Davao Today's Interview with Luis G. Jalandoni

Interview with Luis G. Jalandoni
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

By Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan
Managing Editor, davaotoday.com
Read article in Davao Today: NDFP calls GPH Panel Chair’s accusations “malicious, unfounded”

Davao Today, an online news magazine, has been following the story of the 01 September Paquibato blast incident in Fatima village, Paquibato District, Davao City.

We were there when the Third Party Facilitators helped in the release of the NDFP indemnification of 5,000 pesos to the blast victims.

In reaction to the said event, Peace Panel Chair Alexander Padilla of the government of the Repulic of the Philippines (GPH) issued a statement which was posted in the OPAPP website last 21 September. In this light, we hope to get your reaction on the following points raised by GPH’s Padilla:

1. That the indemnification of the New People's Army is just “stopgap and clouding the issue of violation of international humanitarian law and Philippine law;”

Luis Jalandoni (LJ): The NPA's indemnification is not a stop gap measure. It goes with an apology and is in accordance with the revolutionary movement's principles and policies. It does not becloud the issue of violation of international humanitarian law. It respects international humanitarian law.

It is Alex Padilla who is attempting to becloud the blatant violations of international humanitarian law by the GPH in setting up military detachments amidst civilian communities, carrying out military occupation of communities suspected of supporting the revolutionary movement and instituting a reign of terror through rampant human rights violations of civilians.

The declaration of the NDFP Regional Council of Southern Mindanao of September 12 is very clear. The indemnification is carried out by the people's democratic government in accordance with its revolutionary principles and policies, enumerated in the declaration. GPH Panel Chair Padilla's accusation is malicious and unfounded, not worthy of his position as GPH Panel Chair.

The NDFP apology and indemnification stand in stark contrast to the denial of responsibility by the AFP for the massacre in Hacienda Luisita in November 2004 and by no means giving any indemnification to the victims and their families. There is also the case of 9 year-old Grecil Buya falsely accused by the military as an NPA child soldier. Her father was falsely accused as having recruited Grecil and both parents were harassed by the military. No apology, no indemnification from the AFP! There are many other similar cases of AFP denial of responsibility.

2. That the “indemnification has been raised only now” despite the alleged “countless civilian victims of collateral damage in over four decades of the Communist insurgency;”

LJ: Mr. Padilla makes another false statement. He should get the facts before shooting his mouth. There have been previous cases of indemnification carried out by the revolutionary movement in accordance with its revolutionary principles. These are well recorded.

The numerous victims caused by a succession of GRP/GPH so-called counter-insurgency programs, dictated by the US government, cannot be imputed to the people's resistance that engages in a disciplined armed liberation struggle in accordance with international humanitarian law and its revolutionary principles.

In attempting to blame the people for their just resistance against oppression and exploitation, Alex Padilla has now come to the rescue of the hated Marcos martial law regime which had committed hundreds of thousands of human rights violations during its 14 year-rule. He also defends the equally brutal record of the Arroyo regime in its dirty war against the national democratic movement.

3. That the “demands of justice are predicated on a rule of law and cannot be met by one-off payments;”

LJ: The sham rule of law under the reactionary government (GRP/GPH) is characterized by impunity for the more than 1,200 extrajudicial killings and more than 200 enforced disappearances under the Arroyo regime, carried on under the Aquino regime with the addition of more than 100 extrajudicial killings, including the killings of Italian missionary Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio and Dutch development worker, Willem Geertman. There is a long list of other gross human rights violations running through from the Cory Aquino regime down to the current Benigno Aquino III regime.

In contrast to the reactionary government's so-called rule of law is the rule of justice in accordance with pro-people principles of the people's democratic government. The NDFP website (www.ndfp.net) can be accessed to secure the pertinent documents. Widespread support of workers, peasants and other oppressed sectors are powerful testimony of their appreciation of the revolutionary rule of justice.

4. That the CPP-NPA’s “revolutionary justice” was allegedly exposed as a “sham” and/or “without regard to the rule of law including basic rights (e.g. the right to counsel, to evidence).” Mr. Padilla even quoted the 2008 report of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston;

LJ: Mr. Padilla should read the testimonies of Brig. Gen. Victor Obillo (now deceased), Majors Francisco and Bernal and other prisoners of war (POWs) about the humane treatment accorded to them. The late Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, NDFP Chief Legal Counsel and United Nations Judge, formulated in January 2000, the Updated NDFP Position on the Issue of Prisoners of War and the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations. This guarantees to the POWs their right to a fair trial before a duly constituted people's tribunal or court martial and all the guarantees of due process. The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal Session in 1980, chaired by Nobel Laureate George Wald, declared the NDFP “legitimate representative of the Filipino people” and its armed struggle as a belligerency in accordance with international humanitarian law.

5. That, allegedly, more civilians will be “caught in the crossfire” as long as “the CPP-NPA pursues armed struggle as the primary means to achieve its goals;”

LJ: The documentation by KARAPATAN and other human rights organizations in the Philippines and abroad proves that the greatest number of victims of human rights violations are due to indiscriminate attacks by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Citizens Armed Forces - Geographical Units (CAFGU).

6. That the CPP-NPA allegedly continues the “use of land mines and child soldiers” even though these have been “raised by the GPH Peace Panel in on-and-off talks with its CPP-NPA-NDF counterparts;”

LJ: It has been proven that the CPP-NPA use only command-detonated land mines, which are not prohibited by the Ottawa Treaty or other international humanitarian law. These command-detonated land mines are a legitimate weapon against the AFP that uses indiscriminate bombardment, artillery firing and strafing of civilian homes and communities.

The allegation that the CPP-NPA uses child soldiers has been proven false by a scientific field research by IBON Foundation in cooperation with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) published in 2007. “Uncounted Lives, Children, Women & Conflict in the Philippines. A Needs Assessment of Children and Women Affected by Armed Conflict for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). In his foreword, UNICEF Representative, Dr. Nicholas K. Alipui stated: among others, “I take this opportunity to thank the IBON Foundation, our research partner, for its excellent work and its exemplary commitment to adhere to the scientific, academic and ethical standards required by UNICEF in this study.”

7. That the “demands of peace must be negotiated peacefully at the table and not through gunfire and the torching of establishments.”

LJ: The NDFP has negotiated and signed twelve bilateral agreements with the GRP, including The Hague Joint Declaration, The Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The NDFP is ready to continue negotiations on social and economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms.

But the GPH has reneged on its obligations according to these agreements and shows no political will to continue negotiations. The Aquino government has also ignored the NDFP's offer of truce and alliance in a special track of the peace negotiations. The GPH Panel and the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) appear to be interested only in making propaganda attacks against the revolutionary movement. There is no political will to move towards negotiations on social and economic reforms and fulfill its obligations in accordance with binding bilateral agreements.