After six long years since the Duterte administration unilaterally terminated the peace negotiations in 2017, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) agreed to enter anew a process of resuming formal peace talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). The NDFP enters the talks with a clear intention of building on past achievements of the negotiations including honoring and respecting previous bilateral agreements.
Any notion or suggestion of a “restart” or a “do over” of the negotiations practically disregards previous milestone agreements between the GRP and the NDFP namely 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) all of which remain binding between the two Parties.
The real litmus test of the GRP’s sincerity toward just and lasting peace relies on them honoring the substantive agenda items set in the Hague Joint Declaration including addressing widespread poverty, landlessness, and lack of national industrialization all of which are already being addressed in the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).
In effect, the GRP’s attempts to frame this possible continuation of the peace talks as a “restart” rather than a resumption raises suspicion on whether there is genuine intent to address the root causes of the armed conflict, or are they primarily just interested to strongarm the revolutionary forces into submission?
Only time will tell. But on the part of the NDFP, we reiterate that the peace negotiations are NOT negotiations for capitulation but rather a unique opportunity to find mutually acceptable and principled ways of addressing the root causes of the civil war. The NDFP engages in the negotiations on the basis of good faith guided by our genuine desire to address the root causes of the armed conflict. There should therefore be absolutely no talk or insinuation, much less demand, for the NDFP to surrender or for the revolutionary forces of the CPP and NPA to lay down their arms.
Let us not forget that the peace talks exist because there is an ongoing civil war, that this is also an implicit recognition, albeit openly denied by the GRP of the strength of the revolutionary movement, and that there exist two governments in the Philippines.
As the authorized representative of the oppressed and toiling Filipino masses, the NDFP remains ever committed to enter into peace negotiations with the GRP in a determined quest for a just and lasting peace that will be of lasting benefit to the Filipino people.