MANILA, Philippines – Progressive lawmakers on Wednesday denounced Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for slamming the doors for the resumption of peace talks with the communists.
In a statement, ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro said the foiled peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) had already come a long way since both parties signed the landmark Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998 up to its recent preparation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).
CASER, which contains the commitments of both panels for genuine agrarian reform and rural development, national industrialization and economic development, independent foreign policy and fiscal and monetary policies, among others, was one of the steps geared towards solving poverty and social inequality, Tinio and Castro said.
The signing of CASER, as well as the full implementation of CARHRIHL are only some of the reasons for both sides to resume the peace talks, they added.
“The heart and soul of the peace talks, the CASER seeks to end poverty and social inequality by committing the government to answer the demands of the people for land, job security, higher salaries and wages, and social services such as education and health,” Castro added.
In a press briefing last Monday, Lorenzana claimed he sees no reason to revive the peace negotiations between the government and the communists.
“I will have to defer to the President if he wants to pursue the talks but the defense department, we oppose the peace talks,” he said, noting that he will consult President Rodrigo Duterte about the resolution of 61 House members, calling for the revival of talks with the NDFP.
“After I talk to him (Duterte), it would be his decision. If his decision is to pursue the talks, then we have to abide. But personally, I am not in favor of it,” he added.
Lorenzana also insisted that nothing has been gained in past talks with the NDFP.
But the ACT Partylist refuted this saying Lorenzana does not want real change.
“Secretary Lorenzana does not want real change. His goal is for the New People’s Army to just capitulate, to surrender its arms without the GPH first committing to change its ways by addressing the roots of the armed conflict,” Castro said.
“With his strategy, the people will only continue to suffer in poverty, landlessness, contractualization, and endless oppression from landlords and those in power. Past administrations took such a strategy and resorted to purely military means to end the armed struggle, and thats why nothing is happening, as Lorenzana has put it,” she added.
In November last year, Duterte terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP, followed by a proclamation declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations.
But last February, the President said he might consider the resumption of peace talks upon consultation with his military officials. (davaotoday.com)