Solons cross party lines, push peace talks
MANILA, Philippines — A total of 131 members of the House of Representatives on Thursday crossed party lines to seek the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
The lawmakers filed House Resolution No. 636, which proponents said “sends a strong message of support from the members of the House in pursuing the peace process as a way of ending the root causes of the more than five-decade armed rebellion.”
“We hope the [government-NDF] peace talks will be resumed soon by parties without preconditions and in accordance with the previously set agenda and signed agreements,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, author of the resolution.
House members from both the majority and minority bloc, as well as those from the party list coalition, have supported the resolution.
Among those who signed HR 636 are Deputy Speakers Neptali Gonzales II, Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., Loren Legarda, Evelina Escudero, Johnny Pimentel, Eduardo Villanueva and Michael Romero.
Majority stalwarts like Representatives Maria Laarni Cayetano (Taguig), Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay), Antonio Albano (Isabela), Elpidio Barzaga Jr. (Cavite) and Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro) also signed the resolution.
Also expressing support were Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante (Manila) and Deputy Minority Leader Jose Christopher Belmonte (Quezon City), among others.
Zarate warned attempts by “saboteurs” to derail the renewed push to revive the talks.
According to the Bayan Muna lawmaker, these saboteurs of the peace process “monkey-wrenched” the negotiations during the meetings of the panels, despite the initial joint stand-down agreement between the government and the NDF.
“This was proof that the peace panels are serious in resuming the stalled talks,” he said.
Zarate expressed dismay that saboteurs had been setting preconditions to the talks and issuing “absurd militarist statements,” to scuttle the negotiations even before it starts.
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