Davao groups urge gov’t to resume talks with NDF on econ reforms

Apr. 04, 2013

The discussions on CASER must start now so that the people will know about it, especially on policies related to the environment like the policies on mining,” says Juland Suazo, Panalipdan spokesperson.


Davao City, Philippines – Government peace panel members who came for a consultation were greeted with a rally from activists urging them to resume the suspended peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF).

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process held a closed-door consultation dubbed “Public Conversation on Peace Building” with around a hundred stakeholders from Davao at the Apo View Hotel.

Journalists were barred from covering the event but were told by the OPAPP secretariat that they will be given a press release after the event.

Outside the consultation were the activists led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, which challenge the government to be sincere and objective in reviving the talks with the NDF.

“The government shows no interest in resuming the peace talks when it failed to recognize the objectivity of the socio-economic reforms and continues with its anti-insurgency campaign that targets civilians thru Oplan Bayanihan,” said Sheena Duazo, spokesperson of Bayan Southern Mindanao.

Talks between the two parties resumed under the Aquino administration following preliminary talks on December 2010/ January 2011 that led to the formal talks on February in Oslo, Norway.  Both sides committed to finish the remaining three items of the talks in eighteen months, starting with the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms.

But the talks were suspended following arrests of NDF consultants who were covered by immunity guarantees signed by the parties.

Davaotoday interviewed two participants to the consultation who expressed the need for people to get involved in the talks.

Juland Suazo, spokesperson of the environment group Panalipdan, said that “something is missing” in the consultation and that is the government draft on CASER .

“I was waiting for it. The discussions on CASER must start now so that the people will know about it, especially on policies related to the environment like the policies on mining,” Suazo said.

He adds that the talks revolving social and economic reforms must be thrown back to the people in order for them to actively participate.

Twinkle Bautista of the Peace Builders Community Inc. (PBCI) and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), said that her “expectations were met in a way that the status of the special track was explained” but was also disappointed because the talks collapsed again.

Still, Bautista shared that the PBCI and PCEC “are working actively to increase the participation of churches in the peace process.”

“PCEC and PBCI are planning to deal directly with the GPH and NDF issue by enhancing our relationship with the GPH panel working with the NDF and by seeking to establish relationship with the NDF,” Bautista said.

She adds that that they also support the talks in other means and that is by continuing with their work on the “ground that deals directly with the issues of the people (livelihood, peace and reconciliation trainings, dialogues, fair trade in agriculture, upholding cultural identity etc).”

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