CPP rejects Gazmin’s “surrender” precondition for peace talks resumption

By CPP Information Bureau

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today rejected the position set by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that the New People's Army (NPA) should first surrender its arms before formal peace talks can resume between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The CPP also questioned whether Gazmin's statements yesterday on the matter of peace talks constitute the Aquino regime's official position. It noted that Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles earlier expressed openness to work for a "negotiated political settlement" of the armed conflict.

Gazmin's surrender precondition "exposes the defense secretary's bellicose position where peace is equated with the surrender or suppression of the people's armed resistance," said the CPP. "Gazmin's militarist definition of peace must be repudiated for formal peace negotiations to advance under the Aquino regime."

"The Filipino people desire a resolution of the armed conflict by addressing the roots of the civil war, principally the grave violations of human rights, the worsening socio-economic conditions and the continuing political marginalization of the toiling masses," said the CPP. "These are the issues that must be addressed through peace negotiations.

"Gazmin's precondition has long been discredited by the achievements of GRP-NDFP peace negotiations from 1992 to 1998," pointed out the CPP. "Without requiring any party to surrender its arms or setting any other precondition, the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels succeeded in forging several historic documents."

Among the documents signed during this period are The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

In statements last week, the CPP expressed the willingness of the NDFP to resume formal peace negotiations with the GRP after being stalled for the past several years under the Arroyo government. "The Aquino regime need only recognize and abide by all previous agreements in order to propel the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations forward."

"However, the apparently contradictory statements of Aquino's officials are not helping push forward the peace talks," said the CPP. "Aquino must issue a clear statement committing his government to peace negotiations and take the necessary steps for the formal talks to resume."