16 February 2017
HIS EXCELLENCY RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE
Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, MANILA
Dear Mr. President,
Your decision to terminate peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is a big setback to the Filipino people’s aspirations for peace.
Millions of migrant Filipinos in Europe and their relatives in the Philippines campaigned for you, voted for you, and many among us continue to support you because you promised us “genuine change”. Having been forced to leave our loved ones and the country in order to work abroad, we have an acute sense of the need for such change in our country.
The talks, which resumed with a high level of mutual trust and confidence in August last year, have achieved breakthroughs in so short a time. Both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and NDFP panels have exchanged drafts based on an agreed-upon framework with a proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and a Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR) which have been calendared for the next rounds of talks beginning April this year. Both sides are optimistic that the two crucial items of the agenda could be concluded within the year. This level of talks is unprecedented and it would be unfortunate to allow the gains to go to waste.
Your announcement of the termination of the peace talks came barely two weeks after what has been a successful third round of talks, held in January 19-25 in Rome Italy, with both panels achieving significant advances on the major issues such as the breakthrough in the discussion on the CASER, a landmark document that shall address the country’s chronic poverty situation, with both parties reaching an agreement in principle on the first four items of the draft, which includes free land distribution to landless farmers; agreement to form Bilateral Working Teams of Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs) in order to accelerate the drafting of CASER; signing of a Supplementary Agreement for the operationalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), among others.
We maintain that the single best thing to do now is for both panels to proceed with negotiating a bilateral ceasefire agreement as earlier set on February 22 in the Netherlands moving forward to the next round of formal talks in April, in Oslo, Norway. After all, a formal termination of the ongoing peace talks is still outstanding. And with both GRP and NDFP officials hinting at openness to the continuation of the peace talks, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has all the more reason to hold its fire despite the “total war” launched against the NPA.
In the face of the breakdown of the peace talks, unleashing the dogs of war is an unmitigated disaster for our people. Both parties must do everything to push through with the peace process. The government must respect all earlier agreements on the peace process and allow all NDFP consultants to participate in the resumption of negotiations without fear of arrest or harassment. As a clear signal of its readiness to continue the talks, the CPP-NPA-NDF can put all its armed units on a defensive mode and not to engage government forces unless attacked first.
A bilateral ceasefire agreement will clear any ambiguities that make unilateral ceasefires fragile. It will operationalize the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) with a system of monitoring and complaints mechanisms preferably with an independent third party like current facilitator, Norway. This element is critical because the peace talks involve national forces and center on the important agenda of social, economic, political, and constitutional reforms that may eventually be implemented nationwide.
As we anticipate a beneficial outcome of the peace talks for the majority of Filipinos, we as migrant Filipinos will do our part to be our country’s ambassadors in the countries where we work and live, show to all peoples abroad what truly shines in the Filipino – hardworking, honest, humanist, respectful of rights, freedom-loving and patriotic.
Mr. President, considering the unprecedented and significant advances made on the substantive agenda of the peace talks for the benefit of the Filipino people, we want you to make good your promise for “genuine change”, by pushing forward the peace talks.
Continue the peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP!
Address the roots of the armed conflict!
Rev. Fr. Herbert F. Fadriquela, Jr.
Mobile No: +447456042156
Mobile No: (+39)- 3278825544