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The call for the resumption of CPP/NPA/NDF Peace Talks

Justice should not be denied at the the expense of "peace".

After the long impasse of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) peace talk, President Duterte has expressed his intention to resume the peace talks with the NDF. This is a good sign for both parties -- the Government and the NDF to realize "peace" in its more concrete terms. The NDF, on the other hand, has always been consistent to demand from government for the release of political prisoners; and now Duterte is bent on releasing them ahead of the amnesty law.

Peace talks and peace agreements are key indicators that both parties would want to settle and conclude the armed insurgency. I appreciate how the NDF has collectively seeking support from the public for the resumption of the peace talks -- but if the intent of "full support and hopes" of its resumption only began when a President of the same political belief, ideology, and association is in power, I question the authenticity.

I recall the Government has been engaged with CPP when the latter talked about how to resolve the issue of socio-economic mobility of its fighters, but when the issue of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) was raised, the negotiations stopped. The JASIG protects NDF consultants from arrests by the state, which then the NDF saved its list of consultants in a diskette that provides their real names, photographs, and aliases -- kept in a vault but corrupted over time.

There was a proposal from the NDF to reconstruct the list. I question, why? Should the reason that most of its consultants who are in jail and supposed to take the seats in the negotiations a legitimate reason for their release amid committed crimes? Should amnesty be given as an absolute blanket policy to all political prisoners?

I think claiming that common crimes of which their comrades are charged merely provides legitimacy to what in fact is detention of their political beliefs. These people who are charged with "common crimes" are now slowly seeking under the blanket of political belief and ideology to dodge prosecution and trial. If the justice system would favor political belief in the process rather than putting these people in trial, it is therefore an insult to other "ordinary prisoners" who are spending their lives in prison as part of their charges to the crimes they committed.

The peace process is not just about the Government and the other party -- the justice for the families and loved ones of those individuals killed by their comrades should never be excluded in the process.

The Duterte administration should also take into account whether or not these prisoners were really held because of their political belief or they truly transgressed the country's penal law.

Justice should not be denied at the the expense of "peace".


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