Jamby, NDF push talks resumption

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Sen. Jamby Madrigal, chairperson of the Senate committee on peace, unification and reconciliation, ended their two days of consultative talks with a call for the resumption of the stalled peace talks between the mainstream communist movement and the government.

From Sunday to Monday, Madrigal was in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where she discussed with NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni and Prof. Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant to the peace process, how to resume the peace process.

In their communiqué, both sides called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sack former chief of staff and now presidential adviser to the peace process Hermogenes Esperon as a “sign of goodwill and confidence building.”

Esperon, according to Madrigal, “has proven to be a major stumbling block to the resumption of the peace talks.”

The government decided to suspend formal peace talks with the NDFP, the umbrella group of radical leftist groups including the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), in 2001, after NPA hitmen killed then Representative Rodolfo Aguinaldo of Cagayan; Tanauan City, Batangas, Mayor Cesar Platon and Quezon Representative Marcial Punzalan, in separate incidents.

In their joint statement released on Monday, Madrigal and the NDFP also called on the Dutch government to “cease and desist from using false charges to oppress, pressure or harass NDFP panelists, consultants and staffers.”

They reminded the Dutch government of the June 1, 2007 decision of the Philippine Supreme Court which nullified the charge of rebellion against Sison and others, “including the false allegations regarding the Kintanar and Tabara killings.”

Dutch police arrested Sison on August 28, 2007, alleging that he masterminded the killing of his former comrades, ex-NPA supremo Romulo Kintanar in 2003 and Arturo Tabara in 2004.

Dutch authorities also simultaneously ransacked the NDFP information office in Utrecht and the private homes of NDFP panelists and volunteer staff members, including the home of Jalandoni, in search of evidence to back their case.

On October 13, 2007, the District Court of The Hague ordered the release of Sison, citing insufficient evidence in the case filed against him.

“These politically motivated and false charges,” the statement asserted, “have served to impede and poison the atmosphere for peace negotiations.”

They also urged the government to immediately release political detainees and NDFP panelists who were ordered released since 2001, and the dropping of charges against them based on a decision issued by the Supreme Court and for a stop in extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.