‘Do a Bangsamoro’ in talks with Reds, Duterte told
DAVAO CITY — A Mindanao-based group has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to replicate what he did for the Bangsamoro peace process in an effort to negotiate and end 50 years of communist rebellion in the country.
The only way for stalled peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) to acquire steam is for the President to “do a Bangsamoro,” said Augusto Miclat, executive director of Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID).
“The President can cement his promise of change before his term ends by leaving a legacy of just peace in making the GRP-NDF talks successful. After all, what’s at stake is the future of the people and the entire nation,” Miclat said.
Political negotiations to end the rebellion waged by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were concluded during the time of President Benigno Aquino III.
But the responsibility of carrying out the agreements, especially establishing a new autonomous region with far greater self-governance powers fell on the lap of Duterte when he assumed office in 2016.
Push the envelope
The enactment and eventual ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law provided a big boost to the Bangsamoro peace process, which is now on the stage of decommissioning former MILF combatants.
“If this can happen with the Bangsamoro, why not push the envelope so the country can experience also the fruits of a negotiated political settlement with the CPP-NPA-NDF?” said Miclat, referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing, the New People’s Army, and political arm, the NDF.
After Duterte canceled talks more than two years ago, prospects of reviving stalled negotiations brightened last December as the parties agreed on a unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire during the Yuletide holiday.
The government’s decision for a truce also came with Duterte’s creation of a new negotiating panel.
CPP founder and NDF chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison expected talks to resume end of January, owing to the rebuilding of trust and confidence among the parties.
But the atmosphere soured, with the President urging Sison to return to the country so both of them can thresh out issues, a proposal the CPP founder turned down.
Miclat urged both parties to fast-track the work on the substantive agenda of the talks which, he said, has “already gained significant advances before the negotiations were terminated three years ago.”
“If we are to build a peaceful and just Philippine society, the parties involved must invest time and energy to consider genuine political negotiation as a means where principled compromises can be reached to address the fundamental roots of the conflict,” Miclat said.
“We reiterate our view that a return to violence will only hurt both parties and especially the end recipient of the armed conflict who are the people and communities whom both parties vow and claim to fight for.” —Ryan D. Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao
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