13 March 2013
MANILA, Philippines – Communist rebels said alleged duplicity by government representatives, specifically presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas, had scuttled what could have been the “historic meeting” between President Benigno Aquino III and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison.
Ironically, according to a lengthy report by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ delegation to a “special track” meeting with government representatives, it was Llamas himself who proposed the Aquino-Sison meeting, to be held in Hanoi early this year, during talks in The Netherlands in October and November last year.
A copy of the report, submitted to the NDFP’s National Council, was obtained by InterAksyon from Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the Front’s negotiating panel, which represents the communist rebels in peace talks with government.
The proposed meeting was supposed to be reminiscent of the one between Aquino and Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo last year that speeded up negotiations with the Moro rebels, and was supposed to “stimulate the forging of a general or common declaration for effecting truce and cooperation” between the government and the NDFP.
However, according to Jalandoni, the idea collapsed because of two issues — the government’s continued failure to release detained consultants of the rebel peace panel and its alleged “maneuver to trap the NDFP into indefinite (simultaneous and unilateral) ceasefires without moving towards a truce and cooperation with the premises and requirements for such truce and cooperation.”
The NDFP said that, since 2005, it has been proposing a “truce and alliance based on a general declaration of common intent” in response to government’s calls for an indefinite ceasefire “without any clear basis,” which the rebels see as a ploy towards their capitulation.
In early 2011, in a proposal to Aquino, the NDFP proposed that its proferred “truce and alliance” be worked out “on a special track” separate from the formal peace talks. Although Aquino, through Llamas, responded that “the proposed points were doable,” the government continued “harping on the line that ceasefire is good for the people but said nothing about the subnstantive points for agreement.”
Nevertheless, both sides continued to discuss the “special track” until, accordign to Jalandoni, at a meeting in Utrecht on October 7 last year, Llamas discussed the proposed Aquino-Sison meeting with the CPP founder and “promised” that jailed NDF consultant Alan Jazmines would be “present (therefore already released) in Hanoi” and that Aquino “had approved the release of four political prisoners” on the fulfullment of “certain requirements.”
At the same meeting, and in a subsequent one in Amsterdam in November at which Norwegian Ambassador Ture Lundh, the third party facilitator of the talks between the communists and the government, was present, Jalandoni said “Ronald was asked by Joma to form their Special Team for the Special Track and get credentials and mandate from” Aquino.
However, when they met again on December 18 at the Norwegian embassy in The Hague, the government delegation “said there was no special team and they had no mandate to sign” any agreement or discuss the release of the jailed rebel consultants.
Nevertheless, both sides agreed to meet again early this year to discuss the following:
Common declaration of national unity and just peace
Further upholding national independence, democracy and human rights
Committee for National Unity, Peace and Development
Agrarian reform, rural development and national industrialization
These topics were supposed to be incorporated in a joint press communique to mark the Aquino-Sison meeting.
It was at the December meeting that the recent Christmas season truce, the longest ever declared between the communists and governemnt, was agreed on.
When the two groups met again on February 25 and 26, both sides exchanged drafts for the proposed joint communique.
However, the NDFP said the discussions fell apart because the government delegation’s draft was hingd on “simultaneous unilateral and indefinite ceasefires in disparate areas only to reduce the level of violence under the auspices and control of the reactionary state and armed forces” without addressing the roots of the armed conflict, which the rebels insisted should be the basis of any truce.
On February 26, the NDFP had concluded that Llamas’ “proposal to have an Aquino-Sison meeting in Hanoi, with Alan Jazmines attending, was not a serious offer but a mere ploy or bait to entice the NDFP” into agreeing with the government delegation’s “irrational” contention that, the ceasefire aside, the other points to be included in the joint press communique could be hammered out “in just one or two meetings.”
The meeting adjourned when the government delegation said they could no longer proceed.
Although Lundh convened side bar consultations with Llamas and Sison “with the obvious purpose of reconvening the meeting,” Llamas later said “he would like to go home and consult” Aquino.
“By its actuations during the Amsterdam meeting on February 25 and 26, 2013, the GPH has exposed itself as not really interested in any truce and cooperation arising from a special track,” the NDFP report said.
“Indeed, the GPH wants nothing but the pacification and capitulation of the revolutionary forces of the Filipino” and is not “interested in addressing the roots of the armed conflict through negotiated social, economic and political reforms,” it added.
The rebels said the government “has the burden of showing that it is sincerely interested in continuing the peace negotiations in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and subsequent agreements.”