Indefinite postponement and non-compliance are obstacles to meaningful peace negotiations

PRESS STATEMENT

By LUIS G. JALANDONI

Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

19 October 2011

**Indefinite postponement and non-compliance are obstacles to
meaningful peace negotiations**

Peace advocates in the country and abroad will be frustrated and
deeply disappointed with GPH Panel Chair Alexander Padilla's
announcement of indefinitely postponing the peace talks with the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Their high hopes
for the advance of the peace negotiations and the forging of
agreements addressing the roots of the armed conflict are dashed by
this Padilla announcement.

Padilla, Secretary Teresita Deles, and other GPH officials obstinately
refuse to comply with the GPH obligation to release NDFP Consultants
in accordance with the Joint Agreement and Safety and Immunity
Guarantees (JASIG) and the Oslo Statements of January and February
2011.

Justifying the GPH denial of its obligation, Padilla falsely claims
that the NDFP is demanding the aforesaid releases as “a
precondition”. He disregards his own signature on the 18 January
2011 Joint Communique: “The GPH agreed to work for the expeditious
release of the NDFP Consultants and JASIG-protected persons in
accordance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees
(JASIG) and in the spirit of goodwill.”

Nine months have passed and the “expeditious release” has not been
carried out for all or most of the 17 NDFP detainees covered by JASIG
protection. Only four were released in late July and early August
2011.

An obligation arising from a bilateral agreement is not a
precondition. The reciprocal agreement approved by the Principals of
both Parties requires both Parties to respect and comply with the
agreement.

The GPH Negotiating Panel has attacked The Hague Joint Declaration,
the bilateral agreement acknowledged by both Parties as the foundation
and framework of the peace negotiations, as “a document of perpetual
division between the parties.” Previous GPH negotiating panels
affirmed The Hague Joint Declaration. Only this current GPH Panel has
attacked it in writing.

Now, Padilla is attacking the JASIG, claiming that compliance with it
is not an obligation, but a mere goodwill measure to be carried out
only at GPH whim.

In his futile attempt to justify the GPH reneging on its word, he
falsely accuses the NDFP of “extortion”, “blackmail” and
“putting up obstacles”. The words are wrongly applied on the NDFP
and amount to baseless namecalling.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel strongly criticizes GPH Panel Chair Padilla
and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles for
attacking the foundations of the GPH peace negotiations.

Respect for previous bilateral agreements is required to move forward.
Indefinite postponement and non-compliance with agreements ignore the
people's widespread demand for peace talks that address the roots of
the armed conflict.