Communiqué on 4th consultations of NDFP Monitoring Committee and NDFP section in Joint Secretariat

By NDFP Monitoring Committee

The NDFP Monitoring Committee (NDFP-MC) recently held its fourth consultations with the NDFP-nominated section in the Joint Secretariat (NDFP-JS) from September 3 to 17, 2008 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Also present in the consultations were the NDFP-designated independent observers in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), members of the NDFP Negotiating Panel and the NDFP Chief Political Consultant. The consultations were officially supported and facilitated by the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government.

The following were present and participated in the consultations: the NDFP Monitoring Committee composed of Chairman Fidel V. Agcaoili and members, Coni K. Ledesma and Danilo Borjal; the members of the NDFP-nominated section in the Joint Secretariat composed of its head Marissa P. Dumanjug-Palo, Levie C. Ebio, and legal consultant Atty. Edre U. Olalia; NDFP-designated independent observers Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Tomas Millamena and Marie Hilao-Enriquez; NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Luis G. Jalandoni and member Juliet de Lima-Sison; NDFP Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Maria Sison; and NDFP Negotiating Panel Secretariat head Ruth de Leon.

NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Jalandoni gave a briefing to the NDFP-JS and the independent observers on the current state of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and efforts to resume the formal talks. He cited among others the recent visit of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) and the Norwegian Ecumenical Peace Platform (NEPP). Chief Political Consultant Prof. Sison also gave his insights on the overall global and national situation and their effects or prospects on the peace negotiations.

The NDFP-JS gave a report on its work since the last full-blown consultation with the NDFP Monitoring Committee in March-April 2007. The report covered among others the several trainings, workshops and case clinics given by the NDFP-JS to various human rights, church and peace groups and sectoral, mass and people's organizations to disseminate information on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the filing of complaints before the Joint Secretariat of the JMC and on the peace negotiations in general.

The NDFP-JS also gave a comprehensive update on its operational and administrative work, the status and nature of the complaints received by the JS, the publications it has released and their distribution, the joint activities with the GRP-nominated section as well as various initiatives and related work it accomplished.

The main item on the agenda was a plenary study of complaints received by the NDFP-JS. The collective study covered incidents allegedly involving children and minors that might have been included in the 24 April 2008 report by the United Nations Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict and complaints received by the NDFP-JS from January to August 22, 2008 as well as complaints previously received which have to be restudied in view of new developments. Also taken up were reports or information relayed to the NDFP Negotiating Panel by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The NDFP-MC also shared a letter from UNICEF Philippines directly mailed to the NDFP International Office in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Based on previous studies, complaints were categorized in the following manner: defective, outside coverage, falsely attributed, reported, and for further study. “Defective” refers to complaints that manifestly do not meet the minimum requirements of form as to basic data. “Outside coverage” refers to incidents outside the scope and date of effectivity of the CARHRIHL. “Falsely attributed” refers to incidents which evidently pass off the blame and responsibility for the alleged violations to the New People's Army (NPA) to further perpetuate GRP impunity. “Reported” refers to incidents that have been reported in various publications or statements of organs or units of the revolutionary movement as acknowledged or denied. “For further study” refers to the very few complaints that can qualify for verification with concerned authorities of the revolutionary movement.

The NDFP-MC has received responses from concerned authorities of the revolutionary movement in some of the cases that were referred to them for verification. In others, the NDFP-MC is still awaiting the response of the concerned authorities.

Lastly, the participants to the consultations revisited the outstanding draft of the Supplemental Guidelines for the JMC submitted to the GRP-MC since August 2004. The NDFP-JS, NDFP-MC and the NDFP Negotiating Panel, with the counsel of the NDFP Chief Political Consultant and taking into consideration the advice of the NDFP Senior Legal Consultant Romeo T. Capulong, agreed on certain amendments to the proposed Guidelines. This new draft has been enriched by lessons learned from the four years experience of the NDFP-MC and NDFP-JS in carrying out their mandate under the CARHRIHL. This document is intended as a supplement to the Operational Guidelines of the JMC signed in Oslo, Norway on February 14, 2004 and would hopefully provide further impetus to the eventual convening of the JMC. The NDFP-MC will submit the same to the GRP-MC for discussion and agreement.

These latest consultations of the NDFP-JS with the NDFP-MC and NDFP Negotiating Panel, with the participation of the nominated Independent Observers, underscore the continuing desire and openness of the NDFP for the resumption of the formal talks in the peace negotiations on the basis of previous agreements and upon the removal of the impediments put up by the GRP. The consultations, despite the non-convening of the JMC for a long time, specifically demonstrate the resolve of the NDFP to jointly and separately uphold and implement CARHRIHL, recognize its continuing binding effect as well as validate the relevance and importance of the work of the NDFP-JS which has been consistently supported by the Third Party Facilitator.