Friday, April 28, 2006

Driving the CARHRIHL: Another "Trip" To Peace? (A Kasarinlan Essay)

Robert Francis Garcia
Secretary General
Peace Advocates for Truth, Justice and Healing
Manila, Philippines

The first problem I have with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRIHL is its name. It is way too long; every time I try to write it I always end up missing an R or an H or mixing up the sequence. Is the confusing and overextended acronym, if I be allowed a stretch of the imagination, indicative of its very nature? The CARHRIHL, is the first substantive agreement in the ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process 2004). It is the first of four stages that has not really gone far. In short: we have a long, long way to go.

Let me state at the outset where I am coming from. I was a guerrilla of the NPA who promoted “war” during the prime of my youth: a former lion who hunted with pride, so to speak, but who now thinks that the way of the dove, while somewhat less romantic, covers more ground and is less bloody. I helped bring together a group called Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing and Justice (PATH). We at PATH are a motley crop of people who are trying to tease out a rather unpopular and peculiar issue: the series of operations carried out by the CPP-NPA-NDF supposed to ferret out suspected “infiltrators” within their ranks that resulted in unimaginable atrocities. We were the victims. Among us are former comrades who survived the torture, families who lost a member or two, and compatriots who believe that the thousands of comrades who fell in the wake of these anti-infiltration campaigns must find their due.

All of our members are involved in various other advocacies and campaigns, but find this particular one far harder and, as Hau (2004) describes it, “fraught.” Many of us are human-rights workers who never tire of hollering against the state’s abuses—work that is by no means easy, but pretty much cut and dried. It enjoys the luxury of certitude and political correctness. The issue of the communist purges, on the other hand, is much more complex and uncertain. It takes to task supposed “agents for social change,” ostensibly the “good guys.” Few advocates would thus touch it with a ten-foot pole. For one, we are hard-put to carry this issue of “nonstate-perpetrated” violation to a government audience, knowing full well that the latter has to equally answer for much.

At which table do we bring this matter then? The military’s dismal human-rights record blotches the screen, the laws of the land have not yet caught up with the phenomenon of “nonstate” violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and civil society is not exactly paying attention.

We thus automatically welcome developments that could offer some promise or possibility of an official, widely recognized probe. Could the CARHRIHL be the avenue we are looking for? Sadly, CARHRIHL gives little indication in that direction. The negotiating parties (the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF) have set up the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) on April 14, 2004, purportedly to monitor each other’s compliance with the stated agreements on human rights and international humanitarian law. But it covers only cases that happened “on or after August 7, 1998,” the official date of the pact. That effectively leaves out the bloodiest and most far-reaching crimes that resulted from the anti-infiltration purges because they happened more than a decade back. To our chagrin, it does not retroact.

Take the case of Maximiano “Tata Mianong” Paner. He was one of the forty-six persons killed by the CPP-NPA during the purge operation in Southern Tagalog called Oplan Missing Link (OPML). That was in 1988, at which time Tata Mianong was sixty-two years old. His family was relatively well off, with small but thriving businesses while his entire family supported the national democratic revolution in various ways (like serving as makeshift hospital for wounded guerrillas). The Paner family’s economic health plummeted after Tata Mianong was made to disappear forever.

The CPP-NPA informed the Paner family in the mid-’90s that Tata Mianong was erroneously killed during the OPML. When the family asked for the remains, the Party refused, because of certain “considerations.” The family was indignant, but to which body should they bring their case? The JMC “covers only cases that happened on or after August 7, 1998.”

It may be argued that the JMC can still take up this case, like other similar cases of desaparecidos (the disappeared), because it constitutes “a continuing violation.” Tata Mianong’s right to life was violated in 1988. The revolutionary movement continues to violate international humanitarian law by depriving his family the right to recover his remains to this day. That could be a sliver of hope. Theoretically, they can file their complaint.

But what powers does the JMC actually wield? A University of the Philippines College of Law paper expresses that the “most disconcerting” feature of the agreement is “the failure of the CARHRIHL to vest the JMC with executory power” (dela Cruz and Sibugan 2005). Indeed, all the JMC can do is deliberate on a filed complaint, try to reach a consensus, and then throw it tothe “party concerned” for further investigation. What if the party concerned is not concerned? What if they are not particularly interested in investigating? Nothing in the agreement indicates that either party can be compelled. So now we are back to square one.

Indeed, till this day, not one of the cases filed with the JMC, whether against government or the CPP-NPA-NDF, has moved an inch beyond their respective filing cabinets. What force in the world would compel them to act?

We all have our own conceptions of peace. That is the trouble—its utter relativity. Some believe that peace is possible only with the removal of any challenge to authority. Others believe that peace can be achieved only after installing a Maoist state. Recently, I had my second viewing of the film The Killing Fields, and I cannot imagine that anyone in his or her proper state of mind would wish such a murderous, Orwellian State to replace the rotten one we have at the moment. Talk about proportions of evil.

Peace may be a problematic notion; but that is a good starting point as well. The state’s conception of peace is a simple bottom line: to quash the enemy and get on with its business without threat. To “preserve the status quo” as it were. That would have been fine as it is, except that we get stuck with what we have right now: variously described as elitist, oligarchic, patrimonial, and undemocratic; a retrogressively feudal, reactionary, fascistic, corrupt, self-perpetuating engine of oppression. I will have have to concede that they are not way off the mark. But the state is not a monolithic machine. A minuscule part of it sincerely believes in peace and has healthy notions of justice and democracy, while another, more powerful part continues to hammer down on its enemies.

Meanwhile, it is hard to swallow he idea that the CPP-NPA-NDF (a monolith) genuinely wants to get into a peaceful settlement with the government unless it abandons its fundamental strategy altogether: to seize state power via a protracted people’s war that covers all fronts, from tactical military offensives and diplomatic offensives to charm offensives.

Peace, in short, seems to be farthest from the minds of the opposing camps. Neither of them is agreeable as well. If it were a boxing match, it is not a Paquiao-Morales fight, but more like Navarrete-Tyson—you root for neither. Navarrete may be the underdog, but he is a convicted rapist. Tyson, well, he bites off the ear of his opponent when he is losing. In such a bout, you place your bets on the referee.

Which is why de la Cruz and Sibugan (2005) suggest that all this talk on human rights and humanitarian law should be disengaged “from the discourse of peace,” stating further that “if full benefit is to be derived from the CARHRIHL then it is imperative that it be viewed independent[ly] of the peace agenda.”

They have a point, at least at this point. If peace is nowhere within our grasp, then there is some sense in trying to make the war at least more “humane.” Should the parties in conflict decide to continue fighting, as they do now, then they should spare us noncombatants from the crossfire, treat their prisoners well, assist the aggrieved in finding justice, never practice torture, respect due process, and altogether pay attention to each and every individual right bulleted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and all those Protocols thereafter. After all, the Philippine government signed and ratified most of them; the CPP-NPA-NDF promised to the world they would abide by them, and both parties shook hands on August 7, 1998.

Not that it changed things one bit.

Some observers say that the CARHRIHL was merely used by the CPP-NPA-NDF to the hilt in their diplomatic offensive, with the end in view of achieving a “status of belligerency.” I think that observation has some merit. With CARHRIHL, the CPP-NPA-NDF somehow managed to be on equal footing with government: with equal number of representatives to the JMC, with coequal functions, and with a foreign government acting as mediator. They have maximized its propaganda potential as well, throwing statements left and right and piling up case after case after case in the name of CARHRIHL.

The CPP-NPA-NDF had it so good with CARHRIHL; that seems to be the situation. The question is: is that a good thing or a bad thing for the rest of us? This now becomes a question of perspective. If you believe in the Party’s cause, then tactics and instrumentalities that serve it would be a welcome thing for you, and vice versa.

Most of us, however, position ourselves somewhere in the broad middle, some a little to the left and some to the right. The left and right categories, however, had seen too many shifts through time that they have become almost moot. At present, military rebels are linking arms with sundry left factions, bringing together and mixing up their slogans and programs of government. But we can all at least agree to principles of human rights and international humanitarian law, for who would argue against the right to life and freedom from torture? When warring parties agree to respect these things, then there must be something to cheer for.

However, we have seen enough history to know that having an agreement does not guarantee compliance. The best it can do is to serve as a gauge by which practices can be measured. Now how do the parties to the agreement measure up so far?

The present government seems to have reinvented the concept of killing. The escalating body count of activists and journalists suggests that some people up there are trying to solve our population problem in the quickest possible way.

The CPP-NPA, meanwhile, has closed the book on the purge issue. They say it had already been resolved; the perpetrators had either escaped the Party or stayed and endured Party punishment. They say the families of the dead have been informed. Our extensive research at PATH points to the contrary—very few families have been informed of the death of their kin, much less of the circumstances behind the killing. On the matter of returning the remains, the Party remains dead silent.

It also maintains political executions as a matter of policy, the most recent and high profile victims of which were former Party leaders Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara.

In short, we have an official “agreement” to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, with a body to “monitor” compliance, but no teeth to enforce it. All we have is their word, which, going by experience, does not amount to much.

But as we said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” for they have a lot of work to do. Beyond beauty pageant contestants praying for world peace, there are people among us who take the peace project to heart. There is, for example, Sulong (Push Forward) CARHRIHL: Karapatang Pantao tungo sa Kalinaw (Human Rights toward Peace). They have gone way past spelling the acronym correctly. They police the protagonists, treating the agreement not as a piece of paper signed for expediency but as a covenant. Try to ignore it and they can raise hell.

We at PATH count ourselves within the ambit of these incorrigible peace types. Most of our members witnessed and went through the horrors of war to ever want it continuing indefinitely. Wherever we could find a package tour toward it, we would readily sign up.

We accept the notion of peace as a journey, and know that perilous journeys entail tripping along the way. When we stumble, we pick ourselves up. When we slip and slide, we castigate the ones who deliberately throw banana peelings in our path. We tell them, with diplomacy and charm, that they are slowing us down. “If you are not traveling with us, then we do not want your fruit. So please, kindly take that banana and shove it.”

The trip is hard enough as it is; it would not hurt to travel with our tongue in our cheek. If we can still manage that, then there is hope yet indeed, so long as we do not bite our tongue the next time we slip again.

dela Cruz, Rosselynn Jaye, and Rachel Anne Sibugan. 2005. Breaking ground on bloody ground: A legal inquiry into the CARHRIHL between the GRP and the NDF. Unpublished study.
Hau, Caroline. 2004. The subject of the nation. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. 2004. Primer on the CARHRIHL and the JMC. Pasig City: Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

(This essay appears in the Perspective Section of Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1 [2006]. Kasarinlan is an internationally refereed journal published twice a year by the Third World Studies Center, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines-Diliman that provides a forum for critical and interdisciplinary perspectives on the Philippines and the Third World with special reference to political economy.)

Alliances, Anti-Base Movements, and the Politics of US Military Bases: The Philippine Case in Comparative Perspective (A Roundtable Discussion)

Alliances, Anti-Base Movements, and the Politics of US Military Bases: The Philippine Case in Comparative Perspective (A Roundtable Discussion)

Andrew Yeo
Visiting Research Fellow
Third World Studies Center

02 May 2006 (Tuesday)
2:00-4:00 p.m.
Third World Studies Center
Basement Palma Hall
University of the Philippines-Diliman


Does civil society have any voice in matters concerning military and security policy? Based on the strategic interests of the United States (US), overseas basing policies are decided between the US and host government elites. However, with the development of domestic and transnational anti-base coalition movements, civil society has played an increasing role in the politics of overseas military bases. What, then, is the impact of anti-base movements on US basing policies? And why, despite successful mobilization, are some anti-base movements less effective than others? Exploring the role of security alliances in state-civil society relations, the roundtable focuses on the research findings on the anti-base movements in the Philippines and its relations to US alliances and anti-base movements in South Korea and Japan.


Andrew Yeo is a PhD candidate in the Department of Government at Cornell University, USA where he studies international relations and comparative politics. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Third World Studies Center. He is currently conducting research for his dissertation on the politics of overseas military bases in Asia. The project is funded by the US Fulbright Scholarship, Cornell East Asia Program, and a Cornell Peace Studies-MacArthur Foundation Research Travel Grant.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

People, Profit, and Politics

The TWSC is pleased to announce its latest publication, People, Profit, and Politics, edited by Ma. Glenda S. Lopez Wui and Teresa S. Encarnacion Tadem. The book is based on the findings of TWSC's research project on state-civil society relations in the context of globalization, which focused on four sectors widely known to have been affected by economic globalization: vegetable, hog, garments, and telecommunications. The project investigates two interrelated aspects of state-civil society relations: how civil-society actors engage with official state agencies through various formal and informal strategies of dialogue, negotiation, and bargaining; and the extent to which civil-society actors have been able to influence governmental policy making.

"It is both significant and interesting that this study undertakes the examination of state-civil society engagement within the context of globalization—a dimension to the analysis that gives the exercise a timely and particularly enriching perspective. Indeed, it was the process of globalization and the problems that accompanied it that spurred intensified civil society activity within countries around the globe, and in the international arena. The empirical focus on four particular sectors of the Philippine economy is another dimension of the study that gives it concrete significance and lends direct policy implications to its analyses."
--Cielito Habito, Professor of Economics, Ateneo de Manila University and former Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning and Director-General of the National Economic Development Authority

"This study will be of great interest to various types of readers: social scientists of various disciplines who are interested in state-society relations in developing countries, the stakeholders in the policy areas discussed in the cases, various multilateral donor agencies and international financial institutions, and promoters and serious critics of the principles that constitute what has come to be known as 'globalization.' The strength of the collection lies in the provision of important information on state-society relations that is industry-specific, and the articulation of an evaluation per industry based on a unified framework built around the concept of political opportunity structure."
--Jose Magadia, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University and author, State-society dynamics: Policy making in a restored democracy

"The case studies of four industries presented in this book show the complex, contradictory, and highly contextual nature of the relations between the state and civil society organizations amidst the often intractable problems as well as the rare opportunities attendant to globalization, revealing these as falling far short of the ideal. They demonstrate the interplay of often conflicting interests, with the national interest and the specific interests of the more numerous but politically weaker sectors losing out to the bigger players in a far from even field. They also provide hard lessons and difficult challenges for social movements still seeking to make change happen through constructive but no less critical engagement with the state, knowing that to a great extent, the state has been captured by the elite."
--Rosalinda Pineda-Ofreneo, Professor of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines-Diliman

"People, Profit, and Politics is an excellent collection of studies that looks at how civil society organizations in economic sectors subjected to trade liberalization and deregulation have mobilized to defend their interests within a liberal democratic state. The picture that emerges is both reassuring and disconcerting. Reassuring in that civil-society organizations can easily establish political spaces or beachheads from which to exert pressure on key political actors in the executive or in parliament. Reassuring, too, in that there is a great space for coalition building with many other interest groups facing the challenge of globalization. But disconcerting in that no amount of skilled mobilizing and coalition building appears to have been able to save key groups, such as the Benguet vegetable producers and textile and garment workers, from massive dislocation brought about by cheap imports or capital flight. Active lobbying by hog raisers and poultry producers appears to have mainly bought them time, not eliminate the threat of ruinous competition from cheap imports. The picture of the Philippine state that emerges is one that allows significant space for pressure groups opposed to liberalization, to the point where key actors within both the bureaucracy and parliament can, in fact, be mobilized as allies. And yet, when push comes to shove, liberalization wins out. What emerges is a resilient state that can entertain opposition, but where the ideology of neoliberalism so permeates the bureaucracy and the legislature that it can override the coalitions and coalition formations that the threatened sectors can put together... This is, of course, just one lesson that one draws from the case studies of this book. There are other dimensions of the state-civil society relationship in the Philippines that are illuminated here. The authors and editors are to be congratulated for bringing out an indispensable guide to the topic."
--Walden Bello, Professor of Sociology, University of the Philippines-Diliman (from the Foreword)
The book is published in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme-Philippine Office.

Lopez Wui, Ma. Glenda S. and Teresa S. Encarnacion Tadem, eds. 2006. People, profit, and politics: State-civil society relations in the context of globalization. Quezon City: Third World Studies Center. ISBN 971-912464-4. PhP 350.00. Available at leading bookstores in the Philippines. For overseas orders, please issue a US$40.00 check payable to SSPRF-PDA. Send check to: Third World Studies Center, Basement Palma Hall, PO Box 210, University of the Philippines, Diliman, 1101 Quezon City, Philippines. For inquiries, send e-mail at

1017: Ano Pa'ng Hinihintay Mo? (A Public Forum on Presidential Proclamation 1017)

The TWSC’s public forums are university-wide discussions aimed at clarifying various positions and facilitating critical exchange on burning issues that concern the public. Through these activities, the TWSC is able to position itself in the middle of national debates, serving as an avenue for dialogue.

The latest of these public forums was "1017: Ano Pa'ng Hinihintay Mo? (A Public Forum on Presidential Proclamation 1017)", with Alexander Magno (UP Department of Political Science) and Marvic Leonen (UP College of Law), held last 16 March 2006 at the Multimedia Room, Palma Hall, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. The forum was co-sponsored with the UP Department of Political Science. Raymund Jose G. Quilop (UP Department of Political Science) served as moderator. Here's a brief news account of the forum by Rod P. Fajardo III from the March 2006 issue of UP Newsletter Online:

PP 1017: What animal is it?

Last February 24, the country witnessed a cacophony of heated arguments over Presidential Proclamation (PP) 1017, which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued, declaring the nation under a state of emergency. When the President lifted the proclamation on March 3, more questions were raised.

To help clear the air, the UP Third World Studies Center organized a forum on March 16. Titled “1017: Ano Pa’ng Hinihintay Mo?” the forum featured two UP professors with opposing views on the proclamation—Political Science Professor Alex Magno and Vice President for Legal Affairs and Law Professor Marvic Leonen.

Prof. Magno lauded PP 1017, saying it saved the country from the economic slowdown that would have resulted from the failed coup. He said the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army and Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa/Young Officers’ Union carefully planned the coup with the aim of killing the President and, ultimately, decapitating the government.

PP 1017, he said, was simply a preemptive move to quell rebellion and not to arrogate additional powers to the President. “The principal intention [of PP 1017] was to prevent the exploitation of innocent citizens by a disgruntled faction of the military,” he said. “Protest leaders were held but not arrested. The Daily Tribune did not miss a single issue and came out as acid and angry as before. Military personnel were posted outside the TV stations and other media offices because these are usually the first targets during rebellion.”

Prof. Leonen, however, pointed out that the issuance of PP 1017 was a calculated move on the part of President Arroyo to ensure her staying power. He said that by noon of February 24, the military component of the supposed rebellion had been neutralized but “how do you handle the people questioning the legitimacy, not probably of the structure of the government but of one person who happens to be the incumbent president herself?”

One way is by silencing the protesters. And PP 1017, said Prof. Leonen, was just what the President needed to do so.

PP 1017, which he noted was an exact copy of PP 1081 used by former President Ferdinand Marcos to declare Martial Law in 1972, gave President Arroyo absolute power “to suppress all forms of lawless violence, as well as any act of insurrection or rebellion.” Thus the warrantless arrest of Prof. Randy David, the Batasan 6, journalists, and some others—all notable personalities critical of President Arroyo’s legitimacy.

What this blog will contain

The TWSC blog will contain the following:

  • announcements of TWSC activities
  • news and short write-ups of TWSC-sponsored publice lectures and forums
  • sample articles and reviews from Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies
  • excerpts from research reports
The TWSC research staff moderate this blog.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Third World Studies Center


The Third World Studies Center (TWSC) of the University of the Philippines is an academic research institute based at the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP), committed to analyze and develop alternative perspectives on Philippine, regional and global issues.


The TWSC evolved from an inter-disciplinary colloquium of faculty members from different disciplines, brought together by shared perspectives sensitive to realities in the Third World. In 1977, the TWSC began to operate as a program affiliated with the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The program started out with a small resource collection, a research team, a production unit for supplementary instructional materials, and a physical center for alternative discourse. On 29 March 1979, the TWSC was lodged as a unit in the CSSP. In 1999, the College Assembly endorsed the formal recognition of the Third World Studies Program as a full-pledged research center of the college. This was officially approved by the Board of Regents in 2000. Since its establishment, the Center has committed itself to the pursuit of intellectual competence in political economy, democracy and development, and to the promotion of progressive policy alternatives.

Vision and Mission

The TWSC envisions itself as the premier social science research center of the University of the Philippines. Its mission is to develop critical, alternative paradigms to promote progressive scholarship and action for change by undertaking pioneering research on issues of national and international concern; creating spaces for discussion and dialogue; publishing original, empirically-grounded, and innovative studies; and building a community of activist-scholars and public intellectuals.


The TWSC is currently institutionalizing the following areas from a multi-disciplinary perspective:

1. Globalization
2. Social Movements
3. Democratic Governance
4. Peace and Human Security
5. Culture and Identity

Core Programs

Over the years, the Center's activities have broadened into four areas of work: Research, Publications, Training and Advocacy, and Exchange.