Statement of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on Peace Talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF

(22 November 2017)

We are hereby announcing today the cancellation of all planned meetings with the CPP/NPA/NDF in line with President Duterte’s directive that there will be no more peace talks with them.

Recent tragic and violent incidents all over the country committed by the communist rebels left the President with no other choice but to arrive at this decision. We take guidance from the President’s recent announcements and declarations.

This is an unfortunate development in our work for peace. Never before have we all reached this far in our negotiations with them.

President Duterte has taken unprecedented steps and has walked the so-called extra mile to bring peace. However, the Communist Party and its armed elements have not shown reciprocity.

There will be no peace negotiations anymore with the CPP/NPA/NDF until such time as the desired enabling environment conducive to a change in the government’s position becomes evident.

We will closely watch the developments.

We have expressed our deep gratitude to the Royal Norwegian Government for its strong support as we also expressed to their officials our regrets for this turn of events.

Despite this setback (hopefully only temporary), we remain steadfast and undeterred in our unrelenting journey for sustainable and just peace.

I now call on everyone: “Let’s all stay the course together.”

GRP unveils CARHRIHL monitoring station

Secretary Jesus Dureza led government officials in unveiling the marker of the first GRP compliance monitoring station under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRHIL).

“Respect for human rights is something we will always have to adhere to and strengthen,” said Dureza in his message.

Dureza is head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

“Today’s launching of the GRP Monitoring Committee’s Mindanao Station is yet another important milestone in the government’s earnest efforts to actualize this manifestation,” GRP Panel Chair and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III also said in a message read by panel member Antonio Arellano.

The monitoring station is the first to be established by the Philippine government since it signed the CARHRIHL with the National Democratic Front NDF) in March 1998.

It will receive reports and complaints of “non-compliance” of the provisions of CARHRIHL in the 10 conflict-affected regions where the monitoring stations will be established and endorse it to the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC).

CARHRIHL is by far the first and only agreement signed among the five substantive agenda in the GRP-NDF peace negotiations.

“Today’s launching is clear evidence of the government’s commitment to abide by its duties and responsibilities in the pursuit of lasting peace in our country and a display of this administration’s willingness to go the extra mile despite the serious difficulties that we have been facing along the way,” Bello explained.

The GRP panel chair is in Kuwait and was not able to attend the launching.

Dureza said the government would like to see the mechanism of the monitoring committee already working on the ground.

“We will test its (JMC) functionality,” Dureza added.

Although CARHRIHL was signed in 1998, the JMC was not formally constituted until the Rome 3rd Round of Talks under the Duterte administration in January this year.

“Perhaps this will encourage our counterpart across the table to also set their own,” the OPAPP secretary added.

Peace talks between the Philippine government and NDF has been suspended over continued rebel attacks that included the ambush of the convoy of Presidential Security Guards in Carmen, Cotabato Province on July 19 this year.

But Dureza said he is confident both parties will be able to hurdle the impasse and that both panels will soon resume negotiations.

He declined to further elaborate.

GRP Panel Member Antonio Arellano said the setting up of monitoring stations is a “unilateral action” on the part of the Philippine government.

“The document (CARHRIHL) promotes the rights of the Filipino people.  It humanizes the ongoing armed conflict.  It seeks to protect both combatants and civilians against violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Arellano explained.

The pilot GRP monitoring station will be housed at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines building inside the Hall of Justice Compound in Davao City.

Former Iligan City mayor and lawyer Franklin Quijano is the chair of the GRP Joint Monitoring Committee.

Lumad voices, top priority in Butuan

BUTUAN CITY – On its pursuit of just and lasting peace anchored on inclusivity and unity, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ (OPAPP) Peace Buzz made its fifth stop in Butuan to converse with the Lumads, Wednesday morning.

During a press conference, Undersecretary Diosita Andot, imparted that OPAPP is using this opportunity to focus on peace education and discussions with the Indigenous People (IP) to merge their aspirations with OPAPP’s vision on attaining a just and lasting peace.

“Mayroon tayong peace tables for the IPs alone and this is a very good development because, whereas in the past, ang sektor na ito ay hindi halos naririnig. Ngayon, binibigyan natin sila ng puwang at binibigyan talaga natin sila ng all possible opportunities to participate in the peace process,” Andot shared.

(We have a peace table for the IPs alone and this is a very good development because, whereas in the past, this sector is not much heard. Now they are given a venue, and all possible opportunities to participate in the peace process.)

Simultaneously, activities were held in Caraga’s regional center, including the Communicator’s Peace forum on Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Since the inception of OPAPP’s IP Peace Table, the peace agency has been open to hearing out the Lumads of CARAGA. From the men and women, to their youth sectors, peace conversations were conducted in the region.

As part of the region’s efforts on celebrating the National Peace Consciousness Month, Caraga launched the “Dalan sa Kalinaw” or the “Roadmap for Peace”, whereas one of its four main points, focuses on the IPs of CARAGA.

Through the theme “Puso Para sa Kapayapaan, Magkaisa Para sa Bayan”, OPAPP placed highlight on the people’s passion for peace and their efforts in working together amidst diversity.

Butuan supported this call through the city’s “Commitment for Peace”, signed by national and local officials, and the residents of Butuan City.

The Peace Buzz is a caravan that will travel nationwide to showcase and highlight the peacebuilding efforts of the government and provide updates on developments in the peace process. The Peace Buzz will drop by key cities to engage and collaborate more with different stakeholders.

The Peace Buzz kicked off in Baguio City with the framed prayer offering for people of Marawi residing in Iligan highlighting the event. It then proceeded to Quezon City with the ceremonial ringing of the World Peace Bell. Afterwards, it went to Legazpi City, Albay and was joined by Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2017 and National Peace Ambassadress Elizabeth Clenci, to entertain the children and disabled folks residing in Sagrada Familia Foundation. In the island of Samar, it witnessed the launching of Samar’s “Peace and Prosperity Roadmap”.

The Peace Buzz will continue its Mindanao journey in the “Crown Jewel” city of Davao, followed by a stop in Cotabato City before concluding in Iligan City for the closing of the peace month on October 1.

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BB. Pilipinas Elizabeth Clenci celebrates Peace Month with OPAPP in Legazpi

24 September 2017 – Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2017 and National Peace Ambassadress Elizabeth Clenci joins the Peace Buzz in Legazpi City, Albay as part of the peace caravan, which aims to deliver the message of peace across the country.

The Local government of Legazpi City welcomed the Peace Buzz with the “Albayanong Jovenes Kasaro Para sa Katoninongan” or Walk for Peace around the city proper. Personnel from the different security groups, and scholars of Daraga Community College joined the peace walk.

During the opening activity held in the provincial capitol, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Undersecretary Nabil Tan underscored the significance of the Peace Buzz’s journey, The Peace Buzz signifies our collective journey to peace. Ang paglalakbay na ito ay para iparating sa lahat ang mahalagang mensahe ng kapayapaan. Lahat tayo ay dapat kumilos upang makamit ang kapayapaan sa ating bansa. Ang bawat hakbang ay hakbang para sa kapayapaan (This journey is to bring the message of peace to all our countrymen. All of us must take part in bringing peace to our country. Every step is a step for peace.) Peace won’t be achieved by the government alone but by all the stakeholders, the Filipino people,” he said.

Police Chief Inspector and Chief of Police Community Relations Elvide Esparrago of the Albay Provincial Police encouraged all citizens of Albay and fellow Filipinos to become protectors of peace.

“For several years, war and conflicts destroyed and claimed many precious lives of our fellow Filipinos in which both sides are losers, but still we don’t learn any lesson from it. So this time we are calling Albayanos and all Filipino people to give peace a chance to reign in our hearts and in ourselves, and denounce armed conflicts, and become agents and protectors of peace even in its simplest ways,” he said.

For her part, Clenci reminded the youth participants to always be informed and updated by the progress on the peace process in the country.

“By equipping ourselves with the basic knowledge and facts of the peace process in our country, we are strengthening our government’s efforts to eradicate the spread of harmful ideologies and violent extremism,” she said.

Clenci emphasized that peace must start within ourselves and we must teach our children early so that the value of peace will be ingrained even until they grow up, “Peace start within our homes. We must teach our children to do simple acts of kindness to other people, so that eventually they can start a culture of peace in their communities,” she said.

The Bb. Pilipinas read a story called “Ang Itim na Pusa” for the children of Sagrada Familia as part of the Kids Peace Tour and Story-telling. She also adopted the role of a big sister and brought the kids along to visit different tourist spots in Albay.

In the afternoon, a Youth Peace Conversation with the students of Bicol University were conducted. It provided a venue for the youth of Legazpi to air their ideas on how to actively participate in the peace process and peace building in the country.

 The Peace Buzz is a caravan that will travel nationwide to showcase and highlight the peacebuilding efforts of the government and provide updates on the progress of the peace process. The Peace Buzz will drop by key cities to engage and collaborate more with different stakeholders.

The Peace Buzz started its kick off in Baguio City wherein a whole day of peace activities where conducted. This include the offering of prayer for Marawi to be brought in Iligan City where the persons displaced by the conflict are currently staying. Other activities in Baguio include a motorcade with Baguio Bikers’ Association as a sign of support and commitment for peace in the country.

 After its kick off in Baguio City, the Peace Buzz was welcomed by the local government of Quezon City with the Ceremonial Ringing of the World Peace Bell. The Peace Buzz will be making stops in Catarman Provincial Capitol, Catbalogan City, Butuan City, Davao City, and will conclude in Iligan City. ###

 

OPAPP, Sorsogon, give green light to seven new PAMANA projects

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Provincial Local Government Unit of Sorsogon yesterday that will bring seven livelihood projects through the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) program to the province.

The MOA, signed by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and Sorsogon Governor Robert Lee Rodrigueza during National Peace Consciousness Month festivities in the province will enable both OPAPP and the local government to facilitate the implementation of projects that will benefit 14 municipalities for this year.

The seven projects are as follows: 1.) Construction of Pili Elemi (resin) Processing and Economic Complex (Provincial commodity processing and trading center); 2.) Rehabilitation and development of irrigation facilities; 3.) Duck raising; 4.) Organic ducks and native chicken production; 5.) Climate resilient Coco-based production; 6.) Seaweeds production and provision of post-harvest facility and; 7.) Seaweeds production.

In his speech during the turn-over of the completed PAMANA Tramline in Brgy. Cawayan in Irosin, Sec. Dureza emphasized that the PAMANA projects are considered as dividends of peace and there is a need for the public to ensure that these gains will not be squandered due to the fear of intimidation and violence.

“If there is a problem on security, there will always be uncertainty in development,” the Secretary Dureza said. “What is the use of our projects if we failed to provide an enabling environment for peace?”

The secretary also reiterated the need for the public to trust the government and support the security sector in battling insurgency in the province.

“You need to help our soldiers and the police not by arming yourselves but by giving them vital information. We need you to rally behind the government,” he said.

Aside from the turn-over of the PAMANA Tramline, OPAPP and the local government of Sorsogon also conducted a Multi-Service Peace Caravan as well as Women Conversation in Irosin and Sorsogon City respectively. ###

Statement of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on the cancellation of backchannel talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF

I am announcing the cancellation of backchannel talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF originally set within the next few days in Europe due to recent developments involving attacks done by the NPAs.

The situation on the ground necessary to provide the desired enabling environment for the conduct of peace negotiations are still not present up to this time.

10 Reds pardoned

 

President Rodrigo Duterte has granted pardon to 10 communist rebels, most of whom had been imprisoned for more than 10 years, just days after the head of the government peace panel (GRP) announced peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) will likely resume next month.

Labor Secretary and GRP panel head Silvestre Bello III said the latest batch of releases is part of the continuing commitment of the government to release detained rebels on humanitarian grounds.

“This is in accord with the process that will eventually lead to a general amnesty proclamation once we reach a final peace agreement with the communist rebels,” Bello said.

“We are continuing to work on the releases of the sick, elderly, those long detained and the women as the peace negotiations progress,” he added.

Among those ordered released through presidential pardon was NDF consultant Emeterio Antalan who is covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG).

The releases of two other JASIG-covered NDF consultants were withheld pending completion of their court documents. They are Eduardo Sarmiento and Leopoldo Caluza.

Those pardoned were convicted and serving sentence at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa for common crimes ranging from illegal possession of firearms and explosives to homicide and murder. The NDF listed them as political offenders arrested and convicted on trumped up charges.

Lawyer Angela Librado-Trinidad, GRP supervising panel member who oversees the JASIG implementation and releases of detained rebels, said the release of the rebels is pursuant to the JASIG and PCBREP resolutions originally covering 15.

PCBREP stands for Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Parole.

She added that it was also in pursuant to joint GRP-NDF statements during 3rd and 4th round of talks held in Rome, Italy and in The Netherlands respectively.

President Duterte had also pardoned 4 convicted rebels in December. He likewise ordered the release of at 18 NDF consultants in July last year as part of confidence building measures prior to the resumption of the peace talks.

This brings the total of released NDF leaders and members to 49 since Duterte assumed the presidency.

Peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NDF resumed in August last year in Oslo, Norway.

Aside from Antalan, who already served 9 years and six months in prison, also included in the recent batch of pardoned prisoners are Ricardo Solangon (17 yrs, 11 months), Joel Ramada (11 yrs), Apolonio Barado (15 yrs 10 mos), Generoso Rolida (13 yrs 9 mos), Manolito Matricio (18 yrs 4 mos), Josue Ungsod (18 yrs 7 mos), and Sonny Marbella (15 yrs 5mos). The period of detention of Jose Navarro and Arnulfo Boates were not available.

Three other communist rebels were listed among those for release. They are Raul Villar, Armando Vidar and Juanito Itaas.

Itaas, along with Donato Continente, was convicted for the murder of Col. James Rowe, an official of the Joint US Military Assistance Group (Jusmag) in April 1989 in Quezon City. He was allegedly a hitman of the Alex Boncayao Brigade, the erstwhile urban hit squad of the New People’s Army. ###

OPAPP statement on recent NPA attacks in Mindanao

There were several recent serious offensives in Mindanao and elsewhere in the country allegedly done by CPP/NPA/NDF forces that further fuel the public’s doubt on whether it is still worthwhile to continue the peace negotiations with them.

Targets of the intensified offensive were not only government forces, but the civilian populace and private property. This is a blatant violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHR-IHL), which the CPP/NPA/NDF committed to uphold and respect.

More disturbing is the fact that the communist leaders, while in Europe, issued recently a statement condemning terrorist groups wreaking havoc in Lanao. These communist leaders even offered to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao to enable our government to focus manpower and resources in the fight against terrorists.

Now this.

To us and the public as well, this is not only disturbing. This disrupts the conducive and enabling environment in peace making and peace building.

In the meantime, we will await further validation of these recent incidents and will undertake corresponding and appropriate steps to deal decisively with this situation.

Rebels in the list immune from arrest, surveillance

MANILA (21 June) – The updated list of National Democratic Front (NDF) rebels and consultants covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG) was recently deposited in The Netherlands, according to Philippine government (GRP) peace panel member concurrently supervising the Committee on JASIG and releases, Angela Librado-Trinidad.

The list, encrypted in USB (Universal Serial Bus) flash disks and a back up security drive (sd) and locked in a safety deposit box, contains photographs and real identities of rebel consultants who are still underground.

The rebel leaders included in the JASIG list as well as other persons directly participating in the peace negotiations are guaranteed free movement and freedom from arrest, surveillance, interrogation and similar actions in connection with their involvement or participation in the peace negotiations for the duration of the peace talks.

Immunities cover acts, statements, materials, information and data made during or resulting from the peace negotiations.

Also included in are rebel leaders who have already surfaced and are physically participating in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government (GRP) and the NDF. The JASIG-covered rebel consultants were issued letters of authority (LAs) by GRP panel chair Silvestre Bello, which they could present to police authorities and military in case they are held or arrested.

The deposit is in line with the mandatory provisions of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG) and supplemental guidelines, which the GRP and the NDF panels signed in 1995 and 1998, respectively and affirmed by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte as well as the August 26, 2016 Joint Statement as a necessary component of the peace negotiations with the communist rebels.

On hand during the depositing of the USB and the back up sd in the safety deposit box were GRP peace panel members lawyer Angela Librado-Trinidad and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza from the GRP Panel, Fidel Agcaoili and adviser Luis Jalandoni from the NDF Panel.

This was witnessed by Archbishop Joris August Odilius Ludovicus Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands, the Third Party Depository, and Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Jamie Ledda.

Braganza explained that the deposit is part of JASIG verification and process of validating the identities of persons using aliases in the list of JASIG-covered Document of Identification (DI) Holders.

“We have to be strict this time as we do not want a repeat of the July 2011 verification incident that almost resulted to the collapse of the peace negotiation,” he pointed out.

It could be recalled that in July 2011, the GRP and NDF panel members conducted the JASIG verification process after an alleged rebel consultant was arrested. Upon verification, the encrypted diskettes containing the photographs of NDF consultants could not be opened due to faulty decryption diskettes provided by the NDF panel.

The NDF panel claimed that the decryption diskettes could have been corrupted when Dutch authorities seized the diskettes and other materials during a raid at their Utrecht headquarters.

GRP panel wants review case of detained bishop

The Philippine government (GRP) peace panel is asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expedite the process for the immediate release of a Protestant bishop who was arrested along with an alleged high-ranking rebel leader in Ozamis City last month.

Government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III and panel members said priests and bishops of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) have been “assisting the Government it its peace efforts and initiatives especially in facilitating the release of (government) captured soldiers/military officers or members of law enforcement agencies in the past.”

Bello urged the DOJ to look into the case of Bishop Carlos Morales on humanitarian ground.

Morales was held on May 12 at a military checkpoint together with alleged ranking rebel leader and National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant Rommel Salinas on humanitarian grounds.

The IFI bishop claimed he did not know Salinas who flagged him down and asked for a ride last May 12, several weeks before the cancelled 5th round of peace talks in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

At that time, Bishop Morales told police investigators he just took pity of Salinas who was carrying several bags.

Salinas was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for destructive arson, murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder and robbery.

Another prelate of the IFI (popularly known as the Aglipayan Church), Bishop Felixberto Calang has been actively participating in the GRP-NDF negotiations in Europe as an independent observer.

On several occasions, Calang served as third party facilitator in the release of government soldiers and policemen captured by rebels belonging to the New People’s Army, the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The CPP and the NPA are two of the rebel organizations under the umbrella of the NDF.

The Philippine government and the NDF have resumed peace negotiations under the Duterte administration after these collapsed in 2011.