network seeks continuation of GRP-NDF talks amidst escalating
Duterte-Joma word war
July 6, 2018
MANILA – "We urge
both the GRP and NDF to continue finding constructive ways to work
together in order to renew official negotiations and find joint
understanding of settling their differences at the table. To achieve
this, creating a more positive enabling environment to further the
process is essential. Negotiating parties must get over their
differences through efficient and programmatic confidence building
measures. Previously announced possible ceasefires by the respective
parties and amnesty of NDF members are positive signals that need to
be built upon."
Thus said, the Global
Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), a
worldwide network of global peace advocates after it noted with
concern that the talks between the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front (NDF) have again
Established in 2003, GPPAC
is a global civil society-led network which seeks to build an
international consensus on peacebuilding and the prevention of
violent conflict. It is composed of fifteen regional networks, each
of which has its own Regional Action Agenda and Work Plan and
participates in activities at the global level.
GPPAC added, "As a global
network of member organisations working on peacebuilding and
prevention, we know how conflicts rip apart the social, economic and
cultural fabric of people. Our members have first-hand experience of
tragedies in Syria, the war in Colombia, widespread violence in
Mexico and the fifty year guerilla war in the Philippines. We
therefore call on the Government of the Republic of the Philippines
and National Democratic Front to return to the negotiating table.
The national peace process is still the best option to move forward
the quest for just and lasting peace in the Philippines. We were
very much encouraged by the announcement of a new round of
negotiations that were planned to take place end of June in Norway.
Unfortunately those have been postponed again."
According to GPPAC
Foundation Manager for Knowledge, Policy and Advocacy Pascal
Richard, "In our experience inclusive peace talks bring about more
sustainable outcomes as they are then able to consider the needs of
a broad population. The input and potential participation of a wider
civilian component in the talks could therefore be considered. But
for us, as a global peacebuilding network, the first and most
important step right now, remains the resumption of the GRP-NDF
peace process. To us it provides an essential avenue to build a
sustainable future for the Philippines."
What is at stake?
Commenting on the current
impasse and the brewing tension between Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte and Jose Maria Sison, the chief political consultant of the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Gus Miclat, the
regional initiator of GPPAC in Southeast Asia and the Executive
Director of Mindanao-based Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
said, "What is at stake is a genuinely peaceful, just and democratic
future we all desire as a nation. What is most at stake, again, are
the lives and security of thousands of affected communities, most of
them are non-combatants including thousands of vulnerable women and
Miclat stressed, "We urge
both parties to live up to their common vision of 'serving the
people'; of "getting from the masses and giving back to the masses"
by making this peace talks successful. We call upon them to settle
their differences at the negotiating table. After all, peace is not
exclusive to their respective interests. They are there to represent
the best interests of the people and we don't think this prolonged
word war between them will help the peace negotiation succeed.
Worse, it may jeopardize the previous gains of the talks."
According to GPPAC,
instead of engaging in a 'flimsy word war', both panels must invest
in "creating an enabling environment allowing all relevant actors,
including women and youth, to participate in an unhindered manner
including, among others, through the release of political prisoners,
avoiding classifying or calling out other parties in a detrimental
manner and the full commitment to and upholding of a ceasefire by
both parties is needed."
'Invest in Substantive
Miclat emphasized, "We are
all for principled and healthy debate and the clash of ideas that
would make the peace negotiation progress and become more
democratic. This can start with an open dialogue on the fundamental
roots of the conflict, and how both parties can jointly address
them. We note that both parties have started on a friendly,
conducive and even intimate note at the start of this administration
before the series of setbacks that led to this impasse. They can
collectively seek a viable peace formula to address the conflict.
Throwing accusations against each other is counter-productive."
The GPPAC-SEA initiator
concluded, "The most substantive agenda such as the Comprehensive
Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) tackles the roots
of this armed conflict. We believe that if all prior substantive
agreements of the talks will be implemented, this will bring us
closer to defeating the real enemy of this protracted war."
The GPPAC call was issued
also amidst impending deliberations of the Bangsamoro Basic Law
(BBL) at the Congressional bicameral committee of the other peace
process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF). Philippine GPPAC members have been actively engaging this