103 lawmakers seek revival of peace talks

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More than a hundred lawmakers are calling for the revival of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

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LET THERE BE PEACE TALKS Lawmakers carry placards as they file a resolution calling for the continuance of peace talks with communist groups at the House Bills and Index Office. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

On Thursday, 103 lawmakers represented by the Makabayan bloc filed a House Resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to continue the peace negotiations with the NDF, citing the “unprecedented and significant advances made on the substantive agenda of the negotiations for the benefit of the Filipino people.”

Duterte cancelled the peace talks and terminated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, a pact which provides safety and immunity guarantees to NDF negotiators, consultants and personnel who are involved in the peace talks after the Communist Party of the Philippines lifted its unilateral ceasefire.

The Makabayan bloc noted that the peace process already had significant gains such as the agreement on free land distribution to landless farmers under Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (Caser); formation of the Bilateral Working Teams of Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs) in order to accelerate the drafting of Caser; exchange of drafts and initial discussion on Political and Constitutional Reforms; signing of a Supplementary Agreement for the operationalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl); and agreement of both parties to discuss the government’s proposal for a binding bilateral ceasefire pact on February 22 to 25 in the Netherlands.

“It should be emphasized, as compared to previous administrations, that the peace negotiations under the Duterte administration have reached remarkable and unparalleled headway. Terminating the same would only put to waste the unprecedented, positive and substantial gains the peace talks have reached,” the resolution read.

The President had said that the peace talks will be revived if “there is a compelling reason that will benefit the nation.”

“It is highly imperative that this Congress hear the Filipino people’s desire to support the resumption of the peace negotiations. It is just and lasting peace itself that is the very compelling reason to continue the peace negotiations,” the lawmakers said.

Makabayan groups lawmakers of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Anakpawis and Kabataan party-list groups.

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo shared Makabayan’s sentiments, saying this is not the time to walk away from the peace process.

“I don’t think this is hopeless. There has been a setback and it is sad that this happened when our hopes were high that something good will come out of this, but then it was cancelled. I hope both parties will still continue to look for points that they can agree on,” Robredo said.

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