that their release would be before the RWC-SER meeting in June, but based on the agreement in February, as a confidence building measure, the GPH will facilitate the release of the political detainees before the resumption of full peace negotiations in September this year.

Dayanghirang is the co-chair of the RWC-SER. His members are Alejo and Prof. Fernando Aldaba.  Representing the NDF side are Juliet de Lima Sison, co-chair of the RWC-SER,  and members Rafael Baylosis, former chief of the New People’s Army and Randall Echanis. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)