Indefinite postponement and non-compliance are obstacles to meaningful peace negotiations

Luis G. Jalandoni
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
19 October 2011

Peace advocates in the country and abroad will be frustrated and deeply disappointed with GPH Panel Chair Alexander Padilla's announcement of indefinitely postponing the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Their high hopes for the advance of the peace negotiations and the forging of agreements addressing the roots of the armed conflict are dashed by this Padilla announcement.

Padilla, Secretary Teresita Deles, and other GPH officials obstinately refuse to comply with the GPH obligation to release NDFP Consultants in accordance with the Joint Agreement and Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Oslo Statements of January and February 2011.

Justifying the GPH denial of its obligation, Padilla falsely claims that the NDFP is demanding the aforesaid releases as “a precondition”. He disregards his own signature on the January 18, 2011 Joint Communique: “The GPH agreed to work for the expeditious release of the NDFP Consultants and JASIG-protected persons in accordance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and in the spirit of goodwill.”

Nine months have passed and the “expeditious release” has not been carried out for all or most of the 17 NDFP detainees covered by JASIG protection. Only four were released in late July and early August 2011.

An obligation arising from a bilateral agreement is not a precondition. The reciprocal agreement approved by the Principals of both Parties requires both Parties to respect and comply with the agreement.

The GPH Negotiating Panel has attacked The Hague Joint Declaration, the bilateral agreement acknowledged by both Parties as the foundation and framework of the peace negotiations, as “a document of perpetual division between the parties.” Previous GPH negotiating panels affirmed The Hague Joint Declaration. Only this current GPH Panel has attacked it in writing.

Now, Padilla is attacking the JASIG, claiming that compliance with it is not an obligation, but a mere goodwill measure to be carried out only at GPH whim.

In his futile attempt to justify the GPH reneging on its word, he falsely accuses the NDFP of “extortion”, “blackmail” and “putting up obstacles”. The words are wrongly applied on the NDFP and amount to baseless namecalling.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel strongly criticizes GPH Panel Chair Padilla and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles for attacking the foundations of the GPH peace negotiations.

Respect for previous bilateral agreements is required to move forward. Indefinite postponement and non-compliance with agreements ignore the people's widespread demand for peace talks that address the roots of the armed conflict.