Satur Ocampo laments the statements made by the AFP about the peace talks that were mostly disparaging or negative. He says there were designed to sabotage the peace process.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — The military and its various spokespersons should stop talking about the peace negotiations and stop behaving as if they are part of it.
Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur C. Ocampo made this comment during the Pilgrims for Peace forum on February 15 at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila. Various Protestant and Catholic church leaders and religious held the activity in support of the formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which also began on the same day in Oslo, Norway.
Ocampo said it was lamentable that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) keeps issuing statements about the peace talks that were mostly disparaging or negative.
“The AFP is not involved in the peace negotiations, but in the last weeks leading to the formal peace talks, various military officials have been making statements to the media disparaging to the NDFP and its sincerity in pursuing peace. This is not at all helpful to the peace process,” he said.
Only recently, Lt. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan, chief of the Northern Luzon Command, essentially poo-poohed the peace talks as he said that “Peace talks do not, in any form, suspend any law.”
Pangilinan issued the comment in reaction to questions of the media that the Feb. 14 capture of alleged Communist leader Alan Jazmines would have negative impact on the ongoing talks in Norway.
The AFP has also been charging the NDFP of insincerity in upholding its end in a ceasefire agreement and alleging that the revolutionary forces of the New People’s Army (NPA) were using landmines in its military operations. Both the NDFP and the NPA have issued separate statements debunking the allegations.
Sabotaging the Peace Process
A former spokesperson and negotiator of the NDFP during the Corazon Aquino regime, Ocampo said that the military’s attacks against the NDFP and the peace talks had the concrete intention of derailing or sabotaging the peace process.
“Back in 1987 when the NDFP was negotiating with the GPH after Mrs. Aquino came to power, military top brass were agitating against the peace talks. Officials such as then Defense secretary and now senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and ex-AFP chief of staff and consequently former president Fidel V. Ramos were against having the Aquino government negotiate with the NDFP. There were even reports that the AFP, specifically members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement or RAM, threatened members of the GPH peace panel. The peace panel members were allegedly threatened that personal harm will come to them if they insist on negotiating with us,” he said.
Ocampo also said that while President Cory Aquino herself was receptive to the peace negations, there were individuals and forces around her who were intent on sabotaging the talks.
“I made a personal request to Mrs. Aquino for a one-on-one dialogue, but my formal request never made it to Malacañang. It came out later than a close-in official blocked the appointment I was supposed to have with Mrs. Aquino,” he said.
Ocampo and the former president had become acquainted after Mrs. Aquino’s visits to the Bicutan penitentiary after the assassination of her husband former Sen. Ninoy Aquino in 1983. Ocampo was a political prisoner at the time and detained in Bicutan.
Ocampo said that Cory’s son, the incumbent president Benigno Aquino III, should not waste the opportunity he now has to complete what his mother’s administration failed to. He said that the Aquino scion himself should express full support for the peace negotiations and no ifs or buts.
“He must show unconditional support for the peace talks. All the efforts of the GPH peace panel will be for naught if their principal himself is not wholly behind it. This is President Aquino’s chance to bring the country much closer to our collective aspirations for a just and lasting peace,” he said.