December 12, 2018
MANILA – The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict - Southeast Asia calls for a resumption of the national peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
To achieve this, de-escalation measures must be taken, this includes ensuring NDFP consultants are given the protection previously agreed upon by the government such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed by the government and NDFP in 1995, which essentially guarantees ‘safety and immunity’ of individuals involved in the peace talks, including their ‘free and unhindered passage’ across the Philippines and also outside the country.
An international learning and solidarity mission led by GPPAC recently engaged with parties to the conflict as well as community representatives, civil society and some key international players accompanying the peace talks. Those engagements confirmed that the 50-year-old conflict could only be resolved through a negotiated settlement.
The arrest of NDFP consultant and Philippine Peace Center Executive Director Rey Claro Casambre, who has played a central role in keeping lines of communications open between all parties, and his wife Corazon Mercado Casambre on Thursday 6th of December, harms this peace process.
While underscoring the need for an independent judiciary, GPPAC - Southeast Asia sees the timing and sequencing in arrests of NDFP consultants on similar charges as a worrying trend that could further set back the GRP-NDF peace process since it was terminated by President Rodrigo Duterte through Proclamation 360 last year.
The GPPAC-led mission met with Casambre along with other stakeholders of the peace process, as a result, this group of global peacebuilders commit to monitor and accompany the progress of the peace process, and to constantly urge both parties to continue the talks.
Casambre is the fourth NDFP consultant arrested this year after the government earlier arrested NDFP consultants Rafael Baylosis, Adel Silva and Vic Ladlad. GPPAC - Southeast Asia said that the series of arrests of NDFP consultants may further jeopardize the already fragile state of the peace process.
GPPAC - Southeast Asia calls upon the Philippine government to uphold the ‘primacy of the peace process’ as a vital instrument to genuinely address the decades old armed conflict, poverty and social injustices.
Both parties have already achieved significant gains of the talks before its cancellation last year. They agreed on three (3) common drafts on general amnesty and release of all political prisoners in compliance with Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL); coordinated unilateral ceasefires; and part I Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and part II National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). Also, both parties have already drafted an agreement on the coordinated ceasefires, a significant step towards the Comprehensive Agreement on the End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (CAEHDF).
GPPAC - Southeast Asia maintains that engaging in constant dialogue and strengthening confidence building measures are essential to the revival of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and hopefully its eventual resolution.