OSEÑA-PAEZ:Magandang hapon. Welcome to our press briefing today, November 28.
This afternoon, we will be getting updates on the government’s comprehensive peace process. Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Atty. Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff Romeo Brawner Jr., and Philippine National Police Chief Police General Benjamin Acorda Jr.
And now, we will give the floor to our panelists to make the opening statement. I missed a very important secretary – we have with us, of course, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. And now, please have the floor. Thank you.
EXEC. SEC. BERSAMIN: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to this press conference to make that announcement of the Oslo Joint Communiqué. I will now turn over the microphone to Secretary Galvez who was there.
OPAPRU SEC. GALVEZ: Isang mapayapa at mapagpalang araw po sa ating lahat. I am honored to deliver upon the instructions of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, His Excellency Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. the Oslo Joint Communiqué.
This joint communiqué highlights a significant milestone in the quest of the Filipino people to achieve peace, reconciliation and unity. I am therefore privileged to report that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines have had agreed to a principled and peaceful resolution in ending the armed conflict.
Allow me to read the joint communiqué:
The Oslo Joint Communiqué: On November 23, 2023, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines affirmed and signed a joint statement to wit:
Cognizant of all serious socioeconomic and environmental issues, and the foreign security threats facing the country, the parties recognized the need to unite as a nation in order to urgently address these challenges and resolve the reasons of the armed conflict. The parties agreed to a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict, resolving the roots of the armed conflict and ending the arm struggle shall pave the way for the transformation of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“The parties acknowledged the deep-rooted socioeconomic and political grievances and agreed to come up with the framework that sets the priority for the peace negotiation with the aim of achieving the relevant socioeconomic and political reforms towards a just and lasting peace. Such framework that will set the parameters for the final peace agreement shall be agreed upon by both parties. Consequently, we envision and look forward to a country where united people can live in peace and prosperity.”
The joint statement is a product of a series of informal discussions held in The Netherlands and Norway starting in 2022 between the emissaries of the GRP and the NDFP with the facilitation of the Royal Norwegian Government. The parties recognize the initiative of former Armed Forces of the Philippines AFP Chief, General Emmanuel T. Bautista Jr. who was personally welcomed by then NDFP Chief Political Consultant, Professor Jose Maria Sison.
It was signed by the GRP represented by the Special Assistant to the President, Secretary Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo Jr., the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr. and General Emmanuel T. Bautista; and by the NDF represented by the National Executive Council Member Luis G. Jalandoni, Negotiating Panel Interim Chairperson Julieta de Lima, and Panel Member Connie Ledesma.
The signing was witnessed by the Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy Cristina Lie Revheim. The Foreign Minister of the Royal Norwegian Government Espen Barth Eide graced the signing of the ceremony which was held at the city hall of Oslo and affirmed the continuing commitment of the Royal Norwegian Government as a third-party facilitator.
For their part, both Secretary Antonio F. Lagdameo Jr. and Luis G. Jalandoni expressed optimism as to the positive path to peace that both parties shall work on. [End of communiqué.]
I take this opportunity to call on all Filipinos to unite and fully support our President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., and your government in this most noble endeavor to finally realize our collective and shared aspiration of a peaceful, prosperous and united country.
Mabuhay ang kapayapaan, mabuhay tayong lahat at mabuhay ang Bagong Pilipinas! Maraming salamat po.
OSEÑA-PAEZ:We open the floor to questions from the media. Ivan Mayrina GMA 7.
IVAN MAYRINA/GMA 7: Secretary Galvez, ang ibig sabihin po ba nito ay tapos na rin ang armed insurgency, wala nang magkakaroon ng engkuwentro sa pagitan ng mga armadong NPA at ang ating kasundaluhan. Ano po ang magiging immediate effect nitong joint communiqué na ito?
OPAPRU SEC. GALVEZ: Iyong immediate effect po nito ay ang ibig pong sabihin nitong joint communiqué at saka itong joint statement na pinirmahan nila, this is some sort of our collective decisions between parties that we are very firm and committed to having the [inaudible] and afterward we will have the final discussions on the final peace agreement. Pertaining on the different operations that we are undertaking, sa ngayon po nandoon po sila sa Netherlands, and we are undertaking some of the administrative and some protocols that will be undertaken in the future exploratory discussions.
IVAN MAYRINA/GMA 7: But translated to the situation on the ground, wala pa po itong immediate effect?
OPAPRU SEC. GALVEZ: Sa ngayon po, ang ano po natin is, kung ano po ang ginagawa ng gobyerno, patuloy po iyong atin pong programa. So, it is agreed upon that there is no immediate effect.
IVAN MAYRINA/GMA 7: So, iyong mga operations po ng Armed Forces [of the Philippines] sa pagtugis sa mga armadong grupo, patuloy?
OPAPRU SEC. GALVEZ: Opo.
IVAN MAYRINA/GMA 7: Thank you.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Secretary Galvez, ano na po ang mangyayari doon sa terrorist tag ng CPP-NPA with this new development, sir?
OPAPRU SEC. GALVEZ: As I have said earlier, it will be part of the discussion, they lay in the table but it will be part of the discussions, so they are undergoing the discussion right now with our negotiating team and I cannot preempt the discussion that being undertaken right now.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Follow-up lang, sir. What brought about this development, because there have been many attempts to talk peace between the government and the CPP-NPA, what was different this time around, sir?
OPAPRU SEC. GALVEZ: So, nakita po natin iyong ating mahal na presidente, talagang even doon sa inaugural speech niya, talagang iyong aspirations natin to have peaceful settlement of all conflicts. So, iyon po ang nangyari and during the early stages of the administration, ang maganda po is nagkaroon ng personal exploration si General Bautista and he reported to the president and he reported the development. And noong makita po ng ating mahal na Presidente iyong magandang nagiging result ay we were able to explore it, that’s the reason why na nakita natin naging maganda iyong negotiation and we were able to come up with the joint statement, wherein ang joint statement noon, ang nakikita natin is, ang pinaka-highlight is we agreed na we would like to end the armed struggle, armed conflict in a peaceful resolution.
OSEÑA-PAEZ:Kenneth Paciente, PTV 4.
KENNETH PACIENTE: Good afternoon, sir. Sir, nakatulong po ba ang agreement sa pagbibigay ng amnestiya sa mga rebeldeng grupo dito po sa development na ito, sir?
OPAPRU SEC. GALVEZ: We should understand na iyong granting of the amnesty has been long been the program of the national government even during the time of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and when we saw the longing of the former rebels on having the amnesty, we recommend that to the president for the continuance or for the extension of the proclamation considering that the proclamation that was made by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has not been consummated or executed considering the limited time of one year have already expired. So, this is a different program that we have undertaken and it has been our program not only for the CPP-NPA but also for the MILF, for the MNLF and also for the RPA-ABB.
KENNETH PACIENTE: Sir, may I also ask the other secretaries po kung ano po iyong magiging role po specifically po ng DSWD and NEDA dito po sa development po na ito, sirs.
DSWD SEC. GATCHALIAN: Sa amin sa DSWD, ang lente na tinitingnan namin ay kahirapan at kagutuman. So, kami ang primary goal namin is maiahon ang bawat Pilipino mula sa kahirapan at kagutuman. So, iyon ang aming mandato dito for every single Filipino.
NEDA SEC. BALISACAN: Sa NEDA naman, as we all know, instability, particularly political and this case, itong instability, war, is very, very costly to the economy and so efforts to achieve peace particularly in the countryside is surely inclusive and growth inducing. So, napaka-important sa atin iyong peace efforts sa ganito.
OSEÑA-PAEZ:Jean Mangaluz, Inquirer.net.
JEAN MANGALUZ/INQUIRER.NET: Good afternoon. Can we ask if there are—so, there’s no ceasefire right now? Is there a timeline to reach a ceasefire?
DND SEC. TEODORO: As Secretary Galvez has said these are preliminary exploratory talks, and all programs security law enforcement programs of the government shall continue.
DILG SEC. ABALOS: If I might add these local government units is iyong effect nito, napakatindi ng epekto nito because this is already grassroots, ramdam ng local government units especially affected by insurgency. What is important will be this transition period na kung saan of course sabi nga ng ating Mahal na Pangulo it’s a whole-of the-government approach kaya nandirito kami lahat ngayon. Diyan na after key—Peace and order is always a key ingredient in every economic development. So, diyan na papasok lahat, magtutulungan lahat ang ahensiya towards this goal. Of course, nandiyan sa grassroots ang local government units.
JEAN MANGALUZ/INQUIRER.NET: Siguro question po to General Brawner and Sir Acorda. How does your units or institution react to this given that iyong mga tropa ninyo po nakaaway iyong mga taga-NDF before, how did they react?
AFP CHIEF BRAWNER: Well for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, this is very good news for us ‘no, because it is the soldier more than anybody else who wants lasting peace. Who wants this conflict to finally end, kasi nga po para sa amin parang naging personal na itong laban na ito, maraming sa aming kasamahan ang namatay dahil dito sa insurgency na ito. Marami sa aming kamag-anak, pinsan ko mismo namatay sa kamay ng New People’s Army.
So this is really a personal victory for us. And aside from that, if this conflict will finally end your Armed Forces of the Philippines will be able to shift our focus to external or territorial defense. So iyong amin pong resources, efforts will be poured into defending our territory. Pero habang wala pa pong final agreement, your armed forces will continue our operations against the New People’s Army. Thank you.
PNP CHIEF ACORDA JR: Well on the PNP, bilang ama ng pulisya ng Pilipinas, talagang napakasakit po every time that I will pin medals to wounded police officers and more so, when I give condolences to relatives or wives ng ating kapulisan na nadadali sa mga engkuwentro ng pakikipaglaban. And in line with this, this is a very welcome development. I hope this will lead really to a long and lasting peace and I look at it as way of adding more food to the table sa mga Filipino and instead of spending more money on ammunition and other armaments, madadagdagan po iyong ating mga makinarya at saka mga imprastraktura that will help us attain maximum development. That’s how I look at it, and it’s a very welcome development po.
OSMEÑA-PAEZ: Thank you. Let’s hear from Secretary Año, National Security Adviser.
NSA SEC. AÑO: On the lens of National Security, our objective actually is to eliminate the threats to national security, one of which is threat from CPP-NPA. For more than five decades nandiyan ang CPP-NPA and I think, it’s about time to have closure, a closure that is acceptable to everybody, to the Filipino people, particularly ending the arms struggle. So with this I think, this is a very, very good opportunity to be able to give—Amnesty is actually in tandem with this particular agreement.
So kung magtutuloy-tuloy ito, lahat naman ng conflict ay natapos sa settlement ‘no, kahit—look at the history of the world, lahat ng giyera halos nagtatapos sa negotiation and settlement. And maybe this is the final agreement that we can come in to and matapos na rin iyong arms struggle. And if they can avail the amnesty, I think, finally matatapos na natin itong five decades of communist insurgency. And tuluy-tuloy pa rin iyong NTF-ELCAC particularly on bringing services and development projects to the country sides
OSMEÑA-PAEZ: Thank you. Question from Racquel Bayan, Radyo Pilipinas.
RAQUEL BAYAN/ RADYO PILIPINAS: Sir, following this development po, may we know kung mayroon pa po ba tayong active guerilla fronts na mino-monitor as of the moment, and kung nasaan po kaya or ilan na lang po kaya sila?
Following this development, sir, may we know kung mayroon pa po ba tayong active guerilla fronts na mino-monitor po?
AFP CHIEF BRAWNER: So, right now we have a 20 weakened guerilla fronts. Wala na po tayong active guerilla fronts. And by the end of this year, we are expecting five of this 20 to be finally dissolve. So, magiging 15 weakened guerilla fronts na lang po ang matitira.
OSMEÑA-PAEZ: Ivan Mayrina, again please.
IVAN MAYRINA/ GMA7: Sir, would you say that this is just a matter of time before we finally achieve long lasting peace or are there certain [inaudible] points na kailangan pa po talagang i-negotiate, are there certain demands being made na medyo nahihirapan tayong ibigay?
OPAPRU SEC. GALVEZ: Sa ngayon nakita namin iyong sa negotiation na ginawa, iyong tinatawag nating exploratory talks na ginawa ng ating national team, we saw na wala pa namang serious demand na ilalagay dahil kasi ito, exploratory pa lang ito. But I believe, nakikita namin, with the confidence, na nakita namin na when we first talked with them and even nagkaroon kami talaga ng some cordial discussions, I can see that there is a positive outlook na it will end up with a final peace agreement because our talks in Oslo was founded on good faith and also on goodwill and also in sincerity. When the parties said that if we will maintain that goodwill, I think we can finally end up with the final peace agreement.
In fact, iyong ano natin, maganda iyong ano natin, mayroon tayong tinatawag na … maganda ngayon iyong ginagawa natin because General Bautista was able to lay down some of the milestones. One is iyong joint statement that we have right now; and then later, we will have what we call the framework. And then after the framework, the framework that will set the parameters, we will have the final peace agreement. This is patterned basically with the MILF peace process because we also brief them with the MILF peace process.
Q: Last question for me. Secretary Teodoro, I understand you said na wala pang ceasefire sa ngayon but traditionally, nagkakaroon po tayo ng Christmas ceasefire. Is a Christmas ceasefire in the offing or is it being talked about?
SEC. TEODORO: I had occasion to answer the question yesterday that we leave it to the local peace and order councils and the area commanders, unit commanders to determine whether or not they will suspend operations in their area of responsibility.
Gusto ko lang maidagdag siguro na kapag itong usapin na ito ay magbunga sa isang kasunduan, mawawala ang final ostensible political basis na mang-wage ang grupo na nag-i- espouse ng CPP-NPA-NDF line for any armed struggle. That will be erased, the political basis for it. So it is important.
KENNETH PACIENTE/PTV4: Sec. Gibo, may we ask how do you describe po iyong sincerity nitong mga rebeldeng grupo dito po sa development na ito, sir?
SEC. TEODORO: Hindi ko matatantiya sa ngayon. Si Secretary Galvez ang nararapat na sumagot niyan, and this is a whole-of-government approach. And as things develop naturally, we will get the appropriate instructions from the president.
OPAPRU SEC. GALVEZ: With my experience with ano, with dealing with the different rebel groups, I have seen that this time, we have learned from our lessons from the past considering that we have been negotiating for almost 21 years, 23 years for now.
And with the gut-feel that I have, I believe nakita ko personally, there is that kind of commitment and also there is a kind of goodwill on both parties to continue to discuss some principled resolution to end really the armed conflict. So iyon ang nakita ko na ano, based on my personal experience that there is. We are very confident, I’m very confident that there is something that after this joint statement we can finally end up with a final peace agreement.
OSEÑA-PAEZ:Okay. Thank you very much. This ends our press briefing today. Thank you distinguished gentlemen and thank you, Malacañang Press Corps. Have a good afternoon.