61 lawmakers urge Duterte to resume peace talks

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
61 lawmakers urge Duterte to resume peace talks

Administration and opposition lawmakers, including those in the left-wing Makabayan bloc, signed House Resolution 1803, which urges the Chief Executive to complete the government’s comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms. Philstar.com/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Crossing party lines, 61 members of the House of Representatives signed a resolution calling on President Duterte to resume peace talks with communist rebels represented by the National Democratic Front (NDF). 

Administration and opposition lawmakers, including those in the left-wing Makabayan bloc, signed House Resolution 1803, which urges the Chief Executive to complete the government’s comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms. 

The House resolution pointed out that the government peace negotiating panel and the NDF have already reached “remarkable and unparalleled headway” when it comes to peace negotiations, having been able to hold four successful rounds.

“Continuing the peace talks would benefit the Filipino people, most of whom are poor peasants and workers, as the agreements on agrarian reform and national industrialization may address their issues and concerns and help provide relief for their economic hardships,” it stated. 

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Isagani Carlos Zarate, who belongs to the opposition, said the filing and support of lawmakers to the resolution is “very encouraging” in urging the Duterte administration to heed the call for a just peace.

“The best government policy to deal with the root causes of the armed conflict is through the peace talks and in implementing genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization,” he said.

“We are calling on all peace-loving people to intensify our earnest call for the government and NDF to give the quest for a just and lasting peace a chance. This is not the time to abandon it, for the greater interest of our country and people,” he added.

But presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza said only an environment conducive to the talks could persuade the President to resume the negotiations. 

Dureza, however, believes the House resolution can contribute to the attainment of such environment. 

“We thank the House and welcome the resolution and for such interest in the continuation of the peace process,” Dureza said in a text message.  

“While such a resolution is not necessary as the presence of an enabling environment conducive to the resumption will be the sole determining factor, that collective voice from Congress can very well contribute to that desired enabling environment,” he added. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. declined comment. 

“No comment. That has not been adopted anyway,” Roque said.

Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) yesterday lauded the move of the lawmakers.

Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said they welcome the resolution as it is apparent that all-out war, which was promised by President Duterte last year when he ended the talks, has not solved the root causes of the armed conflict in the country. 

“The call is timely and urgent as the human rights and economic crisis worsen for the majority of poor Filipinos,” Reyes said in a text message sent to reporters.

Reyes also urged the administration to use the Lenten season for reflection “on the urgent demand for a just peace and meaningful reforms.”

Lawmakers who signed the resolution:

1.Ruby Sahali Tan (Tawi-Tawi)

2.Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list)

3.Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list)

4.Raul Daza (Northern Samar, 1st District)

5.Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis party-list)

6.Emmanuel Billones (Capiz, 1st District)

7.Carlito Marquez (Aklan)

8.Leo Cueva (Negros Occidental, 2nd District)

9.Melecio Yap Jr. (Negros Occidental, 1st District)

10.Anthony Bravo (COOP-NATCCO party-list)

11.Lorna Bandigan (Davao Occidental)

12.Joel Almario (Davao Oriental, 2nd District)

13.Cesar Sarmiento (Catanduanes)

14.Jose Christopher Belmonte (Quezon City, 6th District)

15.Edcel Lagman (Albay, 1st District)

16.Tom Villarin (Akbayan party-list)

17.Emmi De Jesus (Gabriela Women’s Party)

18.Victor Yap (Tarlac, 2nd District)

19.Noel Villanueva (Tarlac, 3rd District)

20.Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party)

21.Benhur Lopez (YACAP party-list)

22.Eric Singson (Ilocos Sur, 2nd District)

23.Lawrence Fortun (Agusan del Norte, 1st District)

24.Henry Ong (Leyte, 2nd District)

25.Raul Tupas (Iloilo, 5th District)

26.Edwin Ong (Northern Samar, 2nd District)

27.Milagros Magsaysay (Senior Citizen party-list)

28.Salvador Belaro Jr. (1-Ang Edukasyon party-list)

29.Rodante Marcoleta (SAGIP party-list)

30.Alfredo Garbin Jr. (AKO BICOL party-list)

31.Eugene Michael de Vera (ABS party-list)

32.Ron Salo (Kabayan party-list)

33.Bayani Fernando (Marikina City, 1st District)

34.Deogracias Victor Savellano (Ilocos Sur, 1st District)

35.Teddy Baguilat Jr. (Ifugao)

36.Allen Jesse Mangaoang (Kalinga)

37.Manuel Zubiri (Bukidnon, 3rd District)

38.Leopoldo Bataoil (Pangasinan, 2nd District)

39.Bolet Banal (Quezon City, 3rd District)

40.Juliet Marie Ferrer (Negros Occidental, 4th District)

41.Gerald Gullas (Cebu, 1st District)

42.Wilfredo Caminero (Cebu, 2nd District)

43.Virgilio Lacson (Manila Teachers party-list)

44.Eleanor Begtang (Apayao)

45.Sabiniano Canama (COOP-NATCCO party-list)

46.France Castro (ACT Teachers party-list)

47.Amihilda Sangcopan (AMIN party-list)

48.Erico Aristotle Aumentado (Bohol, 2nd District)

49.Michelle Antonio (AGBIAG party-list)

50.Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba (Bukidnon, 1st District)

51.Juliette Uy (Misamis Oriental, 2nd District)

52.Strike Revilla (Cavite, 2nd District)

53.Arnel Ty (LPGMA party-list)

54.Gabriel Bordado Jr. (Camarines Sur, 3rd District)

55.Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers party-list)

56.John Marvin “Yul Servo” Nieto (Manila, 3rd District)

57.Edward Maceda (Manila, 4th District)

58.Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (Cagayan de Oro, 2nd District)

59.Jesus Sacdalan (North Cotabato, 1st District)

60. Orestes Salon (AGRI party-list)

61.  Zajid Mangudadatu (Maguindanao, 2nd District)

– With Alexis Romero, Romina Cabrera

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