ROME, Italy – The peace panels of both the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines are expected to sign the supplemental guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee here today, Jan. 21.

The signing will take place at 9 a.m. (4:00 pm Philippine time)

The guidelines will guide the work of the JMC in monitoring the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the first substantive agenda signed between the GRP and the NDFP.

GRP peace panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III said it is important to reach a consensus on the definition of terms and condition of the joint ceasefire agreement.

“You cannot have a ceasefire agreement without definition of terms,” he said.

Alleged violations on the indefinite unilateral ceasefire agreements declared by both the GRP and the NDFP were submitted to each party’s negotiating panel during the second day of the peace talks held here Friday.

Independent observer Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, Alliance for the Advancement of People’s rights submitted to the GRP reports on violations of human rights and the International Humanitarian Law by government forces and agents collated from August 21, 2016 to December 31, 2016.

Among the documented cases were 10 cases of extrajudicial killings, 14 victims of frustrated killing, 397 cases of illegal arrest without detention, 14,659 cases of threats, harassment, and intimidation and 7,841 cases of use of schools and other public places for military purposes.

Palabay said the documented reports were submitted by human rights workers, members and leaders of people’s organizations and non-government institutions, including victims of human rights abuses.

Bello said they will go over the list that was submitted.

“We will go over the said list submitted by Karapatan and we will really conduct serious investigations in these allegations,” he said Friday.

Bello said they also gave a list of violations committed by the NDFP.

Pull out troops

Palabay said the continuing military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the guise of “peace and development” operation affect the civil and political rights of the Filipino people.

“Even if the military calls revolutionary movements engaging in the peace process with the GRP as ‘peace-inclined groups’, as long as counter-insurgency objectives through military means, exist, genuine adherence to CARHRIHL remain as rhetoric,” she said.

Palabay said they are urging the government panel to look into the violations.

“Just and lasting peace can only be achieved if there are sincere efforts to abide by previously-signed agreements and human rights obligations and people’s rights and welfare are upheld and protected at all times,” she added.

NDFP Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni said a bilateral ceasefire is not possible if the Army continues to violate the unilateral ceasefire.

Jalandoni said an estimate of 500 barangays are affected by the violations of ceasefire nationwide.

“Kailangan ihinto yan (It needs to stop),” he said.

Jalandoni said Duterte should act decisively and order the pull out of troops from the communities.

Meanwhile, Bishop Felixberto Calang, main convenor of the Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao and an observer to the peace talks said the issues on the cessation of militarization in communities, particularly in Mindanao, and the release of prisoners should be addressed immediately.

“We are aware that despite the high level of optimism during the opening of the talks, there are strong undercurrents that affect the smooth direction of the talks,” Calang said in a statement on Friday.

“The realization of the political prisoners release, the cessation of militarization especially in Lumad and peasant communities in Mindanao, and issues related to the unilateral and bilateral ceasefire, need to be appropriately addressed at this juncture of the talks,” he said.

Gov’t committed to CARHRIHL

Bello said that the government has been consistent in honoring their commitment under the CARHRIHL.

“Our position is very clear, the President is not guilty of any violation of human rights,” he said.

“Wala pa naman specific acts committed by the President that would constitute a violation of human rights,” Bello added.  (

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