Makabayan bloc files reso urging gov’t, NDFP to restart peace talks
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc have filed a resolution that would urge the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in a bid to end the armed conflict waged by communist guerillas finally.
If the still unnumbered resolution — copies of which were released on Wednesday — is approved by the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress would support the resumption of peace talks stalled under former president Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
According to Makabayan bloc member and Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. France Castro, there is a huge support for the resumption of peace talks as a previous resolution in the 18th Congress, which also called for the resumption of the discussions, garnered several votes.
“The breakthroughs in the peace negotiations have generated much support among our people, including members of Congress. In fact, House Resolution 636 in the 18th Congress calling for the resumption of the peace talks —after Duterte first canceled them in 2017 due to the sabotage by the militarists and opponents of basic socio-economic and political reforms — garnered the support of more than 130 members of the House of Representatives,” Castro said.
“No amount of fake news, red tagging and presentation of fake surrenderees can change the fact that there are glaring inequalities present in Philippine society. If these are not addressed then it will only worsen until the present oppressive and exploitative system is replaced by a more just and humane one,” she added.
Furthermore, Castro said that the negotiating panel from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP would have signed key agreements if talks did not bog down.
“The peace negotiations have gained milestone agreements since 1992. Ironically, the GRP and NDFP panels were set to formally sign a number of agreements, important components of an aspired-for Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reform (CASER) that would address the causes of the armed conflict, when President Duterte unilaterally ‘terminated’ the peace talks in November 2017,” she claimed.
“These include common drafts of an agreement on land reform and rural development and on national industrialization and economic development. These are the gist of the negotiations and would start to address the roots of the conflict,” she said.
The New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) — has been waging a guerrilla war for over five decades now, starting from the time of former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s martial law regime.
During the time of Duterte, it appeared that peace talks between the two sides would prosper, considering his close relationship with some key CPP officials like founder Jose Maria Sison, his former professor.
However, mistrust between the two sides — with the government claiming that rebels are still doing ambushes despite a previous ceasefire order — led to the failure of discussions.
However, there is a growing belief within the government that the recent death of Sison would lead to NPA fighters losing their sense of purpose. Last December 19, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said that NPA members would lose their direction and demoralize due to Sison’s demise.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) also boasted of having 55 former rebels surrender to the government last December 26 — on the founding anniversary of the CPP itself.
But in a letter published by his wife at the Philippine Revolution Web Central, Sison said — in a message from his deathbed — that the Filipino democratic revolution would live on, noting that every administration has failed to suppress the revolutionaries’ quest for changes.