PAMPANGA, Philippines – Land reform and national industrialization would be the focus of the second round of peace negotiations with the Philippine government in Oslo, Norway this month, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison said yesterday.
“The center of gravity of the peace negotiations is the twin necessity for national industrialization and land reform,” Sison declared in a message to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas during the launching of its “Campaign for Land and Peace.”
“A self-reliant program for economic development cannot walk and advance without two legs: national industrialization and land reform,” he stressed.
Sison said land reform is needed to produce a definite and wealthy source of food, raw materials for industry and a broad market for industrial and agricultural products.
“National industrialization is needed to produce machines and other equipment for agriculture, create numerous and new jobs for the increasing population and destination of surplus agricultural produce,” he added.
Sison described as “fake and complete failure” the previous land reform program, saying the farmers are incapable of paying the high redistribution price imposed through the collusion between landlords and the government.
“It should be popularized that lands grabbed from landless farmers by big landlords, high bureaucrats and foreign corporations will be distributed for free,” he said.
The peace panels of the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) will resume their second round of formal talks in Norway on Oct. 8-12.
The first round of formal peace talks was held from Aug. 22-26 in Oslo, where the two panels expressed their commitment to resume the negotiations in order to resolve the armed conflict by addressing its root causes.
“I think through the peace process, all the issues and things to be done by the (Philippine government), NDF, peasant organizations and broad masses will become clearer in framing and implementing a genuine land reform program,” Sison said.
On the other hand, the University of the Philippines (UP) has committed to extend institutional support to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP), making their academic personnel and resources available to help end armed conflict in the country through political settlement.
The commitment was formalized by UP president Alfredo Pascual in signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza during the closing ceremony of the 2016 National Peace Consciousness Month at the Quezon Memorial Circle on Friday.
“This is another historic and unprecedented event in the history of the peace process in the Philippines. Now, the best minds of the country’s premier university are on board to help end the decades-old armed conflict,” Dureza said.
The involvement of UP in the peace process was a brainchild of Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III who also recommended to President Duterte the appointment of UP vice president Prospero de Vera Jr. as adviser to the government panel negotiating peace with the NDF.
“We are tapping the best and the brightest in the academe and other sectors of Philippine society to help us forge a final peace agreement that will be mutually-acceptable to government and the communist guerillas,” said Bello, the concurrent chairman of the government peace panel.
“We will also hold public consultations to enable ordinary citizens and other stakeholders in the peace process to amplify their issues and concerns related to our negotiations with the NDF,” Bello added.
Government peace panel member Hernani Braganza said De Vera will not only sit as adviser but will also assume an active role as one of the five committee members who will negotiate the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) with their NDF counterparts.
A Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) was created to check on human rights and international humanitarian law violations of communist guerillas and government forces.
The JMC was formed to oversee the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
The human rights group Karapatan is calling on government to look into the 4,569 complaints filed before the Joint Secretariat from June 4, 2004 to March 13, 2014.
Karapatan said majority of the complaints filed were from relatives of victims of human rights and international humanitarian law violations in connection with anti-insurgency operations of the military in Lacub, Abra in September 2014. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Artemio Dumlao