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Razon: NDF infighting behind changing demands on peace talks

August 23, 2009 8:54am
Infighting within the National Democratic Front may be behind its new demands, presenting another hurdle in peace efforts, Malacañang’s peace process adviser said Sunday.

Presidential adviser on the peace process Avelino Razon Jr. said in a radio interview that a “faction" opposed to peace talks within the NDF seems to be calling the shots, as shown by the group’s sudden demand to drop charges against other detained peace consultants.

“Meron silang paksyon sa loob at 'di sila nagkakasundo sa pananaw hinngil sa kung paano isusulong ang kanilang adhikain (There are factions inside the NDF that do not agree on how to go about their aims in the peace process)," Razon said in an interview on dzBB radio.

Razon said he was surprised over the latest demand by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to free two more NDF consultants.

Last Saturday, the government rejected the demand of the NDF to drop multiple murder charges against two of its peace panel consultants Rafael Baylosis and Vicente Ladlad.

Sison has recently demanded for the release of 14 consultants.

But Razon said the original deal was to free four consultants and work for the release of the other eight on a “best effort" basis.

Those whose release the government pushed were that of Elizabeth Principe, Randall Echanis, Baylosis and Ladlad.

Echanis and Principe have been released, but the NDF claimed this was because of their “legal victories" and not through government efforts.

“Ngayon kumambyo sila, itinaas nila ang ante, sabi nila lahat ito mapalaya. Nagulat kami bakit parang pinahihirap ang kondisyon para sa formal talks (Now the NDF has raised the ante. It wants all its consultants freed. We are surprised why the NDF suddenly put another obstacle to the peace talks)," Razon said.

He also noted the NDF had agreed to the government’s position to guarantee the temporary release of the four consultants.

Despite this latest snag, Razon said the government remains determined to press new initiatives for the resumption of the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“Ang aking pakiwari ay nagkaroon ng panibagong decision sa kanilang committee; may debate sa kanila kung itutuloy ang peace process o hindi. Mukhang ang ‘di sangayon sa pagkakaroon ng peace talks nananalo ngayon sa kanilang debate (I believe the committee reached a new decision as a result of a debate on whether to push through with the peace process or not. It appears those opposed to the talks are prevailing at this time)," he said.

Also, he pointed out that the release of NDF consultants is not permanent because it is merely a temporary suspension of the legal processes against them while the peace negotiations are ongoing.

Razon said the NDF’s insistence that the government subvert its processes show a serious intent by the NDF to scuttle the talks.

“But the NDF’s demand to withdraw charges of multiple murder against them because it regards the charges to be ‘false’ or ‘trumped up,’ and its insistence that we subvert our judicial and administrative mechanisms to deliver their consultants to Utrecht, are dangerous moves signaling a serious intent to scuttle the talks," Razon said in a statement on his office’s Web site.

“The GRP has bent backwards making concessions to create space for peace. But it cannot undermine its own justice system nor allow the use of the peace table for quick fixes," he added.

Razon said it is time the NDF “speak clearly" on whether it is still interested in the peace negotiations.

“The Government remains open to pursuing the peace negotiations. We invite the NDF to speak clearly on whether or not they are returning to the peace table," he said.

He was referring to the cases of NDF consultants Baylosis and Ladlad, who he said have yet to surface despite the promise of immunity to them.

Razon said that if Baylosis and Ladlad are still hiding despite the reinstatement of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), that “is entirely their personal decision."

“We regret the pessimism expressed by the NDF regarding the prospects of their return to the peace negotiations table. It is unfortunate that the NDF has belittled the efforts of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines in pursuing confidence-building measures such as the lifting of the suspension of the JASIG, which led to the release from detention of two of its consultants, Randall Echanis and Elizabeth Principe," he said.

Razon also questioned NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni’s statement that the government had done nothing to respect and comply with the JASIG.

“Until today, Mr. Jalandoni has stayed true to the NDF’s own suggestion to keep our communications felicitous," he said. - GMANews.TV