Pithing peace

Some quick initial personal take to GRP Communications Secretary Martin Andanar’s alternative facts
(cf. Brew Point: “The path to peace, PDI 13 Feb 2017):

By Edre U.Olalia
President, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)

1. The NDFP did not “fail to cajole” President Duterte to release political prisoners.

The NDFP demanded the same as a matter of justice since they have all – yes, all 392 of them- been wrongfully charged with trumped-up or false common crimes instead of political offenses and arrested, detained and some already convicted in violation of the GRP’s own Hernandez jurisprudence, binding bilateral agreements like CARHRIHL and JASIG which the Parties reaffirmed, multiple pledges and promises over time from the GRP President himself and by his GRP Panel (as reflected in the Oslo and Rome Joint Statements) and his own admission as a former prosecutor that criminalization of political offenses is wrong and must be abandoned.

2. The NDFP did not withdraw their unilateral ceasefire just because the political prisoners were not released.

After officially submitting to the GRP Panel at different times and places (both during informal and formal meetings and in the presence of and copy furnished the Norwegian representatives as facilitators) well-documented violations of the CARHRIHL and the spirit of the unilateral ceasefires (e.g. military occupation of civilian structures like schools, health centers, residences; killings and disappearances of farmers and civilians; labelling and threatening civilians allegedly for being NPA supporters or sympathizers or falsely as drug users; forward deployment in areas the NDFP considers as their territories under the guise of “civil relations” or “peace and development operations”), the NDFP has asserted that its hand was forced to withdraw its own ceasefire as the same has become “untenable” despite assuming an active defense mode to make the truce hold for the longest time.

3. The “quick series of attacks” on AFP personnel appear, under international humanitarian law, to be legitimate acts of defensive warfare and exercise of belligerent power against legitimate military targets and not on non-combatant civilians.

4. The records show that the NDFP did not fail to meet the deadline to reciprocate the first GRP ceasefire.

The ultimatum to declare a unilateral ceasefire was inappropriately “ordered” by one Party to the other. The GRP “jumped the gun” a few hours before when the NDFP was about to declare its own after consulting their principals.

5. The NDFP has yielded time and time again and has become flexible in the peace negotiations.

It has overextended its forbearance in relation to the release of the political prisoners first from amnesty then to selective or piecemeal modes, unprecedentedly agreed to a prolonged interim ceasefire even before the end of the conflict, opened to the idea and possibility of a more stable and principled bilateral ceasefire for the benefit of the people, agreed to simultaneous and accelerated negotiations or discussions on substantive reforms, openly though qualifiedly supported the GRP’s initiatives to shift to federalism, bended to “tempered” language indicting the GRP for continuing violations of CARHRIHL etc.

6. Not all political prisoners are “convicted.”

Simple fact check would disclose that roughly only 50 detainees have been convicted, with all the rest facing trial at different stages. These wrongly convicted prisoners are all candidates for presidential pardon but only three have been released so far under this mode.

7. The NDFP never raised nor rightfully demanded off or on the table during any stage or round of the peace negotiations the prejudicial question of terrorist listing by the US of the CPP-NPA.

It was the GRP Panel Chair that surprisingly but pleasantly unilaterally announced to the international media in Rome that the GRP will work for the removal of the NDFP’s Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Ma. Sison from the US so-called terrorist list so that he could purportedly go home. He also announced in advance to the media that such fact will be placed in the Rome Joint Statement. The GRP never proposed it to be included in the Statement though and nothing of that sort appears therein. #