By Prof. Jose Maria Sison (JMS)
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
Requested by Sonny Mallari
Philippine Daily Inquirer
22 June 2013
Sonny Mallari: In view of the recent statements of Alex Padilla in Rappler, are the peace talks already dead? Please comment on his statements.
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. 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 NDF 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 Negotiating Panel Chairman at the start. We thought that having come from BAYAN 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 [and for them] 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:
1. 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 of Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
Rap: Padilla said they were supposed to further discuss the “general declaration” in February when Sison gave the government panel a surprise: 3 new documents that pursued the “regular track,” which was the path that had led to deadlocks in the past.
“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 AFP, 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 RNG 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 NDF 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 NDF 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 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 NDF 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 psywar. 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 [leaders] 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 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.###