By Reynard Magtoto
LEGAZPI CITY, 15March2017 (BicolToday.com) – The founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Prof. Jose Maria Sison lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to continue formal peace negotiations with scheduled fourth round in April.
“I wish to express deep appreciation to President Rodrigo Duterte for deciding to continue the peace negotiations and enabling the GRP to proceed with the scheduled 4th round of formal talks in April as agreed upon by the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels during the 3rd round in Rome on 25 January 2017,” said Sison.
Sison is also the Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP.
He has been hospitalized for some time but under the care of a team of medical specialists and other health workers.
While on his way to full recovery, Sison is presently helping in the preparations for the 4th round of the formal peace talks and hope to participate actively during the 4th round.
According to Sison, the peace agreement should uphold the sovereignty and independence of the Filipino people, strengthen democracy for the exploited and oppressed people, create the conditions for economic development through land reform, national industrialization and expansion of social services and benefits, promotion of patriotic and scientific culture and peace and development in a multipolar world.
“The foundations for these can be achieved within the current term of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Sison added.
The GRP expressed its confidence that the next round of talks in Oslo, Norway would proceed despite new reports of clashes between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP).
“We remain firm and confident that we can still proceed according to the agreement we just signed in Utrecht to swiftly reinstate our respective unilateral ceasefires while we work on the terms of an interim bilateral ceasefire agreement,” said GRP Negotiating Panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III in a statement.
Progressive groups’ warm welcome
Meanwhile, different progressive groups in the country warmly welcome the renewed peace talks between GRP and NDFP.
“The continuation of the formal talks is a positive development as both sides strive to address the root causes of the armed conflict through agreements on socio-economic, political and constitutional reforms. Forging these agreements stand to benefit the people and the nation,” said Renato Reyes, Jr., BAYAN secretary general.
The people, even with the peace talks in place, will continue to resist intensifying state fascism under the Duterte government according to Reyes.
BAYAN-Bicol also expressed that the regime should now recall its all-out war declaration, stop the militarization of communities and end human rights violations especially in Bicol region.
“The administration should end its continuous counter-insurgency program so-called “Oplan Kapayapaan because many masses, mostly farmers are being victimized and killed,” BAYAN-Bicol spokesperson Dan Balucio said.
BAYAN called on Duterte, again, to free all political prisoners as a matter of justice long overdue.
Peace advocates belonging to the Kapayapaan Campaign for a Just and Lasting Peace (Kapayapaan) also welcome with elation and hope the continuation of the GRP-NDFP peace talks.
“We thank the GRP and NDFP for agreeing to continue the peace talks, to re-institute their respective unilateral ceasefires, to work towards the completion of the substantive agenda on social and economic reforms, move towards the political and constitutional reforms and work out an agreement on a mutual bilateral ceasefire,” said Fr. Benjamin E. Alforque, Kapayapaan convenor.
Continuing formal peace talks is a positive answer to the people’s clamor for peace through resolving the roots of the armed conflict according to Fr. Alforque.
We thank all parties, groups and individuals who supported the call #PeaceTalksItuloy . We thank the lawmakers, artists, church groups, members of the academe, human rights defenders, workers unions, peasant associations and youth groups who supported the call. We expect that they would continue to monitor the progress of the talks and give their support for the positive outcomes.
“We are concerned however over Pres. Duterte’s recent order to police and military forces to use all available assets, including bombs, in fighting the NPA and treating civilians as collateral damage,” Fr. Alforque added.
Kapayapaan reminds the President that under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), actions that harm or threaten civilian communities are prohibited.
Kapayapaan also urges both parties to have the courage to stick it out together for the sake peace and the interests of the people.
Outstanding issues such as the release of political prisoners, human rights violations and the militarization and displacement of communities should be resolved.[BicolToday.com]