Duterte told: Don’t set aside progress in peace talks
MANILA — Bayan Muna Rep. Karlos Isagani Zarate has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his decision to scuttle the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and move to preserve the gains in the negotiations.
Stressing that “significant progress” has been made in only less than a year, Zarate said it was “very unfortunate” that Duterte terminated the peace talks after the collapse of the unilateral ceasefires separately declared by the government and communist forces.
“We hope that the president will reconsider his decision because in less than a year the peace talks have significantly progressed,” said Zarate, the vice-chairman of the House committee on peace, reconciliation and unity.
In a statement, he said Duterte should still give the peace panels chance to negotiate the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), a vital document aimed at resolving the historical and structural inequalities in Philippine society.
He also said that the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire should still be considered.
Although Duterte had directed the government panel’s negotiators to come home from the ongoing talks in Rome, Zarate maintained: “There is still hope that the CASER and bilateral ceasefire can be forged this year with substantive progress in the January third round of talks.”
Zarate also said “these troubling developments do not augur well in solving the root causes of the armed conflict in our country.”
“It will only embolden the militarists in and out of the government to continue a system that impoverished our country and people, as well as spawned widespread violations of human rights,” he added.
Meanwhile, Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon also expressed disappointment at the stalled peace talks, especially as these started so well, with Duterte being known to have affinity for the Left.
Biazon, the vice-chairman of the House committee on national defense and security, said in an interview with radio station DZBB that this “should not be cause to lose hope that this will push through.”
While he said he understood where Duterte was coming from, Biazon stressed that “for the sake of the country, it is always best to give peace a chance.” SFM
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