Efforts on resuming GPH-NDF peace talks continue

EFFORTS for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front (GPH-NDF) continue, following the release of the former University of the Philippines (UP) professor Kim Gargar.

GPH-NDF negotiations have remained dormant with the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) was since signed during former President Ejercito "Erap" Estrada's administration.

In a press conference at the Chowking yesterday, Gargar expressed his desire for the resumption of the peace talks which was already on the stage of drafting socio-economic and political reforms when it was stalled in 2011.

"I'm not just talking about a ceasefire. I am also talking about the socio-economic aspects of such peace talks. I believe that the armed conflict is a result of the malfunction of the socio-economic aspects of our society and should, thus, be addressed," Gargar said.

Gargar was erroneously identified in a news report here Monday as a UP-Mindanao professor. He is not. Rather, he worked with the University of the Philippines as Teaching Associate from June 2000 to May 2003; Mindanao Polytechnic State College (now Mindanao University of Science and Technology) in Cagayan de Oro City from 2003 to 2004 and head of the Department of Physics from 2004 to 2005; Polytechnic University of the Philippines from 2005 to 2006 and the Mapua Institute of Technology from 2007 to 2008, where he also served as Research Director for Computational Sciences.

Gargar said that peace negotiation is among their hope to address the situation of the political detainees like him. He said as of June, there are already 504 political detainees, of which 45 are women and 14 are National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, national chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), also said that as to date, 204 political killings had already taken under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

"We are happy on the temporary release of professor Gargar and we are fighting to make this permanent. We hope that there would be no more names added to the list. We are disappointed with the president's lack of action not only on political detainees but also on these extrajudicial killings," Hilao-Enriquez said.

Meanwhile, Gargar remains resolved to continue his career as a physicist despite the risks. (Jeffer Joy Orteza-Ateneo de Davao University Intern)

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