SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Refernece: Rupert Estanislao, chair
The San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF CHRP) is saddened and dismayed by the Aquino administration’s actions in ending formal peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) which is the only way forward to ending the 44-year-old civil war and systemic poverty and human rights abuses.
“The Aquino regime is the real perpetrators in ending peace talks and based on their pronouncements and actions it looks like they want the talks to remain dead,” said SF CHRP chair Rupert Estanislao. “Ever since genuine and formal talks began during the presidency of Fidel Ramos the Philippine government has continually dragged its feet and has made excuses and highlighted false issues to justify their efforts to sabotage the peace talks.”
Formal and long lasting peace talks started when Ramos and the NDFP agreed to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which was to guarantee the safety of NDFP and other key revolutionary underground consultants so future peace talks and peace talk monitoring could move forward.
During the presidency of Ramos conditions were set for the peace talks to move forward based on four stages: (1) negotiations based on the human rights situation, (2) negotiating social and economic reforms, (3) negotiating political reforms, and finally (4) negotiations on the disarming and long lasting cease fire.
“Aquino wants to scuttle the current track for peace talks that has been laid down by previous administrations and NDFP officials,” explained Estanislao. “Aquino does not want to use the peace talks to bring genuine peace to the Philippines but instead he wants to use the peace talks as a propaganda tool to attack the CPP-NPA-NDFP. He clearly is only interested in using the military method to wipe out the NPA which will bring greater harm to civilians and also will include many national democratic activists, church people, union leaders, and human rights organizers in the cross-hairs of the military.”
The Aquino regime stated that it is no longer interested in moving forward on the four-stage track set up by previous administrations and has attacked the NDFP for setting up “preconditions” for peace talks to move forward and has also accused the NDFP of using “outdated ideas.”
“The Aquino regime is becoming desperate in attempts to come up with ‘legitimate’ excuses for canceling the peace talks,” proclaimed Estanislao, “The so-called ‘preconditions’ that the administration is complaining about are based off of an agreement between the Philippine government and the NDFP to release all illegally detained NDFP consultants who are protected under JASIG. To call the NDFP to task for making sure that their own consultants are released and that the Philippine government hold up it’s previously agreed to agreements is absolutely ludicrous.”
“It seems clear to me that Aquino is only attacking the peace talks because he sees them as an impediment to unleashing all out war against the Filipino masses and the national democratic movement,” said Estanislao. “The peace talks have created mechanisms for the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law and by scuttling the peace talks and these previous agreements the Aquino regime will see itself as being free to violate all sorts of human rights agreements and to use all types of illegal and barbaric tactics against the Filipino people and the regime’s critics.”
By not being accountable to previous human rights and international humanitarian law agreements signed with the NDFP the Aquino regime will move to amp up its repression of peasant organizers, union organizers, women activists, human rights workers, and church folk. The AFP and Philippine National Police will be able to move, unchecked, against not just the NPA but also against community activists and will do so by using all the illegal tools in their arsenal: enforced disappearances, forced surrenders, extrajudicial killings, threats and intimidation, and illegal arrests based on trumped up charges. In order to avoid a human rights catastrophe SF CHRP is calling on the Government of the Philippines to fully commit itself to engaging constructively in the peace talks as well as making sure it adheres to all previous agreements signed with the NDFP that pertain to human rights and international humanitarian law.