New paradigm from CPP/NPA for peace process to progress
This refers to a published statement titled “Cease all hostilities until the 2016 elections” (Page A4, 12/22/15).
We appreciate the concern expressed by our citizens—represented by 124 civil society organizations from the insurgency-torn areas in Mindanao and the Cordillera—in their call for a cessation of all hostilities until after the 2016 national elections.
Truly, our people, most especially the lumad communities, have suffered too much for too long, bearing the brunt of the armed conflict between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front. The continuing violence is a violation of our people’s human rights to life, liberty and a safe and peaceful environment. This senseless violence must end, and it is the task of all peace-loving peoples to create a conducive environment, especially during the coming election period, for the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict.
Nothing could be more desirable than a prolonged ceasefire that covers the coming elections. However, the call for a prolonged ceasefire during the election period must include the demand for the cessation of all disruptive activities by the CPP/NPA/NDF, such as the collection of their “permit to campaign” and “permit to win” from political candidates, the extortion from business establishments, and other unlawful fees.
It has been a long and painful road to peace marred by an immovable framework under The Hague Joint Declaration and impossible preconditions by the NDF panel, foremost of which is the release of 500 political prisoners prior to the resumption of the talks. From the regular track to a special track proposed by Jose Ma. Sison, to a special exploratory team, to initiatives by the Royal Norwegian Government to resume the peace process, the main insurmountable issue has been the NDF demand for the wholesale release of its detained officers and members before the negotiations can be resumed. Thus, for over 30 years, our process has been marred by suspensions, walkouts and impasses.
With the short runway left to the Aquino administration, we can no longer realistically pursue the negotiations and expect results.
However, we continue to pursue the peace, but with a limited agenda, to reach agreement with the NDF to reduce the level of armed violence on the ground and restore the public’s trust in the peace process. We have conveyed this message to the NDF through our third-party facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government.
A word of caution, though, for our civil-society friends, who undoubtedly have only the best intentions for our nation and people: In asking that all candidates promise direct negotiations with the NDF in the first 100 days of any winning “presidentiable,” the same would be correct if indeed the NDF was the right party to talk to in the first place.
The NDF is a political coalition of various revolutionary groups, but does not include the CPP and the NPA. The NPA from its inception has always been the military arm of the CPP and only the latter can order it to change its course. On the other hand, the CPP has consistently, without fail, stated in its official newsletter, Ang Bayan, that the “peace negotiations should be utilized for communist propaganda and in order to overthrow government through armed struggle.” Unless a new paradigm is extracted from the CPP/NPA, talks with the NDF will result in the same failed status, as was the case in the 30-year duration of negotiations.
The government is open to the proposal for ceasefire during the campaign, election period, and even beyond. We encourage our countrymen and women to continue proposing the deescalation of armed violence through concrete, verifiable, unilateral goodwill gestures undertaken by both the Philippine government and the NDF for the good of the people, and to rebuild public trust in the peace process.
Together, let us invigorate our protracted peace process with the CPP/NPA/NDF and finally achieve the peace we all desire.
—ALEXANDER PADILLA, chair,
Government Panel for the
Peace Negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF
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