Philippine Peace Center
4/F Kaija Bldg. 7836 Makati Ave cor Valdez St.,Makati City, MM
Tel-(632) 8993439; Fax-(632) 8993416
5 July 2018
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement that the GRP is still open to the resumption of formal talks provided the NDFP complies with President Duterte’s preconditions shows utter ignorance, if not highhanded arrgance, in the conduct of peace negotiations.
Any serious and knowledgeable negotiator knows that imposing preconditions poisons the atmospheroe and is anathema to any serious, honest-to-goodness negotiation. It is in the nature of negotiations that two opposing Parties sit and find common ground in order to forge solemn agreements that are to their mutual, though not necessarily identical, interest.
In the case of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, the framework and foundation agreement—The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 – explicitly states:
The holding of peace negotiations must be in accordance with mutually acceptable principles, including national sovereignty, democracy and social justice and no precondition shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations. (emphasis ours)
Secretary Roque and Defense Secretary Lorenzana list the following as President Duterte’s preconditions for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP negotiations:
- Prof. Jose Ma. Sison must return to the Philippines and the peace talks must be held in the Philippines without a foreign third party facilitator
- no coalition government
- no arson, attacks, no revolutionary taxes
- NPA to stay in a safe areas (sic) under a ceasefire agreement
- no recruitment/mass mobilization
These preconditions are absurd because they ignore or deny the basic factual premise that a civil war has been raging for the past fifty years and that both sides have agreed to resolve the armed conflict through peaceful negotiations, with neither one imposing its will or its demands over the other across the negotiating table. To impose such preconditions on the NDFP is tantamount to demanding its capitulation or surrender, and therefore unacceptable.
The GRP’s own set of principles and guidelines governing its position and conduct in the peace negotiations (Ramos EO 125 and Arroyo EO 3) states:
“A comprehensive peace process seeks a principled and peaceful resolution to the internal armed conflicts, with neither blame nor surrender, but with dignity for all concerned.”
OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza and the entire GRP Negotiating Panel are well aware of this. Thus, Secretary Dureza, in his statement today, attempts to rectify, if not reverse, the boo-boo of Secretaries Roque and Lorenzana by describing these not as clear-cut preconditions but ambiguously as “the wishes of the President” to which the resumption of negotiations is “subject to”. The OPAPP and GRP Negotiating Panel, in the recent backchannel talks, had clearly treated these not as preconditions but as subject matters for negotiations.
The GRP would do well to get its act together. On matters of peace negotiations, the DND and Presidential Communications office should learn the basics as well as the nuances from the more knowledgeable and hands-on OPAPP and GRP Panel. Unfortunately, the latter’s credibility and negotiating power has been seriously eroded by the “postponement” of the formal talks and the DND-AFP’s rejection of the Stand Down of forces and prospective Coordinated Unilateral Ceasefire for fear that negotiations and ceasefires would only result in the further growth and strength of the NPA and entire revolutionary movement.
The result of all this ignorance and arrogance is that not only the GRP but the entire Filipino people are being deprived a useful venue for addressing and resolving the roots of the armed conflict. ###
Reference: Rey Claro Casambre, Exec. Director; cp# 09436861956; firstname.lastname@example.org