In response to the statement of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) Negotiating Panel, dated 21 October 2011 but sent out only on 24 October 2011, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel states the following:
The release of the 13 NDFP Consultants and JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) protected persons who are now in the custody of the GPH is an obligation of the GPH in compliance with the JASIG. It is not a precondition that is unilaterally imposed by the NDFP. And neither is it a mere confidence-building measure that is one-sidedly subject to the arbitrary exercise and abuse of discretion of the GPH. The unlawful arrest, detention and prosecution of these JASIG-protected persons are blatant violations of the JASIG, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and the laws of the GPH itself. Their immediate release is being demanded by the NDFP as a matter of legal right, to uphold justice and the rule of law.
Encrypted photos are legitimate photos. Encryption is a legally and universally accepted practice in business, political and diplomatic relations designed to ensure security, privacy rights, trade, diplomatic and state secrets. In consonance with this reality, the position of the NDFP on the reconstitution of the list of NDFP holders of Documents of Identification is quite appropriate. This has been repeatedly stated to the GPH Panel Chair, but he purposely ignores it and continues to insist on "hard photos".
The failure to decrypt the encrypted photos is attributable to the raids of the Dutch police in their futile attempt to file a trumped up charge against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP Chief Political Consultant. The Arroyo regime colluded with the Dutch government and the USA in fabricating the false criminal case. The Dutch police corrupted and disabled the diskettes needed for decryption. The trumped up charge was dismissed by the Dutch Court.
The NDFP Negotiating Panel has made the reasonable proposal to reconstruct the JASIG list to take into account those holders who have died or those who no longer have functions in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. There is also a need to replace damaged or lost documents of identification. The reconstruction is already being undertaken and will be completed next month. The reconstructed list with encrypted photos can be deposited in the designated safety deposit box. This issue is easily resolvable and cannot be cited by the GPH Negotiating Panel as a cause of delay in the peace negotiations.
The refusal of the GPH to comply with its obligation is the immediate major obstacle to the continuation of the peace negotiations.
Undermining by the GPH of previous bilateral agreements:
There is however a more serious threat to the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations and to the twelve bilateral agreements. It is the undermining of the past agreements by the GPH.
The Hague Joint Declaration
With Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles present, the GPH Panel pretended to reaffirm the 12 bilateral agreements in February 2011 but declared in its "qualifications" that "The Hague Joint Declaration is only a means to an end and was never meant to be a document of perpetual division between the parties."
This claim of the GPH Panel contradicts the fact that subsequent bilateral agreements affirmed The Hague Joint Declaration as the foundation document. Moreover, in the Joint Statement of 9 March 2001, it is stated: "The Parties uphold and affirm the validity and binding character of the ten bilateral agreements (Annex A hereof) that were entered into between them from 1 September 1992 to 7 August 1998 as the framework and foundation for the resumption of the peace negotiations."
The GPH Panel's citing of the Breukelen Joint Statement to question The Hague Joint Declaration is a misreading of the document. It fails to cite that at the very beginning of the document it is stipulated "The GRP and the NDF reaffirmed their adherence to The Hague Declaration." Part II no. 8 of the aforesaid joint statement does provide for further discussion "that will lead to agreements in order to realize the objectives of The Hague Declaration."
To cite this in order to undermine The Hague Joint Declaration and to put under question such clear provisions as "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" is indeed seeking to destroy the framework and foundation of the peace negotiations.
The JASIG and the CARHRIHL
Without comprehending the essence and full scope of the JASIG, the GPH Panel Chair Alexander Padilla ignores the fact that releases of NDFP Consultants have been carried out without the "further verification" of opening the safety deposit box. He fails to see that those who are consulted by NDFP Panelists are covered by JASIG protection, while on the way to, during the consultation, or on the way from the consultations, and those publicly known to have participated or are participating in the peace negotiations. He does not see the essence of JASIG as a reciprocal guarantee of safety to all participants of both Parties in the peace negotiations. Moreover, he wants issues concerning the JASIG and the CARHRIHL to be considered unsubstantial, side-line issues to be put on a side-table discussion. He considers compliance with JASIG and the CARHRIHL as a mere confidence-building measure subject to the arbitrary exercise and abuse of discretion of the GPH.
All peace advocates in the Philippines and abroad should take note of these serious threats to the peace negotiations. Agreements on the rest of the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations, namely, social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces, have no chance of being attained if The Hague Joint Declaration, the JASIG and CARHRIHL are undermined and attacked by the GPH.
Such undermining is the strongest evidence that the Aquino regime, Secretary Deles and GPH Panel Chair Padilla have no desire or intention to engage in serious peace negotiations to address the roots of the armed conflict. They merely want rumors of peace talks as part of the counterinsurgency plan, cosmetically called Oplan Bayanihan, following the US Government Counterinsurgency Guide.