Thursday, June 17, 2021

3 NegOcc solons join calls for resumption of peace talks

THREE congressmen from Negros Occidental have joined the calls to resume the peace negotiations with the communist rebels.

They are among the 60 lawmakers who are asking President Rodrigo Duterte to resume the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

House Resolution 1803, which was filed on March 22, stated that reviving the talks would benefit the people, especially the peasants and workers who are expected to benefit from potential agreements on agrarian reform and industrialization.

Among the signatories were the three Negrense lawmakers. They are Representatives Melecio Yap Jr. of First District, Leo Cueva of Second District, and Juliet Ferrer of Fourth District.

Aside from the 60 congressmen who signed the resolution, more lawmakers are expected to join them when Congress resumes its session on May 15, said Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, one of the co-sponsors of the resolution.

Zarate, whose parents are from Isabela, Negros Occidental, said they already got a positive development on their call after Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza issued a statement that the government welcomes the call of the congressmen, however, there is a need for an enabling environment in order the stalled peace talks will resume.

"We look at it as a positive response from the government," Zarate said.

The resolution is based on the pronouncement of Duterte on February 20 that he is still open for the resumption of the stalled peace talks between the government and the NDF although he still has to consult his military officials.

"It is highly imperative that Congress hear and echo the Filipino people's desire for the resumption of the peace negotiations and for the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to forge substantive agreements that will resolve the root causes of the nearly five-decade-old armed conflict," the resolution said.

Duterte terminated the peace talks through Proclamation No. 360 on November 23, 2017.

Days later, on December 5, the President issued Proclamation No. 374 declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) as an alleged terrorist organization.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently came out with the list of over 600 alleged officers and members of communist groups that included 55 individuals from Negros Occidental.

Michael de la Concepcion, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros, said they denounced the “witch-hunting scheme of the administration.”

He said the 55 names from Negros include the deceased individuals, rights defender, and peasant organizers.

Peace advocates and religious groups lamented the termination of the peace talks.

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform called on both the national government and the NDF to stay the course and resume the peace talks and pursue the positive results generated from the negotiations that formally started under the Duterte administration in August 2016.

Kapayapaan, an alliance advocates for just peace, said that the continuing armed clashes between the government forces and the CPP-NPA is all the more reason for both parties to return to the negotiating table.

As of press time, the three Negrense solons could not be reached for a comment.
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