DAVAO CITY – The government’s peace panel must talk with all rebel groups to achieve “total peace” in the country, a former peace negotiator and now partylist congressman believes.

“I’ve been telling the Presidential adviser on the peace process that our country cannot afford partial peace, we can’t have peace with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) but have war with the NDF, CPP-NPA (National Democratic Front, Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army),” said 1BAP partylist congressman Silvestre Bello III.

Bello said the government has to talk with “all rebel forces”.

“If we have to progress, we have to have total peace in the country. I’m wondering why the President has been pushing for talks with the MILF while not following through talks with the NPA,” he said.

The MILF is the main faction of Moro rebels, mainly based in the southern and central provinces of Mindanao, which the current administration of President of Benigno Aquino is looking into signing a final political settlement with.

Meawhile, the communist movement’s armed wing, the NPA is scattered in several provinces while the NDF, is the organization engaged in peace negotiations with the government.

The government and the NDF have been on an on-and-off negotiation for almost five decades. The NDF recently said they have been “ready” for the peace talks to resume if the Aquino administration has the political will to proceed.

Meanwhile, Bello said that the “preconditions” set by both the NDF and the GPH is a “violation of The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992”, a framework document by both parties during the Fidel Ramos administration.

“I’ve been telling Joma (NDF Chief Political Consultan Jose Maria Sison) and NDF Chairman Luis jalandoni, not to push for the release of their consultants and negotiators,” he said.

He said “the president is forcing that a cease fire be in place before the peacetalks, but aren’t we talking to stop the fighting and yet you say ceasefire. It is like saying to them that they should surrender before we talk.” (davaotoday.com)

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