‘No preconditions for future peace talks with Reds’

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star
�No preconditions for future peace talks with Reds�
Carlito Galvez Jr.
STAR / Mong Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — In the spirit of goodwill, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez, Jr. reminded the supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) not to set any preconditions that will derail the upcoming peace discussions between the national government and the communist group.

Galvez’s call came on the heels of the Joint Statement signed by both parties wherein they expressed their clear intention to end the decades-long armed conflict, armed struggle and transform the members of the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

“There should be no preconditions whatsoever, as these can derail future discussions. As we have learned from our past experiences, making such preconditions even before the start of the discussions puts a huge burden on both sides when there is still a need to agree on the parameters and framework of the talks,” he said.

“Our future discussions should be rules-based, consultative, inclusive and, most importantly, all issues from both sides should be formally put on the table and not through other unofficial platforms,” Galvez added.

The peace adviser was responding to recent statements coming from different groups, which were citing supposed preconditions to the talks.

Galvez stressed that coming up with such demands when both sides are still in the exploratory phase is unnecessary and counterproductive to the peace process.

“I would like to urge other parties to respect the Joint Statement and Oslo Joint Communique and not make preconditions or release propaganda that will water down the peace-building efforts of the previous and current administrations,” he said.

“We respect and appreciate your suggestions. But now is not the time to issue such premature and provocative statements that will compromise the initial goodwill that has been painstakingly built in Oslo,” Galvez emphasized.

He explained that the latest peace engagement with the CPP-NPA-NDFP is not a resumption or a re-start of the previous talks, but is a “new beginning, a new chapter” in the peace process.

Galvez said the forthcoming dialogue will give the parties greater flexibility to engage in meaningful, honest discussions and, by doing so, allow the peace process to move forward at a more definite and faster pace.

“Since the beginning of his administration, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., has been consistent in calling for national reconciliation and unity. The President has been open to implementing solutions that will bring a resolution to internal strife and put an end to local armed conflict throughout the country,” he said.

Galvez said the Marcos administration is utilizing all avenues that will enable it to achieve peace, national reconciliation and unity.

“We need to unite as a country to resolve the major challenges that we are facing. To achieve this, we shall rally behind the President’s vision to bring a principled and peaceful resolution to the armed conflict and put an end to the armed struggle,” he said.

Galvez said the new peace track with the CPP-NPA-NDFP builds on the gains of the whole-of-nation and whole-of-government approach that has been effectively implemented over the past years and whose dividends are now being reaped.

“This is a result of our collective effort to end the internal armed conflict of the country. I call on every Filipino to fully support the peace process because this will bring long-lasting peace and sustainable development to our nation,” he said.

On Nov. 23, both parties signed a Joint Statement in Oslo, Norway, agreeing to a principled and peaceful resolution to the armed conflict and end to the armed struggle, recognizing the need for the nation to unite in the face of serious socioeconomic, environmental and foreign security issues.

“The parties agree to a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict. Resolving the roots of the armed conflict and ending the armed struggle shall pave the way for the transformation of the CPP-NPA-NDFP,” the statement read.

This latest development in the peace process between the government and CPP-NPA-NDFP has been welcomed by government agencies, as it is seen to finally put an end to the decades-old armed conflict.

All concerned government agencies positively reacted to the resumption of peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

“If these talks bear fruit and lead to a peace agreement, the final ostensible political basis to wage for the group espousing the CPP-NPA-NDFP line for any armed struggle will be lost. That will be erased, the political basis for it. So, it is important,” Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. said in Filipino and English.

“It has a strong effect on local government units. Because this is already grassroots. The local government units feel it, especially those affected by insurgency. What is important would be this transition period where, according to our President, is a whole-of-government approach. Peace and order is always a key ingredient in every economic development. So, it is where every agency will enter and help towards this goal,” Interior and Local Government Sec. Benhur Abalos said.
For his part, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian said that his agency is looking at poverty and hunger.

Gatchalian said the primary goal of the DSWD is to help each Filipino recover from poverty and hunger because that is the mandate of the agency for every single Filipino.

“Political instability is very costly to the economy. And so, efforts to achieve peace, particularly in the countryside, are surely inclusive and growth-inducing. So, peace efforts like this are very important to us,” National Economic and Development Authority Sec. Arsenio Balisacan said.

“For more than five decades, the CPP-NPA-NDFP is there, and I think it’s about time to have closure. Closure that is acceptable to everybody, to the Filipino people, particularly ending the armed struggle. With this, I think this is a very good opportunity. Amnesty is actually in tandem with this agreement. All conflict ended with settlement. Look at the history of the world, almost all wars ended in negotiated settlement, and maybe this is the final agreement that we can come into to end the armed struggle,” National Security Adviser Sec. Eduardo Año said.

“For the Armed Forces of the Philippines, this is very good news for us. Because it is the soldier, more than anybody else, who wants lasting peace... Aside from that, if this conflict will finally end, your Armed Forces of the Philippines will be able to shift our focus to external or territorial defense. Our resources, efforts, will be poured into defending our territory,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said.

“This is a welcome development and I hope this will really lead to long and lasting peace. And I look at it as a way of adding more food to the table for the Filipinos and instead of spending more money in ammunitions and other armaments, there will be additional machineries and infrastructure that will help us attain maximum development,” Police Chief PGen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said.

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