103 lawmakers sign House reso urging Duterte to resume peace talks

Feb. 09, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte (davaotoday.com file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — More than a hundred lawmakers signed a House resolution Thursday urging President Rodrigo Duterte to resume the peace talks with Communists, recognizing the gains made for the benefit of the people.

House Resolution No. 769 was authored by 103 lawmakers, 20 were from Mindanao, 11 from Visayas, 42 from Luzon and 30 were partylist representatives.

It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the talks barely two weeks after the successful third round of talks held in Rome, Italy on January 19 to 25.

The resolution cited the gains that both Parties achieved, including the breakthroughs on the discussion on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms where both Parties reached an agreement in principle of its first four items in the drafts.

CASER is the document which shall address the country’s poverty situation and will address the problem of the armed conflict.

According to the Joint Statement signed by the peace panels, “the parties have agreed in principle to the free distribution of land to farmers and farm workers as part of the governing frameworks of CASER.”

The acceleration on the negotiation of the social and economic reforms were also agreed upon through forming of the bilateral teams. On the last day of the third round of talks, the Parties signed the Ground Work for the conduct of the formal meetings between the reciprocal working committees of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The Parties have also exchanged their drafts and initially discussed the third substantive agenda which is the Political and Constitutional Reforms.

They have also discussed the proposal for a federal form of government. The government and the NDFP also signed last month the Supplementary Agreement for the full operationalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The panels are set to discuss the proposal for a bilateral ceasefire and other issues on the compliance of the previously signed agreements on February 22 to 25 in The Netherlands. They also agreed to meet for the fourth round of talks on the first week of April.

The lawmakers emphasized that compared to the previous administrations, the peace process 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 said.

Farmers to benefit

Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao, one of those who signed the resolution said the peace talks is the venue to resolve the issue of landlessness in the country.

“The president himself acknowledged that the fighters of the NPA are farmers, and urged them to abandon their struggle, in exchange, he will find money and place them on resettlement and proceed with land reform,” Casilao said.

Collateral damages

With the suspension of talks and the declaration of an all out war against the New People’s Army, cause-oriented groups are expressing their concern over the attacks against civilians even with the assurance from the military that they will only target the armed components of the Communists.

In a statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said “civilian casualties are piling up following the government’s arbitrary termination of the peace talks and the all-out war declared by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with almost one death every day since last week.”

Antonio Flores, secretary general of the KMP cited the killings of two farmers Ruben Inudjoan and Boy Sumambot in Manay, Davao Oriental on February 1; killing of tribal leader Renato Anglao of the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association in Bukidnon on February 3; killing of Datu Lorendo Pocuan in Bukidnon province on February 4; and killing of Emelito Rotimas in Maco, Compostela Valley Province on February 6.

He said farmers and indigenous peoples in the countryside “are taking on the heavy collateral damages of the government’s all-out war.”

Flores said they are still awaiting information on reported deaths of one Mangyan in Mindoro and one farmer in Sorsogon following armed offensives and combat operations launched by the military against the NPA. (davaotoday.com)

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