Opening Speech at the Formal Signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and international humanitarian law.

By by Luis G. Jalandoni Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

16 March 1998, The Hague, The Netherlands

Hon. Speaker Jose de Venecia and Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the principal witnesses at this most signifificant event, Rep. Jose V. Yap, Justice Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and Atty. Rene Sarmiento of the GRP Negotiating Panel, Undersecretary A. Wilfredo Clemente and Ms. Ma. Carla Munsayac of the GRP delegation, my fellow Panel Members of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, Consultants and Staff of our Panel, ladies and gentlemen of the media, comrades, kababayan and friends:

We are about to participate in and witness a historic event: the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the first agreement in the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations to be signed by the Govermment of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The agreement is founded on the interests, aspirations and concrete situation of the Filipino people, especially the workers, peasants, urban poor, women, youth, fisherfolk, national minorities, and other struggling sectors of Philippine society. Its content not only expresses those interests, aspirations and current realities of the Filipino people, but also the lofty provisions of the NDFP's Guide for Establishing the People's Democratic Government and its Constitution and Program and the GRP Constitution as well as the universally accepted principles and standards in the most respected international human rights and international humanitarian law instruments.

This agreement has been painstakingly forged by the two Negotianting Panels and their Reciprocal Working Committees on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law with the able assistance of the Consultants and Staff of our two Panels. It has passed through a series of consultations with the forces and organizations of the NDFP and other organizations and individual that have participated and supported the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. This contribution from the grassroots has been vital in making this agreement very relevant and meaningful.

The effective implementation of this agreement is the next important step to achieve a significant improvement in the human rights situation and the application of international humanitarian law in the Philippines. We are therefore proposing the soonest exchange of approvals by the Principals of the two Negotiating Panels, namely GRP President Fidel V. Ramos and NDFP Chairman Mariano Orosa. It is important that the struggling sectors of peasants, workers, urban poor, women and youth and others concretely experience the benefits of the implementation of this agreement.

I wish to take this occasion, on behalf of the National Council of the NDFP, our Negotianting Panel, Consultants and Staff, to express our hearfelt thanks to all those organizations and individuals in the Philippines and in the international community that are supporting the continued advance of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

We request your continuing support as we move the peace negotiations forward by taking up the next substantive topic, Social and Economic Reforms.

Thank you very much.

Electronic edition by Equipo Nizkor, 20aug99.

Philippines: Peace Negociations

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