Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pushing for "localized peace talks" disrespects the peace process-NDF

Pushing for "localized peace talks" disrespects the peace process*

Press Release
August 11, 2010

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today slammed the 8th Infantry Division for pushing for "localized peace talks" and calling for support from local government units. "We denounce such statements detrimental to the peace talks from Lt. Col. Armand Rico in the 8th ID's radio program," said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson. "But such fascist propaganda is backed by the belligerence and apparent contempt for peace talks of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. We warn the Aquino government that such a gesture glaringly disregards the previous agreements reached by the Philippine government and the NDFP. Moreover, "localized peace talks" can be seen through as an old trick to divide and rule."

The NDF-EV spokesperson said that localized peace talks goes against previous agreements reached by the Philippine government and the NDF that laid down the peace process at the national level. "To localize the peace talks would be to ignore the fact that discussing and solving the people's problems must be done comprehensively, at the national level. There are previous agreements binding on both parties for the negotiations, and yet the Aquino government would like to disregard these and start with nothing. But in the first place, these agreements are important for the resumption of talks and to come up with basic reforms to benefit the people, such as socio-economic reforms that will be discussed should negotiations continue. The agreements signed by the GRP and NDFP include The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 which sets the principles, framework and sequence of agenda of the talks, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed in 1995 and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed in 1998."

Fr. Salas explained that instead of being genuinely for peace, "localized peace talks" had been used by the GRP and AFP in 1987 for military purposes: to gather intelligence, and to target, attack and demoralize the revolutionary forces. "It is clear even from Col. Rico's statements that the AFP has the same intentions today. To achieve localized peace talks, he goads civilian authority, as represented by the local government units, to be subordinate to military authority and participate in this "counter-insurgency" scheme. Thus Rico shows that the 8th ID and the Aquino government have niggardly regard for really discussing and solving the problems that led to the armed conflict. What they want is to use the camouflage of localized peace talks to effectively use military force to destroy the revolutionary forces."

Fr. Salas added that if the 8th ID will continue pushing for "localized peace talks", it will only mean that the Aquino government is more interested in war rather than peace talks. "Insisting on localized peace talks is a dishonest attempt to seem to be for peace, while in fact preparing for war and disregarding any serious attempts to discuss the problems of the people. We challenge the Aquino government that if it is really for peace, it should respect the peace process and resume negotiations with the NDFP. If the Aquino government is really concerned for the people, it should be willing to discuss and pursue with the NDFP the basic reforms that will pave the way for a just and lasting peace."