Sulong CARHRIHL conducts seminar-workshop on human rights and int’l humanitarian law

Talisay City, Negros Occidental – On June 15-17, 2007, Sulong CARHRIHL, Karapatang Pantao Tungo sa Kalinaw, a non-governmental organization (NGO) and the Paghiliusa Sa Paghidaet sa Negros (PSPN) conducted a seminar-workshop training on promoting peace through the observance of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) – National Democratic Front (NDF) – Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Human Law (CARHRIHL) at the former CICM Maryshore Seminary, Talisay City.

Sulong CARHRIHL is a nationwide network of individuals, organizations, institutions and programs who uphold human rights and international human law as a means to build a just and lasting peace. Its initial conveners are made up of coalitions like the Philippine Coalition to Stop the Use of Children as Soldiers, Paghiliusa Sa Paghidaet sa Negros (PSPN); academic institutions, programs and personalities like the UP Program on Peace, Democratization and Human Rights; religious institutions, programs, and personalities like the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), Most Rev. Vicente M. Navarra, Bishop of Bacolod; and NGOs like Third World Movement Against the Exploitation of Women, Amnesty International and Initiatives for International Dialogue, among others.

The three-day seminar-workshop training was attended by 30 representatives from various people’s organizations, NGO’s and church groups in Negros Island. The training was handled by Sulong CARHRIHL’s Training Officer, Karen Tanada together with co-conveners Marco Paa Puzon, Jasmin Nario Galace and Catherine Cerillo.

The purpose of this seminar-workshop training is to make civilians, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), and the Philippine military aware of human rights and international human law and to apply the same in the fronts especially with regards to civilians, children and minors. The beginning of this Agreement was the 1986 peace talks between the GRP–NDF that led to the forging of a 60-day Bilateral Ceasefire between the two groups on 10 December 1986. Unfortunately, there was a breakdown of the talks in January 1987 that lead to further intensified military operations between the warring groups.

The armed conflict between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF has been ongoing for the last 40 years. Both conflict parties acknowledge that the conflict is rooted in social and political iniquities and that the conflict has caused the loss of many lives, displacement of communities and stifled development. The conflict cost the loss of countless of lives and limbs, emergence of the cycle of violence and injustice, diversion of scarce resources to war efforts, disruption of development efforts and the destruction of the environment.

In 1992 to 2004, various key peace agreements and declarations were signed between the two groups namely: The Hague Declaration (1 September 1992); Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) 24 February 1995; Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees (JARWOC) 26 June 1995; Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Human Law (CARHRIHL) 16 March 1998; and the Joint Oslo Statement and Annexes (February 2004).

Sulong CARHRIHL hopes that all armed groups in the Philippines and the Philippine military and law enforcement units and their personnel observe and respect human rights and the international human law. The people’s awareness is the first step towards this observance in as much as the people can insist on the observance by all groups.

The difficulties identified in the conduct of continuing peace process was due to the none observance of the schedules because of several breakdowns. The Ramos administration preferred to have first a ceasefire in place. The Estrada administration favored localized talks. The GMA administration wanted to have only one single, comprehensive peace agreement. Many issues also led to the recurring suspension of talks such as the NPA capture of AFP personnel and the assassination of Cagayan representative Rolando Aguinaldo which the government protested. The NDF in turn protested the signing of the Visiting Forces Agreement in 1999 and the terrorist listing of the CPP-NPA and Jose Ma. Sison in 2003.