By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
Posted date: July 27, 2010

LUCENA CITY – In reaction to President Benigno Aquino III’s call for peace, exiled communist rebel leader Jose Maria Sison reiterated that the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has repeatedly declared its readiness to resume peace negotiations with the government.“It (NDFP) has also signaled its willingness to receive in The Netherlands or Norway a senior emissary or a team of emissaries of said administration to discuss the possible course and perspective of the GRP (Republic of the Philippines)-NDFP peace negotiations,” Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and chief political consultant of the NDFP negotiating panel, said in a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer via Facebook.

In his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, President Aquino declared that his administration was ready to call for an immediate ceasefire and return to the negotiating table with the communist rebels as long as they agreed to find solutions to the problems instead of finger-pointing.

“To the CPP-NPA-NDF: are you prepared to put forth concrete solutions rather than pure criticism and finger-pointing? If it is peace you truly desire, then we are ready to call for an immediate cease-fire. Let us go back to the table and begin talking again,” Aquino said in his first SONA Monday.

Aquino also said it would be difficult to begin talking peace “if the scent of gun power still hangs in the air.”

The Netherlands-based Sison said he had proposed the resumption and acceleration of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, especially with regard to social and economic reforms, in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and subsequent major agreements.

The agreements include The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 which set the guiding principles, framework, agenda and procedures for the talks, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

”I have also gone so far as to propose a concept of immediate truce and alliance on the basis of a mutually acceptable declaration of principles and policies upholding national independence and democracy, confronting the basic problems of the Filipino people and adopting effective measures of social, economic and political reforms,” he said.

However, he reiterated the rebel rejection of any call for them to first lay down their firearms before the start of the peace talks.

“It is unjust for anyone to expect that the revolutionary forces and the people to simply cease fire and surrender to a rotten ruling system that shuns patriotic and progressive demands and refuses to engage in basic reforms,” he stressed.

Sison called on the Aquino administration to seriously consider the two proposals for the benefit of the people.

“Like the NDFP, I welcome any serious step of said administration towards the attainment of a just peace and national unity by addressing the roots of the armed conflict and arriving with the revolutionary forces and the people at agreements on basic social, economic and political reforms,” he said.

He also urge President Aquino “to override such counterrevolutionary notions as those previously spelled out by its officials that the military can get anything it wants despite the severe economic crisis and bankruptcy of the reactionary government, that the revolutionary forces and people surrender and that they can be destroyed and pacified in the next three years.”

He also urged the Aquino administration to reject the US Counterinsurgency Guide and take the path of seeking a concord of just peace and national unity with the NDFP by addressing the roots of the armed conflict and forging agreements on social, economic and political reforms.

“It is malicious and unjust to construe the people’s resistance to injustice, oppression and exploitation as the problem rather than as the consequence of foreign and feudal domination,” Sison said.

He cited “foreign monopoly capitalism”, “domestic feudalism” and “bureaucratic corruption” as the long-running and current causes of underdevelopment, unemployment, poverty and misery.

“All well-meaning forces and people must unite and work together to confront and solve these problems and work for a new and better Philippines that is truly free and democratic, socially just, progressive and peaceful,” Sison said.

Last month, Luis Jalandoni, NDFP peace panel chairman, vowed their commitment to the resumption of the peace talks under the Aquino presidency.

“The National Democratic Front of the Philippines is willing and ready to resume formal peace talks with the new administration of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). We aim for peace talks that address the roots of the armed conflict through fundamental economic, social and political reforms,” Jalandoni said in a statement.

However, Jalandoni called Aquino to hold former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the military and civilian officials of her administration accountable for numerous gross human rights violations and blatant cases of massive corruption and plunder.

Peace talks between the government and the communist rebels have been stalled since 2004 after the insurgents protested the government’s alleged inaction in having them removed from the terrorist lists of the United States and the European Union.

Several times, the government and the NDFP peace panels attempted to resume the formal peace negotiations. But the peace initiatives always bogged down because both parties were adamant in pushing for their respective preconditions before the start of the talks.

Over the weekend, presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles announced that the new administration would drop its demand for the communist rebels to first disarm before the resumption of the aborted peace talks.

In another radical step for peace, the Armed Forces of the Philippines also declared that state security forces would no longer arrest suspected communist rebels without a court warrant in line with the administration’s order to respect human rights.