Re-Energizing Stalled Peace Processes (First of 3 Parts); "Because Everyone Will Work for Justice, There Will Be Peace and Security Forever." -- (Isaiah 32:17)

Article excerpt

Byline: Fidel V. Ramos

THE Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace processes on two critical fronts have been stalled, and need to be re-energized and accelerated to reach a generally acceptable, just, honorable, winwin outcome within a reasonable time. These are the long-standing negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), hailed by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as novel and a breakthrough in peacemaking is now being revisited by the three principals in a comprehensive evaluation and review started in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last 10 November.

Enduring peace: Best legacy to our people

In effect, the GRP-NDF and the GRP-MNLF agreements are well within reach - if only clear focus, sincere accommodation, dedicated implementation (of programs already agreed upon), and consistent political will are applied upon the remaining issues - contentious as they may be - by the principal parties concerned. Ultimately, it is the GRP, at all levels down to the barangay, which are all under the overall supervision of President and Commander-in-Chief PGMA, that carries the largest share of the burden of responsibility to insure that the final outcome is enduring peace to facilitate sustainable development of not just the affected areas, but the entire Philippines.

The mobilization of the cooperation and support of civil society and of ordinary people is undeniably also the GRP's task, one which must not be relegated to any foreign or private entities, regardless of how helpful these may be. Our leaders and common folk must be reminded of this inescapable GRP duty over and over again: The ball is, has always been, and will always be in the GRP court. The successful conclusion and closure of these two still festering, costly, and frequently derailed peace processes could be the best legacy to the Filipino people from the Arroyo administration when it bows out.

The GRP-NDF peace negotiations

Because people have short memories and official negotiators change from time to time, let me provide a quick picture of the long road we have already traveled (and from which GRP should no longer turn back), re the GRP-NDF peace negotiations which had almost reached final closure at the end of my term as President on 30 June, 1998. The following ten landmark agreements had been concluded between the GRP and the NDF from September, 1992 to March, 1998, and which represent significant progress already achieved towards a peace agreement:

(1) The Hague Joint Declaration (01 Sept., 1992), recommending specific measures of goodwill and confidence-building to create a favorable climate for negotiations; and the substantive agenda of the formal negotiations to include human rights (HR) and international humanitarian law (IHL), socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, end of hostilities, and disposition of forces (co-signed by Jose V. Yap and Luis G. Jalandoni).

(2) The Breukelen Joint Statement (14 June, 1994), adopting safety and immunity guarantees for personnel who participate in the negotiations as negotiators, staffers, consultants, and security personnel; and the ground rules for future talks (co-signed by Howard Q. Dee and Luis G. Jalandoni).

The safety and immunity guarantees

(3) Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees [JASIG] (24 Feb., 1995), adopting safety and immunity guarantees to facilitate the negotiations, create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and free movement during negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the negotiations (cosigned by Howard Q. Dee and Luis G. Jalandoni).

(4) Joint Agreement on the Ground Rules of the Formal Meetings Between the GRP and NDF Panels (26 Feb. …