Press Release

December 16, 2023

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) joins the Filipino people in amplifying the call for the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“The Oslo Communique signed last November 23 is a positive step towards resumption of the peace process. It is a fitting development because today marks one year since the passing of former NDFP Chief Political Consultant Professor Jose Maria Sison, who dreamt of a just and lasting peace for his motherland. He played a key role in peace negotiations between the NDFP and GRP through several decades,” said ICHRP Global Chairperson Peter Murphy.

Jose Maria “Ka Joma” Sison’s contributions to the Filipino people’s struggle for a just and genuine peace in the Philippines cannot be overstated. As Chief Political Consultant of the NDFP, he helped forge several agreements between the two parties, such as the The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992 that outlined the objective, the framework, and the agenda of the peace negotiations; the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in 1995; and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998, among others.

The approval of CARHRIHL by the principals of the two Parties in 1998 was very significant. The Parties agreed to respect human rights and to be bound by the principles of international humanitarian law while they are at war. The CARHRIHL is one of the four substantive agenda items of the peace talks.

In 2016, both Parties agreed to tackle the specifics of the draft agreement on the second agenda, socio-economic reforms.

The provisions of the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) comprise the bulk of the peace agenda, since socio-economic reforms in Philippine society are central to resolving the roots of the armed conflict – poverty, joblessness, and landlessness. The Negotiating Panels reported in 2017 that they were almost done and very eager to sign the CASER.

“It is unfortunate that former President Duterte terminated the peace talks through Proclamation 360, just when major progress was being made in 2017. The passage of CASER is pivotal in the upcoming rounds of peace negotiations in 2024, if both parties want to advance to the next peace agenda item, political and constitutional reforms,” added Murphy.

“While we are hopeful that the peace negotiations in 2024 will bear fruit, ICHRP will continue to expose and oppose the continuing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law happening in the Philippines. We want to let President Marcos Jr. know that the international community is closely watching his government,” concluded Murphy.

Further comment: Peter Murphy, ICHRP Chairperson, +61418312301

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