House move to urge PRRD to resume talks with Reds hailed

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 Sep) – House Resolution 1803 adopted by the House Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity on September 12 calling on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to resume the stalled peace talks between government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is a positive move.

NDFP negotiating panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said in a statement on Friday that the House resolution contributed to the calls of various sectors and groups to encourage the President to go back to the negotiating table with the communist-led group to flesh out the remaining agreements.

“We hope this welcome move by the House Special Committee can encourage President Duterte to go back to the negotiating table and work towards a just and lasting peace,” he said.

The resolution was authored by 64 House members to encourage the President to listen to the clamor of the people for the resumption of peace talks which have been stalled for 10 months after the President issued Proclamation 360 cancelling the fifth rounds “for lack of sincerity” following the November 9, 2017 New People’s Army ambush of a police vehicle that killed four-month-old Walysha Manchorao and other similar incidents.

The agreements in which both parties are supposed to discuss and agree on during peace talks include draft proposals for Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR), and Comprehensive Agreement End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (CAEHDF).

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the door for the resumption of peace talks with the communists remains open to address the root causes of the communist insurgency.

“We cannot address this issue militarily, we need to address the root causes,” he added.

Agcaoili said the NDFP is always willing to reopen the GRP-NDFP peace table in accordance with all signed agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

He said the talks should be without preconditions.

Duterte directed his government panel that the talks will proceed if the communist guerrillas will agree to stop the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax; the venue of the GRP-NDFP talks should be in the country; both parties should agree on a ceasefire agreement; and NPA members, the armed wing, are encamped in designated areas.

Agcaoili said there were significant advancements in the negotiations in the form of tentative agreements on the sections of agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development of the CASER; coordinated unilateral ceasefire; and amnesty of all political prisoners listed by the NDFP before the cancellation of the fifth rounds in Oslo, Norway last year.

He added these agreements had been formulated and initialed by representatives of the GRP and NDFP during the monthly informal or back channel talks from March to June 2018 for finalization during the supposed resumption of the fifth round of formal talks on June 28, 2018. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)