The prospect for a peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines becomes dimmer as President Aquino accuses the NDFP of issuing ‘impossible demands’ and the NDFP accusing Aquino of laying the groundwork for scuttling the talks.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — The negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) deplored President Benigno Aquino III’s earlier attacks against the NDFP. Last May 17, Aquino went on air in an interview with Bombo Radyo and alleged that the NDFP was insincere in its calls for peace.
In the radio interview, Aquino said the NDFP continues to set an expanding series of conditions for the peace talks. He claimed that these conditions served to delay and prolong the process, and negate chances of a peace agreement being forged between the two negotiating parties. Aquino also placed the blame on NDFP chief political consultant Jose Ma. Sison, implying that he was the one who was setting the conditions.
Aquino also said if the NDFP is sincere in pursing peace, it should stop attacking government forces. He also insisted that the NDFP should provide a list of conditions that are “doable,” as opposed to those that are “impossible.” He said the NDFP’s demands are “impossible to achieve.”
Among the “impossible demands” Aquino mentioned was the NDFP’s insistence on the recognition of the list of persons who may be covered under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig). He said the NDFP refuses to present the list saying that the CD containing the names has been corrupted.
NDFP peace panel member Fidel V. Agcaoili immediately corrected Aquino, saying that it was the president who is exposing himself “as the hypocrite who pays lip service to peace but is in fact obsessed with carrying out a brutal war under the US-instigated Oplan Bayanihan.”
The peace negotiator said the NDFP peace panel has already received reliable information from palace insiders that Aquino plans to terminate negotiations with the NDFP next year or earlier. He said Aquino is determined to do this particularly if he succeeds in imposing control over all three branches of the government and in signing a peace agreement with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front).
“He is not at all interested in serious peace negotiations but only in demanding the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and the people. What is more insincere, hypocritical and deceptive is Aquino and his military minions calling their psywar, intelligence and combat operations ‘peace and development operations,’ ” he said.
Agcaoili said Aquino used formal talks in Oslo, Norway in 2011 to start attacking The Hague Joint Declaration as “a document of perpetual division” and to dismiss other agreements such as the Jasig and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
“He condones the violations of Jasig and the CARHRIHL by the Arroyo regime. He refuses to investigate the extrajudicial killing, torture and illegal detention of Jasig-protected consultants of the NDFP. He keeps in prison more then 350 political prisoners, who have been accused of being rebels and yet charged with common crimes in violation of CARHRIHL and the Hernandez political offense doctrine,” he pointed out.
As for the attack against Sison, Agcaoili said there were no surprises there.
“Prof. Sison has tried hard to find ways of facilitating and accelerating the peace negotiations and instituting truce or long-term ceasefire on a mutually acceptable basis. It is now clear to the NDFP that it is not only Office of Presidential Affairs on the Peace Process (OPPAP) secretary Ging Deles and GPH negotiating panel chairman Alex Padilla who are blocking the regular track of peace negotiations but it is Aquino no less who is blocking both the regular track and the special track which offers the possibility of truce and alliance on the basis of a general declaration of common intent for the benefit of the people,” he said.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda insisted that the fault lies with the NDFP for the delays in the peace talks. He said the NDFP’s lack of a Jasig list was a hindrance to the talks. He said that the list was agreed upon to be the basis to release personnel who the NDFP claims to be protected under the Jasig.
Lacierda was quoted in news reports saying that Malacañang will not rely on the statements of the NDFP when it comes to the number of people, the names of the personnel it wants released given the absence of the Jasig list.
“This is the main and only reason why we have not moved on in the peace talks. It is not because of the government,” he said.
Son of first victim of political killing under Aquino goes to the UN
As Malacañang and the NDFP trade verbal blows, the son of the first victim of extrajudicial killings under the Aquino government has taken his father’s case to the United Nations as it conducts its Universal Periodic Review on the Philippines scheduled on May 29, 2012.
Ernan Baldomero, 34, is the son of Fernando Baldomero, a municipal councilor of Lezo town in Aklan, an island province in Western Philippines. The elder Baldomero was killed on July 7, 2010 as he was about to send Ernan’s younger brother to school. Eman is part of the Philippine UPR Watch delegation which arrived in Geneva, Switzerland on May 25.
The Philippine UPR Watch is a delegation of human rights defenders and advocates that engages in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process of the UN Human Rights Council and brings to the attention of the UN and the international community the human rights situation in the Philippines.
Fifteen civil society groups belonging to the Philippine UPR Watch are represented by leaders and members of mass organizations in the Philippines while Filipino expatriates came from the United Kingdom, United States and The Netherlands from the International Committee on the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICCHRP).
The Philippine UPR Watch will continue its lobby efforts with the 71 countries that have signed up to question the Philippine government regarding its compliance to implement the recommendations put forward by 14 countries during the first cycle of the UPR held in 2008. The group has also been raising the government’s other unfulfilled commitments and ignored recommendations particularly put forward by former UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston.
The case of Fernando Baldomero was mentioned by Aquino in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in late July 2010, as one of the first cases which was considered “solved.”
Eman Baldomero dispels this, however, and said that his father’s case was archived last year while the arrest warrant for the suspect, Dindo Lovon Ancero, was not served.
Eman said he is determined to pursue justice for his father, and show the international community that nothing has changed since Aquino became president.
“I have even gone as far as the UN to find justice,” he said.
Ernan, has also taken the mantle left by his father as Lezo Municipal Councilor. He is now the vice-chairman of Hustisya (Justice) or Victims United for Justice, the organization of families of victims of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations.
Eman was a student activist during his college days, inspired and influenced by his father who was a former political prisoner and anti-Martial Law activist. After college, he worked for various newspapers in the province, not letting go of his activism.
“Almost two years after my father was killed, I feel nothing but dismay in the Aquino government’s denial of the continuing policy of extrajudicial killings, and breathes the suffocating air of impunity making perpetrators free and unpunished,” he said. “We cannot go on perpetually waiting for any action on the killings. This is why we will bring these to the attention of the UN Human Rights Council, and the international community to call on the Philippine government to stop the killings.”