By Francis Wakefield
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., Wednesday said that the termination of appointments of the members of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel will pave the way for the creation of an inclusive panel that will supervise localized peace engagements.
Galvez said the composition of the new panel will be based on the Colombian model which includes representatives from different sectoral groups, local government units, and the military whose presence are essential to the peace negotiations.
“The discontinuance of the services of the members of the GRP panel is in line with the termination of peace talks with the NDFP (National Democratic Front Panel). But we will reconstitute the panel at a national scope in accordance with the whole-of-nation approach we are advocating to achieve inclusive and sustainable peace,” Galvez said.
As contained in a letter from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea addressed to the GRP panel members, their services were officially terminated by the Office of the President on Monday, March 18, 2019.
The peace talks between the government and NDFP, which represents the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), has been intermittent since it began in 1986.
From 2016, there has been four rounds of talks between the two parties, but the formal negotiation was terminated along with Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) through Proclamation 360 by President Rodrigo Duterte on November 2017 because of intensified NPA offensives on government forces and private installations.
“For 32 years, we didn’t gain anything from the talks, and it is being used by the CPP-NPA as leverage for them to strengthen their forces and take advantage of the sincerity of the government,” Galvez noted.
Galvez said that President Duterte has ordered the review of past agreements with the NDFP.
“That is why we are temporarily suspending the implementation of Hague Declaration and Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL) until it is fully evaluated by the Office of the President,” he said.
LGUs: Vital partners in peace engagements
The peace adviser also stressed that the participation of the local government in the peace engagements is essential in resolving social issues that have been the root causes of the decades-old insurgency.
“OPAPP and other national government agencies will pour in its resources in support of our local chief executives and local peace bodies in their facilitation of their engagements and interventions,” he said.
In December 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte issued EO 70 which institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in attaining peace and created a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
During his visit in Negros Occidental last March 8, the peace adviser committed to providing assistance packages to former members and families of Revolutionary Proletarian Army – Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) as well as ex-NPA rebels.
“The EO 70 is very effective in ensuring the delivery of services and social development packages to everyone affected by conflict. We are very confident that the insurgency and its causes will be addressed and resolved under the current administration,” he said.