Remain ‘wary, vigilant’ amid resumption of peace talks

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) stresses that amid the resumption of the peace negotiations, Duterte remains accountable for his absolute contempt to the Filipino people.

“We welcome the resumption of peace talks but we should be vigilant for this serves only as a pacification where only the reactionary government will benefit,” said CEGP national president Jose Mari Callueng.

In the Utrecht Joint Statement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines negotiating panel’s informal talks last March 10-11, they agreed to reiterate the “affirmation of all bilateral agreements and statements, including the Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).”

But these agreements, which have been part of the past peace negotiations, are continuously violated by the Duterte regime. Most recently, he ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to carry out aerial bombings and use all available assets against the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Since the AFP has never successfully carried out aerial bombings against the NPA, only the thousands of civilians will be affected and displaced. In addition, Duterte’s order to ‘flatten the hills’ will cause a massive destruction on agricultural fields and the environment,” Callueng said.

“Even before Duterte’s aerial bombing orders, the AFP has been already regularly carrying out such operations in Sarangani, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental causing massive displacement and terror in several communities,” he added.

Human rights violations

Last Feb. 1, the NPA ended the unilateral interim ceasefire on the grounds that the GRP has not complied with its promise to amnesty and release all political prisoners under CARHRIHL and JASIG, and that the GRP has taken advantage of the ceasefire with its heightened militarization in several provinces.

“The government does not only show insincerity in how they handle the peace talks, they show blatant disrespect by the rising number of human rights violations. His Oplan Tokhang alone has already killed more than 7,000 civilians where until today no one remains accountable.

From the most recent documentation of Karapatan, an alliance of individuals, groups and organizations working for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines, 39 activists have been killed and 43 have been arrested from July 2016 to February 2017.

Twenty were killed from January to March 2 this year. Recent victims are Jadhi Billamin Hassan, Bayan Muna coordinator who was killed by state troops on March 8 and anti-mining activists Ramon and Leonila Pesadilla who were killed by suspected members of the 66th Infrantry Battalion in Compostela Valley.

“With or without the peace talks, the government remains true to its fascist nature. In the past eight months, we have not seen any concrete actions from Duterte to solve the prevailing problems in our society,” said Callueng.

Callueng pointed out that Duterte has completely neglected the voice and demands of the Filipino people.

“Majority of our farmers still have no land to till, workers remain under an oppressive contractual scheme, the poor are denied of their right to a mass-oriented housing service and the youth continues to suffer under a commercialized education system.”

Puppet regime

Meanwhile, Duterte’s left-leaning pronouncements have faded into thin air proving his government as puppet to the imperialist United States and foreign monocapitalist.

“His anti-US declarations and indignation against US military bases in the country have turned upside-down. What he did instead is he allowed more than 250 military exercises and allowed the constructions of facilities and bases inside AFP camps, making our country a big military base. This reveals Duterte as a puppet for he allows the US to continuously violate our national sovereignty.”

The Guild condemns Duterte for remaining mum on the main problems of our society.

“The fundamental step for the government to show sincerity in the resumption of the peace negotiations is to release rearrested NDFP consultants and ensure their liberty and participation in the fourth round of talks. The GRP should also release 19 political prisoners charged with only trumped-up charges based on humanitarian grounds,” he said.

“Nothing is celebratory with the resumption of peace talks as long as the government fails to address the root causes of the prevailing problems in our society,” he added.

Callueng called on the people to remain wary in the resumption of the peace negotiations and to continue and strengthen anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and anti-fascist actions to resound the revolutionary change in our society.

“We may have continuously called for the resumption of peace talks, but we should remain wary because the state itself is fascist and its actions will always be to its advantage,” he ended.