Lift preconditions for peace talks, solons tell Duterte

Lift preconditions for peace talks, solons tell Duterte
Published April 23, 2018, 4:45 PM

By Ellson Quismorio

Leftist lawmakers are asking President Rodrigo Duterte to do away with the preconditions he has set for the resumption of the stalled peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

ACT-Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, both members of the militant Makabayan bloc, reckoned that it’s the obligation of the GRP and NDFP to respect and comply with previous agreements in the peace talks.

They said adding preconditions will not help move the negotiations forward.

“President Duterte must lift the preconditions he set to resume the peace talks and allow the negotiating panels to continue with the agenda set at the Hague Declaration which already identified the substantive agenda of the formal peace negotiations,” Tinio said.

The Chief Executive signed Proclamation No. 360 last November 23, 2017, effectively terminating the peace talks with the NDFP.

The NDFP is the negotiating arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has engaged the national government in a decades-long, bloody insurgency.

The Palace directive was signed just two days before the start of the fifth round of formal talk between the government and the Reds in Oslo, Norway.

The two negotiating panels were supposed to tackle the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and the agreements on the general amnesty and release of all political prisoners and the coordinated unilateral ceasefires. Aside from the draft CASER, drafts were being crafted for the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPR).

“Peace negotiations are long processes of debates and agreements between the two parties which cannot be fast tracked in just 60 days. The next agenda of the peace panel would be on the CASER which cannot be agreed upon in a rush as it will be the most important document in the peace process because it aims to resolve the historical and structural inequities in Philippine society,” Tinio. said.

“The peace talks between the GRP and NDFP already resulted in agreements between the two parties which would allow a more neutral and less hostile environment when entering the peace negotiation,” Castro noted.

She identified these as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Terrorist tag

On December 5, 2017 or less than two week after the cancellation of peace talks, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 374 declaring the CPP-NPA as alleged terrorist organizations. Tinio alluded to this as a major sticking point in the talks.

“President Duterte and the Department of Justice (DOJ) still have not done anything to lift the list of fake terrorists which also contains names of the NDFP negotiating panels along with many human rights activists and peace advocates,” he said.

The militant solon said the petition filed by the DOJ must be junked since it falsely tags critics of the administration, activists, and members of legal progressive organizations as “members” and “officers” of the CPP-NPA.

“If President Duterte genuinely wants to solve poverty in the country, he must solve the roots of the armed conflict and listen to the calls of the Filipino people for genuine land reform, national industrialization which would provide decent jobs and wages, an end to contractualization, and adequate social services for the people,” said Castro.

“We urge President Duterte to stop delaying the peace negotiations, lift the preconditions and allow the negotiating panel to continue with their agenda in the struggle for just and lasting peace,” she added.

Last March, at least 60 congressmen signed a resolution urging President Duterte to “listen to the clamor of the people” and return to the negotiating table with the NDFP.

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