Biz leaders welcome resumption of GRP-NDF peace talks

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 March) — The business leaders here said they welcome the revival of the peace negotiations between the government (GRP) and National Democratic Front (NDF) but called on the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the communists, to be more sincere and stop the extortion activities.

Ronald Go, President of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) told MindaNews on Sunday that the peace has always been the backbone for the progress and development of this country.

The peace process between government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) is now back on track following a successful backchannel talks on March 11 and 12, 2017 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Photo courtesy of OPAPP

“If we remain fractionalized, we will always get what we have gotten from many years of armed strugglee: nothing,” he said.

He said the communists should show more sincerity to see to it that a long lasting peace agreement can finally be achieved.

“It is only then we can build a better society, a better future, and a better nation for us all,” he said.

DCCCII chair Antonio Dela Cruz said he is grateful the peace process is back on track a month after both parties lifted their unilateral ceasefire.

He lauded Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza for a successful two-day backchannel talks in Utrecht, “for the achievement of a long lasting peace not only in Mindanao but all over the country.”

Dela Cruz said the  President has been “very sincere (so) the other side must also show their sincerity. We praise God/Allah for this,” he said.

Bonifacio Tan, former DCCCII President appealed to the NPA to stop the extortion activities as well as attacking the military and police forces, otherwise “it defeats the purpose of having peace talk between government and NDFP

Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bayan-Southern Mindanao, said the militants also welcome the new development in the peace negotiations and are hoping both the parties will successfully address the issues that deter the peace talks such as violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL), Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Agreement) and other previous signed agreements.

“Moreover, we are calling all peace living Filipino people to fervently assert our democratic rights and struggle, in all possible forms, against landlessness, foreign domination, neoliberal policies, job insecurity, and other socio-economic problems that remain to be the root causes of the armed conflict in our country,” she said.

She urged the public to remain vigilant at all times against the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s (AFP) war mongering and attempts to hamper the peace negotiations.

“We denounce these warmongers, the AFP and PNP (Philippine National Police) who know nothing about genuine land reform, national industrialization and issues that truly address peace and development,” she added.

Dureza announced the resumption of the peace and the restoration of the unilateral ceasefire after their backchannel talks in Utrecht, The Netherlands on March 10 to 11.

The peace negotiations suffered a setback last month after both parties lifted the unilateral ceasefire they declared before the first round of formal peace talks in Oslo in August.

NPA spokesperson Jorge Madlos announced on February 1 that they were terminating the unilateral ceasefire effective 11:59 p.m. on February 10 and President Rodrigo Duterte responded by lifting the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire on February 3 after four soldiers were killed by the NPA in Bukidnon and Davao Oriental, just hours after Madlos’ February 1 announcement.

Both parties, in their joint statement released on Sunday, agreed the fourth round of peace talks would resume first week of April 2017 while the fifth round will be in June 2017 (see other story).

The unilateral ceasefire that both parties had agreed to restore will take effect “as soon as their respective forces shall have been informed.”  (Antonio R. Colina IV / MindaNews)