Senator Loren Legarda expressed support to the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as the two parties re-opened the negotiations in Noordwijk, The Netherlands on Monday, April 3.
“We welcome the resumption of the formal peace talks between the government and the NDFP. We need to pursue peace for the sake of the millions of Filipinos who will benefit from a peaceful and progressive nation,” said Legarda.
The Senator said she will file a resolution in support of the re-opened peace talks.
“As someone who has been involved in negotiating releases of captives by the New People’s Army (NPA) when I was a neophyte senator, I have seen the sincerity of all sides to this conflict and have witnessed the intense desire for peace,” said Legarda, who actively participated in the safe releases of General Victor Obillo, Captain Eduardo Montealto, Sergeant Alpio Lozada, Major Roberto Bernal and then Major Noel Buan, among other military and police officials who were held captive by the NPA.
“We need to pursue peace that is inclusive in order for it to be just and lasting,” she added, noting the progress achieved by both parties in the past three negotiations under the current administration.
On August 22-26, 2016, the government and the NDFP resumed peace negotiations and agreed to accelerate the talks based on previously signed agreements and, in the spirit of goodwill, declared separate indefinite, unilateral ceasefires.
During the second round of the talks held October 6-10, 2016 in Oslo, Norway, common outlines and frameworks were adopted by both parties on the three remaining substantive agenda: 1) Social and Economic Reforms, 2) Political and Constitutional Reforms, and 3) End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.
On the third round of talks held January 19-25, 2017 in Rome, Italy, both panels achieved progress on the following areas: Breakthrough in the discussion on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), a landmark document that shall address the country’s chronic poverty situation, with both parties reaching an agreement in principle on the first four items of the draft, which includes free land distribution to landless farmers; Agreement to form Bilateral Working Teams of Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs) in order to accelerate the drafting of CASER; Exchange of drafts and initial discussion on Political and Constitutional Reforms; and, Signing of a Supplementary Agreement for the operationalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
“The most compelling reason to continue the peace talks is peace itself. The talks are a means of ending the armed conflict by addressing its roots–poverty, inequality, injustice and underdevelopment. It is our people’s desire to see the talks achieve its ultimate goal of a just and lasting peace,” Legarda concluded.