EU backs revival of Philippines-NDF peace talks

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
EU backs revival of Philippines-NDF peace talks
European Union Ambassador H.E. Luc Véron paid a courtesy call to President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on May 30, 2023.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The European Union has expressed support for an agreement between the Marcos administration and the National Democratic Front (NDF) to start new peace negotiations and put an end to the decades-old communist armed conflict.

EU Ambassador Luc Véron called the revival of the peace negotiation “a promising step toward a peaceful resolution.”

“The EU stands firmly behind this process, supporting peace and dialogue,” Véron posted on X, formerly Twitter.

He lauded Norway for playing a significant role in achieving this accord.

“The spirit of diplomacy shines brighter during such times,” Véron said.

Norwegian Ambassador Christian Halaas Lyster congratulated the government and the NDF, the local communist group’s political wing and representative in the peace negotiations, for taking one step closer to attaining lasting peace in the Philippines.

In a post on X, Lyster said Norway remains a committed partner to parties in search of a solution to the conflict.

“With the increased level of conflict we see in the world today, we hope that countries now can look to the Philippines for some hope,” Lyster said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian described the decision of the government as a breakthrough that would propel the country toward lasting peace and progress.

“This reflects a shared commitment to prioritize diplomacy over conflict, fostering an environment conducive to understanding and cooperation,” Gatchalian said as he expressed hope that this development would positively impact communities in the countryside.

Administration and opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives crossed party lines to commend the Marcos administration for opening new peace talks with the communist rebels.

“The President showed that he is ready to hear out the rebels and hammer out a solution to end armed conflict in our communities. I support President Marcos’ decision to reopen the peace talks with the CPP-NDF-NPA,” Speaker Martin Romualdez said yesterday.

“Going back to the negotiating table does not mean a ceasefire would immediately follow, but this is a start of a long journey to peace. I am hopeful that the peace process will proceed smoothly,” Romualdez added.

Militant lawmaker Rep. Arlene Brosas of women’s group Gabriela also welcomed the move, saying the road to peace is still the best and boldest thing to do since this is where the root cause of the conflict lies – severe and continued poverty.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is backing the resumption of peace talks between the government and communist rebels.

In response to the Oslo Joint Communique and the Marcos administration’s agreement with the NDF to end armed hostilities, public information officer Col. Jean Fajardo said the PNP is ready to contribute in any capacity to attaining peace in the country.

The PNP lauded Marcos for his openness to explore and leverage all avenues toward achieving a just and lasting peace.

Fajardo said there must be good faith and genuine effort from all parties involved.

Former chief justice Reynato Puno expressd support for fresh peace talks between the government and the communists, saying every one should welcome this development.

“We have the longest rebellion being staged by the Communist Party of the Philippines. We can resume this peace talks and we hope it is going to be fruitful. That is one way of promoting peace and order in the country,” Puno said.

Activist groups are hoping the negotiations will finally address the root causes of the armed conflict.

Renato Reyes, president of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said the willingness of the Marcos administration and the NDF to pusue the peace is a positive development.

“Our view is that a just and lasting peace will be achieved if the national democratic aspirations of the people are realized through socio-economic and political reforms,” Reyes said in a statement.

Rights group Karapatan said the new peace talks should facilitate the adherence to previously signed agreements such as the Hague Joint Declaration, Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

“We also await with keen interest further developments consequent to the joint statement, cognizant of the difficulties and challenges that lie ahead,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) urged farmers and rural sectors to unite and support all efforts to achieve peace.

The KMP said there is no real and just peace as long as farmers and workers are oppressed and exploited.

Fernando Hicap, chairman of fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, said the Pamalakaya is supporting the peace negotiation and is optimistic that it would pave the way for national unity against foreign encroachment in the country’s territorial waters. — Cecille Suerte Felipe, Delon Porcalla, Bella Cariaso, Mayen Jaymalin, Emmanuel Tupas, Gilbert Bayoran

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