On the recent announcements of the GRP and NDFP

Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat

November 28, 2023

KARAPATAN welcomes the joint statement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) affirming their commitment to discuss the framework on priorities in the peace negotiations.

This development should facilitate the reaffirmation of commitments and adherence to previously signed agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), as well as the finalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) and the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR) towards the resolution of the root causes of the armed conflict.

In our view, efforts to resume formal peacetalks should be geared towards addressing the following issues which are compelling especially in the light of the previously signed CARHRIHL and the current dismal human rights situation in the Philippines: the immediate release of detained NDFP peace consultants and staff and all political prisoners, especially those who are sick, elderly, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and long-detained; the use of counter-terrorism laws and trumped up criminal charges to suppress political dissent, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and fake surrenders; and repressive laws, proclamations and orders dating from the Marcos dictatorship, among others. This leaves no room for notorious entities such as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and laws such as the draconian Anti-Terrorism Act and Anti-Terrorist Financing and Suppression Act.

We also await with keen interest further developments consequent to the joint statement, cognizant of the difficulties and challenges that lie ahead considering the GRP’s history of treachery and its failure to comply with its commitments under the CARHRIHL during the Duterte regime, including the perpetuation of extrajudicial killings of civilians and hors de combat, the bombings of communities and other violations of International Humanitarian Law, and the worsening climate of impunity due to lack of justice and accountability of State forces on human rights and IHL violations. We also view with grave concern the history of killings, enforced disappearance, illegal arrest and continuing incarceration of several NDFP peace consultants.

We believe that addressing these issues will contribute greatly to creating an atmosphere conducive to the pursuit of just and lasting peace.