In their two-day exploratory talks in Oslo, Norway last June 15-16, the incoming Rodrigo Duterte administration of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) signed a Joint Statement where both parties agreed to resume formal talks on the third week of July.
In this interview, NDFP negotiating panel chairperson Luis Jalandoni answers questions on some details of the statement, their preparations for the resumption of the fomal negotiations, the creation of wider support to the talks, and fears that the negotiations may be discredited by parties opposed to the incoming Duterte government’s alliance with the Left.
Kodao Productions: The Oslo Joint Statement of February 21, 2011 reaffirmed all bilateral agreements between the NDFP and the GRP/GPH. How confident are you that a Joint Statement of an exploratory meeting–particularly the holding of formal talks in accordance with previously-signed agreements, and affirmation of signed agreements (in the July talks)–would be honored/agreed to by the incoming GPH administration?
Luis Jalandoni: The NDFP Negotiating Panel is very confident, because the incoming Duterte administration, unlike the outgoing Aquino administration, has shown its firm commitment to seriously engage in peace negotiations with the NDFP to achieve national unity and a just peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict.
Kodao: Why is it necessary that the peace process ask for the concurrence of the incoming 17th Congress of the GPH on the matter of the general amnesty for political prisoners?
LJ: This is required by the GPH Constitution.
Kodao: How would the NDFP prepare for the resumption of the formal talks next month?
LJ: Request to the Duterte administration to release NDFP Consultants and JASIG-protected persons in accordance wih JASIG and in order to participate in the peace talks. We shall also prepare the list of those political prisoners to be released for humanitarian reasons: the sick and elderly, those already imprisoned for many years, the women, and the list of the remaining among the five hundred plus for the general amnesty.
Our reciprocal working committe on social and economic reforms will hold a consultation to further improve the NDFP draft on the CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms). We shall also prepare our Working Groups on the two remaining topics of the substantive agenda. There will be a vigorous campaign of education and information for the forces of the revolutionary movement and the wide public about the ongoing peace process.
Kodao: What should be done to create more understanding and support to the peace process?
LJ: The above-stated education and information campaign both inside the Philippines, among overseas Filipinos, solidarity friends abroad, and governmental and intergovernmental institutions abroad.
Kodao: What can you say about reports that some (rightist, anti-Left, even US) elements may try to discredit/sabotage the peace process and the cooperative relationships between the Left and the incoming GPH administration?
LJ: The wide and strong support for the peace process between the Duterte government and the NDFP would be a major factor in rendering such sabotage attempts or actions of rightist and anti-Left and even US elements. Broad international solidarity ought to be effective in countering US and other foreign entities which might go against the peace process. # (Interview and photo by Raymund B. Villanueva)