Republic of the Philippines - Office of the President
GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PANEL OR TALKS WITH CPP - NPA - NDF
GRP PEACE PANEL STATEMENT
ON THE OCCASION OF THE SIGNING OF THE FIRST COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT ON THE RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW
The Hague, Netherlands, March 16, 1998
The Spirit of Peace has Prevailed.
It has taken us almost four years, since our first meeeting, to reach this moment when we sign our first substantive and comprehensive agreement, on the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, the first of four agreements that shall constitute our final peace accord. Along the tortuous way, we have hurdled many obstacles to reach what at times seemed to be an unreachable goal. But, against all odds and with God's grace, we persevered and today, the Spirit of peace and solidarity has prevailed. It is a proud day for the Filipino in the year of our Centennial.
The agreement we are signing covers a broad spectrum of human rights and we can be truly proud of its many provisions that address legitimate human rights concerns of our people. Let us hope trat our pride today shall be justified when the people see an improvement of human rights conditions resulting from our implementation.
The first fruit of this agreement must be a marked reduction or, better yet, a total suspension of armed hostilities as both sides refocus their energies from annihilative offensives against one another to the promotion and protection of human rights and the purusit of reforms, particularly for the poor sectors. The poor are the most afflicted by armed conflict. It is their inherent human right to live and to work in peace. This value of this agreement that we sign today shall be greatly diminished if we make no attempt to respect this principal human right, the right to life and to livelihood.
Our armed conflict of 29 years has resulted in more civilian casualties than those of our combined armed personnel. An entire generation of poor Filipinos in rural areas have not known what it is like to live in peace. It has been estimated that five million of our children have been maimed psychologically, many physically, in these conflict areas.
So, even as we rejoice over this agreement, let us vow not to allow our people to continue to bear the burden of our armed conflict.
Let us therefore give spirit and force to our human rights agreement and use it as a weapon to wage peace, to expel hatred and violence and bring in trust and confidence, so that together, we may sow the seeds of a new regime of justice and peace. We cannot, we must not, rest until the day when this is achieved.
As we congratulate one another, let us also hasten to address the social, economic and political reforms and attain these agreements to form our final peace accord. While it is true that these reforms are needed to bring about a lasting peace, it is equally true that reforms are best attained in a time of peace. Then all of our resources, human and material, can be totally dedicated to the institution of these reforms whose fruit must be an equitable development that would bring a just and enduring peace.
We thank all those who have contributed to the peace process, our peace workers, peace partners and peace advocates. We congratulate the NDF Panel headed by Mr. Luis Jalandoni and his members and consultants including Senior Political Consultant Prof. Jose Ma. Sison. We salute our Reciprocal Working Committees on HR/IHL led by Atty. Rene Sarmiento and Mr. Fidel Agcaoili and their members for a job well done. I thank specially the members of our Panel for their dedication to he cause of peace: Congressman Jose Yap, Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Atty. Rene Sarmiento, Mrs. Zenaida Pawid, our RWC Committee members Fr. Joaguin Bernas SJ and Atty. Sedfrey Candelaraia, and our hardwordking staff led by Executive Director Ma. Carla Munsayac.
And we thank our principal peacemaker, President Fidel V. Ramos, for his unflagging support and encouragement, and for the invaluable support of his entire Cabinet led by Executive Secretary Alexander Aguirre. We thank Speaker de Venecia for his moral support manifested by his presence today. We thank the OPAPP headed by Ambassador Manuel Yan for his wise counsel and his deputy Nabil Tan. We thank Ambassador Rodolfo Sanchez and Ms. Teresita Barzana and the staff of the Philippine Embassy. We thank the Bishops of CBCP and NCCP for their assistance. Finally, we thank the media for their coverage without which the support of our people would not have been posible. I apologize for my absence as I am on another peace mission in Zamboanga del Norte to support the Sibutad community suffering from a new situation of unpeace caused by mining activities.
MABUHAY ANG PILIPINO!
Howard Q. Dee, GRP Panel Chairman
Electronic Edition by Equipo Nizkor, 20aug99
Philippines: Peace Negociations
Published online by Equipo Nizkor & Derechos Human Rights