Arroyo regime scuttling resumption of peace talks — NDF

The National Democratic Front accuses the Arroyo government of showing bad faith by not complying with an agreement that provides immunity guarantees to members of the NDF’s panel.


MANILA — The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) appears bent on scuttling the resumption of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), according to NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni. This, he said, is because the GRP has been violating the agreement reached in Oslo, Norway, last June 15, which covers among other things the reaffirmation of previously signed agreements as well as the release of detained NDFP consultants and other political prisoners.

(PHOTO - National Democratic Front chairman Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport July 13, 2009 to prepare for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the NDFP. Photo by Rudy Santos MANILA, Philippines)

The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, which have been going on and off since 1986, were last stalled in 2002 when the US and the European Union included the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison in their “terrorist” lists. Since then the armed conflict has escalated, especially after the Arroyo government ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to crush the insurgency by 2010. Its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2 (Operation Freedom Watch), which was implemented full-scale in 2002, resulted in more than a thousand extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances victimizing political activists in a seeming war of annihilation targeting unarmed civilians suspected by the military of having sympathies for the CPP-NPA.

Last June 15, the GRP and the NDFP agreed to resume formal negotiations in informal talks held in Oslo. The Royal Norwegian Government is facilitating the negotiations. It is hoped that the formal negotiations would seriously address the issue of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance, as both parties signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) way back in 1998.

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