Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Before talking peace with the NDF

Posted by butalidnl on 14 May 2010

President-elect Noynoy Aquino has declared that he aims to reopen peace talks with the NDF and the MILF during his first 100 days of office.  For its part, the NDF is  also indicating their willingness to reopen peace talks. Provided, however, that the Philippine government tell the EU and the US to drop the terrorist tag on them. Well, the government should present its own peace proposal. I would like to point out some things that the government needs to consider in formulating its proposal.

Terrorist Tag
This seems to be a staple in the NDF’s list of conditions for peace talks.  [see:NDF wants new admin to remove terror tag on NPA, GMA News, May 12 ] Unfortunately, there is nothing that the Philippine government can do about this. Contrary to the propaganda, the Philippine government was not responsible for putting the tag on the NDF in the first place. The responsibility for this rests with the Dutch government, which put the CPP and Joma Sison on the list. The Dutch did this because of “personal links between Joma (and the CPP) with known terrorists”. And this is not only the position of the Dutch Justice Ministry, it was also upheld by the Raad van State, the highest court in the Netherlands; which goes to show that the Dutch government must have physical proof (probably including pictures provided by Interpol) of CPP representatives talking to terrorists. And by terrorists, they mean “groups that undertake armed struggle in Europe”, such as the Basque ETA (I personally believe that the ETA is one of these groups). It’s the CPP-NDF’s own fault – they shouldn’t be relating to the ETA and other terrorists in the first place; but to make things worse, they got caught while doing so. So, that’s why the Dutch put Joma and the CPP on the terrorist list.

And when the EU ministers of Justice met to approve a black-list of terrorist organizations in Europe, the Dutch proposed to include Joma et al, and of course all the other ministers agreed.  It’s true that the Philippine government sent an emissary to Europe to “lobby” for the inclusion of Joma/CPP in the list before the meeting; but it was academic by then, the Dutch had already proposed it, it was only a formality to be accepted by the other countries.

There is nothing that the Philippine government can do to remove the “terrorist”  tag from the CPP/NDF/NPA.

If we take from previous rounds of talks between the NDF and the Philippine government, we know that they will propose forming “peace panels” for both sides, even before a ceasefire is declared. This is rather irregular, if you really look at it. Both sides will be free to attack each other (as in ambushes), even while they are talking. Wouldn’t it be much better to agree to a ceasefire, however temporary, before talks start. This way, we will know that the NDF is sincere in wanting peace. And we will know that the Philippine government is restrained from arresting or attacking the NPA while the talks are going on.

The Philippine government declared a ceasefire with the MILF when they held their talks, why is the NDF any different?

The NDF has a sneaky practice of declaring arrested NPA commanders as “consultants” for the peace talks, freeing them from jail in the process. And these “consultants” leave the country to join the negotiating team based abroad. In the meantime, there is no real progress in the talks, which drag on forever, while the NDF’s “consultants” are free to roam the country, or go abroad, and they are immune from arrest. And the war simply goes on…

The peace talks should lead towards peace. A ceasefire should be declared before real talks begin.

It is alright for peace talks to be held abroad (after all the MILF talks are held abroad) but it is strange that the “negotiating panel” is headed by people permanently based abroad.  Isn’t the NDF supposed to be a home-grown insurgency? Isn’t it that its real leaders are based inside the Philippines? Why then are the talks with people permanently based abroad? Joma Sison has been outside the country since 1986 (24 years) and Louis Jalandoni since 1980 (30 years). They have been away for so long, and have been so detached from the day-to-day leadership of the movement in the Philippines for all this time.

We can only conclude that the Philippine-based leadership is not really serious about peace talks; that these talks are nothing but a scheme to get NPA leaders released, and to let Joma Sison have his day in the spotlight. The Philippine-based leaders don’t even think highly enough of the talks to honor it with a ceasefire; in other words, “they can go on talking all they like, but we will continue with our armed struggle”.

Perhaps the Philippine-based real leaders of the CPP/NDF want to continue the myth that Joma Sison is the chairman of the CPP, so as to confuse the enemy. But the Philippine government should know better – they should talk with the real leaders, for they are the ones who can really talk peace with them. Talking with Joma Sison et al will just be a public relations exercise that will end nowhere.

The government should talk to the real, Philippine-based, leadership of the CPP-NDF in its peace talks. Talking with foreign-based “spokespersons” will get them nowhere.


One Response to “Before talking peace with the NDF”

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