By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY – The resumption of the stalled peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is welcomed by peace advocates here as a giant leap to achieving just and lasting peace.
Rev. Rex Reyes said it is about time both parties sat down and resumed the peace talks.
“All people from various walks of life must encourage and pray for the resumption of the peace talks,” pointed out Reyes, a peace advocate, who heads the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) as its secretary-general.
Reyes added that the government tried military solutions to quell the more than four decades revolutionary war being waged by the NDFP/CPP/NPA but all these military solutions did not work. It is high time that issues behind the war be considered, he added.
A women’s group in the Cordillera region calls the move to resume the peace talk as a positive development.
“It is a long delayed process mainly because of the GRPs refusal to go back to the negotiating table and imposing its conditions for the resumption (of the talk),” said Vernie Yocogan Diano, chairperson of the Innabuyog/Gabriela, a federation of women’s organizations in the region.
She reiterated that the situation of women and children as vulnerable sectors in the conflict should be prioritized.
Continue the peace talks’ gain
The NDFP-GRP talks during the time of the administration of ex-Pres. Fidel V. Ramos led to the adoption of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) which was facilitated by a third party, the Norway government. Other substantive agenda were to follow after the historical CAHRIHL.
The administration of then impeached Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada, allegedly failed to recognize and implement the CAHRIHL and instead adopted the military solution also against the comprehensive war being waged by the leftist NDFP and its allied groups.
“They (the parties) should continue on the gains of the past peace talks,” rejoined Frank Cimatu, a journalist and officer of the local National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP) — Baguio-Benguet.
He pointed out that the peace talks should be systematically covered by media for the parties to observe and implement agreements arrived into by the parties.
Diano pointed out that more substantial issues should be discussed by both parties which must include, among others, socio-economic rights, protection of civilians specially women and children during armed conflicts, and the observance of the CAHRIHL.
She added that the GRP should be at the negotiating table with “clean hands” and should work for the de-listing of the NDFP and its allied organizations as an international terrorist organizations as a sign of its sincerity to negotiate for peace.
The GRP-NDFP peace talks again failed in 2004 when the administration of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo supported the listing of the NDFP, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and the New Peoples Army (NPA) by the United States of America and the European Union as an international terrorist organization.
In the interview, Reyes added that agrarian reform and nationalized industrialization are key and substantial agenda for the peace talks.
“Sana matuloy itong peace talk at huwag gamitin ni GMA na political stunt,” Reyes added.
Meanwhile, the NDFP said that the resumption of the formal talks for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations will be held on August 15 in Oslo, Norway.
The NDFP in a statement said that they already agreed with the GRP on the implementation of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG) that would pave way for the representatives of the parties to participate in the talks. # nordis.net