There is a paradox on the peace negotiation in the Philippines.
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) statement
March 28, 2014
While the curtains are falling on the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) has seriously jeopardized the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as it reneged its past agreements and arrested its consultants, among other roadblocks that has forced the peace talks to a standstill in 2011.
The GPH is practically tripping over itself with glee at the acquiescence of the Moro rebels to the government’s brand of peace-making, and has been parading its own success in ending the 17-year armed struggle waged by the MILF. On the other hand, the GPH has flaunted the capture of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, whom they say is the ‘top two’ of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leadership, notwithstanding the effects of breaking the covenant on immunity guarantees agreed upon in 1995 with the NDFP. Instead, Defense Secretary Emmanuel Bautista has taunted and jeered the CPP, and splashed the mug shots of their captured comrades for media mileage. The GPH tripping all over themselves again in this recent triumph against the CPP, as if it had brought to an end to the war being waged in the countryside by the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army.
President Benigno Aquino exhibits an apparent inconsistency in the peace talks in his differing attitude between the two belligerent groups. While it has actively pursued the peace negotiations with the MILF with agreements speedily being signed in the last three years, talks with the NDFP had slowed down to a halt, especially after the GPH declared its non-recognition and violation of past agreements signed with the NDFP.
We, the indigenous peoples are not merely bystanders or victims of the belligerent parties. Our situations depict the severity of the poverty, landlessness, and violation of human rights that provide the fertile conditions for the armed struggle to flourish, especially among the poor and marginalized. Being part of the struggle of the whole Filipino nation, and in our particular struggle for the genuine recognition of our rights, the indigenous peoples is a stakeholder in the war waged in the countryside. The problems that long beset the indigenous peoples, such as the non-recognition of our rights to ancestral lands and self-determination, the militarization of our communities, and the bastardization of our indigenous culture are among the topics in the next substantive agenda on Social and Economic Reforms, making it more imperative that the peace talks with the NDFP to recommence.
The GPH’s lack of commitment to the peace negotiations with the NDFP afflicts us, and makes our legitimate demands for our rights even farther from our reach. The GPH’s violation and non-recognition of past agreements, such as the Joint Agreement on Immunity and Safety Guarantees (Jasig) further dims the attainment of peace.
The Aquino government treats the peace process as a part of its counter-insurgency program, as is established in their internal security plan Oplan Bayanihan. The terms of peace for the GPH are for the armed groups to surrender, which no true revolutionary organization would do. Aquino and his peace negotiators must recognize that the CPP-NPA-NDFP has survived martial law, the barrage of military campaigns, billions in military budget, and several arrests of its leaders and members in its 45 years. The arrests of their two leaders will not spell an end to insurgency. Meanwhile, human rights violations, landlessness, demolitions of urban poor communities, unemployment and poverty are adding to the numbers of guerillas and supporters of the armed struggle. Until the systemic problems in our country are resolved, these revolutionary organizations could only gain strength.
Piya Macliing Malayao
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
Kalipunan ng Mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
Room 304 NCCP Building, near Quezon Avenue corner EDSA, West Triangle, Quezon City