DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Various multi-sectoral groups welcomed the efforts of 61 members of the House of Representatives who filed House Resolution 1803 which urged the government to resume its stalled peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Mindanao hailed the House resolution as a “positive development in the common pursuit towards peace” despite that these representatives came from different political parties.
“We urge the Duterte government to dismiss the petition of proscription and terrorist tagging of priests, former legislator, journalists, rights defenders and revolutionaries, as it impedes our road to peace,” Bayan added.
It also warned that “we must be vigilant as peace-spoilers within the Duterte government like Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is hell- bent in derailing peace talks and substantial reforms.”
For its part, human rights group Karapatan welcomes and reiterates that the continuation of the peace talks should also mean reaffirmation of previously signed agreements including the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and The Hague Joint Declaration.
“The enabling environment for the peace talks should mean that there is sincerity in upholding and implementing these agreements. While there is a mechanism that addresses human rights violations under the CARHRIHL, that the more than 40,000 complaints on violations by State forces filed at the GRP Joint Secretariat and Joint Monitoring Committee should be decisively addressed by the GRP by making these perpetrators accountable,” Karapatan said in a statement.
“To be consistent with the CARHRIHL, the GRP should dismiss and/or withdraw the Justice Department petition proscribing the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations and naming activists and political dissenters as terrorists; the release of all political prisoners and the halt to the practice of filing fabricated charges against human rights defenders; the junking of the martial law declaration in Mindanao and the cessation of attacks and military operations in communities; and ending the spate of extrajudicial killings in line with the drug war and counterinsurgency program,” according to the human rights group.
As of December 2017, Karapatan reported that there were 126 victims of extrajudicial killings; 1,202 victims of illegal arrest of whom 272 were detained; and 426,590 victims of forced evacuation.
Meanwhile, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza welcomed the effort and interest of the House.
However, he added that “an enabling environment will be the sole determining factor, while the collective voice from Congress can only contribute to that desired enabling environment.”
The 61 lawmakers pointed out in the House Resolution that the peace talks under the Duterte administration have already reached a remarkable and unparalleled headway after the four successful rounds of negotiations.
With the Makabayan Bloc leading in the filing of the said resolution, they are also calling for other lawmakers to co-author the resolution seeing the urgent need to continue with the peace talks despite the continuing armed conflict between the military and the New Peoples Army.
Peace negotiations should continue even if both sides have not yet ceased armed hostilities. That is precisely why peace talks must proceed, said Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate.
He added, “the no ceasefire, no peace talks policy being pushed by the militarist elements in the cabinet practically negates the inherent purpose of a peace negotiation. It marks the nation back to Marcos’ failed military or militarist solution.”
The peace talks were officially terminated with the signing of Proclamation 360 last year by President Rodrigo Duterte at the height of the supposed 5th round of talks of the two panels on the CASER and the agreements on the general amnesty, release of political prisoners and the coordinated unilateral ceasefire. (davaotoday.com)