DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Even as she sees the probability of the signing of an interim peace agreement (IPA) with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), a member of the panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) reiterated the significance of integrating basic reforms into the agreement.
In a statement on Monday, Julie de Lima, the chairperson of the NDFP-Reciprocal Working Group on Social and Economic Reform (RWC-SER) said the interim peace agreement, if agreed to and signed by both parties, will signify movement in the stalled peace talks.
“This would be a significant development in the peace process, only if the interim peace agreement includes basic social reforms. The NDFP has always been consistent that social and economic reforms must be the cornerstone of any peace agreement.” De Lima pointed out.
She added that among the basic reforms needed to be incorporated in the IPA include Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and the National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED).
ARRD and NIED are two major sections of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), the second substantive agenda in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
The inclusion of the reforms, de Lima noted would be the first step towards addressing the roots of armed conflicts.
She also reported that the bilateral teams of the RWC-SER have agreed on the common drafts of ARRD and NIED.
“The still unresolved contentious issues are being referred to the RWC-SERs of the two Parties for resolution before negotiations at the level of the GRP-NDFP Negotiating Panels,” De Lima added.
The teams, she said, still need to discuss the other parts of CASER to include the Environmental Protection, Rehabilitation and Compensation (EPRC), Rights of the Working People, Monetary and Fiscal Policy and Foreign Economic Trade relations.
“Genuine agrarian reform with rural industrial development and national industrial and economic development that benefits and protects the rights of the working people are among the many issues at the heart of any peace agreement. Ceasefire alone will not resolve the centuries-old problems from which the Filipino masses have struggled to break free,” De Lima said.
She also asserted that previously signed agreements such as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), must also be complied with as a matter of justice in the IPA.
Earlier, NDFP chief consultant Jose Maria Sison has indicated the signing of IPA this coming June.
Various sectors also lauded the move and the recent developments announced by both peace panels. (davaotoday.com)