“The speedy agreement between the GPH and the NDFP on the points for discussion in the formal peace negotiations shows the sincerity of both parties to pursue a just and lasting peace.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Partylist groups Kabataan and Bayan Muna hailed the recently concluded exploratory talks between the Government of the Philippines and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Oslo, Norway.
The parties to the peace negotiations have come out with a joint statement agreeing to hold formal talks in July.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the resumption of peace talks is a “very welcome development” after the outgoing administration of President Aquino showed no interest in resolving the four-decade old armed conflict in the country.
“The speedy agreement between the GPH and the NDFP on the points for discussion in the formal peace negotiations shows the sincerity of both parties to pursue a just and lasting peace,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said.
“The result of the exploratory talks also stands in stark contrast to the disastrous handling of the peace negotiation by the outgoing Aquino administration,” she added.
Formal peace talks were stalled since 2011 under the Aquino government.
Zarate said the Aquino government treated the peace talks as “a counterinsurgency measure,” as it ignored the people’s legitimate issues, which are the roots of the conflict.
During the electoral campaign, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte expressed willingness to resume peace talks.
“If this indeed comes to pass, the progress of the first day of informal talks would have surpassed the achievements of Aquino during his entire administration,” said Zarate.
Kabataan partylist Rep. Sarah Elago, meanwhile, said the youth will closely monitor the progress of the negotiations noting that Aquino administration has reneged on a similarly signed joint statement.
She added that she also looks forward to Duterte’s promise to release all political prisoners covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), as well, as the enactment of a general amnesty for the over 500 political prisoners in the country, of whom 136 are youths.
The youth group vowed to intensify the campaign highlighting the importance of the peace negotiations for the youth and other marginalized sectors.
“We plan to hold nationwide peace gatherings aimed at actively pushing for the youth’s peace agenda which we aim to forward to the two peace panels. This agenda includes fundamental changes in the neoliberal system of education and the fulfillment of the youth’s call for free public education at all levels,” Elago said.