MANILA — The Philippines’ sovereignty would be put at a disadvantage if the government gives its nod to the communist movement’s “flawed” Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms (CASER), Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Friday.
Galvez said there is no need for CASER, as it would only benefit the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) since the proposed deal is “irrelevant” and simply a “copycat of the programs” of the communist insurgents.
“CASER is based on an obsolete framework and is no longer relevant since it is largely based on the pre-industrialization and pre-globalization era. It is a formula for the surrender of the national government’s integrity, as well as the state’s sovereignty,” he said in a press statement.
“The CASER insists that the Philippine government surrenders its sovereignty and tramples on its own integrity by forcing upon the state outmoded and erroneous concepts that were conceived more than half a century ago,” Galvez added.
Galvez made the remarks, as Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison sought the passage of the proposed CASER as a precondition for the possible revival of talks between the national government and the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).
The two parties’ peace negotiations were officially shelved through Proclamation 360 signed by Duterte on Nov. 23, 2017 following the series of attacks waged by the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), against the government troops and civilians.
The CPP-NPA has also been branded as a terror group by the Philippines, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
A former military chief, Galvez raised concern that the CASER contained a “worrisome” provision that demands the demobilization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines nationwide, a clear infringement of the armed force’s duty to protect the Filipino from both external and internal threats.
“Clearly, the military shall lose its capability to carry out this crucial function once it is demobilized,” Galvez said.
“If the CPP-NPA-NDF does not have any hidden agenda, then why does it want the AFP to demobilize its troops and yet, the rebel will not do the same with its armed wing? Since 1992, the CPP-NPA-NDF has not given any indication that they accept the conditions of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of their members,” he added.
Galvez also said the draft CASER is advocating for the establishment of a coalition government with the communist group that will unwittingly set the stage for power-sharing.
He also took note of the “Financing National Industrialization” provision included in the proposed CASER, which allows funds to be sourced from “confiscated and expropriated assets of foreign monopoly capitalists, big compradors, and bureaucrat capitalists.”
He also bared another “objectionable” provision of the CASER that pushes for the involvement of NPA guerillas in the “national democratic and people’s organizations” that will take part in the implementation of the land reform and other rural development programs.
“CASER is a product of a secret backchannel maneuver by the communist insurgents. There was zero consultation with the government’s economic team, security forces, local agencies, and local government units, and most importantly, the Filipino people who have suffered the most during this decade-long armed conflict,” Galvez said.
‘Perfect formula’ to sabotage PH economy
Galvez claimed that the proposed CASER is a “perfect formula” for sabotaging the country’s economic gains.
He said CASER will only send the country “backwards” because it contradicts the existing Philippine laws.
He issued the statement, as he noted that the Duterte government is implementing major policy reforms covering the areas of agrarian reform, anti-poverty social programs, education, universal healthcare, labor and employment, and indigenous people’s rights.
Galvez said the country could have enjoyed a “double-digit” gross domestic product, had the insurgency problem not existed.
“It has been crafted in such a way that we expect it to cast a dark cloud over the nation’s economy,” Galvez said.
“And second, such a measure will surely put the country at loggerheads with the international financial community, and consequently, could lead to the weakening and eventual decline of the country’s economic standing in global markets,” he added.
Equivalent to treason
Galvez said allowing the implementation of CASER was tantamount to committing treason because the government would yield the country’s laws, norms, and other institutional democratic foundations.
“In hindsight, most of the CPP-NPA-NDF’s demands are almost impossible to implement mainly because they are totally skewed in favor of the interest of the communist insurgents,” he said.
He said for years, the talks were anchored on the Hague Declaration of 1992, the Joint Agreement for Safety and Immunity Guarantees of 1995, and Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law but these have been “blatantly abused and violated” by the communists.
“However way we look at it, CASER is a flawed document. And even if the government signs the agreement, it cannot be implemented due to legal issues. We can therefore expect the Red to use the government’s non-compliance of the CASER as a justification for committing acts of violence in the future,” he said.
Galvez said the current administration is still walking the extra mile for the sake of peace. However, the communist group failed to match that same level of sincerity of the government, as it continues to “attack our soldiers, burn public and private installations, and worse, kidnap, rape and kill innocent civilians whom they profess to serve,” he said.
Galvez said the communist group must show sincerity by demonstrating a “greater level of reciprocity” and avoiding setting “impossible preconditions.”
“If Jose Maria Sison cannot command his forces to stop carrying out such unlawful acts and to stand down, how then can he effectively lead an organization whose main goal is to help uplift the lives of the masses? As I have previously said, we must walk our talk,” he said.
“Sison and his organization must not demand for the passage of CASER because the communist terrorist group has no territorial jurisdiction over any part of the country in the first place,” Galvez said.
Meanwhile, the Duterte government will continue to implement initiatives that will bring peace and development to remote, conflict-affected areas in the country, Galvez said.