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Policy Dialogue Series 2004

Academe Meets the New Government (on the GRP-NDF Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law)
9 December 2004, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Claro M. Recto Hall, Faculty Center

The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) is the first of four substantive agenda on the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF). The implementation of the Agreement, signed in 1998, has been stalled for several reasons, the most pressing of which is the question—and recognition of—two sovereignties in some of the Agreement’s provisions. This sensitive issue has been raised several times. The common argument is that by granting the CPP-NPA-NDF the right to prosecute human rights violators, the political authority of the Philippine government, enshrined in the Constitution, is undermined.

Finally, in April 2004, both parties agreed to operationalize the CARHRIHL with the formation of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC). As of August 2004, more than 100 complaints of human rights violations have already been filed against the GRP in the JMC, while five cases were lodged against the NDFP, particularly the NPA. However, the JMC being an interim body tasked only with receiving and investigating reports or complaints of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as initiating recommendations or requests for the implementation of the CARHRIHL, has no executory powers and operates on consensus, which could be debilitating.

The JMC is just the first step, but a big step, nonetheless. While the setting up of the JMC is a welcome development to “humanize” the conflict by mitigating the violence on the ground, the full realization of CARHRIHL is still contingent upon the sincerity of both parties to the agreement. There are apprehensions that the CARHRIHL is still at the mercy of the peace process, such that new tensions or disagreements between the two parties in issues like the terrorist-listing of the CPP-NPA and Jose Ma. Sison or the next agenda of the peace negotiations, social and economic reforms (SER), will hamper the Agreement’s implementation. The question to ask now, therefore, is: Is there political will from both parties to fully implement the CAHRIHL?

On the occasion of the Human Rights Week, the fifth in the Third World Studies Center’s 2004 Policy Dialogue Series, Academe Meets the New Government (on the Implementation of the CARHRIHL), will provide an opportunity for the GRP and members of the academe to assess the modalities for the implementation of the CARHRIHL and its accomplishments since GMA’s election as president. The forum will also be a venue to discuss and debate on the future directions of CARHRIHL. The presentations of both academe and government panels will focus on the following discussion questions:

  • How has the implementation of the CAHRIHL been in terms of the following:
    • repeal of repressive laws, decrees and other executive issuances
    • release of political prisoners
    • investigating human rights violations and indemnification of human rights victims
    • observance of international humanitarian norms?
  • How will developments in the peace negotiations between the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF affect the implementation of the CAHRIHL, specifically the functions and operation of the JMC? What other difficulties undermine the full realization of CARHRIHL’s objectives?
  • How effectively has the Government Negotiating Panel and Monitoring Committe coordinated with other concerned government agencies (CHR, judiciary, LGU, police and military) and what cooperation has been extended by these agencies?
  • What is the GRP’s short-term and long-term strategy to fully implement the CARHRIHL?

Speakers

Government:
Prof. Carlos Medina Jr., Co-chair (GRP), Joint Monitoring Committee on the Implementation of the GRP-NDF Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law

Academe:
Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer, Convenor, Program on Peace, Human Rights and Democratization, Center for Integrative and Development Studies, UP


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