Gov’t, RPA/ABB sign peace deal annex, condemn NPA atrocities

CAMP AGUINALDO, QUEZON CITY JULY 25, 2019 — In the face of continued armed threats coming from former comrades, members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG) or KAPATIRAN have reaffirmed their unequivocal commitment to peace.

In another unprecedented move, the former rebel group became a signatory to the Clarificatory Implementing Document (CID) of the landmark peace agreement forged between the Philippine Government and KAPATIRAN in 2000.

The CID serves as the final and absolute settlement of the 2000 peace deal which ended years of armed conflict between the government and the revolutionary organization.

The document was signed by Department of National Defense Undersecretary for Operations Cesar Yano, chair of the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee, and KAPATIRAN representative Veronica Tabara, or “Ka Inca” on July 19, 2019.  Both parties agreed that it is crucial for the RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG to transform itself into a productive and unarmed socio-political civilian organization. 

At the event, Yano emphasized the government’s desire to fulfill its commitments as outlined in the CID.  “Asahan ninyo na paninindigan namin ang aming mga pangako, at gagawin ang aming sinumpaang tungkulin upang pangasiwaan ang prosesong ito na mapanatili ang kapayapaan at kaunlaran para sa ating bansa,” he said. (Count on us to keep our promises, and do our sworn duty to manage this process of peacekeeping and nation-building, he said.)

DIFFICULT ROAD TO PEACE

Speaking on behalf of KAPATIRAN, Tabara acknowledged the group’s long and arduous journey towards peace.

“Di naging madali, at masalimuot para sa amin ang pagtahak sa landas ng kapayapaan. Dugo at buhay ang ibinuwis ng mga kasapi nang tumiwalag ang RPM-P/RPA/ABB mula sa marahas, mali at kriminal na pamumuno ng CPP-NPA. Nagpunyagi ito sa abot ng makakaya upang maituwid ang maling nagawa ng pinanggalingang kaliwang pamunuan,” she said.

(It wasn’t easy, it was arduous for us to take the path of peace. Blood and human lives were sacrificed by our members when we broke away from the brutal, incorrect and criminal leadership of the CPP-NPA. These efforts flourished as much as we could in order to correct the wrongdoings of the leftist leadership where we came from.)

In May of this year, three KAPATIRAN members were gunned down in a resettlement area in Barangay Locotan, Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental by around 30 CPP-NPA cadres. 

The victims were starting to make their transition to mainstream society with the help of the national government when they were felled by hitmen’s’ bullets.

Two other prominent KAPATIRAN personalities were also assassinated by the rebel group: Romulo Kintanar on Jan. 23, 2003, and Arturo Tabara on Sept. 26, 2004. 

THE WORK IS FAR FROM OVER

In his remarks, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. called on partner government agencies and other stakeholders to be agents of change and development, following the signing of the CID.

“You have the means in your hands to change the lives of others for the better. Tulungan po natin na makapag-bagong buhay ang ating mga kapatid.

I ask you to use this power so that we will be able to achieve our collective vision: for genuine peace and sustainable development to take root and bear fruit in our beloved communities,” he said.

(You have the means in your hands to change the lives of others for the better. Let us help our brothers and sisters to start over. I ask you to use this power so that we will be able to achieve our collective vision: for genuine peace and sustainable development to take root and bear fruit in our beloved communities.)

The CID has five components: Disposition of Arms and Forces (DAF) and Security Arrangements; Social and Economic Reintegration of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG/KAPATIRAN; Release of the remaining Alleged Political Offenders; Transformation of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG into a civilian organization engaging in socio-economic and political activities; and Community Peace Dividends.

Under the CID, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), together with partner agencies, will implement a three-year Normalization Plan from ‎2019-2021.

This plan aims to help transform members of RPM-P/RPA-ABB-TPG into productive members of society, as well as develop their areas into peaceful, progressive and resilient communities.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had earlier approved funding for the said plan worth PhP 560.8 million.

For her part, OPAPP Executive Director Gloria Jumamil-Mercado highlighted the national government’s determined efforts to push forward the peace process with the RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG/Kapatiran “This coming together demonstrates the government’s continuing effort to deliver on its commitments to those who have embraced the way of peace, particularly the RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG/Kapatiran,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Galvez challenged members of the KAPATIRAN to sustain the gains of the landmark peace agreement.

“You can now play a more proactive role in uplifting the lives of your people and making your respective communities resilient against natural and man-made threats. There will definitely be a lot of challenges along the way, but we’ve already seen your unwavering commitment to peace,” he said.

“We have patiently waited for more than 19 years. I would like to assure you that the National Government will always be by your side each step of the way,” Galvez added.

Also present during the signing were Congressman Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod Party List, local chief executives from Regions 6 and 7, as well as representatives from OPAPP, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, National Housing Authority, and National Economic Development Authority.

A LONG TIME COMING

In 1999, former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada issued Executive Order No. 115, “Providing for the Mechanics and Operational Structure for the Localization of Peace Efforts to address the Communist Insurgency.” 

This led to the signing of the 2000 peace deal between the GPH and RPM-P/RPA/ABB.

Under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the GPH and the RPM-P/RPA/ABB signed a clarificatory document in 2002, followed by EO 117, which established the JEMC.

The implementation of the CID is part of the Duterte administration’s promise to honor all signed peace agreement with different rebel groups. 

“My administration is committed to implement all signed peace agreements in step with constitutional and legal reforms,” the President said in his inaugural speech.