DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 23 Oct) – Militant groups renewed calls for President Rodrigo Rodrigo R. Duterte to reopen the stalled peace negotiations between government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao told reporters during a protest rally marking the Peasants’ Month in Davao City Tuesday that resuming the talks has become urgent amid the escalation of armed encounters affecting the indigenous communities, farmers, and Lumad schools.
At least 173 farmers have been killed under the Duterte administration, Casilao claimed.
The lawmaker said Duterte is aware of the root causes of the communist insurgency and that these could not be resolved by military means.
He said returning to the negotiating table will allow both parties to thresh out part I of Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and part II of National Industrialization and Economic Development under the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.
“After his time and Joma’s (Jose Maria Sison) time, he stated that already, the NPA (New People’s Army) will continue to exist because he knows the root causes of the armed conflict can never be addressed by military means,” he said.
Both parties cannot not arrive at an agreement if the President will not direct the government panel to do backchannel negotiations with the NDFP that will lead to the formal resumption of peace talks, he said.
“There are concrete agreements between the two parties at hand but without formal negotiations it can never be represented and can never be agreed upon,” he said.
On November 23 last year, two days before the scheduled resumption of formal negotiations in Norway, Duterte issued Presidential Proclamation 360 directing the government panel to cancel the talks “for lack of sincerity” on the part of the NDFP.
The President subsequently issued Proclamation 374 designating the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA as terrorist organizations pursuant to Republic Act No. 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002.
Casilao urged the President to lift his declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, which he said has trampled on basic human rights.
Bai Ali Indayla, spokesperson of Gabriela Women’s Party Mindanao, said there is no need extend the martial law in Mindanao if the claims of the government forces that it had won the fight against the terrorists in Marawi City were true.
The deployment of soldiers and establishment of checkpoints around Mindanao did little to thwart the bombings allegedly by terrorist groups, she added.
She said what’s even more terrorizing is the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion that was blamed for the rising prices of basic commodities in the country.
She said that of the 88 alleged victims of political killings in Southern Mindanao, 68 of them were farmers.
“We want to show through a protest action our call to end martial law. It has no result more than a year after its declaration,” she said.
Casilao said they staged a protest rally to call out the government for the “injustices” committed against the people and to assert genuine land reform and basic democratic rights.
He said they do not intend to destabilize the government.
He added farmers continue to bear the brunt of the rising inflation in the country.
“Instead of recognizing the efforts of our farmers in producing food for our consumption, they are presented in a very sad state of our farmers. They do not have the land, they experience hunger, and the threats they face,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)