Less than a month before 2nd SONA: Resumption of peace talks with Reds, a saving grace for Duterte presidency – Anakpawis

Members of Anakpawis demanding resumption of NDFP-GRP peace talks and lifting of martial law in Mindanao.Members of Anakpawis demanding resumption of NDFP-GRP peace talks and lifting of martial law in Mindanao.

Less than a month before 2nd SONA
Resumption of peace talks with Reds, a saving grace for Duterte presidency – Anakpawis

Manila, Philippines – Less than a month before the second State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte, Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao urged for the resumption of the formal peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and claimed that it is a “saving grace” for his presidency.

“We all know that his appointments of the progressive cabinet members are connected with the talks with the NDFP, hence, his pro-people governance are only manifestation of his peace agenda and inclusive governance, without the talks, his regime will only be dominated by ‘rightists’ and ‘neoliberals’ whose philosophy favors the rich businesses, big landlords, and foreign monopoly, at the cost of further marginalizing the basic sectors,” Casilao said.

Casilao, who served as a government observer for the cancelled fifth round of the formal talks in Netherlands said that the present agenda of the talks, Socio-Economic Reforms (SER) involves the fundamental issues of land monopoly in the country and agrarian reform. NDFP on its draft Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) is pushing for free distribution of land to farmers, which “in principle” was agreed upon by their GRP counterparts.

“One key factor with the GRP’s appreciation of the free land distribution, is the the leadership of Ka Paeng Mariano over DAR, and if these pushes through, tens of millions of farmer families will benefit from it, hence, it is good prospect to be expected from the Duterte presidency,” the lawmaker said.

Mariano is a peasant leader and former national chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), also a former representative of Anakpawis Party-list, who principally authored the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), since the 14th congress. It is now House Bill No. 555, chiefly advocated by Casilao and other Makabayan Coalition lawmakers.

Casilao urged the president to keep threading the right path to peace and resist peace spoiling and warmongering from the militarist cabinet members. The lawmaker and his group has been consistently denouncing the undermining measures of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who recommended the cancellation of the talks, aside from the intensifying military operations in the countryside victimizing farmer communities; and the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao to stem the growing strength of the New People’s Army (NPA), in addition to their claimed response to the Marawi City crisis.

“It has been publicly revealed that the militarists are already denting the president’s agenda for governance, especially on peace and foreign policy, when they facilitated the intervention of US military forces under the guise of aiding on the Marawi City crisis,” Casilao said.

Casilao said that the peace talks with the NDFP, and the fulfillment of fundamental reforms for the welfare of majority in the country remains a significant expectation from the Duterte presidency. A long-and-just peace has been a steady clamor of many sectors, especially by the peasantry.

“It is really up to the president, which track he wants to traverse, whether its toward peace or war, instinctively, we urge him the former, for the sake of the Filipino poor, resume the talks with the NDFP and address the root causes of the armed conflict,” Casilao ended. ###