By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Amid the word war between the panels of Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the NDFP said their offer of truce and alliance to the GPH remains.
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the NDFP peace panel, said they sent a confidential letter to President Benigno S. Aquino III in January, offering a special track for the peace talks. “Aquino sent an emissary and based on the initial discussion, the said emissary said it is doable.”
Jalandoni said Aquino publicly stated that he sent as emissary the most cynical person available who came back optimistic.
The regular track is the formal peace talks between the GPH panel and the NDFP. Talks are set to resume in October after the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), third party facilitator, met with both parties in an effort to end the impasse since June.
Jalandoni said the ten-point proposal for a concise agreement for an immediate just peace “reflects the aspirations and demands of the Filipino people.”
The ten points of the peace agreement of the NDFP are as follows:
1. Unite the Filipino people through a broad alliance of patriotic and progressive forces and a clean and honest coalition government for genuine national independence and democracy against any foreign domination or control and against subservience.
2. Empower the toiling masses of workers and peasants by respecting their democratic rights and providing for their significant representation in organs of the coalition government and for assistance to the organizations, programs and projects of the toiling masses.
3. Uphold economic sovereignty, carry out Filipino-owned national industrialization and land reform and oppose imperialist plunder and bureaucratic and military corruption in order to develop the national economy.
4. Cancel the foreign debt and reduce the appropriations for the military and other armed organizations of the GRP in order to provide adequate resources and savings for economic development, improvement of the means of livelihood, the alleviation of poverty, the realization of gender equality, promotion of children’s rights and welfare and healthy environment.
5. Promote and support a patriotic, scientific and pro-people culture through the educational system, mass media and mass organizations, cherish the cultural heritage of the Filipino nation and all the ethno-linguistic communities in the country.
6. Recognize the right to self-determination and autonomy of national minorities, ensure proportionate representation in organs of the coalition government and institutions and provide for affirmative action to countervail longrunning discrimination and wrongs.
7. Investigate and try government officials who are liable for treason, corruption and human rights violations.
8. Carry out a truly independent foreign policy for world peace and economic development, oppose imperialist acts of plunder and foreign aggression and intervention, and prevent the basing and stationing of foreign troops and weapons of mass destruction in the country.
9. Maintain normal trade and diplomatic relations with all countries and develop the closest of relations with other ASEAN countries, China, South and North Korea, Japan and Russia, emphasizing equable exchange of goods, acquiring goods for industrialization and guaranteeing energy supply.
10. Inaugurate a truce between the warring forces of the GRP and NDFP for the purpose of alliance and other constructive purposes as stated above.
Jaladoni said they are proposing specific details to the GPH, including the formation of a “Council of National Unity” that will have equal representation from both sides.
Once the GPH signs the agreement, Jalandoni said, the New People’s Army (NPA) will be ready to implement a prolonged ceasefire while talks on political and economic reforms proceed.
Jalandoni dismissed GPH peace panel chairman Alexander Padilla’s statement that the offer tantamount to “capitulation” by the government to the NDFP. Padilla is not involved with the talks on the “special track.”
“It is a proposal for cooperation,” Jalandoni said, adding that the proposal is not written on stone and may still be modified. “It is a working draft,” he said.
“Padilla’s negative statements are not based on reality,” Jalandoni said.
Jalandoni cited agrarian reform with just compensation, irrigation, food production, development of renewable energy, steel and pharmaceuticals. Jalandoni said the agreement will have “concrete benefits to the masses.”
“There should be a breakthrough somewhere. There should be a step forward. We can start with some projects,” Jalandoni said.
Industries, he said, should not be “foreign-owned, must protect the environment and the livelihood of the people.”
Jalandoni added, however, that a more comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms must still be signed by both parties. “If basic fundamental reforms are undertaken, other things would be easier.”
Jalandoni said that eventually, both parties would have to tackle the more difficult issues such as Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Looc, mining.
“Are they [GPH] afraid of socio-economic reforms that they are delaying the talks?” Jalandoni asked.
Why the offer
Asked why the NDFP presented an offer to the GPH, Jalandoni said it is to prove that the NDFP is sincere in having an “immediate, just peace.”
The proposal was first presented to former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005.
Before that, Jalandoni said, there had been pressure from the GPH (then Government of the Republic of the Philippines), Norway and the US for the NDFP to sign a final peace accord.
Jalandoni related that former House Speaker Jose de Venecia and Eduardo Ermita presented to the NDFP a two-page “Comprehensive Peace Accord” which contains surrender of arms in three months.
In 2003, after the US State Department listed the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and NPA as foreign terrorist organizations, the GRP presented to the NDFP a “more elaborate proposal,” which Jalandoni described as “tantamount to capitulation.”
Jalandoni said former Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople told the NDFP that if they signed the agreement, the terrorist listing would be lifted. The NDFP refused.
In response to this, Jalandoni said, the NDFP came up with the ten-point concise agreement in 2005.
“The NDFP is committed to achieving a just and lasting peace and that is why we are taking different approaches,” Jalandoni said.
Asked about the prospects of the special track, Jalandoni said: “The problem with Aquino is that he is dependent on the military but he can resist pressures from the military if he wants to. If he gets more support from progressive politicians and gets correct advice, a truce is possible.”
“Our proposal is responsive to the demands of the broad masses of the people for basic reforms. Only the rabid puppets, oppressors, plunderers and brutal violators of human rights are opposed to the ten points,” Jalandoni said in a statement.