Thursday, April 5, 2018

4 House members welcome Palace move to resume talks with Reds

House members have welcomed the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to work on the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

One of those welcoming the move, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao is even urging the President not to set any pre-conditions as “it will only hinder any efforts to make the formal resumption of the peace talks possible.”
“President Duterte should put premium to the interest of the masses of peasants, workers, urban poor and other sectors which will benefit from the resumption of the peace talks as it pushes for social reform that would uplift their social conditions. Putting pre-conditions would be a hindrance and likely to be exploited by peace spoilers like Defense Sec. Lorenzana,” Casilao said on Thursday.

During Wednesday’s 24th Cabinet meeting, the President ordered Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to work on the resumption of peace talks between the government and the communist group.

For his part, Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said that while the President’s move “brings a whiff of fresh air to a putrid environment,” “celebrating it is farthest in our minds.”

“Peace negotiations need value creation and so far, what had been produced is empty rhetoric.

Under President Duterte, peace is a zero-sum game where annihilation is the only balance,” Villarin said.
“It therefore behooves us to remind both parties that people’s lives are at stake not the egos of negotiators,” he added.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat meanwhile views the President’s decision to resume peace talks with the Reds as “unbridled joy but with cautious optimism.”

Baguilat said the prospect of Filipinos killing fellow Filipinos should always be shunned when there is a more reasonable way to reach an agreement.

“I hope both sides reflect on the lessons of past failures, think of more confidence-building initiatives and propose to Congress measures that address the root cause of insurgency. Happy tayo dito. Sana tone down rhetoric muna,” he said.

Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano pointed out that there is no other way but to talk peace.

“Peace cannot be achieved by military solution alone. The root causes must be addressed through peaceful, sincere and meaningful talks,” he said.
The past peace negotiations have resulted in the establishment of the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the 1995 Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (Jasig) and the near final Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reform (Caser).

Peace negotiations were terminated last year by the President following a string of attacks by the NPA.

The possibility of reviving the peace talks recently surfaced after at least 61 multi-partisan House members signed a resolution urging the President to resume the negotiations. Other House leaders also supported this move.

NDFP Chief Political Consultant Joma Sison also views the President’s pronouncement as a welcome development.