On the question of national unity government and resumption of the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations

Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
NDFP Chief Political Consultant

I speak as one of the national leaders specially mentioned and invited to join a government of national unity, which has been proposed by Speaker Jose de Venecia and approved by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

President Macapagal-Arroyo and Speaker de Venecia might have all the good intentions in the world in putting forward the concept of a government of national unity. But I think that uniting revolutionary and reactionary forces is easier said than done, especially because they do not have any common platform for asserting national independence against foreign domination.

The next few weeks or even the entire run of 18 months before the current president steps down from office will not be enough for uniting the competing parties of the pro-US exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. On the contrary, the contradictions among the reactionary factions are already sharpening under the strain of the severe domestic and global economic crisis.

As far as I know, the revolutionary forces allied within the NDFP do not find any basis for joining a government under the current presidency. But they welcome the face value of Macapagal-Arroyo's announcement of her desire to concentrate on social and economic problems and to seek national unity. They see a glimmer of hope that she is now more inclined than before to engage in peace negotiations with the NDFP.

For the time being, they wish her to demonstrate by deeds more resolve to resume the peace negotiations with the NDFP in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and without placing the NDFP negotiators, consultants, staffers and supporters under the duress of being designated as "terrorist" by the US and other imperialist powers.

When Speaker de Venecia met UN judge Romeo T. Capulong last December 30, they discussed more than anything else the question of resuming the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. Nevertheless, to whatever extent Speaker de Venecia broached the concept of a national unity government, it is the prerogative of the GRP to explain such a concept to the NDFP in the course of peace negotiations.

I welcome the suggestion of some friendly quarters, mostly peace advocates, that Speaker de Venecia, Senate majority floor leader Sen. Loren Legarda, GRP negotiating panel chairman Silvestre Bello III and DAR secretary Hernani Braganza visit us in The Netherlands in order to iron out kinks and pave the way for the formal talks of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels in Oslo, Norway.

The GRP and NDFP should build on the ten agreements that they have forged since 1992. They should frustrate the attempt of the US to sabotage the peace negotiations by usurping jurisdiction over the actions of the New People's Army in the Philippines and criminalizing as "terrorists" the revolutionary forces for national liberation and democracy. All negotiators, consultants, staffers and other duly authorized persons in the peace negotiations must be protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) from the "terrorist" witch-hunting of the Bush administration.

The GRP and NDFP have committed themselves to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and should carry forward its implementation through the formation of the Joint Monitoring Committee. Both the JASIG and CARHRIHL should effectively place the allied organizations of the NDFP beyond the pale of witch-hunting by the US and other imperialist powers under the guise of anti-terrorism.

It is urgent that the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations tackle the social and economic problems and forge a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms within the next six months. Thereafter, it becomes possible to negotiate political and constitutional reforms.