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The People's Revolutionary Government Has Its Own Legal and Judicial System

In view of a recent statement regarding the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) made by GRP Negotiating Panel Chair Silvestre Bello III, it is important to point out the following:

1. Before and after the mutual approval of CARHRIHL in 1998 by the GRP and the NDFP, the legal and judicial system of the people's revolutionary government has existed and operated. The principles and norms of this legal and judicial system can be gleaned from the Guide for Establishing the People's Democratic Government, October 1972, Basic Rules of the New People's Army, May 13, 1969, Declaration of Adherence to International Humanitarian Law, August 15, 1991 and Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977, July 5, 1996.

2. The GRP and the NDFP have separate legal and judicial systems. This reality is taken into account in the CARHRIHL. For example, CARHRIHL, Part II Bases, Scope and Applicability, Article 3 states: "The Parties shall uphold, protect and promote the full scope of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. In complying with such obligation due consideration shall be accorded to the respective political principles and circumstances of the Parties." Likewise in Part VI Final Provisions, Article 1, it is stipulated: "The Parties shall continue to assume separate duties and responsibilities for upholding, protecting and promoting human rights and the principles of international humanitarian law in accordance with their respective political principles, organizations and circumstances until they shall have reached final resolution of the armed conflict."

3. While Atty. Bello may declare the GRP position that it cannot accept the NDFP position that the NDFP has its own judicial and legal system - a plain denial of reality - the NDFP also is not willing to accept the sole existence or superiority of the GRP legal and judicial system.

4. As a matter of fact, the CARHRIHL clearly states that both the GRP and the NDFP "Realizing the necessity and significance of assuming separate duties and responsibilities for upholding, protecting and promoting the principles of human rights and the principles of international humanitarian law, solemnly enter without reservation into this CARHRIHL." (Preamble)

5. It is clear that in the CARHRIHL, the GRP and the NDFP as contracting parties are always careful to maintain the independence of their respective legal and judicial systems from the other.

In Part III Respect for Human Rights, Article 4, there is a recognition of the right of each Party to investigate, and if evidence warrants, to prosecute and put under trial persons liable for violations and abuses of human rights. The same right is recognized with regard to persons liable for violations of the principles of international humanitarian law in Part IV Respect for International Humanitarian Law, Article 6.

6. Thus, there are two sections of the Joint Secretariat of the Joint Monitoring Committee for receiving and processing complaints on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The CARHRIHL allows each of the two contracting parties to take action on complaints of HR and IHL violations with their respective jurisdiction.

7. Most importantly, in The Hague Joint Declaration, the CARHRIHL and other bilateral agreements in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, the GRP expressly and categorically recognizes the political authority of the people's revolutionary government (organs of political power) in the territory under its control.

In view of the foregoing points of principle and fact, the NDFP reasserts the existence and actual operation of its own legal and judicial system. Not only is this a reality that preceded the approval of the CARHRIHL in 1998. It is also in accordance with the letter and spirit of the CARHRIHL and other bilateral agreements between the GRP and NDFP.

31 December 2004

Luis G. Jalandoni
NDFP Negotiating Panel

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Peace Negotiations in the Philippines
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