By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON,
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
As requested by Sonny Mallari,
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 June 2013
Sonny Mallari (SM): In view of the recent statements of Alex Padilla in Rappler, are the peace talks already dead? Please comment on his statements.
Jose Maria Sison (JMS): It is Alex Padilla who says that the peace talks are dead. This may be true, especially during the Aquino regime, which has the illusion that it can destroy the revolutionary movement with the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan (Aquino government's counter-insurgency program). But I believe that peace advocates will increasingly call for peace negotiations because of the worsening economic and social crisis, the growing strength of the revolutionary movement, and the intensification of the civil war.
Rappler (Rap): Padilla, a former activist himself who knew Sison and the other National Democratic Front of the Philippines panel members, said he started the talks believing he was the right man for the job. But he said he later realized it was a futile effort.
JMS: Louie Jalandoni and I were glad that Alex Padilla was appointed GPH (government of the Republic of the Philippines) Negotiating Panel Chairman at the start. We thought that having come from BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, New Patriotic Alliance) he would understand the viewpoint of the NDFP and would know how to arrive at the middle ground, like Silvestre Bello III who had also come from BAYAN. Then, when the peace negotiations deteriorated, we thought that Padilla was following orders from his superiors. But now, he himself expresses his own view that the peace negotiations are a futile effort and, of course, he blames others for his frustrations.
Rap: “After assessing the behavior or the process itself, I was convinced that it was a process that would never end. That it was a process actually intended not for peace but to continue the war to get concessions in the meantime,” Padilla said.
JMS: The Aquino regime, its peace advisor Deles and chief negotiator Padilla have ensured that there are no more peace negotiations during the term of the regime because of the following:
- Since the first formal talks in February 2011, they have vilified The Hague Joint Declaration as a "document of perpetual division" and have insulted the NDFP and previous regimes for making more than ten agreements, which include the now world famous Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
- They have always misrepresented the NDFP demand for GRP or GPH compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as preconditioning the negotiations, and have consistently refused to release under the JASIG any JASIG-protected political prisoner.
- They have insisted that the Aquino regime is not bound by any GRP agreement with the NDFP, and in effect it is useless to negotiate and make agreements with the GPH.
- They always demand a kind of indefinite ceasefire that can allow the GPH to make unnecessary the continuance of peace negotiations on the substantive agenda.
- They are the ones who have finally terminated the peace negotiations since April 2013 and have been so arrogant as not to give any formal notice of termination to the NDFP in accordance with the JASIG.
“After February, it was a complete impasse because Joma Sison wanted us to first terminate the conditional cash transfer, to finish the Oplan Bayanihan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to stop all the PAMANA efforts, to give land to 5 million landless farmers, etcetera, before we can even move on to that next level,” Padilla said.
The conditional cash transfer is the government's flagship program to fight poverty, while Oplan Bayanihan is the military's counter-insurgency campaign that's focused on building communities.
JMS: The Amsterdam meeting of February 2013 was intended to pave the way for the so-called first historic meeting in Hanoi between Aquino as GRP president and myself as CPP Founding Chairman.
This was supposed to be similar to the earlier Aquino-Murad meeting in Tokyo in August 2011. Presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas had proposed the Aquino-Sison meeting since November 2012 and became the subject of several meetings, with the participation of Royal Norwegian Government special envoy Ture Lundh, before February 2013.
At the Amsterdam meeting of February 2013, it was enough for the GPH and NDFP delegations to draft the communique for the projected Hanoi meeting. But the GPH delegation ignored the NDFP draft communique and insisted on limiting the discussion to the GPH draft declaration for "indefinite unilateral simultaneous ceasefires" and to the NDFP initial draft general declaration.
The NDFP delegation immediately pointed out that the GPH demand for "indefinite unilateral simultaneous ceasefires" was somewhat confused and baseless and was diametrically opposed to the NDFP proposal for truce and alliance.
The NDFP delegation declared that the most the Amsterdam meeting could accomplish in two or three days was to agree on the draft communique for the Hanoi meeting and start discussing inputs for the general declaration for truce and alliance which would entail several months of negotiations after the Hanoi meeting.
To demonstrate to the GPH delegation how much more work was to be done in forging a general declaration on truce and alliance (or national unity and a just peace), the NDFP delegation showed to the GPH delegation a more developed NDFP draft of the aforesaid declaration. At this point, the GPH delegation did not want the meeting to go any further and declared that it would have to go back to its principal first.
Rap: “Definitely we don't want to return to the so-called regular track and as far as government is concerned they have killed the special track. So that's where we are right now,” Padilla said.
JMS: The GPH cannot supplant the regular track of the peace negotiations with the special track, without violating The Hague Joint Declaration. The regular track is the sine qua non of the special track. The special track was merely a supplement to the regular track. It was meant to deal with the recurrent impertinent demands of the GRP or GPH for an indefinite ceasefire, which was properly an issue for consideration under the fourth and final item in the substantive agenda. The regular track can go on even without the special track.
The NDFP has always made it clear since 2005 that it is willing to have a truce and alliance with the Manila government anytime on the basis of a general declaration of common intent to realise full national independence, democracy, economic development through national industrialization and genuine land reform and social justice. This offer was reiterated to the Aquino regime in February 2011.
The NDFP made it clear that the offer can be realized on a special track, while the regular track of negotiations continues in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration.
Rap: “The fact of the matter is, the NDFP is an organization of around 17 revolutionary organizations. All of these revolutionary organizations are headed by communists. So the question now is, should we be talking to the NDFP that is merely their political front? Maybe we should be talking to the communists -- the CPP. It is actually the Communist Party of the Philippines which actually directs and steers the movement across,” Padilla said.
JMS: The NDFP Negotiating Panel is duly authorized by the CPP, NPA and NDFP to negotiate with the GRP or GPH counterpart at the national level. It has been the negotiating entity on behalf of the CPP, NPA and NDFP since even the time of the Cory Aquino regime.
Rap: Padilla is frustrated and admitted he wants out of the peace talks.
JMS: It must really be frustrating to Padilla that the NDFP Negotiating Panel has continued to exist against his wish.
Rap: “Actually my feeling now is that it was even practically arrogant on the part of government and the NDFP to think that we could ever conclude an agreement... Because we were trying to conclude an agreement that would resolve all conflicts -- the roots of conflict, so to speak, you're really talking of Utopia,” he added.
JMS: Alex Padilla himself thinks he is not fit for peace negotiations with the NDFP because he believes that achieving a just peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict is utopian. He appears to be obsessed with seeking the capitulation and pacification of the CPP, NPA and the NDFP.
These revolutionary forces cannot make any peace agreement with any regime that cannot meet the demands of the Filipino people for full national independence, democracy, economic development through national industrialization and genuine land reform, social justice and international solidarity for peace against imperialism and war.
Rap: This is so unlike the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), he noted.
“The MILF is an equally armed group, very strong, but they themselves believe that the peace process is part of the modes of trying to achieve just peace. The communists don't,” he explained.
“They have been very very consistent that the peace process is but a means to an end and that end is to overthrow government and establish a national democratic state leading to a communist state eventually,” Padilla said.
JMS: The NDFP and MILF have their respective outlooks, methodology and programs of political action. The NDFP have the best wishes for the MILF in trying to achieve a just and honorable peace for the benefit of the Moro people through peace negotiations.
But we have observed lately that the Aquino regime is allowing Deles and the military to upset the GPH-MILF peace negotiations.
The NDFP will continue to support the MILF if and when it decides to resume the armed struggle because the GPH does not comply with agreements. The MILF has been worried publicly by GPH turning its back on crucial points in their framework agreement. It still remains to be seen whether the Aquino regime can really make peace with the MILF.
Rap: Padilla maintained that a “new approach” is needed. “It should be addressed by good governance, practically modernization, better roads, communications,” he said.
JMS: The “new approach” of the US-directed Aquino regime is above all the combat, intelligence and psywar operations under the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan. The dole-out schemes and graft-ridden and delayed public works projects are futile attempts at psychological warfare. In the absence of peace negotiations, the revolutionary forces and broad masses of the people expect from the Aquino regime more brutal campaigns of military suppression and more deception through false claims of good governance, peace and development.
Rap: But Padilla said he fears that the CPP’s next generation of leaders would become more violent.
“After the leadership of Joma Sison, Fidel Agcaoili... I think the are in their 40s... There is a constant fear on my part that the next echelon of leaders might not even be receptive to discussion or negotiations. Kung tatawagin ko -- utak pulbura (war freak), ” he said.
JMS: Padilla is correct in anticipating more resistance from the revolutionary forces and their leaders. If there are no more peace negotiations because the GPH does not want them, then indeed the revolutionary leadership and the masses can concentrate on advancing the people's war from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate.
The worsening crisis of global capitalism and the domestic ruling system of the big compradors and landlords like Aquino is inflicting terrible suffering on the people and inciting them to fight for their national and social liberation. The New People's Army has the critical mass to intensify and expand its tactical armed offensives. At the same time, the organs of political power, the mass organizations, and the local branches of the CPP are growing fast.
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
By Voltaire Tupaz
Rappler, 22 June 2013
Voltaire Tupaz (VT): Good morning, Ka Joma. This is Voltaire Tupaz, a journalist from Rappler.com - a social news network in the Philippines. May I ask you a few questions? Rappler recently interviewed head government negotiator Alexander Padilla. He said you want peace but not the Communist Party of the Philippines leadership in the Philippines. Your comment, please?
Jose Maria Sison (JMS): The Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines are desirous of a just peace and want the peace negotiations to progress in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration as framework agreement and with all subsequent agreements.
They take the position that in principle the peace negotiations are still going on in the absence of any side giving a formal notice of termination to the other side. However, it is the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) side that has announced repeatedly to the press since April that is has terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP.
The CPP leadership has recently reiterated its trust in and support for the NDFP Negotiating Panel in which Luis Jalandoni is the Chairperson and to which I am the Chief Political Consultant. It is presumptuous for anyone in the GPH to determine the relationship of the CPP leadership in the Philippines with the NDFP Negotiating Panel.
VT: Padilla also thinks that the peace process would never end, "that it was a process actually intended not for peace but to continue the war to get concessions." At least on social media, people tend to share the same sentiment. How do you address this perception coming from a generation which is not familiar with the complexity of the peace talks?
JMS: It is in fact the GPH that does not want the peace negotiations to continue. The NDFP cannot compel the GPH to go back to the negotiating panel. If the GPH merely wants war under its US-designed Oplan Bayanihan (GPH's counter-insurgency program), the revolutionary forces and people have no choice but to defend themselves and defeat their enemy.
VT: Perhaps the strongest reactions we gathered were related to the use of landmines -- recent incidents that killed cops and soldiers. In the same way that the Party abandoned the use of boobytraps because it was counterproductive, do you feel that it's time to assess whether the NPA should continue using command-detonated landmines? There had been reports of civilian casualties, or at the very least, they expose noncombatants to harm (i.e., if detonated along highways, roads)
JMS: The use of command-detonated land mines by the NPA does not violate the Ottawa Treaty and its protocol. In this regard, the NDFP is well advised by an International Legal Advisory Team composed of prominent lawyers who are experts in international law. You complain against command-detonated land mines. But you do not complain against aerial bombs and artillery fire which are monopolized by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and indiscriminately kill people.
VT: The conflict is also a battle for hearts and minds. The story of the mother of one of the landmine casualties is circulating as a human interest narrative: Evelyn Pinated, mother of the slain Special Action Force (SAF) vehicle driver PO2 Elmark Rodney Pinated said the “devils” took her son away, and she wants them crushed. “The (NPA) must stop these senseless killings. They are killing those who are serving our people,” Elmark had married his girlfriend Grace only last 8 October. She last talked to him over the celphone on 20 May, her birthday, when he greeted her. What's your message to the grieving women?
JMS: My message to any real or possible complainant against the NPA is to present the complaint to the NDFP section of the Joint Monitoring Committee (Junder the Comprehensive Agreement of Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) or to approach directly the people's democratic government, particularly the people's prosecutors and the people's courts.
The officers and men of the AFP, Philippine National Police (PNP) and paramilitary forces commit so many crimes against the people according to so many victims and families, the NDFP section of the JMC, and domestic and international human rights organizations. You should also confront the GPH about these crimes committed by its armed personnel.
VT: So does it really mean the end of the peace talks under the Aquino government? What will it take for you to talk to them again for the sake of peace?
JMS: The absence of a formal notice of termination from the GPH to the NDFP can mean either one of two things: GPH arrogance and contempt for the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) or GPH allowing itself space to resume formal talks according to its own later judgment. The NDFP will be receptive to any signal or approach of the GPH or Aquino regime for resuming the formal talks. The NDFP expects from the GPH nothing more than compliance with existing agreements and the desire to move forward with the negotiations.
VT: Padilla said "there is a constant fear on my part that the next echelon of leaders might not even be receptive to discussion or negotiations. Kung tatawagin ko — utak pulbura." What do you feel about his pessimism?
JMS: The GPH or the Aquino regime has only itself to blame if it offers no other possibility than the continuance and intensification of the civil war. It should see that the way is still available for peace negotiations.
VT: The special report is scheduled to be published today, Sunday. BTW, one of our interviewees, Judge Sol Santos Jr of the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines suggested a possible confidence-building step to resuming talks: a moratorium or a calibrated reduction on the NPA use of command-detonated landmines might be reciprocated by something just as significant (say a moratorium or calibrated reduction on the AFP use of artillery fire and/or air strikes) on the GPH side (i.e., agreement on at least a relatively “small matter” of weapons use). Q: 1) Is this even feasible? ; 2) Would CPP/NPA/NDF be open to study/explore the proposal?
JMS: The NDFP has long proposed to the GRP since 2005 to have an agreement of truce and alliance on the basis of a general declaration of common intent to realize full independence, democracy, and economic development through national industrialization and land reform. Such agreement can be made while the peace negotiations continue to take up the remaining three items in the substantive agenda.
If there is such an agreement, the armed conflict ceases and there is no more need for land mines, aerial bombs and artillery fire or any other kind of weapon. While there is still armed conflict, the NPA needs land mines to deter the AFP and PNP from easily encroaching on the territory of the people's democratic government. Land mines are a poor man's weapon. Aerial bombing and artillery fire are weapons of those who oppress the people.
Soliman Santos himself has written a number of times that command-detonated land mines are not prohibited by the Ottawa Treaty on land mines. The CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) does not prohibit the same. And the people's democratic government (PDG) and its revolutionary forces are not bound by GPH laws.