While the situation may have improved since Duterte’s announcement of the suspension of talks, government peace panel chairman and labor chief Silvestre Bello III said the Chief Executive needs more convincing proof of the NDF and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)’s sincerity in talking peace with the government. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, file

‘Still no peace talks’
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - March 27, 2018 - 12:02am

MANILA, Philippines — A resumption of peace negotiations with communist rebels will have to wait as there is no “enabling environment” yet to convince President Duterte to reconsider his suspension of the talks, government peace panel chairman and labor chief Silvestre Bello III said yesterday.

“Before we make our recommendation to the President, we have to be very sure that the so-called enabling conditions are there. We will only advise the President if there is already the enabling condition, but so far there is none,” Bello said in an interview.

He was reacting to calls from 61 lawmakers – through House Resolution 1803 –  for the resumption of talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the communist rebels’ political arm.

While the situation may have improved since Duterte’s announcement of the suspension of talks, Bello said the Chief Executive needs more convincing proof of the NDF and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)’s sincerity in talking peace with the government.

“The President  has made it clear that in the future, if there is the enabling environment when he can feel the sincerity of the other party to talk peace, then he might consider,” Bello pointed out.

He also stressed that while the peace panel respects the lawmakers’ call, it would have to strictly follow the President’s order.

In their resolution, the lawmakers said forging peace with the communists would ultimately benefit the poor, especially those in the countryside.

A major factor that would likely convince Duterte to reopen the peace negotiations is the cessation of attacks by the NPA on military and civilian targets, Bello maintained.

He said he is ready to discuss with the presidential adviser on the peace process any appropriate recommendation for the resumption of talks, if and when the CPP-NDF takes steps to create an “enabling environment.”

While it may not have gotten much attention from executive officials, the lawmakers’ call for the resumption of talks with the communist rebels is strongly supported by militant groups.

“We support this call from legislators urging Duterte to resume and continue peace talks with the NDF and complete the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER),”  Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairman Danilo Ramos said.

“The resumption of peace talks and finalization of the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and the National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED) will be for the best interest of Filipino farmers and the people,” Ramos said.

He noted that NDF’s draft CASER embodies the demands of basic sectors in addressing socio-economic issues, particularly farmers’ demand for free land distribution. 

“Before Duterte arbitrarily terminated the peace talks in November 2017, both sides had almost finished deliberating on the ARRD and NIED portions of the CASER,” he said.

“Both the government and NDF panels have already agreed to free land distribution. We want this pro-farmer measure pursued in all ways possible. Peace based on justice and comprehensive resolution of the armed conflict is what we also want to achieve,” he pointed out.

He also said “the proposals on fiscal policies in the draft CASER are way better than the TRAIN Law implemented by Duterte and his fiscal managers from NEDA” or the National Economic and Development Authority.

“While the TRAIN package 1 is bludgeoning the people with high prices of goods and services, NEDA is preparing for the next tax reform packages. We demand genuine social and economic reforms and not additional measures and laws that will institutionalize poverty and hunger,” Ramos said.

Rights group Karapatan also welcomed the lawmakers’ call for the resumption of peace talks with communist rebels.

“However, the continuation of the peace talks should also mean reaffirmation of previously signed agreements, including the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and The Hague Joint Declaration,” said Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay.

“These agreements ensure that the substantive agenda in the peace negotiations, most especially the root causes of the armed conflict, are being discussed, instead of conditionalities by the Duterte regime that undermine the whole peace process, and that people’s rights are respected,” Palabay pointed out.

“Thus, the enabling environment for the peace talks should mean that there is sincerity in upholding and implementing these agreements,” she said.

She stressed the more than 4,000 complaints by victims of state terrorism should be decisively addressed and the perpetrators held accountable.  – Rhodina Villanueva, Ding Cervantes

COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT PEACE TALKS SILVESTRE BELLO III
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with