Karapatan to Duterte: Continue the GRP-NDFP peace talks, respect previously signed agreements

Karapatan welcomes the resolution of at least 60 legislators at the House of Representatives calling for the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The continuation of the said talks should pave the way for discussions and agreements on socio-economic and political reforms that will benefit the Filipino people, especially the poor majority of peasants and workers in the country. 

However, the continuation of the peace talks should also mean reaffirmation of previously signed agreements including the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and The Hague Joint Declaration. These agreements ensure that the substantive agenda in the peace negotiations, most especially the root causes of the armed conflict, are being discussed, instead of conditionalities by the Duterte regime that undermine the whole peace process, and that people’s rights are respected. 

Thus, the enabling environment for the peace talks should mean that there is sincerity in upholding and implementing these agreements. While there is a mechanism that addresses human rights violations under the CARHRIHL, real steps must be undertaken to ensure that complaints on violations by State forces filed at the GRP Joint Secretariat and Joint Monitoring Committee do not end up in drawers or cabinets of bureaucrats. The more than 4,000 complaints by victims of State terrorism should be decisively addressed by the GRP by making these perpetrators accountable. 

Among the steps consistent with the CARHRIHL include the dismissal and/or withdrawal of the Justice Department petition proscribing the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations and naming activists and political dissenters as terrorists; the release of all political prisoners and the halt to the practice of filing fabricated charges against human rights defenders; the junking of the martial law declaration in Mindanao and the cessation of attacks and military operations in communities; and ending the spate of extrajudicial killings in line with the drug war and counterinsurgency program. 

The Duterte administration should always be reminded that just and lasting peace can only be achieved by respecting people’s rights, including their right to self determination and the right to act against tyrannical regimes. All-out war has only fomented greater unpeace.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580