• Baguio City, Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines

Give peace a chance. Resume the Peace Talks

June 8, 2016

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) supports the call for the resumption of the Formal Peace Talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic of the Philippines (NDFP) under incoming President Rodrigo Duterte administration. CPA strongly believes that the resumption of Peace Talks between the two Parties is a big step in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict in the country.

As indigenous peoples (IP) affected by the armed conflict, the prospects of the resumption of the Peace Talks gives hope to our people. A just and lasting peace is what we all dream. CPA has been pushing for the resumption of the Peace Talks. In fact, in April 2011, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance hosted the first Joint Peace Consultation between the GPH and the NDFP during the celebration of the 27th Cordillera Day in Lacub, Abra. This was the first of its kind for both parties to conduct peace consultation with grassroots indigenous people’s organizations.

The said joint consultation came out with strong recommendations for both parties and CPA pushes for the inclusion of these if the Peace Talks resume. These recommendations include the following: a) For the people to support the peace negotiations between the GRP/GPH and NDFP, and actively engage both Parties to address the roots of the armed conflict, specifically the exploitation and oppression of IPs, for a just and lasting peace; and b) For both Parties to conduct continuing consultations and dialogues with IPs particularly at the grassroots level, and institute responsive mechanisms and reforms especially the GRP/GPH – being the Party in power.

The current state of IPs affected in the armed conflict in the country are also compelling reasons to support the Peace Talks. In the Cordillera region and especially in Mindanao, IPs continue to become victims of extrajudicial killing, abduction, torture and other forms of human rights violations at the hands of the State security forces due to their resistance against the operation and entry of destructive projects like mining in their communities. But aside from these human rights violations, the destruction of the remaining natural resources from multinational mining, energy, and palm plantations in IP territories are leading to massive displacement and loss of livelihood.

For almost 30 years, the Peace Talks which started in 1986 resulted in the signing of key Peace Agreements and Declarations between the two parties. Among these important documents signed from 1992-1998 during the Ramos regime are: The Hague Joint Declaration (September 1, 1992), The Breukelen Joint Statement (June 14, 1994), Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) (February 24, 1995), Joint Agreement on the Ground Rules of the Formal Meetings Between the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels (February 26, 1995), Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs). One outstanding and rare agreement signed between the two Parties was the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) on March 16, 1998.

The next substantive agenda listed on The Hague Declaration is on the socio economic reforms. But since the Peace Talks has been constantly derailed by the GRP, this substantive agenda was never put on the table. Despite this, the NDFP released its own proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER) which clearly presents the need for land reform and national industrialization as opposed to the current agrarian, pre-industrial and semi-feudal character of the economy. It also presented measures to be undertaken to uphold national sovereignty, conserve and use wisely the rich natural resources of the country and make sure that the social wealth created serves the material spiritual well-being of the current and future generations.***

For reference:
Abigail Anongos
Secretary General